Email is an invaluable tool for keeping in touch with customers, reaching out to prospective customers, sharing information with others in your industry and more. But you can damage your reputation and image by using email poorly.
Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind before you press “send.”
DON’T SHOUT! Using all caps is considered bad form, like shouting at someone. All lower case is almost as bad. Your keyboard has a shift key, doesn’t it? Use it. Capitalize the first word of each sentence, proper names and, occasionally, an entire word for EMPHASIS.
Use proper spelling, grammar and punctuation. Yes, email is less formal than other types of correspondence. But ‘gd riting gets ur msg acros’—and it leaves a good impression of you. Sloppy spelling and punctuation also leave an impression, but not the one you want.
For most messages, stick with plain text. Everyone can read it. When you use HTML or other special formats, your recipient may just see garbage.
Only send attachments to people who are expecting them and have agreed to receive them. Many viruses are spread via attachments, so your attachment won’t automatically be welcomed, even by many of the people who know you. (I’ve gotten viruses from people I know and trust–they didn’t know they were infected.) Also, those with slow dial-up connections won’t appreciate the time it takes for large attachments to download.
WHEN SENDING THE SAME MESSAGE TO MULTIPLE RECIPIENTS, USE BCC: TO HIDE THE ADDRESS LIST. I know, I’m shouting. That’s because this annoys the heck out of me. I hate getting messages filled with dozens (or even hundreds) of addresses, and I hate having my address given out to all those people I don’t know. Most email programs have a bcc: feature, and it solves this problem. (Bcc: stands for ‘blind carbon copy’—a holdover from the days of typewriters.)
When forwarding a message, delete any of the previous headers and text not required for clarity. Have you ever gotten one of those messages that seems like it has been to everyone on the Internet before getting to you, and all of the addresses and headers are in the message? After scrolling through page after page of garbage, you get to the lame joke that was forwarded. Or, someone forwards a multi-page message with ‘I agree.’ at the bottom. Don’t include a lot of garbage in forwarded email.
Which reminds me, don’t forward every joke, warning, petition, etc. that hits your mailbox to everyone you know. It won’t be appreciated. Think before you send, and don’t send anything that might be considered offensive (which is just about anything, these days) or is probably not true. Check out warnings before forwarding them.
And, finally, don’t send unsolicited email. Does that mean you can never write to anyone who hasn’t written to you first? Well, no, if it did there would never be any email sent. What it means is . . .well, let’s look at that in a future article.