Business E-Mail Basics
Business E-Mail Basics
Tim Burress (E-mail Etiquette and Organization Specialist) gives expert video advice on: What are the advantages of business e-mail?; What are the disadvantages of business e-mail? and more...
What is 'e-mail'?
E-mail is electronic mail, a form of electronic communication. People use it for personal communication between family members on different sides of the coast, for business communication, or for a variety of reasons and purposes. But it's really for communicating in a digital format, communicating electronically. What used to be the process of typewriter, typing a letter out, sending it and putting a stamp on it, has basically moved over to electronic format, and that's represented in the e-mail system that we have today. We have it in various forms, from very sophisticated applications like Microsoft Outlook, to AOL, Yahoo!, Google mail, and so forth.
What is the purpose of e-mail?
The purpose of e-mail is to communicate information. It's not to have a conversation as a conversation is best face to face or on the phone when you're synchronous. E-mail is asynchronous. It's passing a message to someone to do something, request something, delivering something, asking them to send something back to someone else. E-mail is best used for communicating something in a very concise and clear manner. But we've moved conversation into that and it's caused e-mails to be confusing, misleading, vague, too long, too short, and often e-mails confuse the receiver with what they should do.
What role does e-mail play in business today?
Too often people think about e-mail as the work for the day, but e-mail is really just a communication vehicle. If, at the end of the day, the goal was to complete a project to ship out a new software package, that's the goal. E-mail is just a vehicle that you use to communicate the tasks in order to ship that out. So, keep this in mind, as at the end of the day, your business is really about shipping the product, making market share, producing something, it's not how many e-mails you've answered, and that's the role of e-mail in today's business.
What are the advantages of business e-mail?
The advantages of business email is that the speed of communication is greatly advanced. You can communicate very quickly across the world or across an office in a message. The cost is relatively cheap or just about zero, though there is a cost behind it. And it also gives you the ability to communicate with masses of people instantly. You can communicate a message across an entire enterprise worldwide that may be in twenty different countries in nanoseconds with business email. So, speed, efficiency and cost are all examples of great enhancements and advantages with moving into the digital age with business e-mail.
What are the disadvantages of business e-mail?
The disadvantages of business e-mail are that people can use it inappropriately. It's all the positives of business e-mail, just turned negative, so if the fact that you can communicate advantageously with millions of people in e-mail is the great advantage of e-mail, the disadvantage would be that you can communicate with millions of people. Most people might not be interested in that message, and we all experience that through spam. The other interesting disadvantage of business e-mail is there is no cost, so it doesn't really take a lot for me to type a message and send it out in terms of my cost or my time, and so people over-communicate sometimes. Those are some disadvantages of business e-mail.
How much does e-mail cost?
The cost of e-mail for most people appears to be zero, but there is a cost that's hidden. I find that the hidden cost is that it takes me time to read a message, and it takes time to type a message. And so, when you actually look at the volume that's increased today, you can look at someone's salary and equate the amount of time they spend in e-mail. This can be up to two and a half, three hours a day, so look at that cost in terms of how much you're paying that person at a corporation to do e-mail. And a lot of e-mail is unnecessary, so there is a wasted cost to e-mail.