Improving Your Transactional Email Skills

The Workhorse of Online Communication

By Allissa Haines and Michael Reynolds
[Blueprint for Success]

Email is a double-edged sword. When used well, it’s a fast and easy way to communicate. When it’s done wrong, email can be arduous and annoying.

In our businesses, we deal with two types of email: bulk and transactional. Bulk emails are when we send the same content to a list of people, usually through a service built for commercial emails. Transactional emails are the one-on-one communications with our clients and colleagues. When a client emails to ask whether massage can help their uncle’s knee issue, that’s a transactional email. Anything one-on-one—like inquiries about gift certificates or a coffee invite from the business owner next door—fall into that same transactional category. We’re tackling transactional emails here, the often-overlooked workhorse of online communications.

Just like a handshake at a networking event, transactional emails are often a potential client’s first or second interaction with you. Of course, you want to come across as professional and trustworthy, and it only takes a bit of effort to ensure your transactional emails make you look good.

A Professional Email Address

If you’re still using or because that’s the first email address you ever had, it’s time to level up.

The best and most professional email option is the one that coordinates with your web domain. As an example, Allissa’s website is and her email address is These types of custom email addresses can be set up through your domain registrar or (our favorite option) through Google’s G Suite Business.

If you don’t have a website, the next best option is an email address through a free service like Gmail, Yahoo!, or Do your best to choose a version of your name or business name for the first part of the email address versus something you think is witty or cute: allissahaineslmt@gmail is fine; is less fine.

Get Your Name in There

When you set up your email account, you likely had the opportunity to enter your first and last name in the additional settings, so your name shows up in the “from” box along with your email address when you send someone an email. Many of us blew by that screen and never set it up. Now is the time! Find the settings in your email service and make it happen. Your full name looks much more professional in the recipient’s inbox and your email is more likely to get the attention it deserves, because it’s clear the email is from you.

Set an Email Signature

You can do this in the settings feature of your web-based email service. If you use Outlook, Apple Mail, or another program on your computer, you can do it there. Include your full name and business name, phone number, and website. You may or may not choose to include your office address, depending on your specific work situation.

Less is more in an email signature. We recommend against putting a Facebook page, LinkedIn, or any other social media links in there. But, for others, we know that may be your calling card. To each their own. (It’s better to ditch the inspirational quote. A quote from Rumi is oddly out of place at the bottom of an email with suggestions for a heating pad.)

Once you’ve got a great email signature figured out, customize the email signature on your smartphone to be identical. When your email signature is the same from all devices you use, clients will never feel like they got an email response on the fly or as an afterthought.

Now that you’ve got the structure cleared up, let’s talk about content.

Make Sure the Subject Represents the Topic of the Email

This helps when you need to search for an email later. Also, many people use their email inbox as a to-do list. Using a relevant subject will make your email more likely to be found, read, and handled.

Include a Greeting and a Closing

Confession: we break this rule often in more casual emails, or when there’s a lot of back-and-forth and a long email chain. But we’re sticklers about it for at least the first email in any particular situation. If “Dear Jane” seems too formal, go with “Hi Jane” or even just “Jane.”

You’ve got several options for a closing too. When it’s appropriate, use “Thanks.” There’s also “Have a good day,” “Sincerely,” and “Looking forward to hearing from you.” But make sure it’s genuine and appropriate for the topic and tone of the email.

Use Full Words, Sentences, And Proper Grammar

An email to clients, colleagues, and/or referral partners is not a text. It is a professional communication. Treat it as such. Enough said.

Be Organized

If there’s lots of information or multiple topics in an email, use bullet points or even numbered lists to stay organized. Yes, you’ll probably feel a little neurotic the first few times you do this, but you’ll find it’s a great tool for communicating efficiently, and people will appreciate your organizational skills and clarity.

Be Clear About What You Want from The Email

If you’re just sharing information, you may not need a response. If you need a reply or action, be sure to ask for one at the end of the email, especially if it is a long email.

Think through what you want and be sure you’ve given all the necessary information for the person to respond or take the action you need. Don’t be afraid to end with a summarization and a list.


To recap: I’m attaching a copy of my license and proof of insurance. I’ll be bringing all the supplies and equipment needed to provide massage from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the conference center.

Please confirm that you have been able to secure a 12' × 12' or larger space for me to provide massage and are supplying water and snacks for the team of three therapists throughout the day.


A little clarity goes a long way and makes you look super professional (and prepared).

Don’t Hesitate to Shut Down an Email Conversation If It’s Getting Confusing or Emotional

Email is great, but it’s not always the best method for communication. If you’re having a difficult interaction and you’re angry or confused, stop. Maybe the situation could be better handled with a phone call. All you have to say is …


May we set a time for a quick talk on the phone to resolve this? I’m available tomorrow between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. or 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Do either of those windows work for you?


… or you could try …


I would really like to give this situation the attention it deserves. May I call you this evening or tomorrow? Is there a time that’s best for you?


Tone and intent can be easily misinterpreted in email; a phone call can quickly de-escalate a difficult situation.

Email is a great tool, and just a bit of effort can help you use it more effectively in your business and have a positive effect on your reputation as a solid business owner.

Allissa Haines and Michael Reynolds can be found at, a member-based community designed to help you attract more clients, make more money, and improve your quality of life.