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Essential tips for small business owners: Creating trustworthy emails

An ongoing email marketing campaign can be a great way to connect with your biggest fans, build strong connections, and keep your business top of mind with your leads. And one-off emails can be important for sending time-sensitive updates and promotions.

But people are understandably worried about scams, in particular phishing—when scammers send emails and other types of messages to fool recipients into sharing personal information or installing malware. Even if you have the best intentions, sending a phishy-looking email could backfire and be ignored, hurt your reputation, or prompt people to unsubscribe.

Use these six tips that can help keep your emails from looking “phishy.”

1. Personalize the email.

If you can, include some type of personalization near the top of your email, such as the person's first name or account number. This can make it clear that you already have a relationship with the recipient and aren't blindly mass messaging an email list.

When you don't have or can't incorporate a personalized introduction, jumping right into your message might be better than using generic openers like Dear Friend or Dear Valued Customer, which could appear suspicious.

2. Give the reader context.

The subject line sets the tone for your message, and you want to make sure the recipient knows what to expect when they open the email. You can still add a little mystery to encourage clicks. For example, “A Big Thank You to Our Favorite Customers," tells customers that they're probably getting some type of reward or coupon without revealing too many details.

A subject line that's irrelevant to the email's content can make the email seem phishy once it's opened. The subject line could also be violating the federal CAN-SPAM Act, which could lead to penalties.

Giving context within the body of your email is also important. For example, you might want to explain that you're sending the message to introduce yourself or share timely information about your business's new products or hours.

3. Double-check the spelling.

Typos happen, but spelling mistakes and bad grammar often go hand-in-hand with scammers. Proofread your emails and have a colleague or employee take a second look before you send them. Additionally, you could use Hemingway Editor or Grammarly—both offer free and paid versions—or another type of editing software to catch errors.

4. Avoid scare tactics.

Scammers often use high-pressure tactics to convince people to click on a link or share their personal or financial information.

You may want to use behavioral science to help drive sales, perhaps by adding a time constraint to a promotion or warning clients about what they'll lose if they don't renew a subscription. But there's a difference between sales and scares.

Using all caps, overt threats, and strong-arm sales tactics may come across as unprofessional and phishy. And, even if they don't, you could be turning off potential customers.

5. Authenticate your email.

Email authentication helps email providers verify that an email is coming from the person listed in the “from" field. Unauthenticated emails might get sent to spam, have a warning added to them, or be completely blocked.

The specific process can depend on your email service provider. Some providers may be able to manage the process for you or have easy-to-follow instructions on their website.

6. Add your info and an easy opt-out option.

The end of your email can also be important to help you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act and appear professional. You should include a physical postal address for your business and an easy-to-see opt-out notice or link.

Turning an Email into a Sale

Having direct access to your customer's inbox is a privilege they can quickly take away. Crafting professional emails that are personalized and timely can help keep you from looking like a scammer.


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