Email checklist (maybe this time it’ll work!)
Three years ago this week, I posted this checklist, in the naive hope that it would eliminate (or perhaps merely reduce) the ridiculous CC-to-all emails about the carpool, the fake-charity forwards, the ALL CAPS yelling and the stupid PR spam.
A guy can hope, can't he?
Feel free to send this to those that need to read it:
Before you hit send on that next email, perhaps you should run down this list, just to be sure:
- Is it going to just one person? (If yes, jump to #10)
- Since it's going to a group, have I thought about who is on my list?
- Are they blind copied?
- Did every person on the list really and truly opt in? Not like sort of, but really ask for it?
- So that means that if I didn't send it to them, they'd complain about not getting it?
- See #5. If they wouldn't complain, take them off!
- That means, for example, that sending bulk email to a list of bloggers just cause they have blogs is not okay.
- Aside: the definition of permission marketing: Anticipated, personal and relevant messages delivered to people who actually want to get them. Nowhere does it say anything about you and your needs as a sender. Probably none of my business, but I'm just letting you know how I feel. (And how your prospects feel).
- Is the email from a real person? If it is, will hitting reply get a note back to that person? (if not, change it please).
- Have I corresponded with this person before?
- Really? They've written back? (if no, reconsider email).
- If it is a cold-call email, and I'm sure it's welcome, and I'm sure it's not spam, then don't apologize. If I need to apologize, then yes, it's spam, and I'll get the brand-hurt I deserve.
- Am I angry? (If so, save as draft and come back to the note in one hour).
- Could I do this note better with a phone call?
- Am I blind-ccing my boss? If so, what will happen if the recipient finds out?
- Is there anything in this email I don't want the attorney general, the media or my boss seeing? (If so, hit delete).
- Is any portion of the email in all caps? (If so, consider changing it.)
- Is it in black type at a normal size?
- Do I have my contact info at the bottom? (If not, consider adding it).
- Have I included the line, "Please save the planet. Don't print this email"? (If so, please delete the line and consider a job as a forest ranger or flight attendant).
- Could this email be shorter?
- Is there anyone copied on this email who could be left off the list?
- Have I attached any files that are very big? (If so, google something like 'send big files' and consider your options.)
- Have I attached any files that would work better in PDF format?
- Are there any 🙂 or other emoticons involved? (If so, reconsider).
- Am I forwarding someone else's mail? (If so, will they be happy when they find out?)
- Am I forwarding something about religion (mine or someone else's)? (If so, delete).
- Am I forwarding something about a virus or worldwide charity effort or other potential hoax? (If so, visit snopes and check to see if it's 'actually true).
- Did I hit 'reply all'? If so, am I glad I did? Does every person on the list need to see it?
- Am I quoting back the original text in a helpful way? (Sending an email that says, in its entirety, "yes," is not helpful).
- If this email is to someone like Seth, did I check to make sure I know the difference between its and it's? Just wondering.
- If this is a press release, am I really sure that the recipient is going to be delighted to get it? Or am I taking advantage of the asymmetrical nature of email–free to send, expensive investment of time to read or delete?
- Are there any little animated creatures in the footer of this email? Adorable kittens? Endangered species of any kind?
- Bonus: Is there a long legal disclaimer at the bottom of my email? Why?
- Bonus: Does the subject line make it easy to understand what's to come and likely it will get filed properly?
- If I had to pay 42 cents to send this email, would I?
Chris Anderson has come up with his own list as well.