Using E-mail Effectively... Part Two

E-mail has become the preferred way to communicate with family, friends, and customers. But are you using e-mail to your best advantage? People receive a large number of e-mails every day and in order to be effective you must be sure they are opening yours.

Using Shorthand and Emoticons: Unlike face to face communication, email does not have the benefits of facial expressions or voice tones.  To add interest and emotion to email, people tend to use emoticons and shorthand.  The problem is that they give your email a less professional look, and the person you are sending the email to may not be familiar with them.  Emoticons and shorthand are best used between friends and family or when chatting in chat rooms or newsgroups. 

Partial list of emoticons and shorthand:

Emoticons Shorthand
:-) Smiling BTW By the way
:-O Wow! IMHO In my humble opinion
;-) Wink NBD No big deal
:-& Tongue-tied TIA Thanks in advance
:-< Sad or frown BRB Be right back
:-@ Screaming LOL Laughing out loud


Automated Mail Responders: Auto responders automatically send an e-mail back to the person who just emailed you, acknowledging that you received their email.  If you are going to be out of the office for an extended period of time you may want your auto responder to let people know when you will be back in the office, and who they can contact in the meantime.  Or if you get the same questions on a regular basis your auto responder could answer those questions. 

Brochure and Personal Note: Have an electronic brochure available that you can easily access and send via email.  Personalize the email you send with the brochure.  

Create and save email requests: Chances are that more than one person will ask the same questions.  Rather then make extra work for yourself, save the responses you send and name them based on the questions they answer.  That way when someone else asks the same question you can just copy and paste.  If you find the same questions being asked over and over again you may want to add the answer to your website.  

Create more than one email account: Using different email accounts helps you to organize your incoming email.  If your company is very small you may be the only person receiving emails.  Some emails are more important than others and need have your attention right away, while others can wait.  By having several email accounts your email is automatically separated.

Replay within 8 hours: The Internet provides information instantly.  People expect answers instantly.  You should be replying to emails the same day you receive them or at least within 8 hours.  Even if your reply says something like: "I will have to look into that and will get back to you by the end of the week".  At least you acknowledged them.  If you don’t they will assume you don’t think their business is worth your time and they will go somewhere else.  

HTML or Text Messages: When you send an email message with some programs you have the choice to send it as HTML or ASCII text.  HTML is getting more popular as more email programs support it.  The reason is you can make your emails look more like color brochures and flyers, complete with graphics.  When a HTML message is received by an email program that does not support HTML it is converted to ASCII, losing the formatting.  If you have ever seen an HTML file converted to ASCII you know that the look is very unappealing.  This may encourage the recipient to delete your message.  Whenever you mention a Web address an email you should include the complete Web address.  If the email program does not support HTML the link may not be clickable.  So by typing in the complete address (http://www.virtualtech.com) the recipient can type in the address and see the Web site.   If you want to use HTML in your emails create two email lists, one of those who can support HTML and those who can’t.  That way you can send out two emails, one with HTML and without.  

Email Netiquette: While writing emails, keep these points in mind:  

May 1, 2001

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