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You've Got Mail -- But Who Cares...

Effective E-mail


Today's e-mail is about the only asset that increasingly loses value the longer you own it. A six-year-old e-mail address is practically useless because it is bombarded hourly by spammers and malicious coded messages.

Often, users will just give up and abandon their mailboxes for new ones all around the Web, leaving orphan files to fill up and eventually be deleted.

Some estimates indicate that as much as 80 percent of today's e-mail traffic is spam. Instead of being a help to productivity and communication, e-mail is a time sop where people are busy trying to implement spam and anti-virus strategies that are counter-productive to just getting the job done.

Zoominfo helps find people and companies.

This article will help you cope with your e-mail issues and hopefullly provide some relief. It also will tell you about the future of e-mail and some of the marvelous new advances that will transform e-mail into something quite useful.

How to get control of your e-mail

1. The first thing you should do a little "action" template that will guide the recipient about what this message is all about. It might look like this: 

This email is: [x] actionable  [ ] fyi  [ ] social

Response needed:  [ ] yes  [x] up to you  [ ] no 

Time-sensitive:  [ ] immediate  [x] soon  [ ] none


If you have a Mac, you can download a great little program called TextExpander that will, using a shortcut, put that template text in there. If you don't, maybe your e-mail program supports the automatic insertion of a header at the top of your message.


1. Now that this template thingy is in place at the top of your message, you can grade your message so that your recipient will be better able to respond prior to reading. To me, this is just good manners and your readers should appreciate that you are trying to save them some time.  


2. ALWAYS have a Subject for your e-mail. A meaningful subject line. If you are reply to a person about something that is not about the Subject line that automatically gets inserted, CHANGE IT. When a thread migrates from one topic to another, I try to leave the original Subject in there but let the recipient know that I am talking about something different. Like this:Tuesday Planning Meeting >> Need to select images


3. Have you noticed that people only answer one or two items in an e-mail? If you want answers to several issues, send several messages, each with a good meaningful Subject line. I know its stupid, but don't fight Mother Nature. Just do it. If you insist on putting several issues into the same message (like any sane person would expect to do), NUMBER EACH ISSUE. This will call attention to each issue and you may get a better, more complete response.


4. Here's the rule on who has the action item in an e-mail message. If your name is in the TO field, you are responsible for the content. If your name is in the CC field, you are being send this message for information purposes. If you are BCC'd in the message, then you are being informed without the others having to deal with the fact that you are in the conversation. That could be good and that could be bad. It can't 




E-mail tips from Jerz at Seton Hill

43 Folders is a terrific site for improving productivity, working smarter, and learning to be more creative.

Writing more sensible e-mails - this is an old post but a good one -- and one that has hardly been heeded.

Another five tips -- You know, you can never have enough.

How to keep spam harvesters from capturing e-mail addresses used in your Web pages

Not foolproof, but good enough for most e-mail harvesting engines, this link generates code that foils the bad guys.

Add an action link to your e-mail

I also got this from 43 Folders.

This email is: [ ] actionable [ ] fyi [ ] social
Response needed: [ ] yes [ ] up to you [ ] no
Time-sensitive: [ ] immediate [ ] soon [ ] none

Perhaps a bit geeky, but its a step in the right direction of trying to prioritize messaging and separate casual FYI messages from messages that need action.

This site is called "Get the most out of e-mail." About 50 things, including how to send e-mail with PHP.

And another. This one contains good advice about using the subject line to help users see your purpose for sending.