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How to start an email (Tips + templates)

With over 300 billion emails sent and received every day, email is an essential means of communication. Figuring out how to start a business email in a professional way – especially when you’re writing to someone you don’t know – can be a challenge for marketers, salespeople, and customer service reps alike.

In fact, how you start your email can make the difference between your recipient closing the email right away (and deleting it) or reading on. The following article provides a few tips on how to start an email along with some of the most common email greetings and email starters you can use in your business correspondence.

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What to include at the start of your emails

1. Salutation or greeting

Start with an appropriate greeting depending on how formal you need to be. Always include the recipient’s name (if you know it) to make the greeting more personable. Last but not least, double-check that you’ve spelled the recipient’s name correctly. Our pro tip? Copy and paste their name as seen in previous emails, email signatures, or websites to ensure you don’t make a typo.

2. Introduction and reason for writing (if necessary)

When writing to someone for the first time, introduce yourself and include a concise sentence about the goal of your email. This sentence can determine whether the recipient will read your email or ignore it, so make sure your purpose is clear and convincing.

If you have mutual friends, colleagues, or acquaintances, mention them as this can increase your chances of getting a response. For example, you could do a subtle name drop like this: “Hi [Name], I ran into our mutual friend Richard (from [Company]) over the weekend and he mentioned that you needed a new help desk tool, as your current provider just isn’t cutting it anymore…”

3. An opening phrase/ well wishes (optional)

If you haven’t written to the recipient for a long time or if you have a casual relationship with the recipient, it would be appropriate to include a quick, positive note like “I hope you’re doing well.” This can set the right tone for the rest of your email.

Alternatively, if the recipient has shared some updates on LinkedIn or other social media, feel free to congratulate them on their latest achievements (both personal and professional). You could say something like “Congratulations on your promotion” or “Congratulations, it’s exciting to see [Recipient’s Company] acquire such an important client like [Company].”

4. A thank you line (optional)

Based on the context, you can add a short ‘thank you’ line to your email correspondence. For example, if your prospect/customer has contacted you with an inquiry, “Thank you for reaching out” or “Thank you for contacting [Company]” is a must-have. However, whenever you put in a thank you note, it’s important to make it personalized, as standard thank you notes (like the ones mentioned above) are a bit too generic and can come off as cold or standoffish.

By simply adding a name before your thank you line, the message sounds warmer and inviting. Here’s an example: “Emily, thank you so much for contacting [Company] and for raising this issue. You’re absolutely right…”

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Examples and templates to start an email

Professional email greetings

“Hi [Name]” is probably the most common and the most widely used email salutation in the business world. This greeting is generally recommended for semi-formal and informal communication styles. If you want to be slightly more formal, “Hi” can be replaced with “Hello.”

“Dear [Name]” is also appropriate for both formal and informal communication. For your convenience, we’ve prepared a whole list of other generic greetings that you can choose from when starting your professional email. Check them out:

When writing to one or two recipients:

  • Dear [Name],
  • Dear [Name] and [Name],
  • Hello [Name],
  • Hi [Name],
  • [Name],
  • Hey [Name],

When writing to three or more recipients:

  • Hello everyone,
  • [Group or team name],
  • Hi team,
  • Hello all,
  • Hi there,
  • Good morning,
  • Good afternoon,
  • Good evening,

When you are unsure of the recipient’s name:

  • Dear Sir,
  • Dear Madam,
  • Hi,
  • Hello,
  • Greetings,
  • Dear Hiring Manager,
  • Dear Recruiting Team,

General email opening phrases

Following the greeting, you can include a short opening sentence to kick-start your email. However, it’s best to avoid sentences like these if you’re writing a formal email or cold emailing a potential customer, as they can come too friendly. Here are some of the most common examples of email openers:


Hope this email finds you well.
I trust you are doing well.
How’s it going at [Company name]?
It’s great to hear from you.
I’m pleased to hear that…
I hope you enjoyed your weekend.
Hope you’re enjoying your holiday.
I hope you had a great trip.
I hope you’re doing well.
Hope you’re feeling great!
I hope you’re having a great week.
I hope you’re having a wonderful day.
I hope you enjoyed the event.
I hope you enjoyed your vacation.
I’m reaching out about…
I’m wanted to ask about…
I just wanted to send you a brief note about …
Congratulations on [recent accomplishment].
How did [recent project/ event] turn out?
I loved your recent [article/social media post].

