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Thursday, January 19, 2006

10 Tips To Make All Our Email Lives Better

Email's a pain in the proverbial. Yet it's also a great tool.

I've been using email for more years than I can remember. Certainly well over 20.

I've been burnt by most bad aspects at one time or another. And again it's got me out of a few holes where I've had to prove to managers with "bad" memories what I said and backed up with an email.

This article (which I believe is quite old as it quotes a prediction for 1999) makes a number of interesting points about email.

It said

"But like any valuable communications tool people often don't understand how to use it properly or quickly find ways to abuse it's use. E-mail is so much a part of our business life that the Electronic Messaging Association estimates that more than 94 million users will send over 5.5 trillion e-mail messages in 1999."

Interestingly a later prediction from a different web site notes that in 2000 8.2 billion emails were sent every day and that the prediction was that this would rise to 26.1 billion per day by 2005. And this excludes bulk email.

And notes that more than one million new spam emails were sent on just one day on the 25th March 2004.

So we haven't quite reached the doom laden prediction in the nineties. But we still manage to fall foul of a lack of email etiquette

Email No Nos

  1. Don't instantly type in a response because your're annoyed. If you send it the chances are it will upset someone and possibly damage your career!
  2. Don't use emoticons or things like '(grin)' you just don't know how that sort of thing is received in a business communication. I can vouch for seriously upsetting some people for putting '(grin)' in some emails to them. The intention was to be friendly but the opposite happened and they felt they were being talked down to.
  3. If you're not willing for your email to be read out to everyone in a large concert hall filled with all your friends and relatives and others don't send it. Because people have the ability to forward your mail to their friends, who have their own friends... You see where this is going don't you?
  4. Also remember your features can soften much of what you say when you're talking to someone. Even when you're on the phone. You don't have that luxury by email and an email can be read as being nasty, bullying, aggressive and unfriendly simply because other people perceive what you've written differently to your intention and you're not thwere to explain
  5. If your intention is to be aggressive and bad tempered. Don't do it. Remember email rage, like road rage can be over the most trivial things yet can alter two people's lives and relationship for ever.
  6. Don't try to justify sending large amounts of email to prospect lists you've bought with no clue as to whether they are your target market. That's just spam. Spam is insulting, annoying and just adds up to the hassle factor for people you're sending it to.
  7. Check that before you send it you've added any attachements you wrote about.
  8. Note that if you do send attatchments beware that people may simply delete the email and nothing will get read.
  9. Do not, I repeat do not, simply reply to an email and copy someone else on that reply. The reason is that you may have been having an email conversation that the new person shouldn't know about. I've received several over the years and have found the conversations interesting, and sometimes useful too!
  10. Do not use an enormously long signature,or sig. People are used to between 2 to 5 lines. Anymore and they're just going to ignore it anyway.

Finally two free bonus tips

11. Never send an email without a subject line. Firstly because it stands a great danger of being deleted. Secondly the person who receives it has no incentive to open it even though they have to find out what it's about. Why should they bother? Look at your subject line as the headline for your email. It should attract and intrigue so that the receipient wants to open it.

12. Because of Anti-spam filters you can't assume that your important business communication has got through. Certainly if people aren't expecting your email and haven't whitelisted your address there is a strong risk of it going to a bulk folder. Where hardly anyone checks.

So use email the right way because you stand more chance of being read. And use marketing the right way because you stand more chance of selling!

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