Maria Peloponisiou~ 5 min Reading time | 16. Jul 2019
Invoicing by email is the quickest way to get paid – if you’re debating how to send an invoice, it’s best to choose sending it by email where possible. Paper invoices may get lost in the mail, and it can be hard to predict when the client will receive them. Emailed invoices, on the other hand, are received instantly and hypothetically speaking, your client can start processing payment right away. If they don’t, having emailed the invoice makes it easier to follow up when it’s time to send a collections email.
What is an invoice email?
An invoice email is an email that contains an invoice, usually as an attachment, and a brief note to the client. Invoices should never come as a surprise, so your email can be a simple friendly notiﬁcation that their invoice is attached, and thanking them for their business.
An invoice email should sound something like this:
Hi [Recipient’s name],
Hope this email ﬁnds you well! Please see attached invoice number [X] for [product or service]. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions.
Thank you for your business!
Make sure you discuss where your client would like their invoices sent before you send it out – often larger companies will have separate accounting departments, and even freelance workers may have hired accountants that do their paperwork for them.
5 Tips to Write an Invoice Email
1. Include the invoice itself as an attachment, not in the body of the email
Invoices should never be typed into the body of an email; they should always be sent as a PDF attachment so they can’t be intercepted and edited by fraudsters. Sending a PDF attachment also makes it easier for the recipient of the invoice to print it out if they wish, or to save a clean copy of your invoice wherever they need to.
2. Use an invoice email template
You might ﬁnd yourself invoicing a lot, and if so, it’s much more eﬃcient to use an email template than it is to write a separate email each time you invoice. You can use accounting software to save email templates for when it’s time to send them; that way, your invoice is only a few clicks away from being sent. The one exception to this rule is if your invoice is complicated or you need to add a speciﬁc reminder for a certain client – but even then, it’s easier to add necessary information to an existing template than to write the email from scratch.
3. Include the invoice number in the subject line
If you need to search for a sent invoice later, your search will go much faster if you’ve planned ahead and included the invoice number in the subject line of your email. That way, any response the client has to the invoice is likely to include the invoice number in its subject line also, making records of conversations about speciﬁc invoices easy to identify right away. This also makes it easier for the client to search their email records as well.
4. Keep a record of outstanding invoices
The key to getting clients to pay on time is to keep track of accounts receivable. The time frame between sending an invoice and following up on payment will depend on your payment terms – often those with a Net 30 day policy will end up sending a follow up email if payment hasn’t been received in 45 to 60 days. It’s important to remember that clients with large accounting departments may have a slower turnaround by nature, so be gentle in tone when you follow up.
5. Have a template for collections emails
In addition to having an invoice email template, you should also have an overdue invoice email template. This saves time on collections, which need to be phrased delicately. On the one hand, you want to convey the urgency of the situation, but you don’t want to alienate the client with rude or abrupt statements about collections. The key to writing an eﬀective collections email is to assume the payment was simply overlooked, such as the example below:
Hi [Recipient’s name],
Hope this email ﬁnds you well! Our records indicate that we have yet to receive payment for invoice number [X] for [product or service].
Please let us know when we can expect to receive payment for this invoice, and feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns.
Thank you for your business!
Regards, [Sender’s name]
It’s useful to attach copies of the outstanding invoices, as well as a statement if there is more than one invoice outstanding. This makes it easier for the client to pay in the event that they didn’t see the original email with the invoice attached. Subsequent emails may need to ask that payment be arranged as soon as possible, but it’s best to use a softer approach at ﬁrst.
Following up on Collections
Following up on collections can be tricky, and if your emails don’t seem to be working, there are several approaches you can take.
First, you may want to give your client a call to make sure your emails are going to the right person – even if they are, this serves as a reminder that their invoices are still outstanding.
Secondly, you may decide to send an outstanding invoice letter. Since some clients may prefer paper, a physical statement may carry more weight with them than an email attachment will.
Finally, and at the last resort, you may need to advise that legal action will need to be taken if payment has not been received within a certain time frame. It’s never fun to reach that point, but remember that there’s no need to take it personally.
Sending invoices via email is the safest bet if you want to make sure you’re paid on time. That way if you should ever require proof that you sent your invoices, you have it saved automatically in your inbox. While invoice emails aren’t lengthy, the few words they do contain can either help or hinder your ability to get paid for your work – so choose them wisely!