15 Top Tips For Effective Email Communication
By Jon Keel
A recent article by Cyberatlas included some very interesting and pertinent data about email, including:
- Email is the most popular Internet application.
- Over 263 million emailboxes exist worldwide.
- Over 3.4 trillion email messages were delivered in 1998, over 9.4 billion messages daily in the U.S. alone.
- 81 million Americans use email at least occasionally.
- 84 per cent of Internet users use email.
So, with that background (and understand the numbers are grow- ing) it makes sense that you need to use email effectively, not only to save you time but to ensure that your messages get read by your audience.
Here are 15 Top Tips for you to incorporate (if you’re not al- ready doing them) into your personal and corporate email practice.
1. Make your subject line catch the eye of the reader. If you don’t have a strong or catchy subject line that causes the reader to open your message (and studies have shown that with the volume of email your customers and clients are receiving, they have to decide in a matter of seconds if they want to open your email), what you say in your message doesn’t make any difference.
2. Keep your messages short. People online are busy; don’t waste their time. You can always follow up with those that need more information.
3. Watch your spelling. It’s easy to let it go, but your sending out messages with misspelled words is a bad sign to the recipient.
4. Use both upper and lower case letters. It is considered rude to write in all caps.
5. If you’re responding to a message (that is, you’ve used the REPLY function), either delete the sender’s complete message or the parts that don’t matter. Not to do so indicates to the recipient (the original sender) that you’re a real newbie. Don’t do anything to raise doubt in his or her mind about your business capability.
6. Minimize your use of HTML email. Most people today still don’t or can’t use it. Give someone the option of receiving your message in HTML (if you have to do it). If you need to use HTML, consider providing direct links within the body of your email to the webpages to which you’re refering (See below for some examples).
7. If you’re sending an important message, test it by sen- ding it to yourself first. This will give you a chance to see how it looks before you send it for real. With email, once you hit the SEND key, you can’t go to the mailbox to retrieve it.
8. If you send a message to multiple recipients and you don’t want the recipients to know who else received the message, use the bcc (blind carbon copy) function in your email program. This will mean you send the original to yourself, but that’s okay.
9. Use a good signature file. This is probably one of the most underutilized features of email. In addition to your key information (e.g., company name, phone, fax, email, and website information), you can include short, pertinent advertising info. Click on this link for a good article on the how’s and what’s of signature files: http://www.improved-results.com
10. Answer your email quickly. Recent surveys have shown that a large percentage of email messages either go unanswered or are not responded to timely. Take advantage of this inherent competitive edge you can get. What do you think when someone doesn’t respond to your phone messages? It’s no different with email.
11. Can your recipients download your attachments. AOL, among others, sets a size limit on the attachments you can send with email. One way around this limitation is to use a link directly to an HTML file loaded on your website (see #6 above).
12. Are you using Autoresponders to handle the most frequently requested information people ask from you? This is a great way to more fully automate your online efforts. Here are several good articles on autoresponders: http://www.improved-results.com
13. You probably heard all of this you wanted in high school English, but are your messages clear, complete, and concise? Is your style easy to read? Remember, people are busy and don’t have the time to try to figure out what you’re trying to say. Just say it!
14. If you’re sending out information to a mailing list, use personalization to build a relationship with your readers. As an example, this ezine is addressed to you personally and starts off with “Dear (your first name)..”. People respond better when you use their names. A number of software programs are available to make this possible.
15. Limit your line length to 65 to 70 characters and use hard returns. Remember that a large number of people still use 14 or 15-inch monitors. If someone has to scroll right to read your message, chances are they’ll hit the delete key. An easy way to do this is to type “0123456789” and the top of your screen and copy it to the right 6 to 7 times.
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