RESOURCES-TIPS: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.
The Top 10 Email Errors
By Deanna Lilly
1. Not reading over what you have written. Spelling, grammar, errors of omission, and using the wrong word are very common. While your friends might not care, your business associates might. Taking a moment to re-read your message before you hit Send is an easy way to make a better impression.
2. Omitting or Confusing Subject Line. It makes no sense to send an email that reads “no subject”. Not only that, many SPAM filters will automatically dump your email if it does not contain a subject. Given the huge amount of email a person receives a subject header is essential if you want your message.
a. Try to limit email to one subject. If multiple subjects exist in the body of your email, make sure you note each subject in the Subject line so that when the recipient is searching for you email by subject they can find it. Don’t try to be cute with your subject line. Keep it concise and detailed.
• Bad example: Meeting
• Good example: Meeting – Broadmore Housing Expansion – Sep 27
• Bad example – email with two subjects: Seminar – Schedules
• Good example – email with two subjects: Seminar Schedules – Weekend Shift Changes
b. Make sure you change the Header to correspond with the Subject, especially if you are continuing the conversation with updated emails. For example: Your email starts out with a subject of Website Changes (too cryptic because it could be anything) which is actually discussing a change to a particular graphic on a certain page. As the correspondences progresses you add new thoughts. Change the Subject line to read something like: Website Changes – New Contact Info – Logo.
3. Failing To Respond Promptly – Especially bad with customer related inquiries. In general, it’s a bad idea to let email pile up. Strive to replay within two days or less. If you will be out of town, use the auto-reply function to let people know.
4. Not Personalizing or Form Emails – Customers and other business associates appreciate a personal touch. Even if the volume of email you receive forces you to depend on “canned” email responses (you can save these as word documents and copy and pates the info into the body of your email shortening the time it takes you to type emails) it does not take long to add a personal greeting or use the recipient’s name so they don’t feel they are getting a form letter.
5. Conducting Urgent Business or Expecting Instant Response – Not everyone sits in front of his or her computer all day waiting for your email. If your communication is so important you need to hear back right away, use the phone.
6. Not Accounting for Tone – Remember the person reading your email cannot hear your tone of voice and may even be listening to his or her own tone of voice at the moment they read your email. If they have been arguing with someone, they may “interpret” your choice of words as an argument. Try to put yourself in the recipients place when you read the email.
7. Attachment Etiquette–
a. Do not open an attachment if you are not sure of the sender, or if you don’t believe the sender would attached the type of file sent to you. Remember people can spoof another email address and that is how viruses and other dangerous files get sent to your computer. If in doubt, call the person and ask if they sent you something. Better to be safe than sorry.
b. When sending attachments make it clear in the body of your email that you are sending (the name of the file) to someone and the type of file it is.
c. Be sure the recipient has the correct programs installed on their computer to open your attachment, do not assume, ask if in doubt. A quick phone call both alerts the person you are sending a file and assures you they can open the document type.
8. Leaving Off Your Signature – Always close using your name and contact information such as phone, address, fax and other information that may be of use to the recipient in case they need to reach you other than by reply email. Almost all mail programs offer the ability for you to create signature blocks that can include hyperlinks.
9. Forwarding Email – Thinking No One Else Will Ever See Your Email – Once it’s left your mailbox, you have no idea where you email will end up. Don’t say anything in an email that you don’t want the whole world to know. If it’s private, then use the phone or a personal meeting. Email is not private.
10. Writing the Great American Novel – Keep your emails short and concise. Avoid rambling, state your point quickly and close quickly. People are busy. If they want to read a novel they will buy one. Remember people skim emails like they do web pages.