Help Your Credit Union Reach Out with These 15 Rules for E-mail Etiquette


E-mail is an incredibly popular way of communicating with other people, probably because it’s so fast and simple. For credit unions, e-mail represents a great way to touch base with existing members and reach out to potential ones.

Shondell Varciana

Many credit unions still have a reputation for being stuck in the past. They are still strongly associated with an old-fashioned way of doing things. It’s, therefore, more important than ever to seize the opportunities that technology offers. By harnessing the potential of e-mail, it’s possible to create a positive impression of credit unions among the younger generation. It also opens a wealth of opportunities to target specific groups and provide information speedily in an accessible way.

Nevertheless, although it may seem easy to send out an e-mail, there are a surprising number of potential pitfalls. Knowing the basics of e-mail etiquette is essential if you want to achieve the right impression with the recipients.

With this in mind, here are 15 rules for e-mail etiquette that credit unions should remember when communicating with members.

1. Choose A Clear and Concise Subject Line

Perhaps the most important thing about any e-mail is its subject line. After all, the average American worker receives around 126 e-mails every day.

As you can see from the statistics above, people only open about a quarter of all the e-mails they receive. So, if you want your members to read your messages, you need to get the subject line right.

Most people will base their opinions on whether to open an e-mail solely on its subject line. The main reason for this is because most people are spending around 13 hours every week checking their mail. They just don’t have the time to spend perusing every message in detail.

How do you create the perfect subject line? It needs to be relevant and brief. Avoid obvious clickbait and use keywords that directly pertain to the e-mail’s contents. Don’t forget about the subject line, though. Many people will almost certainly overlook e-mails that have blank subject lines.

2. Address the Recipient Properly

Most people have sent e-mails to “Whom it may concern.” However, this is never a good choice for any credit union. This greeting gives an impersonal and even lazy impression of the organization. Identifying the recipient by name is always a better option.

Statistics show that people who receive e-mails with a personalized address line are 26 percent more likely to open them. However, keeping it formal is important for credit unions when addressing members, particularly if it’s the first encounter.

3. Welcome New Members

Welcome e-mails are among the most opened of all Internet messages.

This chart shows that, of all the e-mail types sent out, welcome e-mails have the highest open rate. It’s important for credit unions to harness that potential to reach out to members at the earliest stage. By greeting new members (or those who are interested in becoming members) in person, you can build a stronger relationship.

4. Remember Courtesy

Being courteous isn’t all about what it says in the body of the e-mail. It’s also about how you present the message. A person can potentially misinterpret any kind of written communication because of the lack of body language or expressions.

When the reader can’t hear the tone of voice intended, he or she may misread what you’re trying to say. Avoid any aggressive or excessive punctuation, such as exclamation points. Also, avoid typing words in all capital letters as, again, this comes across as potentially aggressive.

5. Respect Others’ Time

If you’re sending out a time-sensitive e-mail, it’s fine to add the word “urgent” to the subject line. You should, however, avoid doing this in all capital letters as this comes across as aggressive.

Remember to keep your e-mail brief and focused. Nobody wants to read a long and disorganized e-mail and will probably delete it before finishing it.

Most importantly, remember that members have other commitments in their lives. They may not respond immediately to your e-mails. Avoid following up too quickly – give around 48 hours to receive a reply before sending out another e-mail.

Don’t forget to follow up, though, or think that it isn’t worth pursuing. The graph below shows a response is still possible after several follow-up e-mails.

6. Remember Spelling and Grammar

Even credit unions can make errors, and some common ones when e-mailing relate to spelling and grammar. The amount of attention paid to e-mails translates to how much attention you pay to your members. That means using spelling and grammar checkers couldn’t be more important.

7. Minimizing Any Calls to Action

If you’re sending out an e-mail to members hoping they’ll act, keep those CTAs to a minimum. A single call to action per e-mail is adequate. Avoid including too much detail in your e-mail if you’re making requests. There’s a higher chance that the recipients will overlook the information.

8. Remember Attachments

If you’re sending out e-mails to members that enclose documents, make sure to attach them. It’s surprisingly easy to forget attachments but doing so makes your organization look unprofessional. It also necessitates another e-mail to apologize and attach the document. That’s time-consuming and embarrassing.

9. Resize Attachments Whenever Possible

When you need to send out several documents or larger attachments, you should consider resizing or zipping them whenever possible. A small attachment will load more rapidly. It will also take up minimal space in the recipient’s inbox. It will even send more rapidly.

As the chart above shows, 46.6 percent of people read e-mails from financial service providers on their mobile devices. Therefore, keeping files small enough for a smartphone to handle with ease is important.

10. Close the E-mail Well

There are many ways in which you’re able to bring your e-mails to a close. However, choosing a professional one is very important. You need to give a professional yet friendly impression to members (or potential members). Signoffs, such as “Sincerely,” “Best Regards,” or “Thank You,” are all suitably respectful and fitting for your credit union’s culture.

11. Choose A Professional and Precise E-mail Signature

Your official signature should be professional and easy to read. Some key elements include your name and job title, as well as the credit union’s name and website. Depending on the nature of the e-mail, a branch number and location may also be necessary. Avoid other excessive details, such as social media links, as this will look cluttered and unprofessional.

12. Never Share Confidential or Personal Details

Worryingly, statistics have shown that 81 percent of people working in the financial sector share confidential information via e-mail. This is something that credit unions should always avoid. Sharing any confidential or personal information in this way is extremely ill-advised because of the risk of cybercrime. Data could also easily get into the wrong hands if the e-mail goes to the wrong place. This could also happen if the wrong person opens it.

13. Invite Members to Reply Via Different Methods If They Choose

Not every member will feel comfortable replying to an e-mail with another e-mail. Adding a contact number and address in the signoff of your message is helpful. However, you should also add an invitation to use other methods of contact in writing. This shows that you are happy to have members contact the organization in any way. It also shows you want to invest in your members.

14. Make Sure You Have Spelled Names Correctly

Composing an e-mail to a specific member rather than a generic blanket mailshot? Make sure you spell his or her name correctly. It’s all too easy to misspell a name. However, the negative impression that a mistake like that leaves can be very damaging. A misspelled name indicates that your organization lacks attention, care, and even interest in its members. Avoid this e-mail etiquette breach at all costs.

15. Ensure an -E-mail Is an Appropriate Contact Method

Although e-mails are a useful medium through which to contact members, it isn’t always an appropriate choice. E-mails are ideal if transmitting information, managing a simple conversation, or recording details. On the other hand, if it’s a delicate or sensitive matter, you should avoid sending an e-mail. A telephone call, or even a private and confidential letter is a much safer and more professional option.

Avoiding the Pitfalls of E-mail Etiquette

Sending an e-mail may appear simple, but it can be quite complicated to get the etiquette right. There’s a surprising amount to bear in mind. Tone, timing, and language are just three elements to consider.

Staying professional is paramount when sending out e-mail communications to members and potential members alike. Credit unions need to work hard to retain existing members and attract new ones. That requires the maintenance of a high level of professionalism at all times – even when e-mailing.

By utilizing the 15 rules for e-mail etiquette outlined here, your credit union will always create the right impression. Whether welcoming new members, sending out important paperwork, or making a call to action, e-mail can be a useful tool. However, you must use it to its best advantage. If you follow these rules, your organization will be able to do that.

Shondell Varcianna is the founder of Varci Media. A content writing agency that writes content for financial institutions. She can be reached at her website:
For more blog writing tips, check out The Ultimate Blog Content Checklist – 10 Keys to Blog Content Success at

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