email opening

Follow up email opening phrases

If you’re not sure what to write at the beginning of your follow-up email, consider including one of the following email opening phrases that can break the ice:


As we discussed in our phone call …
As we discussed at our meeting …
As promised, here’s …
I’m checking in on …
Just checking in to make sure that …
Following up on our meeting …
I am writing to follow up on…
I’m getting back to you about…
This is just a quick note to…
This is just a quick reminder…
I wanted to let you know that…
Can you please give me an update on …
I’m writing to remind you about…
It was great to meet you at [event].
It was great talking to you last week.
I’m glad we had a chance to chat at the [event].
It was a pleasure to meet you yesterday.

Reply email opening phrases

When replying to a customer or a prospect, a short “Thank you” line is appropriate in many cases. If you’re not sure how to incorporate a “Thank you” or need some more inspiration check out some of our alternatives:


Thanks for getting in touch.
Thank you for your message.
Thank you for letting me know.
Thank you for the update.
Thank you for the heads up.
Thanks for keeping me in the loop.
Thanks for the quick response.
Thank you for taking the time to [write to us/give us your feedback].
Thank you so much for getting back to me.
Thanks for getting back to me so quickly.
Thanks for your feedback on …
I’m sorry it took me so long to get back to you.
I apologize for the late response.
I’m sorry it’s been so long since my last email.
Sorry for my late reply.
Could you please clarify [something]?
Could you explain what you mean by [something]?
Could you give us some more details on…?

How to start a cold sales email

When writing a cold email to a prospect, the first paragraph is going to determine whether your prospect will find your message worth reading, so it’s important to impress and stand out. Here are some examples of what you can include in your introductory paragraph:

“My name is [Name], and I am the marketing director for [Company]. [Mutual connection] recommended that I get in touch with you regarding …”

“My name is [Name], and I’ll keep this quick. I’m the founder of a software tool that helps businesses like yours achieve [specific goals] through [product benefits].”

“My name is [Name] and we work with companies like [Company 1], [Company 2], and [Company 3] to improve their [sales/ marketing efforts/ customer service, etc.].”

“[Name] from [Company] here. I saw you recently [visited our website/ downloaded a whitepaper, etc.]. I’ve worked with similar companies in [field/ industry] and I thought I’d reach out.”

“My name is [Name] and I’m with [Company]. We have recently launched a new solution that [what your solution does]. Based on your online profile [profile link], it appears that you might be the right person to talk about [problem solved by your product].”

If you would like to learn more, check out cold sales email templates.

How to start a sales follow up email

Following up on a prospect, especially if they haven’t replied to your previous message(s) can be tricky. If that’s the case, try out one of these effective email opening sentences– they might be helpful!

“I trust that you have had an opportunity to read my previous email and look at our website, so I figured it’d be worth checking in with you again.”

“I sent you an email a while ago about [Company] and how I think we could be a great fit for you and [Company]. Did you know that our clients report [a **% increase] in [sales] when they use our [software/ platform/ tool]?”

“I hope I’m not overstepping, but I see that you have read my previous email and visited our site (the wonders of modern technology). I think this will be a good time for us to take the conversation further. What do you think? Are you available for a quick call on [date and time]?”

“I know how busy you must be managing your team and helping them increase [job function]. I sent you some information about [Product] a while ago and I thought this might be a good time to give you a practical demonstration.”

“I’m writing to follow up on my email as I didn’t hear back from anyone on the team. As I stated in my previous message, I believe [Product] can greatly improve how you do [what your product helps with].”

If you would like to learn more, check out sales follow-up email templates.

Design your own templates

LiveAgent gives you the power to design your own customer email templates, thus helping you to improve the customer service. Curious about all the opportunities?

How to start a post-purchase/ customer welcome email

Whenever someone buys your product or signs up for your service, you should thank them, or welcome them to the ‘family’ to ensure your relationship is off to a great start. The best way to do this is by writing a welcome email that includes a thank you note, a short introduction, and any useful information.

“Thank you for your recent purchase with us! I hope you’re enjoying your [product/ service].”

“Welcome to [Company]! We’re feeling pretty lucky that you chose us, and I just wanted to say thank you on behalf of our whole company.”

“I’m [Name], the founder of [Company] and I’d like to personally thank you for signing up for our service.”

“Welcome to [Product/ Company]. We’re thrilled to see you here! I’ll be your guide during this onboarding period, and my goal is to ensure you have a positive experience and get the most out of our [product/service].”

“Welcome to [Brand]! We’re excited to have you on board and we can’t wait for you to start using [product/ service] and seeing results.”

Feel free to check more post-purchase email templates and welcome email templates.

How to start a customer service email

Almost every customer service email should start with a “Thank you” note, whether it’s replying to a simple customer service request or answering a customer complaint. Here’s how it can look like:


“Thanks for reaching out! I’d be more than happy to help you.”

“Thank you for contacting [Company]. My name is [Name] and it would be my pleasure to assist you with …”

“Thank you for writing to us today. I’d be happy to answer those questions for you …”

“Thank you for your inquiry about […]. I’m really sorry to hear that you can’t […] I’m escalating your issue so that someone can take a closer look at what’s going on right away.…”

“Thank you for writing in. This message is to confirm that we’ve received your request, and will be in touch within ** hours with a complete response.”

If you would like to learn more, check out customer service templates.

How to start a customer apology email

When responding to angry or disgruntled customers, be sure to showcase empathy and issue an apology on behalf of your business. Here’s how you can do it:


“Thanks so much for reaching out about order #[number]. I’m so sorry the product hasn’t worked out for you.”

“I’m so sorry that you had a negative experience with [product/ service/ company department]. I’ve looked into the issue, and it seems that [briefly explain the reason for their bad experience].”

“I am so sorry to hear that you have had such a poor experience with us. Although we strive for 100% customer satisfaction, it’s clear we’ve fallen short in this instance – and that’s unacceptable.”

“I am so sorry to hear that [a brief summary of their bad experience]. That should have never happened, and I completely understand how frustrating this must be for you.”

“Thank you for providing us this feedback. I realize how frustrating it must be to [details of the issue]. We obviously failed this time, and for that, we are very sorry.”

apology email example
Peter Komornik

LiveAgent combines excellent live chat, ticketing and automation that allow us to provide exceptional support to our customers.

Peter Komornik, CEO
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Summary

The start of your business email (the greeting, the opening line, and the first sentence) is the first thing the recipient sees when they open your email. By starting your email in a professional way, you are more likely to create a positive impression on them. The greeting you use and the first few sentences you choose for the start of your professional business emails will depend on your audience and the context of your communication. Use the email greetings and email opening phrases mentioned above as prompts whenever you’re not sure how to start your next email to a customer or a cold prospect.

Remember to double-check your emails for any spelling or grammatical errors, and make sure you always spell the recipient’s name correctly. Our last tip is to keep it short and sweet, as nobody wants to be reading long emails. Get to the point quickly using the right tone of voice, and you’re golden.

Frequently asked questions

Why does it matter how you start your emails?

By starting your email in a professional way, you are more likely to create a positive first impression on the recipient. When you are writing to someone for the first time, that impression is critical as it can encourage your audience to not only read your message but also respond to it.

Which email greetings should I avoid?

“Hi [Nickname]” and “Hey [Name]!” are too casual and should be used only if you have exchanged emails before and have a good relationship with the recipient. On the other hand, “To whom it may concern” and “Dear Sir or Madam” are considered too formal, and a bit outdated so they should only be used in official communication or when you don’t know the exact names of the people you’re writing to.”

Should you start an email in a formal or casual way?

Starting out an email in a casual, personalized way is generally more engaging, however, writing in a too informal and relaxed style can actually put your audience off. If you’re not sure what tone to take, your safest bet is to be a bit more formal rather than overly casual and friendly. If necessary you can always adjust your tone based on the response you receive from your recipient.

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