Email communication has become natural and familiar to us, so much so, the correct functional use of emails can be overlooked. This can be highly costly, especially for employees not to know the humble email’s full pragmatic functions.
This article will explore the various ways we can use this amazingly efficient method of communication to increase productivity, reduce financial loss, and make better use of time by primarily focusing on the elements associated with “regular email communication.”
Emails are an effective way to communicate with your colleagues, but they must be done positively. Studies have shown that the benefits of email communication far outweigh any potential negative implications from its use – so long as you do not abuse this tool for malicious purposes and only make productive uses out of emails.
As one of our oldest electronic communication tools dating back to the 1970s, it was first established primarily for the government to use. From the 1980s, businesses started to adopt this new type of communication and effectively used it to improve their business on many levels.
Now it seems with all the noise of so many types of communication methods available at our fingertips, even multinational corporations seem to be confused and, to some extent, forgotten what made email communication so successful for businesses.
Recently, several newspapers have published that people should stop using full stops in emails as it may seem intimidating or aggressive to young people. Many would agree on a personal level on how this can be true. However, businesses who use email campaigns have started to adopt this method of removing the full stop in case it offends and finding it to return negative feedback on their company.
It is interesting to see the data to show that 15-24 are still very much engaged with emails, and 90% are active users. The negative feedback from the change in tone of email content is generally coming from the older generation (majority email users) who expect less informal email content.
Emails in the workplace are a relatively unobtrusive form of communication sent instantly to a colleague sitting opposite or a client halfway across the world. This swift transmission makes it preferable when dealing with individuals in different time zones when a telephone call can be disruptive.
One fundamental use of emails in the workplace is record keeping. Email plays a vital role here to keep track of all conversations in case of future disputes. It has even become customary to end a phone conversation with “I’ll send you an email outlining what we just discussed.” It then becomes a binding acknowledgment of understanding between the two parties.
Effects Of WFH On Email Greeting And Closing
It is interesting to view how working from home during the pandemic has changed how we write emails. A study finds slight changes after working in the office to adapting to remote working and communicating. These changes also reflect how we view relationships differently, from physically seeing someone every day to not seeing them.
|Close colleague %||Distant colleague %|
|Greeting word only||1||3|
|The first name only||32||19|
|Greeting word + first name||8||27|
The data shows social distancing has changed the degree of acquaintance we feel with our colleagues. Social distancing is a factor in how well we think we know people. Socially distant colleagues are prone to becoming more formal in their email greeting. Companies practice the longer social distancing, the more chance employees will feel more personally distant. This can be a challenge for many companies, and with video conveyancing, the hope is to lessen the effect.
Understanding Email Communication In The Workplace
Email communication in the workplace is primarily used to build and maintain professional relationships internally and externally. People also use it to carry out their daily professional activities, perform task management and contribute to interpersonal relations.
Communicating to the outside work environment such as B2C marketing, emails play a vital role. Email usage amount the working demographic has been constant since the introduction of emails in the 1980s. We can recently see the new generation keeping the popularity consistent (view chart below). It’s interesting to see that emails are as popular as search engines, making it a perfect environment for marketing.
The popularity of emails can stem from the standard features that make them comparable to face-to-face conversation. A vast difference is that email is a written form of communication, whereas face-to-face isn’t. However, email is interactive, and just like a conversation, the turn by turn thread of messages or sequences of conversation.
Professional email marketers acknowledge this and use it to their advantage. However, as a marketer, you need to pay exceptional attention to the asynchronous nature of emails compared to the smooth synchronous nature of a face-to-face conversation.
Email conversation can be over many hours or days and with multiple recipients, while face-to-face conversation usually happens simultaneously with one other individual.
To narrow down our understanding of the differences and how we respond as a marketer, whether B2B or B2C can drastically affect the result of our campaign.
Understanding Email Responses During Marketing Campaigns
Silence in a conversation may mean disagreement, lack of understanding, or some problem. But this is not necessarily true when waiting for a reply from an email. It is best to understand when to hold recipients accountable for non-responses and acknowledge elsewhere, including the actual email content.
We can all agree that online responses are typically generated within a reasonably short period from our observation. Unlike face-to-face conversation, email dialogue lacks a terminating point. Unless the other party blocks a particular sender, an email is always open to a response regardless of how much time has passed.
In the workplace, an email to a colleague who does not reply may be interpreted as rude. There may be a significant delay, but ultimately if a response was requested, then a response is required.
Suppose the response is hours or even days late. In that case, the requester does not consider this rude or unusual. Knowing that the answer may be delayed, the recipient will often send a “placeholder,” which promises to respond in full later.
Researchers found that the response frequency depends highly on the relationship between the parties, including the relationship customers have with brands. Researchers also considered the type of message being sent to recipients that could increase the chances of a response.
