When you observe a veteran craftsperson, what you see is beauty. Whether they are a glass blower, a chef, or a gymnast, there is an economy of movement, a rhythm, and a flair to their actions that signals to you this person has done what they’re doing many times before. Because of that, they’ve discovered what I call the musicality in their actions. It might seem pretentious to apply this analogy to online business owners and their email, but drawing the comparison does make a point. There is an art to email that goes beyond bits and bytes that I am very fond of. As an online business ownerI consider email my instrument, and I’ve discovered a few tips and shifts about how to use it that can help you become more effective. Here are a few tips.
1. If you’re having trouble getting someone to respond to your email, piggyback your question onto something they wrote. This works especially well if it’s someone with a high-profile. Have you ever tried emailing someone new with a question, and not heard back? I suggest you try again, but write your email as a reply to something they wrote. It’s human nature for people to look at a reply to something they emailed out before they reply to an email that looks like it’s asking for something out of the blue. Doing this is equivalent to joining a conversation that’s already in progress, as opposed to starting a brand new one. How do you reply to something a person wrote? Subscribe to their ezine. This is an especially good practice if you are building joint ventures online. If you think you’ve discovered someone who you’d like to partner or collaborate with, it makes sense to look at their website. While there, subscribe to their ezine so you can get to know them better. And then when you have a note to drop them, do so in response to one of their issues.
2. Be courteous. Don’t automatically use your “Urgent” flag to mark your emails. Is your email really urgent? Really. If not, please don’t succumb to the urge to mark it that way. People will notice if you abuse the privilege of asking for fast attention by misusing your “urgent” flag. Sad to say, I for one routinely ignore the “urgent” flag of a couple key people. I know they’re marking themselves urgent because they think they’re important, and that annoys me. So don’t let that be you. Instead, consider judiciously using your “not urgent” flag. That’s the blue arrow that points downwards, if you’re working in Microsoft Outlook. When I receive an email marked with a “not urgent” flag – now this is giving things away – I’ve become predisposed to be extra gracious towards the person because they’ve been considerate of my time, and let me know I needn’t rush to read their email. 3. Put your best foot forward. Do you have a good “friendly name” in place? If you don’t know what this is, address an email to yourself and when it arrives, look to see what it says in the “from” column. In Microsoft Outlook, click on “Tools” then select “Accounts” and click on the “Properties” button for an existing email address. You’ll then see the spot where you can edit your current “friendly name.” It may well be the world’s tiniest marketing space, but your friendly name is like your handshake. In the virtual world, it’s the first thing that makes an impression on the reader and you know what they say about first impressions. I’ve even seen some enterprising marketers use that space to advertise a new product, “One More Day to Save $50” or “I Must Be Crazy.” This is fine, but feels a little junk mail-ey, so use caution. Then again, you can also say “Your Name | It’s My Birthday!” and have some fun with it.
Once you start paying attention, you’ll begin getting in the groove. That’s what online business owners do when they start treating their email as though it was their musical instrument, not just a tool. That’s because it is.