Here's an update of an article (Part 1) which I published in my ezine, MarketSavvy in 2005. It's still relevant today.
"You've Got Mail" a 1988 comedy starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan parodied email as a fun ride to romance. Fast forward to 2009. Even if we don't carry a "crackberry," we are addicted to email before, during and after the workday. Not so much fun.
Just two minutes each for 100 emails steals over three hours of your day. It's compelling, adrenaline rushing – yet it can be a productivity drain, rather than a gain.
Email is fast but that doesn't give us a license to send a careless message over the wire. Would you send a coffee-stained message through the mail? Email is permanent so edit ruthlessly; never write anything you wouldn't want made public.
Email is an important communication tool but many business owners are still unaware of basic courtesy in email.
Your brand persona is reflected in your email messages so here are some cardinal rules:
• Never send an email with a blank subject line. Use a concise description.
• Avoid using terminology like ... please respond, help, important. These don't describe the subject and can appear as spam.
• Consider the subject a descriptive headline which allows the recipient to file and retrieve it later.
• Keep the context. Cryptic answers are meaningless without prior threads. Explain references to people and items which may not be clear. Include prior messages (at the bottom of your communication).
• Proofread and spell check. Review before you click.
• Never type in all caps. This is screaming. It is also more difficult to read.
• A mix of fancy fonts looks amateurish. Use font and color sparingly, judiciously and appropriately. There are almost no instances when script is appropriate in email.
• When necessary to send a group mailing from your own email address, protect the privacy of people who don't know each other by using the "don't show addresses" button on groups or BCC (blind carbon copy).
• Use "reply to all" and "cc" only when it is useful to everyone.
• Never send chain letters, jokes or warnings. Most warnings are bogus and others may not share your sense of humor. In fact, they may be offended. FYI, you can verify warnings at Snopes.com.