Email Etiquette 101

Emails are abundant in the day to day.

And I’m not using the word abundant lightly. I’m sure everyone who is active on the internet can sympathize with waking up to 30 new unread emails – on a good day.

Email Rules to Live By

I would like to point out a few rules to live by, when it comes to sending emails to anyone.

  • Signing up to a mail list is permission marketing. They want to receive your emails. This puts the onus on the email sender to provide relevant, personal, and necessary information in the communication.
  • Don’t amalgamate email lists, this will lose subscribers interest very quickly – and also known as spamming. This doesn’t mean don’t cross promote. If another site/person’s message is relevant and you suspect your readers will benefit from it, by all means promote it. That’s why they love you.
  • If you expect the subscriber to spend 5 minutes to read your email, is it not fair to expect you to take 5 minutes to go through your contact list and make sure their information (merge tags) (ie. first name, last name, company, etc.) are updated and populated with proper vitals?
  • If there is no particular reason for the email, why are you even hitting that send button? Nobody wants unnecessary emails clogging up their flow.
  • Did you just cc (carbon copy) somebody in on an email and there is no identifiable reason why they should have been included in the communication?
  • If you’ve been discussing a plethora of items with a co-worker, client, etc., and one particular item needs other members involved in the communication, take the time to compose a new email with a new email subject with: an overview of where the discussion is at, any relevant background information, followed by specific requests. Don’t waste my time by making me go through the entire conversation history trying to understand why I was just included in this communication, and if there is anything I’m supposed to be doing.
  • Just cc’ing somebody at the end of a long conversation is extremely frustrating, not to mention the possibility of breaching confidentiality or exposing a level of formality between you and a contact only achieved after a long discussion or many messages.
  • Remember, you’re a person and you’re engaging somebody on a personal level – much like letter mail – so focus on being coherent, precise, and easy to understand. Unless, of course, you’re a unique writer sending out abstract writing short stories…
  • If you’re not getting responses from email subscribers, it’s not their fault. It’s your email, it’s your message, it’s your content, it’s you pressing the send button. This is your image and it is your engagement as a producer to your subscriber; make the communication valuable and if it’s not, change it up.
  • If your message/request is exciting, alluring, clear, and cohesive, you might convince me to do it. Otherwise, you have very little chance to engage me and I’m going to get bored after reading the 2nd line in the email.
  • If your message/request isn’t exciting, alluring, clear, and cohesive, I will not respond to it immediately which risks the hazard of being buried in my inbox.
  • If you have an email, and a call to action, there had better be a hyperlink for me to click to follow your directions. This makes it easy for me, and also smoothly directs the flow to your website, event page, etc.
  • “When does this end? And why am I even waiting for this to end?” <~ this is not a good reaction to an email.

I’ve amalgamated this from a variety of sources over the years (Seth Godin in particular), and my own personal experiences.

Do you have any other email taboos you’d like to illuminate? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

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