With the proliferation of e-mails these days, you may want to learn how to be more effective with this mode of communication in order to ensure your e-mail gets read and responded to. Whether you use e-mail for legal marketing purposes or not, Guy Kawasaki provides some sound advice on how to be an effective e-mailer in a post on his Let The Good Times Roll blog.
Among his suggestions:
*Have a creative subject line (to avoid spam filters, and get the recipient to open the message);
*Limit your recipients (particularly if you are expecting a response. With many recipients, it is easier for one or more to feel it isn’t necessary to respond or to take the action requested – kinda like getting lost in the crowd syndrome.);
*Don’t Use ALL CAPS (unless you are purposely trying to convey that you are YELLING – bad manners otherwise);
*Keep it short (unless you are heaping praise on the recipient, the shorter the better. Guy suggests the “ideal length for an e-mail is five sentences.” Maybe or maybe not. Main point is to get to the POINT);
*Include text from original message when replying (as Guy says, “Yes, I agree” doesn’t cut it, and may require person to dig among many e-mails to figure out what you are agreeing to);
*Use plain text (not sure I agree that you shouldn’t use HTML, but I do agree with leaving out the pretty color text and weird fonts. Keep it simple and professional);
*Don’t include lengthy URLs in your message (can lead to broken links, and annoyance. He suggests you use SnipURL to get around problem.);
*Don’t ask inappropriate or unanswerable questions (see his points Nos. 8 and 9);
*Minimize use of attachments (particularly if the attachment is short enough to include in the body of the e-mail. Also remember, with smartphones attachments are problematic. Yeah, and who cares about your slides that you showed at the National Dogcatcher of America’s convention, since they are worthless in conveying what you really said in your speech.);
*Ask permission (if you really must ask difficult questions or want to send your slides, send a pre-email e-mail asking if they would be willing to help you out on an issue, or would like to receive those 150 fabulous dogcatcher slides);
*Chill out (don’t retaliate to snippy emails as it is very difficult to take back your counter e-mail once sent, or to control who else will see it, possibly out of context); and
*Include signature with contact info (to make it easy for someone to pick up the phone and call you).
Thanks to Gerry Riskin at Amazing Firms, Amazing Practices for steering me to Guy’s post.