Email etiquette 101

In the age of social media, we often turn our attention away from email but the fact remains that,  in the North American market, email marketing and communication remains one of the most common ways to exchange information and influence opinion.

The following email etiquette top 10 list is courtesy of I’m particularly fond of #8, so I’ve included the full explanation below. Full details of the complete list are available online.

1. Watch your words.

2. (Ed note: removed, because I’m not sure I completely agree with it)

3. Remember, few people like « spam. »

4. Nothing is private.

5. Keep attachments to a minimum.

6. CC Or Not To CC?

7. Never assume anything.

8. Think twice before hitting « reply to all. » When you are one of multiple e-mail recipients, consider who really needs to hear your response. It probably isn’t necessary to hit the « reply to all button. » Most often, the original author of the e-mail is the only person to which you need reply.

9. If your message doesn’t need a response, let the recipient know.

10. Don’t send e-mails that simply say « Thanks. »

Like most of you, I’m already submerged by email and receiving one that breaks rules 3, 8 and 10, in particular, have me shaking my head and hitting delete.

As with any communication, it’s important to put yourself in the email recipient’s place and be sure that what you’re sending has value. You should also ask yourself whether or not email is the most effective way to communicate given the subject, sensitivity or complexity of your particular message. Sometimes we can be so email-centric that we forget that picking up the phone or meeting in person can actually be a much more effective way of resolving a complex issue efficiently.

It’s unlikely that any of the communications professionals who read this blog need a reminder about email etiquette, but our clients and business partners often do. The question is : what is the etiquette for broaching the subject of email etiquette with a client or colleague without ruffling feathers?

If someone has the magic formula, please let me know.

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