How to Write the Perfect Thank You Email – With Examples
Présenté par Exclaimer
If you want to make someone happy, thank them for something they did. Thank you emails are a common part of business communications because they’re both positive and personal. And used correctly they can really help boost relationships, trust, and loyalty with customers and employees alike.
In this guide, we examine how to write a perfect business thank you email. We look at why and when they are a good idea and include a bunch of thank you email examples at the end.
Why bother writing a thank you email in the first place?
Let’s look at the common drivers for sitting down and writing thank you in an email.
When someone expects to be thanked
Did your parents even make you write thank you notes to relatives every time you received a gift? It probably felt like a chore, in which case the real reason behind it was expectation. Managing expectations is crucially important in managing relationships, especially with customers and employees.
To be polite
This isn’t quite the same as ‘expectation’ and is more about the standards you set yourself. Often the decision thought process is a double-negative rather than a positive: “would it be impolite not to say thank you?” If the answer is yes, you need to write a thank you email.
To express gratitude
Thank you emails must be specific about something you are expressing gratitude for. Don’t make the mistake of writing a thank you email without being clear on this.
To create an emotional response or connection
There are instances where people don’t expect to be thanked for something, so when you do it comes as a welcome surprise. Giving thanks is a profoundly human act and doesn’t always emerge in business discourse. It can be an arresting feeling (in a good way!) to receive thanks for something, and that can be an important moment in the business relationship.
Shouldn’t every email say thank you at the end?
It’s quite common to see ‘boilerplate’ email sign offs that express gratitude. These typically use the single word “Thanks” (or “Cheers”, which many British people use to mean thank you as well as to toast a drink).
When used in this multi-purpose way, it’s hard to see a concerted attempt to express gratitude for a specific thing. It’s more that, by appearing at the very end, the sender simply wishes to provide a positive parting greeting which isn’t specific about anything except perhaps “thank you for reading this email”.
As a general rule, habitually saying thank you in emails potentially lessens the impact and importance of sincerely expressing thanks when it’s relevant to do so.
When is email the best way to say thank you?
Nothing says thank you like a bunch of flowers. In which case, why not send those instead of an email? Admittedly, there are more thoughtful and heartfelt ways of expressing thanks than writing an email. For example, a handwritten note to an employee who went the extra mile can make a huge impression.
However, for the most part, it’s worth remembering that email is primarily a business tool. It’s fast, scalable, and practically free. And therefore it’s the go-to mechanism for any kind of personal one-to-one communication in a business context.
Email is also great in a ‘one-to-many’ context, such as thanking multiple people at the same time though making it appear (by mail merging the recipient name field) you’ve written to each of them personally.
10 things you might write an email to say thank you for
There are many people and situations where it would be relevant to send a thank you email afterward. Here are just 10 examples.
- To a customer for being patient and understanding after something went wrong
- To a prospect for making a sales inquiry
- To a supplier for their promptness or reliability
- To an employee for a notable achievement
- To a colleague for their guidance or support
- To a business partner for their loyalty
- After having received feedback from someone (they invested their time and were honest – they didn’t have to do either)
- After having received a gift or opportunity
- After people have attended your event (thanking them for attending)
- After a notable anniversary or milestone (thanking them for their contribution to the life of your organization)
Golden rules of writing a thank you email
We’ve all written thank you emails before, and it doesn’t have to be complicated and time-consuming. But it does demand a little thought and planning to optimize the intended effect. Consider the following golden rules.
Name the thing you’re thanking them for
It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how often people forget to mention, or be explicit about, what they are being grateful for. This can happen when you assume that the recipient fully understands the context of your message when in fact they don’t.
Actually say ‘thank you’
Another occasionally overlooked aspect is literally saying the words “thank you” in your email message. Those specific words aren’t essential, so long as you’ve explicitly expressed gratitude and appreciation in direct language. Problems can arise when you use euphemisms that suggest what you mean rather than stating it outright.
Make it human
It’s really important to express a human emotion in a human way, and that’s not always straightforward in a business context. You might be used to addressing a customer, say, in a formal way. Or using technical language to describe aspects of your service.
So when it comes time to say thank you for something it comes across as cold and withdrawn. Remember, you don’t have to be emotionally gushing – just human.
