Last week I posted on my social networks asking people to share their email pet peeves. I expected a few responses, since who doesn’t want an opportunity to vent? What I did not expect was such a passionate response with very specific details about what irks everyone beyond measure.
If you’re wondering if your own emails are annoying, it’s fine to ask your friends or colleagues for their input. “I believe the only way we can become better at what we do is by paying constant attention to the feedback we receive,” said Liviu Tanase, CEO of ZeroBounce. “ Asking others what you could improve in your email technique shows modesty and the desire to listen and learn. That’s a great starting point for progress.” But don’t randomly try to correct the egregious email techniques of others “Offering unsolicited advice is always tricky,” Tanase offers, “but if it’s someone you care about, there are delicate ways to suggest an improvement. Use your best judgment.”
This article could easily have been called 600 Of the Extremely Annoying Things You Do on Email and Must Stop Immediately, but for the purposes of brevity and clarity, I’ve whittled down the list to six of the worst offenders.
In no particular order:
You hit reply all
There’s a point in every email chain where the group share must stop. In fact, the vast majority of email chains should not include everyone in every department you’ve ever worked with. Here’s a good rule of thumb – pretend that those copied on the chain will invoice you for your time — much as a high-priced attorney might. Would you still copy them on the memo about the frosting on the cupcakes at the company picnic? Probably not.
You use text speak
Please don’t. Unless it’s your BFF, leave the cutesy text acronyms for those you’re sure will understand them. Nothing looks less professional than a business email rich with “ur” “kk” and
Then ramble some more: They say that time is money, so including dozens of superfluous details in an email keeps people from doing their actual jobs. If you have a lot to say, try to break up each point into short readable sections. If you have too much to say, send yourself a copy of your very important email first and then scan through for readability before hitting send.
You send a DM when you should email/You email when you should send a DM
Personally, I hate it when random strangers try to pitch me using social media. While I love to engage with others online, I prefer it to be measured in increments and not pressured. For me at least, sending an email means I can filter it and save for future reference. My very busy friend Eugene is quite the opposite and loathes email. If you need to reach him urgently, Facebook messenger or similar is his stay in touch method of choice. The takeaway lesson here? Find out if the person you’re in touch with even uses email, and if not, their preferred communications method.
You neglect to properly define yourself or your company
Never assume that the person on the receiving end knows who you are and what you do. You’re probably best off using a loose formula when it comes to initial or early contacts. Tanase says in personal or strictly business email, “There are some basic guidelines we all know and should follow.” And a lot has to do with the image you’ve created for yourself or your organization. “Does your company have a more serious approach in the way it communicates? Then use the same tone of voice whether you’re sending a blast or a one on one email. Have you always infused your communication with lots of personality?” Tanase says “Don’t be afraid to do the same in your emails. But, there’s a fine line between having personality and coming across as unprofessional. Make sure you don’t cross that line.”
You send out emails no one cares about
I don’t have any handy statistics about the bazillion people we encounter over a lifetime, but it’s definitely a lot. Never assume that someone knows or remembers you or your company. More than that, never assume they want to hear from you. And if you do randomly write, try to offer them something — knowledge, a laugh, a business tidbit they probably missed. Tanase says “Billions of people around the world are using email to communicate. It’s fast, efficient, and has turned into an incredible revenue generator for businesses of all sizes. Speaking of unsolicited advice, if there’s one I would give, it would be to take good care of your email list. It’s your number one asset and its hygiene makes a crucial impact on your email marketing ROI.”
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