Friday, December 31, 2010

Dr. E-Mail Wishes You A Happy New Year

E-Mails that are saved for reference to NOT belong in your Inbox. Create E-Mail folders for different references or sources and move these E-Mails to the relevant folder. The objective is to have no more than one page to scroll. If your in box is becoming bulkier by the day, you will soon find yourself lost in a sea of information and you will find it more difficult to prioritize what needs to get done.

Remember: Do not have more than one or two pages of E-Mails in your Inbox.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

No Attachment is the Best Attachment!

Today's tip is regarding attachments that can be sent by E-Mail. The first rule is: No Attachment is the Best Attachment!

Attachments take time to download. The bigger the attachment, the longer it takes to download. If you mail a big attachment to many people, bandwidth could be clogged or wasted. They would also take up disk space on the recipient's computer.

Some E-Mail attachments may not be necessary. Consider faxing lengthy documents that might otherwise be E-Mailed. Or, if time is not really an issue, use regular mail services, UPS or Federal Express.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Subject Line is your Message

The subject line is the most-read part of an E-Mail. Often, the E-Mail recipient decides whether to read your E-Mail or send it to trash based on the subject line. Not having a subject line or forgetting a subject line is even more of a guarantee that your E-Mail will not be read.

E-Mail marketing professionals live and die by subject lines. A good subject line will sum up what the message is all about, but still entice someone to open the message, read it, and take action. For E-Mail marketing, personalizing a subject line with your company’s name or the recipient’s name or other information can also lead to higher message open rates.

According to Jupiter Research, including the company name in the subject line can increase open rates by up to 32 percent to 60 percent over a subject line without branding.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

E-Mail and Humor

E-Mail is a medium where communication is through words. This is just not the best medium to express emotions or use humor. The reason is because they don’t come across very well in an E-Mail. You may use emoticons to get over some of these shortcomings but there’s just no way to express tone, inflection, etc. Further, you will not be able to judge whether the recipient really understands that you are only joking. When you are having a conversation in person and happen to say something that the other person does not really appreciate, you can always say that you were only joking. This may not happen over E-Mail as never get to see the recipient's reaction, unless he or she writes back to say so. In that case, you can try and limit the damage already done.

So, the basic rule would be to avoid humor unless the recipient knows you well well enough to understand that you’re joking. It just is not worth the risk.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

One Screen Fits All!

Remember to keep the length of your E-Mail within one screen. Long, drawn out E-Mails can be cumbersome to your reader. They also could result in your E-Mail being on multiple screens. This would result in your reader having to scroll up to reread your message. Making it difficult for your reader to read your E-Mail is not effective E-Mail writing. Avoid long E-Mail messages. Avoiding long E-Mail messages is another way of stating that conciseness is important in effective E-Mail writing.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Email for Specific Audiences

Being aware of audience means taking a moment to think about the perspective of the person receiving the email - plus being focused on the purpose of the E-Mail. It helps to consider whether the message is being sent to a family member, a friend, a potential employer, or someone else encountered in the course of business. An E-Mail message to a family member or close friend usually does not require the same level of formality that would be used in a business setting.

If the person receiving the email appreciates brevity over formal grammar then it might be appropriate to abbreviate or add things like smileys. E-Mail sent as part of a business message should be brief and to the point, but should avoid abbreviations and grammar should be checked for obvious errors.

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Out of Office Notification

If you are leaving on vacation or will be away from office for any reason, do not forget to redirect your E-Mail to another person who can deal with the E-Mails you received. Further, leave an Out of Office notification that will be sent as a reply to the E-Mail sender with details on who will be dealing with your E-Mails and when you are expected back. You may also give out the E-Mail and/ or telephone no. of the person handling your E-Mails.

If there is no one you can forward your E-Mails to, just mention in your Out of Office notification that you are out on vacation/ whatever reason. Mention the date you are expected to return. Also, customers would feel reassured if you tell them that you will contact them as soon as you are back.

Most importantly, do not neglect to deactivate the Out of Office notification as soon as you are back. People won't be impressed if they mail you and receive a reply saying the recipient will return on a date that has already passed.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Avoiding Spam

E-Mail has become ubiquitous as a communication tool today. With the rising usage of E-Mail comes the rising occurrence of spam. Here are some basic tips for avoiding or at least reducing spam in your in-box:
  • Do not use your primary E-Mail address on message boards, online forums etc. Use a second 'disposable' E-Mail address for these websites.
  • Avoid opening E-Mails from someone you do not know or do not trust. These could contain software or script which might harm your computer.
  • Do not reply to a spam E-Mail. You are unknowingly just validating your E-Mail address as being currently live.
  • Use anti-spam and filtering software. However, keep in mind that even the best anti-spam software cannot stop all the spam and some may even mark legitimate E-Mails as spam.
  • If you are using an E-Mail client like Outlook or Thunderbird, instruct your antivirus software to scan incoming E-Mail.
  • Install a spyware / malware checker and run it once a week to detect and remove any spyware or trojans.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Using a Signature File

