Whether you use the email that came with your Internet service or one of the numerous free or paid options online, you can use these tips to get the most out of it!
While your Internet Service Provider (ISP) usually includes a free email address there are numerous email services that you can sign up for (many of them for free) and use their email instead of the standard option from your ISP. ISP email is often very basic and using a more email-centric service can offer many advantages such as custom domains, enhanced security and more online storage. We will outline the pros and cons in a later post; for now, let’s take a look at some tips to make your email serve you better.
Create a signature
Using a signature saves you time and gives your messages a professional look. The information your signature contains is up to you but will usually contain your name and contact information. You may want to include your website (if you have one), and a phone number at which you can be reached. If you’re using this email account for work, keep your signature easy to read and professional looking. If this is a personal account, feel free to dress it up with pretty colors or interesting fonts but remember that it needs to remain legible, and please don’t download free fonts from a random web search!
Folders are a great way to keep your email organized. Instead of letting your inbox fill up with old messages, put them into folders. Just like keeping your papers organized in the real world, using folders helps you keep important information accessible. Folders are usually organized by topic or function. Here are some examples: Receipts - Family - Personal - Important – Bills. While sorting messages into folders will keep your inbox neater, you may want to take time once a year to delete old messages from these folders as well.
Now that you have folders it’s time to put them to use and fill them! While you can manually sort through new and existing messages and drag them to a folder, wouldn’t it be nice if they just went there on their own? Imagine the time you could save! It sounds like magic but you can do it by creating a filter. A filter is an instruction set for your email that tells it how to sort messages. Filters need at least two pieces of information; what to look for in a message and what to do with a message that matches the search criteria. You can set up filters to automatically sort messages from specific people, with certain words in the subject or body or other parameters. The filters can then be applied to your current inbox and can also automatically sort future messages as they arrive. Just remember to check your folders for new messages, you wouldn’t want to miss an important email just because it was sorted!
Use Proper English
Just because you’re writing an email doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use proper English. Use capitalization and punctuation correctly. Spell your words correctly and use the correct word. An old trick I use is to read your message out loud before sending it; you’d be surprised what mistakes your tongue will uncover that your brain “auto-corrected” for you. While this is especially important in business communication, it is also a good habit for personal messages as well. This habit will not only keep you in practice, but your friends will appreciate it as well.
To, Cc, and Bcc
While these fields may seem redundant, they each serve a function. The To field is obvious; this is the person or persons to whom you are sending the message. The Cc field is used to send a “carbon copy” of the message to additional people. That way you don’t have to send your message multiple times. The downside to Cc is that everyone in the list will see everyone else’s’ email address. Not only is this unsightly (especially when there are many recipients) but it’s also poor email etiquette as most people don’t want their email address being sent far and wide. This brings us to Bcc. The advantage here is that you can send a message to multiple recipients while simultaneously hiding all those email addresses. The downside is that no one will know that other people are getting the same message so you may want to mention that fact in the message itself. A note about sending emails to large groups of people; most ISPs place a limit on the number of messages being sent at one time from a single email address. This is one method that is used to prevent spam. While this usually isn’t a problem for most residential customers, it can be very frustrating to a business that is using either free email services (such as Gmail, Yahoo Mail or Outlook.com) or the free accounts from their ISP. For businesses we recommend using paid email services (which we can provide) and/or a mailing list service such as MailChimp or Constant Contact.
This article is the first in a multi-part series about email.