Check it over for mistakes
As with any important communication, it’s really worth checking over your thank you email before you send it. It can help to get a second pair of eyes on it to spot grammar and spelling typos. Equally important is getting the tone right and being concise rather than wordy.
Explain why you wanted to thank them
It may not be self-evident why you’ve decided to send a thank you note, so be sure to explain the impact they’ve made through their actions that has caused you to respond this way.
For example, to a customer who’s given feedback (good or bad), you can explain that you’re grateful because this really helps improve your overall service and ensure your staff have the right training and resources to do their jobs well.
Include a call-to-action
Let’s be frank – it’s OK for thank you emails to have an ulterior motive beyond just expressing gratitude. This is especially true in a business context where thank you emails can be a launchpad for further interactions.
Try to include a call-to-action that makes sense in the context of what’s happened; ideally one that provides a benefit so that you’re somehow endeavoring to repay their goodwill. Even if it’s just ‘stay in touch’, it still counts and can help keep the conversation going and produce potentially valuable next steps.
Don’t leave it too late
There’s a natural limit on how much time can pass after a trigger event before you offer your thanks. For example, if you wish to thank the 50 participants who attended your open day with a personalized thank you email, a 24-hour delay would be good, a 48-hour wait would be OK but longer than that it just feels tardy. Give your thanks within a short period or don’t bother.
The essential components of a thank you email
Next, we’ll break down the thank you email into its constituent parts, applying some of the golden rules listed above.
There are 7 main elements:
- Subject line
- Personal greeting
- Expression of thanks
- Appropriate supporting information
This is where you grab their attention and alert them to the fact this is a thank you email! Thank you emails are among the most likely to be opened, so don’t be coy and unintentionally obscure what it is you’re communicating. It’s also an opportunity to come across at a human level and transcend the normal day-to-day business discourse.
Some examples might include the following:
- We just wanted to say thank you
- Thank you for [XXX]
- Thanks from all of us
- [XX] was great, thank you!
Now we’re into the body of the email, right at the top with a salutation and greeting. It’s critical that this is personalized rather than a generic ‘Dear Customer’ or ‘Dear Colleague’ or you’ve lost all sense of it being a sincere expression of gratitude.
In most cases, it will work best to express this greeting in an informal style. So “Hi” or “Hey” instead of “Dear”, unless you know that the customer prefers a more formal address.
Expression of thanks
Thank you emails need to get straight to the point, so right after the greeting, you should use a phrase to unequivocally thank them and be specific about what for.
Do this upfront rather than only putting your thanks at the end of a longer explanation. The whole point of this email is to thank them so there isn’t going to be any relevance in going off-topic into other areas that you can use a separate email to cover.
Appropriate supporting information
Once you’ve delivered the thank you, there might be further observations or updates to communicate. A good idea is to express why you felt it was important to reach out like this and say thank you, and give details about the positive impact their actions have had. This will encourage them to do more of the same!
Ideally, you’ll have a call-to-action, and this should ideally feel like another positive benefit rather than a way of dressing up bad news. For instance, alerting the customer to a discount offer as a token of your gratitude rather than drawing their attention to the fact they are behind on their payments. Don’t use thank you emails like that. If you’ve got something negative to say, put it in a separate communication.
After just a few lines it’s time to wrap up. You might have a stock sign off like “Yours…” or “Best regards” you commonly use, but in this instance, you should think carefully if these are relevant for this kind of email. A good idea is simply to reiterate the gratitude as a way of closing the message, as with something like “Many thanks again”.
The end of the thank you email isn’t the sign off, of course, but the email signature. If you use a system like Exclaimer, you’ll find it easy to implement best practices around email signature management including having all your contact details up to date and being able to call upon different signatures depending on who you’re communicating with.
Just be conscious that there isn’t anything in your email signature that might confuse or contradict the thank you message. For example, saying thank you for the card you received congratulating you on your first day as Store Manager when your email signature still says you’re the Deputy Store Manager!
5 great thank you email examples
Post-event sales prospect thank you email example
Post-interview job candidate thank you email example
Post-feedback customer thank you email example
Post-achievement employee thank you email example
Business anniversary partner thank you email example
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