Friday, March 7, 2008

A-Z Email Etiquette

Do you know what you should and should not be doing when sending emails? Let me break it down for you...

  • Attachments: If you are sending an attachment out in your email, your recipients spam filter may perceive your email as spam. If it is a particularly large attachment they may not receive it. It’s better to zip the contents if you can or do an ftp upload to their server when sending large email attachments.
  • BCC: Use the BCC (blind carbon copy) field when sending to multiple recipients. If you are sending out a bulk email to several people at once, you should use undisclosed recipients instead of placing each address in the “To” or “CC” field. If you use those, you are publicizing someone else’s email without their permission. Or you can do a mail merge with Outlook and Word if you have them.
  • Caps: If you don’t already know it, typing in all caps is perceived as shouting and can turn off the reader of your email. Emails are also harder to read when all of the text is capitalized.
  • Delete Messages from Server: You should have your email settings set to delete messages from the server after downloading so that you don’t clog up the server or worse yet, have email rejected due to a full mailbox.
  • Delivery Service Notifications DSNs: You receive a DSN message if you send an email and it is bounced back to you because the address was wrong. It can also be the notification that an email was downloaded (not whether or not it was read).
  • Email or e-mail: Which is correct? In the beginning we all used e-mail, but throughout the years the hyphen has been dropped in order to simplify. is trying to “officially” changing the spelling to be “email”.
  • Email Disclaimers: You should include an email disclaimer to protect you from the possibility of being sued by amongst many things, unknowingly sending a virus (in an attachment) to your email recipient.
  • Exclamation points: If you are using more than 3 exclamation points to get your point across, your intended recipient may not receive your email. Excessive use of exclamation points (sometimes even just using one in the subject) can cause your email to go to their spam filter.
  • Forwarding: Always be sure to double check who you are forwarding an email to and any comment you may be adding.
  • HTML: Always remember when formatting your outgoing emails that your recipient may not be able to see the formatting that you have applied, whether it is html or rich text. They may only be able to see plain text emails.
  • Junk Mail: Don’t reply to it to have yourself unsubscribed. All you will be doing is confirming that your email address is active and it will only generate more junk or “spam”.
  • LOL and Smiley Faces: If you are sending out a professional email representing your company, be sure not to include these until you have established a rapport with the client. Only then will you know whether or not it is o.k. to insert them.
  • Message Thread: If you are replying to someone’s email always be sure to include the previous message thread so that they can reference each point and won’t have to go back and look at older emails. This is especially helpful for businesses that receive several emails per day from different clientele.
  • Priority Emails: When marking a message as priority or urgent, only do so on a message that truly is. Overuse of the priority feature will have the “boy who cried wolf” effect and one day when you truly do need to send an important email, you may not be taken seriously.
  • Reply to All: When replying to an email that was sent to multiple recipients, make sure you are replying to only the sender when you respond. That is unless you have something to add to the email that is relevant to all of the recipients. Many people have been removed from their positions by accidentally sending inappropriate emails to unintended recipients.
  • Return Receipts: Although it is a great concept, it almost never works. Most email programs do not support return receipts. When an email client does support them, the viewer is usually prompted with a message asking them to let you know that they read their mail and this can be perceived as rude. In addition it also has the option to cancel the notification to you. The room for error can be that you think they have read your email when they have not, when in fact it was only downloaded to their email client yet remains in the inbox unread. The best way to know if your email was received and read is to confirm with the recipient.
  • Spam and Chain Letters: There are many scams out on the Internet today and new ones are coming out every week. Don’t be fooled by email from PayPal or your credit card companies asking for personal information. Additionally, don’t forward chain letters, they are fake – you are not going to be struck down with bad luck if you don’t forward within 10 minutes to everybody you ever met. Many of them contain viruses – just delete them.
I think it’s also important to mention that even though you sent an email to someone, it doesn’t mean that they received it; it could be sitting online in their spam folder. Before jumping to conclusions, take the time to check and see. It should also be said that they might have seen it but been unable to respond at that time (perhaps they are on the phone, maybe they had a meeting to go to), patience should be practiced. It isn’t an instantaneous mode of communication.

I hope the advice above helps you and if you can think of anything to add, by all means – please comment.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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I've been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!