Karianne Skovholt and Jan Svennevig: Response patterns
|All response types||Response||No response|
|All messages||491||261 (53%)||230 (47%)|
|Requesting messages||294||193 (66%)||101 (34 %)|
|Requesting for action||202||118 (58%)||84 (42%)|
|Requesting for information||92||75 (82%)||17 (18%)|
|Non-requesting messages||197||68 (35%)||129 (65%)|
It is clear the type of message sent heavily influences the chances of a response. You may have noticed an anomaly where “requesting for information” gains the highest response percentage compared to the others. Frankly, this does not mean you have a greater chance of a reply when you ask for someone’s credit card details.
The research paper by Kerianne Skovholt and Jan Svennevig was primarily based upon data retrieved from a workplace setting. Where it was a mixture of participants within a B2B environment. The messages were sent out, with each having its primary intent.
“Request for information” was an invitation to correct or comment (opinion) on what is proposed in the message. If what was offered was rather time-consuming, the recipient would reply with a placeholder, that is, a promise to do it later. Requesting a time-consuming task achieved a reply (if any) after many days or a quick placeholder message.
What We Learn From This Data
For start-up companies looking to send out the first batch of cold emails, this data is valuable in understanding the basics of what can result in higher replies.
- Sending block information will get you the most minimum of replies.
- Sending a requesting email with high information will get you a delayed (if any) response.
- Sending short requests (not time-consuming) for “opinion” will get you the optimal response.
Non-requesting (informing messages) does not require a response, but a small minority does respond. This response is only volunteered and even less if there is no relationship or positive awareness. When sending a non-requesting email into a B2B environment, the likelihood is that the recipient is too busy to volunteer a response.
As emails are a written medium similar to face-to-face conversation, your message needs to initiate discussion if your primary goal is to receive replies. Sending regular emails to inform may have some advantages, such as keeping the recipient in the know, but that message will soon find its way to the junk box without a working relationship.
Non-response In Requesting Emails
During our marketing haste to receive replies or engagement, we may overlook some apparent reasons as to why we didn’t receive a response:
- Technical problems. Maybe the messages were not sent or delayed due to server or email client issues.
- Content problem. Maybe the recipient has issues understanding the message or finding absolute no relevance to the given situation.
- Overwhelmed by emails. Perhaps the recipient is not checking emails as frequently due to the holiday season or out of work hours.
- Sender not important enough. You may not have built up enough online credibility or given enough information in the email to give yourself credibility.
Solution: Unless it’s a technical problem, a reminder sometimes provides a potential explanation for the problem.
Problems With Too Many Emails Or “Email Overload”
Laura A. Dabbish found that higher email volume was associated with an increased feeling of email overload. The higher frequency of emails being sent from particular senders contributed to this. It is the failure of the sender to understand email overload and incorrectly assume the recipient’s ability to manage.
Timing is one of the key components to pay attention to when sending an email. Researchers have concluded that frequently checking for new emails reduces the feeling of “information overload. Therefore, restricting yourself or not suspending will eventually result in information overload when you check your inbox.
A survey conducted in the United States of white-collar workers shows that a high majority (52%) check their email at work every few hours. As a marker sending emails during work hours means you will get through to them to buy whether they will dedicate enough time to reply is another question.
Deleting Messages After Reading Them
Research has shown that most workers have adopted an email management technique of frequently checking and deleting messages. Instead of filing emails into folders, most of us prefer to keep them available visually and search when attempting to reply to previous messages.
As a marketer, the tactic to employ is to either seek a reply or use content to motivate the recipient to keep the email (without deleting), increasing the chances of a search and reply in the future.
Email resembles a conversation between parties in regards to response and non-response. Like a face-to-face conversation, there are rules or “norms” that email adheres to, such as a request followed by a higher chance of response.
Absent responses are recommended to be followed by a reminder from the requester. However, the absence should be tolerated for several days, depending on the length of reply required.
The requester should keep records of “placeholder” messages and refer to this during the reminder will govern a higher chance of a fuller reply.
Emails that request comments or correction (opinion) may have a higher chance of a reply in a workplace environment.
Non-requesting emails can be used for brand awareness, and silence can usually be treated, not problematic and somewhat expected. If a group is shown to the receiver attached to the non-requesting message, you will have a much higher chance of no response.
Significant variation can be expected from responses, and higher responsiveness may be used to measure brand loyalty, involvement, and intimacy.
Response rates are also subject to the individual’s email management tactics. The rule of thumb here is that frequent checkers are more likely to reply and less overwhelmed by your emails.
Individuals want emails to be available on the surface level as opposed to filed away in folders. The objective of marketers is to keep the content relevant enough for the receiver to keep from deleting the email.
Email etiquette tips: