How To Start An Email In 10 Ways For Work, Business, And School - 6 Things To Avoid

by Biz Wiz
• Updated May 19, 2022

Crafting a converting and captivating email requires the correct language to create the most significant impact. You need to pay attention to the nuances of email writing to ensure its credibility in the eyes of the recipient.

According to a survey, an average person receives more than 100 emails daily. None of us read all these emails.

The average email open rate is only around 21%. Moreover, a high open rate does not entail that the recipient read your email.

Most often, an improper salutation or a boring opening line is an immediate turn-off that hikes the email abandonment rate. If the sender could not be bothered to put in some effort, why should you or I waste our time scanning the rest of the content?

Hence, if you do not want to be one of those senders who start the email with "Heyyy!!! What’s up?” you have landed on the right article on how to start an email.

Importance Of A Captivating Email Introduction

Numerous factors govern the etiquette of writing a proper email. Unfortunately, all your efforts to compose an eloquent email will go down the drain if the first few lines of your email lack lustrous and fail to pique the reader's interest.

An awkward greeting followed by a dull opening line translates into an unanswered email or a one-way ticket to the trash folder.

Note: The opening line is different from the subject line. The subject line is the text you see when you receive an email before opening it. The opening line is the first sentence after the email greeting.

Contrarily, a purposeful salutation and a killer opening line pave the way for mutual respect and ensure further correspondence. It prompts the reader to read on and take the required action. In fact, it almost guarantees a higher open rate for the rest of your emails sent to the particular recipient.

Best Ways To Start An Email

I can go on and on about the importance of an engaging email beginning. But, you probably already know all of this if you are here looking for the proper ways to start an email.

Thus, without further ado, let me give you some pointers on how to start an email most convincingly:     

1. Use a salutation that sets the email’s tone

Salutation is the email greeting that determines the tone for the rest of the email. It can be a formal greeting, an informal greeting, or something between the two. Thus, before you type in the salutation, ask yourself what kind of a relationship you have with the recipient.

Most formal emails commence with "Dear [Name]," an appropriate and traditional form of formal greeting. It finds its roots in the bygone days of handwritten letters yet still holds relevance in the digital era.

It is most apt when writing a business or cover letter and when you have to maintain a respectful tone. Depending on your acquaintance level, you can insert only the first name or the full name.

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Another universal, innocuous, and informal greeting is “Hi/Hey [Name].” It conveys an immediate sense of frankness, making it an appropriate salutation for personal or work-related correspondences. You can also just say “Hi,” but adding the name incorporates a touch of personalization.  

Source: https://www.algrim.co/1896-how-to-start-an-email
Source: https://www.algrim.co/1896-how-to-start-an-email

Finally, you can also take the midway and begin with a “Hello [Name].” This salutation lies somewhere between the realms of formal email greetings and the informal ones. While it sounds like a perfect solution to all your salutation uncertainties, I suggest picking a side to appear more confident.   

Let me conclude this point by bringing a study that analyzed 300,000 emails to your attention. The study determined the best way to start an email to generate a higher response rate. Here are the findings:

Source: https://blog.boomerangapp.com/2017/12/how-to-start-an-email-an-email-openings-analysis/

Source: https://blog.boomerangapp.com/2017/12/how-to-start-an-email-an-email-openings-analysis/

While the numbers do not appear drastically varying, altering your greetings from "Dear" to "Hi/Hey" can increase the chances of receiving a response by 10%. Therefore, you might benefit from factoring in these statistics when composing your following cold email message or trying to make a significant connection.

2. Consider the number of recipients

Occasionally, you have to send out an email to multiple recipients where you cannot address each individual by their name. You need to alter your salutations to fit the bill in such scenarios.

You can say “Hi there” or “Greetings” when writing to three or more recipients. While the former is acceptable for professional emails, the latter is strictly formal, impersonal, and appropriate for business emails.

Often, marketing emails and newsletters start with "Hi there," but I suggest using the recipient's name to appear more invested in your subscribers instead of the generic greeting. Reserve this salutation for instants where you are unsure about someone’s name or addressing multiple recipients.

Source: https://www.groovehq.com/blog/business-email-templates
Source: https://www.groovehq.com/blog/business-email-templates

Some other standard email greetings to a group of people include:

·     Hello everyone/all (acceptable but less preferable to Hi/Hey)

·     Hi, team (when you are emailing a group of people you know well)

·     Good morning/Good afternoon/Good evening (when you are sure of the readers’ time zone)

3. Keep it simple and straightforward

Composing an email has always been a straightforward way to convey the issue at hand without any unnecessary jargon. Consequently, the recipients expect you to get to the point immediately after the mandatory greeting.

This notion is even more pertinent when writing emails to a new business acquaintance, a potential client, or anyone you want to establish mutual respect. You want to start with relevant email salutations and opening lines that immediately identify the email’s tone and purpose.

Consequently, simple and straightforward emails are easier to scan and understand, increasing the probability of a getting a response and improving the response time.  

4. Include honorifics only when relevant

For quite a long while, email greetings such as “Dear Mr.” and “Dear Mrs.” were perfectly acceptable when addressing an individual. However, these days, using an honorific is deemed quite improper for several reasons.

For starters, you can make an erroneous assumption about the reader’s marital status, which can diminish your credibility in front of the other person. Moreover, you also risk misgendering, where you can offend the recipient by using the wrong pronoun.

Therefore, it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid using honorifics, where you will have to navigate through many grey areas.

On the other hand, you can use titles such as “Dr.” and “Professor” to recognize and appreciate the professional accomplishments of the reader.    

5. Offer something of value to grab the attention

If the opening line of an email fails to grab my attention, chances are I am not going to read it further, and I am sure many share my sentiments.

Therefore, utilize your opening lines to allude to a potential benefit or an actionable solution to a problem to coax the recipient to scroll down further.

You can say something like, "I came across [a problem], and I believe I can be of assistance in [solving the problem]," or "You will be happy to learn that [something interesting happened], and it offers the prime opportunity for [business growth]."

It is understood that your email content should fulfill the promise of the opening line. Therefore, curate opening lines that are attention-grabbing and relevant to the content.

Source: https://reallygoodemails.com/
Source: https://reallygoodemails.com/

6. Be polite yet direct in your formal emails

I have already established the importance of getting to the point quickly and effectively in an email. This holds especially true for a formal email, for example, when emailing a prospect, applying for a job, or requesting a business correspondence.

Therefore, open with a formal email greeting and immediately follow it with “I’m reaching out because…” or "I'm contacting you to inquire about…".

This practice shows your consideration for the recipient’s time and eliminates the chances of any miscommunication. Consequently, the reader can get back to you right away or start implementing the necessary measures in response to your email.

7. Refer to a recent conversation to get the ball rolling

If you write a formal email to someone, you recently interacted with, use the context as a conversation starter. Include all the relevant details about your latest correspondence in the opening sentences, such as the date and the place. Briefly explain what you talked about before moving on to the email subject.

The email recipient is more likely to read on and get back to you when referring to the recent conversation. Moreover, it is a good tactic when framing a professional email where you want to establish sustainable business communication with the reader. 

8. Express interest in the recipient’s opinion/advice 

Do you want to strike up a conversation with someone? Ask them their thoughts on a pertinent topic!

Most human beings love doling out advice and opinions, especially if they are experts in the field. Hence, you can use this inherent human nature to curate a good opening line and prompt a quick response.

You can frame your question in several ways. For example, you can say, “I would like to know your thoughts on…” or “Can you help me [achieve a target or make a decision]."

The key is to make the reader feel valuable and purposeful, so they respond with vigor and come up with a helpful solution. These types of opening lines are also great for establishing a friendly relationship where the reader feels valued and needed. 

9. Convey gratitude/admiration to generate positive emotions

Another pragmatic approach to a formal email is to boost the recipient’s ego by complimenting their achievements or actions. It can be something as simple as acknowledging a published blog, a recent tweet, or a tangible accomplishment.

Source: https://www.groovehq.com/blog/business-email-templates
Source: https://www.groovehq.com/blog/business-email-templates

Following are some more examples of appreciative email opening sentences to generate positive emotions:

·     “I would like to extend my congratulation on….”

·     “I was impressed with the way you tackled [the problem] or overcame [the challenge]”

·     “I read your blog, and it helped me [realize/discover/solve something].'

10. Incorporate humor to appear sociable

Typically, the best opening line is described as formal, respectful, or friendly. However, you can also be humorous when forming an opening sentence. A funny opening line is a great icebreaker when addressing your team, a close colleague, or a new recruit.

It helps you appear more approachable and allows you to convey any issue light-heartedly. It can also lead to a lasting workplace bonding that paves the way for a more productive environment.

The only thing to remember is to be courteous even when joking. Before hitting the send button, consider that something funny to you might not be funny for the reader. Therefore, stick to safe subjects that are politically and culturally appropriate.

Moreover, you can also utilize humor in your marketing emails to regular subscribers to get them to read the entire email and, hopefully, click on the call-to-action button.

Source: https://www.mailerlite.com/blog/humor-email-marketing
Source: https://www.mailerlite.com/blog/humor-email-marketing

Worst Ways To Start An Email

How have you ever come across an email that starts at such an awkward or inappropriate note that you do not bother reading through the whole thing? I know I have, and I have been taking notes!

Therefore, below is a list of practices best avoided when writing an email greeting and the following opening lines. Some of these tactics have become redundant over the years, while others were never acceptable in a personal or professional email.     

1. Misspelling the recipient’s name

If somebody asked me the worst mistake one can make when typing an email, I would say it is misspelling the name.

A misspelled name is disrespectful and annoying for the reader, as it conveys the sender's nonchalance and lack of attention to detail. It sets a bad tone for the rest of the conversation and harms your professional image.

Therefore, always double-check your email to ensure that there are no typos. If you are unsure about the correct spelling, find it from a reliable source and copy and past it from there.

In addition, if you are not confident about the name, you can also use the job title, for example, "Dear Hiring Manager" or "Dear Marketing Manager." It is not the most conventional way, but better than getting the name wrong.

