- Katie Stocking is the Owner/Founder at Happy Medium.
We’ve all done it — you click send on an email, you watch it go from draft to sent and you noticed there’s a typo, or a date is wrong, or a sentence that makes no sense or, worse, that you’ve replied all and now Karen is going to know you hated her Bundt cake. It’s a terrible feeling.
All you want to do is snatch that email back and now, the people at Google have made that possible. After working on it for six years, Gmail now allows you to unsend an email. You only have 30 seconds to turn back the hands of time but this little feature could save a lot of embarrassment (now if Apple could only allow me to retrieve sent text messages #AutoCorrectFail).
As exciting as this new option is, 30 seconds isn’t a lot of time and doesn’t provide too much of a get out of jail free card if you’ve sent an email with a mistake. It’s still a good idea to practice sound email etiquette (or netiquette) before pressing send. As someone who does a lot of emailing (I send about 120 a day—sigh), I’ve come to a few conclusions on best practices.
1. Never Email Angry:
There are times when you get an email that makes you so furious that all you want to do is send the electronic version of an atomic bomb. A couple of truths about sending a scathing email; it never feels as satisfying as you want it to and, more importantly, burning bridges is a bad idea both online and in conversation (and, now that I think of it, it’s not a great idea at all because it’s arson).
Frustration through email is natural but let me introduce you to the drafts folder, which can be your little private bank of all the nasty things you so desperately want to say but, because you’re a good person, know that you shouldn’t.
2. Know your Audience:
I try to introduce myself in almost every email. There are times, of course, when the receiver will obviously know who you are, but an email should be helpful and you don’t want the reader trying to place how they know you instead of reading what you’ve written.
I love emojis and acronyms and excessive exclamation points but there’s a place for that, it’s the green icon at the bottom of your phone screen. They don’t often belong in an inbox. If I receive an email reading “OMG, Katie, we should totes meet up 2 talk biz opportunities!!!” I know I’m not dealing with a professional. Also, sarcasm and in-jokes are great for in-person conversation but are really difficult to pull off in an email. Do it wrong and your gentle ribbing ends up hurting someone’s feelings because they didn’t receive it in the nature in which it was intended and guess what, that’s your fault, not theirs.
3. Should the conversation be offline?
If you have a difficult email to send or a complicated problem you need to work out, it may be better to set up a meeting or a call. Sometimes a long email is great so the reader can use it as a reference, but other times they are confusing and inefficient. Email is supposed to save time but using one at the wrong time and creating rounds of back-and-forth emails when a quick call would clear up everything is a fail. Knowing when an email makes sense and when an in-person conversation is better is the hallmark of a great communicator.
As a marketer, sending emails is no different than creating a great ad; it’s all about tying the right message to the right audience. A great emailer needs to keep that in mind. There are literally hundreds of wonderful emailing tips; these were just a few of mine. What are some of yours? How about email pet-peeves or frustrations? Let me hear them! E-mail me!
Katie Stocking is the Owner/Founder of Happy Medium, a full service interactive advertising agency based in Des Moines. Follow her on Twitter - @klstocking