Changing E-mail Etiquette, Marketing and Client Communication

There is an interesting discussion about e-mail etiquette on the Legal Talk Network. The hosts ask whether the rapid growth of on-line communities like Twitter and LinkedIn have changed any of the rules.

I coauthored an article on the subject just as Web 2.0 was beginning to take off. Some of those rules still hold. Think critically about appropriate uses of e-mail (in some instances, a phone call or a letter may be more appropriate), think about the way the recipient likes to receive information, etc.

As a more mature medium, the rules have evolved somewhat, though the fundamentals are still there. In a Web 2.0 world, there are more channels than ever to communicate with clients, prospects, referral sources, colleagues, opposing counsel, etc. So it is more critical than ever to use the right medium for a particular message.

The hosts suggest that e-mail may no longer be the best tool for collaborating with a group (or a community of professionals) on a document. They also note that with the growth of smartphone use, it is very important to know how the recipient will be receiving your message. If you know someone is traveling and carrying a Blackberry, then maybe sending an e-mail with links and attachments is not the best way to communicate.

E-mail volume has exploded in the past decade so it is important to create very descriptive subject lines so that recipients can triage the importance of your message. Similarly, as spam filters have gotten more sophisticated (in an effort to curb unwanted e-mail offers), the presumption that someone has received your message has lessened slightly. The advice? Go back to a practice that was much more common at the dawn of e-mail (call someone after sending a message to make sure that it has been received.)

E-mail remains an important communication tool in the workplace; but you need to think much more critically before launching your next e-mail marketing campaign.

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