New Email Etiquette in 5 Steps.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm being filtered out by my recipients.  This is not due to the ever-vigilant spam filters, but due to the long-winded emails I send from time to time trying to max out one message. 

It used to be you'd plan out a very thoughtful message and cover many points to keep from bombarding friends, family, clients with too many emails.  That was then, this is now:


1. ONE thought with a subject to match usually works best. More people are checking and responding to email from their smartphones. This trend, combined with fruit-fly attention spans means that people don't want to take the time to read all the way through your recap of the past few days, projects, etc. Get to the point and be very clear about what you need from the recipient.  The subject is key.  Make sure you mention what you want – "Need a quick reply about dinner here on Friday 6/4 – thanks," "Quick list of website tasks before we launch on Monday 6/1.", etc.

2. When in doubt, write a draft. Also, perhaps you learned as I did when writing copy – if you have to work a paragraph or sentence to death, you most likely don't need it.  If you need to decide whether or not it's a good idea to send an email, don't – it most likely isn't.  Instead of simply hitting, "Reply” and send an angry response to an email that sets you off; wait a few minutes – hours or DAYS, cool down, and write a draft in another program like Word or Notepad. Only when you’re ready, and you’re certain that your email won’t cause serious problems, should you paste that into your email program. Give it another read. As a very last step, don't address the email. Keeping that email unaddressed until the last minute will save you a huge amount of embarrassment because you had an itchy "send" finger .

3. ARIAL is your friend. Sure it's boring, but we can all read it.  Dump the stationery, inserted graphics, logos, etc.  Don't add to the message download time with your graphics. Just give us your contact information in your signature, including email address in case it gets forwarded to someone else and it loses the thread of "from" emails.  Also, those "personal" graphics don't show on smart phones.  Just a clogger.

4. When sending group emails, BCC (blind carbon copy) can save your face. If you’re writing to a group of unaffiliated people – say, contacting a dozen clients to invite them to a special open house at your office – they don’t need to know each other by name and email addresses. Send the invite to yourself and BCC everybody else. Your clients will appreciate that you respect their privacy. It also helps to avoid that embarrassing moment when someone replies ALL and adds some VERY personal remarks about you, themselves or another invitee!

5. GROW UP – time to ween yourself from your familiar @yahoo, @aol, @msn. If you have a website, make it MATCH!  If you don't, get a proper domain. Even if you’re a small company, a Yahoo or Gmail address looks unprofessional. Any reputable hosted email provider will give you a custom email address so that you can have a proper domain.  The cost is minimal. Time to brand yourself all the way!