You may attach a signature file to every outgoing message you send. , usually containing contact details and other relevant information. If you are in business you should almost certainly use an email signature in your communications. It is a great way to draw attention to products or services you offer, and you are making yourself easier to contact as well. Other uses for an email signature include:
  • confidentiality statements
  • drawing attention to web site addresses
  • promoting something
  • adding other contact details such as telephone or fax no.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Resize Pictures to Handy Proportions

Do not send multi-megapixel sized images weighing in tens of megabytes as this will only lead to the E-Mail server getting overloaded. Try to keep images to sensible proportions. E-Mail is not a high-resolution medium and you do not require anything more than 640 to 800 pixels width for an image to look good in E-Mail.

If you do need to send high-resolution images (maybe for printing), just compress them using ZIP or RAR formats to make them more portable and easy to handle.

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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Assume Nothing

Never assume that the recipient is familiar with the thinking behind the E-Mail at hand. If not, make sure that you let the person know the background and the issues. When following up, don't assume everyone remembers everything you've said earlier. If you've got any worries that an acronym, term, or reference is going to elicit a confused moment, it is better to explain it rather than having the recipient confused. Ask yourself if you are hiding anything from the reader unintentionally.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Using Filters to Sort E-Mail

If you receive a lot of E-Mail and your Inbox is getting too cluttered to focus on the important E-Mails, it would be a good idea to use filters in your E-Mail client to sort incoming E-Mail automatically.

First of all, you need to create new folders in your E-Mail client. Give them easily identifiable names like Friends, Work, Golf etc. Now you need to create filters which will act upon incoming E-Mail. You could set up a filter to send all incoming E-Mails from friends to go to the Friends folder. To do this, you need to tie your fiends' E-Mail IDs to the filter that forwards them to the Friends folder. Similarly, with other categories like Work, etc. You will find that your Inbox does not look too intimidating soon enough!

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

E-Mail is Asynchronous

The great element of E-Mail is that you read it when you want to read it. Those who check E-Mail every five minutes are using E-Mail in an undisciplined fashion. Reading and responding to every E-Mail immediately sets false expectations for those who send you E-Mail. It may be valuable to set a time within your E-Mail systems or through policy on when people should use E-Mail, thus establishing some clear disciplines on using E-Mail effectively.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

E-Mail Contains Thoughts

E-Mail contains the thoughts of those who write the e- mail. As I have studied it more, I have come to realize that E-Mail contains attitude, issues, requests and knowledge on the writer. By employing business intelligence, these thought forms, embedded in E-Mail, can be extracted to serve many uses from security to customer care to analytics.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Avoid Sending Unnecessary Attachments

Use attachments sparingly. If the recipient has no need to view the whole document or edit it anyway, just use the text of the document as part of your E-Mail body. Attachments can be very heavy and have the potential to send an E-Mail system crawling on its knees. Also make sure to have effective anti-virus so that the documents you send are not infected.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Identify Yourself

If you are the person initiating E-Mail contact with someone, do not forget to include your name, profession or organization where you work, or any other important information to identify yourself. You could have this information in the first few sentences of your E-Mail as an intro.

If you are just following up on an earlier conversation or contact and are not sure whether the other person will remember you, drop a few casual hints or bring up a reference to the earlier conversation.

If you are E-Mailing someone outside your organization, it helps to have a signature line that includes your full name and/ or telephone number with a link to a blog or website.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Use a Meaningful Subject Line

A meaningful subject line is an important prerequisite of any E-Mail. The recipient most likely has many E-Mails in his Inbox. He or she is going to scan the Subject line quickly to narrow down the list of E-Mails on which to take action or read. If you do not have a meaningful Subject line, the recipient may not read it or worse, may even trash it without reading.

Take a moment to see whether the Subject line conveys the essence of what is in the actual E-Mail body before hitting that "Send" button.

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Prioritize your E-Mail Content

If you have a lot of action points to discuss about, try to spread them over a few separate E-Mails. If it is a very long E-Mail, recipients may only read partway and hit "reply" as soon as they have something to contribute. It is quite common for them to forget to keep reading. This is part of human nature.  Spreading them over a few E-Mails reduces that risk. Alternatively, you may inform the recipient first up that there a lot of action points and you need them to read through all of them before replying. You may also consider numbering them and presenting them in order of importance.

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