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Business Email Etiquette & Website Forms

Having several websites, I receive inquiries daily. Some clearly do not seem to be from a business professional. But it turns out they are. Or they think they are?

These are folks asking questions or looking for my professional assistance. I can’t help but wonder how successful their business is, or has the potential to be, by virtue of their communication style.

All of my sites are professional in nature. They are not hobby sites or blogs talking about food, or the latest trends. You know, the topics that are naturally more informal.

Two websites are about Email Etiquette and then there is my WordPress Consulting website. All are obviously sites where you would think professional communications would be a given.

Does Email Etiquette apply to web forms?

Ironically, on this very site about “Business Email Etiquette”, many inquiries are those asking about The Basics. Questions whose answers are covered in the article I just linked to and is in the top of page navigation.

The majority are seeking my point of view about something a business contact is doing or a situation that happened at work. They are not interested in the topic of Business Email Etiquette. They are hoping I’ll back them up and provide that “gotcha!” moment.

How do I know this?

As they look to Email Etiquette to resolve the situation that has them upset, they use absolutely no Email Etiquette to ask an Email Etiquette expert about the situation at hand! You would think that if you are emailing an email etiquette website’s creator, you would make the effort to reflect some email etiquette.

My experiences have proven out, time and time again, that those who communicate via website forms with no concern to communicating as an educated professional; are not profitable customers. There is a strong and validated correlation.

Will the site owner want to do business with you?

Business Email Etiquette applies to completing business related website forms too. Whether it be contacting new suppliers, partners, associates or just inquiring about the services and products you need to run your business.

How you choose to approach a website owner, the words you use, the skills and education you decide to display, will determine how you are perceived by the person on the receiving end of your inquiry.

  • Does your inquiry reflect what a great partner you will be?
  • When your inquiry is read will the site owner want to encourage you to become a customer?
  • Will they even want to reply at all?

An Example that Doesn’t Impress

I used to offer the opportunity for writers to create guest posts for this website. I had some basic guest post guidelines and a specific form for those inquiries. I even had a link on my main contact form that “if you are interested in guest posting”, here is a link to follow to get those specifics.

  • What am I to think when my main contact form is completed for a guest post inquiry without following that link?
  • What am I to think when a guest post form is completed offering to write articles that have absolutely nothing to do with business email communications or technology use?
  • What am I to think when sample articles are submitted that do not follow my posted guest post guidelines?

That worked out so well that I no longer accept guest posts on this blog. I was spending too much of my time having to weed through inquires that had no topical synergy with this site. And for those articles where the topics could work, the drafts didn’t follow the guidelines that I posted for guest articles!

I now state that I do not accept guest posts and I still get email inquiries about guest posting. Ugh. I no longer respond. If you ignore the content on my site, I return the favor by ignoring your inquiry.

Or how about those who contact me asking who they should contact in my “organization”? If you read my “About” page you would know it is just me.

These type of inquiries let me know that the senders are more focused on pure self-interest. They do not care about showing me, the site owner, the courtesy of just reading the basics offered on my site. Instead they head for the contact link, click and start typing.

Opportunity to Impress

When making first contact through a website form, you have the opportunity to impress and encourage a response to your inquiry. When you type in all lower case, do not spell check and make demands simply based on the premise that you “are the customer”, that won’t encourage the response you are looking for.

Or when you complete a form making it clear you didn’t even bother to search the site first (or read the text on the very form page you just completed), realize that some website owners may choose to not encourage you to become a customer/partner/affiliate. By not responding to your request.

Technology is nothing if not a bunch of details, knowledge and skills each of us has to embrace and execute in order to accomplish our goals. To think that not communicating properly, with knowledge, understanding and courtesy when it comes to your business website form requests, is a lack of judgement your competitors will thank you for.

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