Archives for posts with tag: Email

The TLA – the three letter acronym which of course is itself a TLA – is shorthand, jargon that we can use in good ways and bad ways. It saves us time and effort, but is also something to hide behind and can exclude others.

I think how we use the term TLA varies between the spoken and written word. If the first letter of the TLA starts with a vowel sound, and is a consonant like the F of FAQ, we’re more likely to say ‘an FAQ’ when we’re talking. It’s easier and sounds better.

If we use a TLA in the written word, like in a report, then we’re likely not to use ‘an’ before a vowel-sounding TLA, as in ‘If you have a FAQ, please consult the FAQ section.’ Or are we?

This is where it gets ambiguous, when you’re in the realm of email, which is kind of written but kind of spoken too, or at least is the chattier form of the written word.

Essentially you as the writer are signalling to the reader whether you want them to read it as a TLA in their head or read it as the expanded phrase the TLA refers to. For example, the other day I received an emailed that closed with ‘… a MNC’, where MNC is a multinational company. For me the reader wants me to think ‘a multinational company’. If he had written an MNC, I think he would want me to think MNC, which also means multinational company.

Geddit? Too deep? Neither relevant nor interesting? To answer the title of the post, if you want your vowel-sounding TLA to be read as a TLA, use the ‘an’, otherwise don’t.

Then there’s the vowel-sounding TLA which begins with an actual vowel, like an OTC drug, which is a whole lot easier!

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Emails are tough to manage aren’t they? You blink or go away for a couple of days and all of a sudden your inbox looks like a war-zone.

Are you an active email manager or a laissez-faire kind of a person? On the one hand you can spend a few extra moments sorting out every single email the first time you read it, deleting it or filing it, which aggregates to hundreds of hours. On the other, you file nothing, maybe delete nothing, safe in the knowledge that you can search for emails and do an emergency triage if your storage limit gets tripped.

I take a different approach to my work emails and my personal emails. With my work emails I leave everything in the inbox or sent items, searching for stuff when I need it and doing a periodic cull of large attachments to relieve storage and aid computer speed. I knew a colleague who was a very successful salesperson and religiously kept his work inbox down to a handful of emails, all the time. How he did it I’ll never know.

With my personal emails – and many of the emails I get are subscriptions to emails from businesses – I try to delete and file, keeping my inbox as clear as I can. Inevitably it mushrooms out of control and I have to spend a few hours every 6 months getting the inbox and sent items down to a reasonable level, deleting stuff I should have and filing other emails away into folders that I’ll rarely access.

The trouble is, the periods immediately preceding a seasonal wipe session are less than serene. Like now, for instance…

It’s a little known fact, but GDPR, of which you’re probably sick at this stage – if you’re reading this post soon after publication – doesn’t actually stand for General Data Protection Regulation.

Well, of course it does, but for me it stands for Great Delivery and Proposal Reduction.

I subscribe to a lot of email and I’ve found myself on a lot of additional lists as a consequence. As I’m sure you can attest yourself, all these organisations have been frantically getting in touch of late to make sure I’m properly opted in to continue to receive their communications.

I’ve received emails from organisations I had no idea either I was subscribed to, or had information on me in the first place. Consequently it’s a super way for me to cull my subscription lists. Those I don’t want to stay in touch with, or to market to me, I simply let lapse and after 25th May I should be theoretically free of their shackles. I have a great opportunity to reduce the delivery of offers, invitations and proposals coming into my email inbox.

On a more serious note, this is a big, big deal for a lot of European organisations, and other international organisations who do business with customers from Europe. It’s a ton of work to be compliant and they will see their subscription lists getting quite a severe haircut.

If we’re not careful, the winners in this will be the unscrupulous organisations who carry on regardless, and with no regard for the GDPR’s provisions, at the expense of their dutiful, compliant competitors.

Too many what?

I don’t know about you, but I’m fascinated by the spurious messages you get from software to explain away an error. I’m also frustrated in equal measure, mind you, as I’m sure many of you are when mission critical stuff like email doesn’t function as it should.

I use outlook on a mac, my work hosting provider is register365 and my telecoms provider for Internet is vodafone. I think my email account is a pop3 account. Put them all together and it’s really flaky.

