3 Naughty Email Practices to Avoid That You're Probably Doing [12 Days of Social Media #4]

by JD Supra Perspectives

[The fourth in a series of 12 year-end posts published by LMA's Social & Digital Media SIG:]

From the series editors: We asked Arielle Lapiano to share her thoughts on improving communication. She zeroed in on the importance of improving email communication and offers great advice for anyone in any business.

On this 4th day, I'm here to kick-start your New Year's resolutions. Below are three common email practices that frequently land people in hot water. And full disclosure: even I have been guilty of these faux pas on occasion. The reason I have chosen these specific email no-nos is because although we all know that we should avoid them, we are all easily lured into them. By avoiding them you'll not only improve your communication, but you'll keep off of Santa's Naughty List!

Three email sins to avoid:

1. Rushing to Email

Want to get your message across, an answer to your question, or buy-in for a new project? Then don’t rush to send an email. Email is often abused as a communications channel because it's so easy to use. We often send an email when we should be having a meeting, call, or conversation instead. So think twice about whether email is the right channel for your communication-even when the trigger is an email to you. Many people would actually prefer a quick call or face-to-face conversation. Ask the key people in your circle how they prefer to be communicated with and you might save yourself a couple of emails.

Do you have something difficult to communicate? Often the temptation is to send an email – which can easily become a nasty gram. Don’t give in! You will likely make the situation worse. Instead, think about what you need to communicate, how you might best de-escalate the situation, and find the nerve to speak up. If it’s takes you more than 15 minutes to write your email, that’s a good indication to give your fingers a break.

2. The Mile Long Email

If Churchill were alive, he would surely be apologizing for not having enough time to write a shorter email. There are too many emails, written with too many words, when we all have less time to read them. Want to ensure that your emails aren’t read? Make them long. Want to lose your reader before they even open the email? Make the subject line long.

...the average adult’s attention span is less than a goldfish

I get it. You have a lot to communicate. But you either have to figure out how to edit yourself, set up your email with short bullet points, or going back to #1 above, you may have rushed to email when it might be better to have a meeting or a call. 

Still not convinced? Did you know that the average adult’s attention span is less than a goldfish? According to Campaign Monitor, it’s us and the goldfish at 8 seconds. So for emails, that means make them short and easy to read with a clear call to action.

3. The 2 am Email

First of all, if you are working this late, it may be time to think about getting some more support or a new job. But I have been there. Sometimes it’s the only time to get stuff done. If you are sending emails after work hours, odds are they are less likely to get a response, or even to be read. Of course, we all know people that will answer emails at all hours of the night. But that doesn’t mean you should send them. So while it might be okay to craft an email when nothing is stirring, not even a mouse, save the sending for a better time. The same goes for the evening emails, especially on Fridays or before holidays.

What’s a better time? Most email marketing automation tools report that weekday mid-morning emails (think 10-11am) are when emails are the most likely to be read. So write your emails at a time that works best for you, save them in your drafts folder, set yourself a reminder for the next day, and then send them out at the optimal time. You greatly increase the likelihood of your emails being read and responded to, and people will not think you are rude or crazy.

We have an email pollution problem.

That's it! I may have told you things that you already know, but I’d hazard a guess that you witness these naughty email habits often. We all need a reminder every now and then.

Plus there is good reason to be more mindful about what you are putting into the digital environment. If you think you get a lot of emails now, well, prepare your inboxes. The Radicati Group, a global computer and telecommunications research company, reports that the average number of business-related emails is expected to increase to 140 a day in 2018 - making an already bad situation worse.

We have an email pollution problem. Important messages are drowning in the digital deluge. Let’s help make life better for one another and improve our digital environment by thinking a bit more before we type.

[Arielle Lapiano is a seasoned communications professional, leader, writer, and speaker, with an extensive track-record of crafting and executing creative and strategic communications and branding initiatives for global organizations. She currently leads the global Public Relations and Communications teams at leading global law firm Paul Hastings. As Director of Communications and Public Relations at Paul Hastings she oversees brand-building communications and activities for the firm’s 21 offices around the globe.]


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