Blind Carbon Copy (BCC)

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Have you ever received an email message in which the first screen or first several screens were a string of other people’s email addresses to which the message had been sent? Didn’t you feel special? Didn’t you feel the message was meant just for you? This sort of bulk mailing is very impersonal, and often recipients will delete the message without looking at it.

delete the message without looking at it. A few years ago I would have suggested using the BCC feature when sending bulk or group emails. Today, a number of Internet service providers look for multiple addresses in the BCC area to determine if an incoming message is spam. If your message is deemed to be spam, it will probably not get through to your intended recipient. This is one of the reasons I recommend moving to private mail list software for marketing messages that are going out to a group.

When blind carbon copy is used in an email message, all recipients’ names are hidden so that no one sees who else has received the email.

Effective Email Message Formatting

The content of the message should be focused on one topic. If you need to change the subject in the middle of a message, it is better to send a separate email. Alternatively, if you wish to discuss more than one topic, make sure you begin your message with “I have three questions” or “There are four issues I would like to discuss.” People are busy; they read or scan their email quickly and they assume you will cover your main points within the first few sentences of your message.

Email is similar to writing a business letter in that the spelling and grammar should be correct. This includes the proper use of upper- and lowercase lettering, which many people seem to ignore when sending email. However, email is unlike a business letter in that the tone is completely different. Email correspondence is not as formal as business writing. The tone of email is more similar to a polite conversation than a formal letter, which makes it conducive to relationship building.

In general, you should:

  • Keep your paragraphs relatively short—no more than four or five lines.
  • Make your email scannable.
  • Make your point in the first paragraph.
  • Make sure that what is likely to be in the preview screen will encourage the recipient to open your email. Many people use the preview screen to determine whether they want to open the email or not, so what appears there is very important if you want your email to be opened and read.
  • Be clear and concise.
  • Use http:// at the beginning of any Web address to ensure that you make it “live.” When you provide the URL starting with the www, the reader sometimes has to copy and paste the Web address into the address field in the browser if he or she wants to visit your site. When you place http:// before the www, the link is always “live” and the reader just has to click on the address to be taken directly to your site. Make it as easy as possible for your reader to visit your Web site.
  • Give your reader a call to action.
  • Avoid using fancy formatting such as stationery, graphics, different fonts, italics, and bold, because many email programs cannot display those features. Your message that reads: “Play golf today on the best course” could be viewed as “Play <I>golf<I> today on the <B>best course<B>” if the recipient’s email software can’t handle formatting. That kind of loses the impact!
  • Make sure you have turned on the spell-check feature in your email program. If your email software doesn’t have a spell-check feature, you might want to consider composing your message first in your wordprocessing program. Spell-check it there, then cut and paste it into your email package. If your email software does have the spell-check option, turn it on!
  • Choose your words carefully. Email is a permanent record of your thoughts, and it can easily be forwarded to others. Whenever you have the urge to send a nasty response, give yourself an hour or two (maybe even 24) to reconsider. Those words can come back to haunt you—and they usually do.

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