As stated by Gary Schroeder, “Today, email is the most popular form of business communications – far surpassing the telephone, conventional mail and fax in volume” (Schroeder, 2011, p 363, para1). I was reminded of this today after being out of my office for just one day. As I logged into the internet in my hotel and opening my Outlook, I soon realized that it was uploading more than 170 emails since I shut down and packed my computer this morning prior to leaving town. Of these, ninety-percent are direct communications requiring my response, while about ten-percent are a result of spam or my inclusion on a state-wide distribution list or from opt-in or opt-out strategies by organizations, blogs and newsletters that I subscribe to.
Having recently read the drawbacks of e-mail, Schroeder mentions that “researchers have found that most managers can deal with e-mail messages at an average rate of about five minutes per message,” (Schroeder, 2011, p 363, para 4). He goes on to estimate that once someone receives more than 20-30 a day, they are likely spending more than two hours just dealing with email. Therefore, I immediately began calculating the time I will spend yet tonight reading and responding to this massive number of communications in my inbox. And in realizing this epiphany, also realize that this number will double again tomorrow as my business trip will keep me away another day. Therefore, this issue of time consumption is an issue that hits home with me. Many days, I attempt to determine what has been accomplished, especially when I realize that very few of the tasks on my “to do” list have been completed.
In an effort to streamline the organization of inbound email communications for a variety of projects, I have established specific email addresses for each project and utilize the “rules” tool in Outlook to help automatically sort messages into specific project folders and sub-folders. This is one of the possible solutions Schroeder mentions as a way of thwarting spam, another issue that continues to gain momentum with more and more visibility and connections that companies make.
These issues also lead me to consider my email etiquette and strategies to target my emails to specific audiences and related to particular topics, subjects and sub-categories. Information provided by WebWise Media promotes double opt-in email marketing tools. They claim to offer “targeted permission-based opt-in email lists as well as localized zip code email services” at a price that is highly affordable (WebWise Media, para 1). They also suggest that using their email tool will provide you with 100% legal and spam-free lists based on individuals opting in and expressing they are interested in receiving information regarding specific subjects. Many businesses, organizations and people utilize email marketing/content management programs such as Constant Contact, iContact, Benchmark, MailChimp, AWeber, Vertical Response and many others for this specific purpose. Most require the opt-in selection by those one invites to receive emails. I have used a variety of these programs and I have done a comparison as each has their own key features and benefits. Using tools such as these is a good practice if you wish to maintain a positive reputation and to gain favor by followers because it gives them the option of controlling the type and amount of information they receive from you.
In planning and promoting events, I rely on multiple list services to disseminate my publicity in order to inform specific and targeted audiences of education and networking opportunities that maybe relevant to their field of work or interests. Unfortunately, relying on multiple list holders opens my messages up to being rejected or to upsetting some who did not intend to receive emails for information or topics they may not have originally agreed to receive. Thus, by default, they may be included in these communications and it has become more and more obvious that it is a concern for my reputation. I would like to purchase an email/content management system that allows the individuals included in these multiple lists to opt-in to receive emails directly from me. With the increase in email communications and given my feelings about my time, I feel opt-in is the best choice if given time to strategically organize and plan.
With regard to email etiquette, there are many tips available for people to consider. How someone responds or fails to respond leaves an impression with those awaiting responses. Some of the issues and tips that I came upon include the following:
- Respond to emails promptly and thoroughly, being sure to answer or address all questions or concerns within the message
- Be sure to educate your staff, volunteers, employees and advocates as to what can or cannot be shared
- Always include an email signature with contact information at the bottom of emails so responding or further contact can be easily located
- Be concise and to the point
- Be professional and always use proper spelling, grammar and punctuation
- Only attach necessary files
- Do not overuse the high-priority status
- Be selective on using “reply to all”
- Be sure to disclose mass email addresses by using the blind carbon copy rather than using “to”.
- Do not request deliver and read receipts unless necessary
- Use of all caps projects “yelling”
- Always read and reread messages before sending.
In closing, it is important that one utilizes email as a selective and effective tool for communicating. If an opportunity exists to provide people the ability to opt-in, it should be the norm. Finally, following proper and professional email etiquette is essential in further strengthening and reinforcing your personal reputation. Before sending a message, stop, re-read it and ask yourself if you would respond to it.
AWeber Communications. (2012). Opt-in Email Marketing Tools. Retrieved February 8, 2012 from http://www.aweber.com
Benchmark email. (2012). Newsletter Marketing Tools For You. Retrieved February 8, 2012 from http://www.benchmarkemail.com
Constant Contact. (2012). Retrieved February 8, 2012 from http://www.constantcontact.com/index.jsp
iContact. (2012). Email and Social Media Marketing. Retrieved February 8, 2012 from http://www.icontact.com
Email Replies.com (n.a.). Email Etiquette. Retrieved February 8, 2011 from http://emailreplies.com
MailChimp. (2012). Easy Email Newsletters. Retrieved February 8, 2012 from http://mailchimp.com
Schneider, Gary P. (2011). Electronic Commerce, 9th Edition. Boston, MA: Course Technology, Cengage Learning.
Vertical Marketing. (2012). Email Marketing And a Whole Lot More! Retrieved February 8, 2012 from http://www.verticalresponse.com
WebWise Media. (n.a.) Targeted Opt-In Email Marketing Service. Retrieved February 8, 2011 from http://www.webwisemedia.com/EmailMarketing.php