It will often say that incoming mail cannot be received because another account is receiving it, so it’s locked by another pop3 session. I use the work email on my phone too, so why I can’t get email on both devices, and why they can’t sync properly like my other email accounts do, is a mystery to me. Also, and I’m not looking for free help here, but my work email doesn’t allow me to send outbound email when I’m not in Ireland, but it will receive mail? I’ve tried a bunch of support-suggested options, and I know it’s not an easy solution, for some non-easy reason.

Yesterday I got the message above for why a person-to-person email wasn’t being sent. Have you ever heard something as laughable? It doesn’t mean anything and is utterly irrelevant. Too many recipients of what?

Stranger than fiction.

Ah, email, the scourge of modern lives, both work-based and social-based. It’s no wonder that the young are not embracing it as a communications vehicle in anything like the numbers that the older generations have.

Emails can represent both a time-suck and an intrusion into our daily lives. If you’re like me and you subscribe to suppliers’ mailings, or have simply bought something from a company which has your email address, you’ll know what a chore it is to wade through email subject lines from organisations you don’t want to unsubscribe from, in case the occasional email provides something of use to you.

Email has its problems. A large percentage of knowledge and intellectual property is buried in email, often not archived or indexed properly, and it can be difficult to find and retrieve. That’s not particularly efficient. Email intrudes on a regular basis, with a ping here and a ping there, and business gurus are lining up to tell us to ignore 80% of our email and do our necessary email work in batches so that we stay productive.  Businesses are soon to be subject to the EU General Data Protection Regulation, which places more stringent requirements on those companies that collect and use data on us, like our email address. Here’s a nice summary by a marketing automation provider on GDPR implications for companies that email their customers.

Email marketing has been trending down for some time, as search engine optimisation / marketing and social media have been trending up. By 2020, according to Forrester and CMO, email will account for only 2,5% of our digital marketing spend.

It’s not all bad for email though. For example, a couple of years ago I called a couple dozen customers of a client of mine and asked them what their communications preferences were, both as prospective customers, and as active, ongoing customers. The overriding preference? ‘Email. Yes, I get loads of them, but if you send me one that I know I need to read, from looking at the subject line, I can leave it in my inbox and get to it when I’m ready.’

So it seems that, at least for non-millennials and business folk, the hugely prevalent mechanism that is email is still the best of a pretty bad lot when it comes to written communications.

Do you subscribe to a lot of email newsletters? I do, partly because I’m interested in the content but also because some of what I do touches on the design and production of them. I almost never unsubscribe to them either. I prefer to scan the subject line, give them 2 seconds and delete, rather than missing out on some nuggets.

So it’s fair to say, then, that I’m a fairly experienced writer and consumer of them, in both B2C and B2B environments. I have read up a fair amount on best practices for getting people to open them and beyond.

Here’s my most obvious tip. Don’t title them This Month’s Newsletter. It just doesn’t cut it, especially to a sophisticated reader who gets a lot of them.

Putting that in the subject line offers nothing to the reader and pretty much guarantees a rubbish open rate. There’s no indication of the subject matter lying within which might be of interest, so readers can self-select. There’s no call to action or invitation. This Month’s Newsletter is focused on the sender of the newsletter, not its intended recipients.

This Month’s Newsletter…who cares?

I did a survey recently for a customer who was looking to establish how their B2B customers preferred to receive communications.

The demise of email has been touted for as long as social media platforms have been around. Younger generations like millennials are simply not into email any more, we’re told. They’re all about chat and instant communication in its various different guises.

Interesting, then, that the standout preference was for getting stuff via email. Yes, folk get loads of emails and no, they don’t read many of them. They still want them, though, so they can mine them and sort them if they need to refer back to something. Alternatively, they might mark them as unread for a later date. They want well crafted emails so that they can tell instantly whether or not they want to engage. So it’s still about value then. The cream rises to the top and the good stuff gets read and actioned.

Admittedly, my survey was less than 20 one-to-one conversations with a cross section of business owners and ecommerce managers, but the feedback is telling and informative nonetheless, methinks.

Internet-based chat works of course, socially. It’s mimicking what we do in person. C2C and B2C usually lead the way for B2B to follow, and this same trend may eventually sweep up email as well, but probably not before the latest generation is the current generation and the mainstay of our economic growth.