2. Adopting a patronizing tone

Generating curiosity to attract the reader’s interest is a great strategy that often works. However, how you compose the sentence should not come across as condescending.    

If you scroll through your inbox, you will find a few emails that start with, "Did you know that [statistics/facts/product promotion]."

While it has been standard practice to start emails, especially marketing ones, this way, I would advise against it. The information you are sharing might be new to them, but you should always avoid basing your emails on assumptions.

I already knew the information shared in the email below, so all it earned was an eye roll from me!

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3. Using improper salutations

You should refrain from using particular email greetings to appear professional, personable, and respectful in your formal email.

For example, you should never start a formal email with “Hey!!!”, "Hey, buddy," or "Hi guys." These salutations are more appropriate for informal emails where you know the recipient quite well.  

Moreover, avoid using exclamation points at all costs in a formal email. It comes across as amateurish and unprofessional.

Another email greeting to cease using is “Dear sir or madam." While it was often used in the earlier days, the salutation is extremely stiff, impersonal, and overly formal in the current environment.   

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4. Appearing nonchalant or negligent

Another formal email greeting that is no longer relevant is "To whom it may concern." It is vague, outdated, and demeaning for the reader since it demonstrates a lack of effort in finding anything personal about the recipient.

I would always recommend finding out the person's name, but if you are unable to do that, a simple "Hi" is better than an imprecise greeting that the reader would most likely ignore in a business email.

According to Hubspot, you can use the phrase in certain situations, such as:

·     Approaching a large organization

·     Lodging a formal complaint with a company

·     Introducing yourself to someone new, where you do not know their name

·     Providing a recommendation or reference for a former employee

Source: https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/to-whom-it-may-concern#:~:text=%22To%20Whom%20It%20May%20Concern%22%20is%20a%20broad%20way%20to,name%20of%20the%20hiring%20manager.
Source: https://blog.hubspot.com/sales/to-whom-it-may-concern

5. Downplaying the relevance of your email

If you are sending an email, you want the recipient to read it and get back to you. However, if your opening sentence diminishes the importance of your email, it is counterproductive.

For example, you may have come across emails that begin with "I know you are busy, but..."

The opening line is presumptuous, unprofessional, and bad news for any future email exchange. It relays that your email is not crucial enough to warrant the reader’s time.

If you want to be respectful of the recipient's time, state the purpose of your email in the first line and go into the details in the subsequent paragraphs.  

Similarly, never start a formal email by apologizing for reaching out. Avoid phrases like “I am sorry if this email finds you at an inconvenient time” or "I am sorry for bothering you."

You may be trying to be polite and understanding, but you are losing your credibility in the process. It also sounds pretentious and contradictory, which is not the right tone for a professional email.

6. Failing to connect from the get-go

Your opening sentence plays a pivotal role in improving the email’s readability. If the start of your email appears self-serving or abrupt, you will lose your audience instantaneously.

Most often, opening lines such as “Can you do me a favor?” or “Can you help me?” do not sit well with the reader. It makes your email one-dimensional and self-centered, which fails to make a connection with the reader.

While there are no qualms in asking for help, be conscientious in framing your sentence. Ideally, commence with praise and then request assistance. Make sure to come across as genuine and appreciative.

Actionable insights for writing an email

The perfect email has a clear subject line, an intriguing opening, a relevant body, and befitting closing remarks. Moreover, to ensure that your email content is converting and professionally written, you should:

Be concise

It is always a good practice to keep your formal email brief and to the point. Make sure that you are clear and keep the sentences short. Most importantly, state the purpose immediately after the pleasantries instead of dragging the message. Doing so can cause the reader to lose interest, negating your efforts.

Be respectful

Before you start writing your email, you should know your target audience to help you curate the email accordingly. After all, you do not want to incorporate a humorous opening line when emailing someone from the higher-ups!

Moreover, end every email with a gracious "Thank you," even if it is an outgoing email. Expressing gratitude is amongst the most suitable closing remarks, and it improves your chances of receiving a response.

Finally, use appropriate sign-offs depending on the recipients. You can use the conventional "Regards" or "Sincerely" to maintain a professional tone or "Cheers" for someone you know well.

Be grammatically correct

Grammatical errors are a significant turn-off for the majority of people. They also make you seem amateurish and unprofessional. Therefore, use an online tool to check the spelling and grammar and read your email a couple of times before hitting the send button.

Wrapping up

Your email's killer first few lines are akin to a solid first impression in an in-person meeting. Hence, ensure that you utilize the appropriate email greetings according to the recipient and that your opening lines are captivating and pertinent.

Finally, invest time and consideration when composing an email to put your best self forward. When you are clear in your communication and respectful in your tone, you have a better chance of getting a reply and building a lasting relationship.     

biz wiz
Biz Wiz
Biz Wiz is a digital marketing wizard and an online scaling business expert. He creates awesome how-to guides, digital marketing tips, and software reviews for beginners and experienced digital marketers. Join Biz Wiz on MerchantWizard.com today to take your online business to the next level.
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