Realizing that we all live in an age of information overload, – I don’t know anyone who doesn’t complain about having too many emails. Here is my list of 10 DOs and DON’Ts
1. DO include a response deadline in the subject
● Example: September 24 webinar available
2. DO include an action verb in the subject
● Example: Response requested by Friday for September 24 webinar
● Example: Action requested by Friday for September 24 webinar
3. DON’T have a subject line longer than 30 characters, it will wrap and the recipient will never see the end of it
4. DO use numbered lists, bullets, and white space
5. DON’T use email like it is IM – especially for clients, managers, or anyone you are trying to impress. Email like IM just feeds a frenzy and creates more confusion. Instead of looking like you are responsive and fast, remember that they have even less time than you do, so COLLECT your questions and then send one email with a numbered list of questions.
Example to avoid. This example shows four emails sent within a 1-hour period, when just one email at the end of the hour would have sufficed.
● Email 1: Thanks for your inquiry, I’ll get right on it
● Email 2: I’m looking into it now
● Email 3: My first impression is that our product name will have to be changed but I’ll get back to you with more later
● Email 4: In addition to the issue I sent in my previous email, I found the following concerns…
Example to emulate. This example shows how to turn the previous example from a DON’T to a DO
● Email 1: Thanks for your inquiry. I’ve reviewed the materials and I’ve found the following list of issues: (numbered list follows). Please get back to me within 24 hours with your assessment.
6. DO use an email signature, on EVERY email, even replies and forwards. Your replies/forwards signature can be more briefer, but it should at least contain your phone number. One of the most frustrating things for me is to have to hunt through tens of emails to find one with a phone number for a contact.
7. DO update your mobile phone to include the same signature (see #6)
8. DON’T send emails with blank subjects
9. DO change the subject line if the subject matter changes
10. DON’T forward an email without checking the full thread for content that shouldn’t be forwarded. Sometimes it is appropriate only to forward the most recent email and not the whole discussion.
I would love to hear from you, what are your pet peeves in emails? Or what best practices would you suggest others try?