Sure, you know how to handle email. You're probably flooded
with the stuff and deal with it as effectively as you can. But
is this good enough?
Maybe, but I sure get a lot of email that completely ignores
well established rules. And even defies common sense. Here are
my pet peeves.
A line of 80 characters is about twice as hard to read as
one of 65. My reader window is set to accommodate 65 character
lines. Send me 80, and 15 or more will wrap to a second line.
Ugly. And hard to read.
Send 60 character lines, 65 maximum, as do most newsletters.
All you need to do is hit Enter at about 60 while typing.
Use it. Forget all other fonts. This is what most expect.
When you use the font you love, it's a struggle for me to read
it because it is not what I expected or am used to.
Forget it. Many are now trashing HTML, much favored by
pornographers. While I don't automatically trash it, it's got
to be important else I will. People can send Java and Active X
in HTML. Reports I have not confirmed, suggest these will
become joyful tools for those wanting to do mischief.
Do The Views Above Reflect The Norm?
It's doubtful. But I'm not alone in any one of them. So if
you break these rules, you are bound to annoy some. Remembering
the importance of generating every single possible hit, can you
afford this risk? Many obviously believe they can, for the
above are commonly violated in the email I receive.
There's more to all this than mentioned above. If you are
serious about your business and want to be certain your messages
are first rate, visit my site. Click on Library in the
navigation bar to the left. Then, under Topics, select Email
Handling. You'll find lots of good information here, and the
views of others.
Three Unbreakable Rules
Ignore the following at your peril. You can lose lots and
lots of potential customers in doing so.
Simple Rules That Matter
- Answer Promptly
What good is a reply a week later? Heck, the sender has
likely forgotten the question. And even that they asked it.
There's no exception here. Email needs to be answered
within a few hours of receipt. If you're working a day job,
handle the heavy stuff in the evening. But check for important
messages in the morning as well. Otherwise, check every two to
three hours. If you haven't the time, outsource the task. That
is, hire someone to handle your email for you. It simply has to
- Answer Completely
Many replies are incomplete, so you have to respond again to
clarify your question. Often the answer does not relate to the
Take whatever time is required to be sure you understand the
question. Then answer it completely. But go further. Include
related information that may be needed given your answer. For
example, if you suggest using a Windows' tool, add how to do so.
- Answer With Grace And Style
Be pro. Talk nicely. Use simple language. Say enough, but
not more than is needed. Above all, watch your manners. This
matters most when dealing with someone who is angry.
Remember there is no such thing as a dumb question. But
we've all seen and heard loads of dumb answers. Be sure yours
do not fall into this category. It's just plain bad business.
If you have been careless with your email, and have been
breaking any of the above rules, begin following them now.
It can do wonders for your bottom line.
- As spam is an ever increasing problem for most, be sure your
message stands out clearly.
- Use your name in the From field, followed by your email
address in angle brackets. Bob Jones <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Be sure the first three words in the Subject field get
right to the point. Often the full subject is not visible.
- Address your message to a name. If you don't know it,
visit the site. If the recipient does not see their name, they
may not even open the message.
- Get to the point in the first line of the message. Even a
busy reader who doesn't recognize the name or doesn't find the
subject revealing, may read the first line. But that's as far
as he or she is going to go, unless you have grabbed attention.
If you're not using signature files, start now. They can
draw visitors like crazy. In fact create several. Append the
one most appropriate to the end of the current message. Both
Pegasus and Eudora do a fine job in this.
If you are weak in this area, you have only two choices.
Outsource the task (which can be expensive) or figure a way to
handle it. Content of an email message may matter more than
that on your site, for it's personally directed.
What works for many is to create boilerplate. Answers to
commonly asked questions prepared ahead of time. Create a
complete answer acceptable for each question you have seen
repeatedly. Include more information than most will need. That
is, try to anticipate all possible twists people may add to the
question. Ask a friend to edit for you. Or pay a pro.
Then tuck it away into a .TXT file, to be copied as needed
in a reply. Or use a program such as ClipMate. It greatly
simplifies this task.
You may need to add or edit a bit to get your prepared text
to really fit the way the question was asked. But with
practice, this is not difficult. One approach is to give a
simple, brief answer to the question asked. Then add, "I've appended further information."
Put Email To Work For You Now
Email is a revolutionary tool. A grand leap ahead in
communications. But "communicate" has two sides to it. You
need to accurately state your message. And the person who
receives it needs to understand it. Quickly and easily. Else
there is no communication, and no point in having sent it in
the first place.
While some big outfits can afford to ignore email, a small
business can not. Handling email effectively is fundamental to
online success. Few succeed without embracing this need. The
potential value of a single hit is simply too great. You can't
afford to toss even one opportunity aside.
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