Posts tagged email
7-ish Reasons Why Email Drives Me Crazy

The whole goal of email is to be more efficient, but few people are. As a person who works in a tech-savy environment (and prefers email as a medium of business communication), I get SOOOO frustrated when people suck at email. But so many people are terrible email communicators. More communication isn't always better communication and a thoughtless response is worse than no response at all. If used improperly, email doesn't streamline your workplace communications, it actually creates additional, unfruitful work. Here are 7-ish things we can all do to be less terrible at professional email communication:

1. Have A Clear, Pertinent Subject Line

Subject Line: Re: Fw: Re: Fw: Re: Fw: A/R Meeting Content: Here is the login for our clients new website….

Be a dear to the folks on the other end - provide a clear subject line. This would allow the recipient the opportunity to prioritize their inbox more effectively.

A clear subject line also helps group emails in treads, or conversations. This may seem tedious on the front-end, but when you start searching through old email for a particular message, you'll be thankful. While we are on the subject of threads, it's important to be thread-minded. Keep your subject lines consistent with the content of the email. If your subject of your content changes, so should your subject line. Just start a new email. Also, if you owe someone an answer on a past conversation, don't just respond to the last email communication you had with that individual. Find the email concerning the question and respond to it. It's the decent thing to do.

Keep in mind, Chicken Little, your email is not always the most important email they will receive today. If you waited to the last minute to address an issue, that is your fault. Take ownership of that.

2a. Communicate An Action

An email sent to a team of people: '...Let's get started'. Ok, who starts? And what is the first step? What's the plan?

A good email has a clear call to action or purpose. Email communication usually revolves around solving problems or accomplishing tasks. Thus, your email should assist in this goal. A terrible email leaves you saying, 'So, what do we do next?' Good emails transfer to-do's to recipients. They should reduce options, not create them. If you want to introduce multiple options with no clear course of action, call a meeting. Use email to eliminate options and hone in on the solution to your problem. Email is a poor avenue to simply stir the pot.

2b. In Group Emails, Assign Responsibility

An email sent to a team of people: '...Let's get started'. Ok, who starts? And what is the first step? What's the plan?

Sending an email to multiple people, without assigning individual responsibility is a waste of time. It almost always falls upon deaf ears. Typically, the likelihood of individuals waiting on others to 'respond first' is directly proportional to the amount of work involved. For each question or task assigned, identify the responsible recipient. You probably already know this information, or you wouldn't be copying them to the email in the first place. Just make sure the individual is also aware.

4. Be Short & Sometimes Sweet

Blah Blah Blah Blah. I don't care.

I'm reminded of a line from one of my favorite movies, Ocean's 11: "Don't use seven words when four will do." You're wasting both your time, and the readers'. Magnify that by 100x per day and you've got some substantial time to reclaim.

Within the office, email isn't a 'Dear Diary' kind of a thing. It's a professional communication tool. This is particularly true of internal email communications. Take some advice from Sgt. Joe Friday: "Just the facts, ma'am."

5. Confirm Receipt

The website is down. Please look into it ASAP.

If someone writes you a significantly important email, a quick 'Thank You' or 'Will do' reply is a quick & easy way to confirm that you have received said message and put everyone's uncertainty to rest. It's not always necessary, but sometimes the situation requires it.

6. Be Timely

You email me a question. I respond with an answer. I don't hear from you for 2 weeks. Then you email back looking to restart the conversation.

It's always important to be timely in your email responses. I suspect that 24 hour response window is plenty sufficient for most people. If you are in a customer service or management position, you may need to be more prompt. With smart phones & laptops, that should be plenty of time. Besides, if you don't respond in the first 24 hours, there is a slim chance you will ever respond.

7. Know your audience.

The next time someone forwards me an email that I was copied on initially, I might scream.

A professional emailer always knows their audience. They pay attention to who received their email and who their response is directed to. Zappos, who is internationally recognized for their workplace environment, takes great pride in embarrassing people who accidentally 'Reply All'. It's such a fun way to encourage people to be more cognizant of their email audience.

It's time to take your email communication skills to the next level. By becoming more concise and communicating more effectively. You can save yourself time and save your company money.

Tagging Your Emails for Google Analytics Tracking
In my last post I discussed the basics of campaign tagging and how it can help you track the performance of your inbound links. In my next few posts I’m going to focus on tagging specific mediums starting today with email. In my opinion, email is the most important medium to tag. My reasoning is threefold.

Mail - All Traffic Sources   Google Analytics

First, your analytics will be terribly skewed if you just send out email campaigns and fail to tag them. People using offline mail applications like Microsoft Outlook will click on your links which will open their default browser and go to your site. This will register as a direct visit which is far from the case. Even worse can be online mail providers like Yahoo which will show up as any number of random referral sources like "us.mg1.mail.yahoo.com" and "36ohk6dgmcd.yom.mail.yahoo.net" that would take a lifetime to sort through, consolidate and make any sense out of.

The second reason tagging your emails is important is that your mail provider’s stats only tell part of the story. Typically a mail provider will tell you your email campaign’s open rate, unsubscribe rate, and maybe your click through rate but it stops there. These basic stats are great but what happens after the open, and the click? If you tag the URLs in your email then you can tell what those visitors who clicked through did on your site, and compare it to the other mediums you are using to drive traffic.

Third, if you can’t accurately track visits from your emails how do you plan to measure ROI? Your costs could include mail provider’s fees, design costs, content costs, the cost of your mailing list and at the very least somebody’s valuable time. Tagging your emails allows you to associate visits from email to your ecommerce or conversion events on your website that, if configured correctly in Google Analytics, will have $ values associated with them allowing for some basic return on investment numbers.

So how do you accurately tag your emails using the URL Builder? Before diving in remember that your data in Google Analytics will only be as good as the data you put into your tagging, so be descriptive.

Using the URL Builder, here is how I suggest tagging your email URLs:

Campaign Source:

The source will indicate who sent out your email. If you’re sending it out, use your company name. If your vendor or partner is sending it out for you to their list, use theirs.

Campaign Medium:

This should be “email”. As with every field, make this lower case to keep things consistent.

Campaign Term:

Term doesn't have a great fit for emails but you can always add extra info here if needed (e.g. sending the same email out with 4 subject line variations.)

Campaign Content:

Content will be used to describe the link in the email and help differentiate between multiple links that point to the same page on your site. You might have your homepage linked to from the logo in the header, a text link in the body and again in the footer. For those I would use “header company name logo”, “body company name”, and “footer company name”.

Campaign Name:

This is the name of your email campaign. It could be “june newsletter” or “10 percent off offer” or “widget x product announcement”.

Once you have tagged your links you simply point the actual links in the email (e.g. your logo or text link) to go to your tagged link. After sending out your tagged email you will be able to find your new data under Traffic Sources > Campaigns. Once there, you can drill down on a specific campaign or toggle the secondary column between “Source”, Medium”, or any of the other components of your tagged link to gain insights on what is working and what isn’t in your emails. With Goals and/or Ecommerce properly configured in Google Analytics you can track the conversion rate and revenue of your visitors from your email campaigns and do a quick ROI calculation to compare to other mediums. Overall, tracking the success of email campaigns is an important task for any online marketer and Google Analytics offers a free and relatively easy way of doing so (note that MailChimp is now offering to auto-tag your emails.)