Saturday, February 18, 2012

Where your unreturned emails go

Not to date myself, but I remember years ago when attempting to contact someone, they were either on the end of a phone line or not home. There were no voice messages--no cellphones--no email--just home phones. You kept calling to get ahold of someone or you gave up for another day. The common courtesy, was to answer the phone if you were home--or endure the endless ringing.

Today, so many of us can hide behind our email--our home message machines or our cellphone voicemail. The humanization of communication is gone! I can understand how many want to screen who calls or emails (eg. spam, salespeople, bill collectors, etc.) but it has become so out of control that we are losing touch with many in the world to avoid some we actually may want to speak with or answer their email.

For me personally, it has become one of the largest frustrations of my life. Running the 9/11 Patch Project the past 10 years has been tough getting through to many folks as to save the high costs of advertising, many emails were sent out to various Fire, EMS & Police organizations to make them aware of this worldwide effort to remember the heroes of 9/11 and raise funds.  If the email is lucky to not fall into a "spam folder," it just lines up in someones email box alongside hundreds of others. Many will pick though that list of emails and as quickly as possible, eliminate the ones they are not interested in at first glance. Depending on the sender, most will not even click though the email if it is not from someone they know or are expecting an email from.

So where do your unreturned emails actually go? If they are not deleted outright or caught in the 'ol spam folder, they get buried in the email-abyss until someone has time to actually respond or go back into another round of deletion. Even when you actually respond back to someone who initially replied, the same thing could happen all over again. Sometimes I get as much as 200 emails a day. If I don't check for 2 days, there are now 400 emails to go though. This is even worse as the deletion process becomes more of a hap hazard mission to get to that one or two emails folks remember they need to return.

What about phone calls? Many of us use email so we don't have to track someone down on the phone. Even if we get a voicemail, depending on the amount of "um's" you leave in your recording, you may not get that call back.

So how do we get our emails replied to? According to Net Manners (link in previous paragraphs) We often screw things up right out of the gate by putting the wrong words in the subject line, including "red flag" words in our first couple of paragraphs and inserting pictures into the body of our emails. Even fancy fonts with colorful text and backgrounds may ruin your chances of getting your email read.

Bottom Line: At some point in time, if you want your email to find its target and earn a response, you may need to follow up with a phone call--the sooner the better. Modern communication does have it's advantages but it may take more work to see them--especially if you are sending out an email to someone you don't know. Spam can be a grey area to some but very black and white to others--especially those on the receiving end who didn't solicit an email from you to begin with.

1 comment:

  1. Wonders of modern technology? Remember letters (snail mail) you write stuff down and send it and up to a week later you would get a reply. These days you email someone and they either don't respond or forward you some unfunny joke that their uncle forwarded to them! I work in a service based industry, every email is a potential job. I print out all of them (using an ink jet printer Recyling waste paper rom my office) then chuck it into my in tray and work through them and reply to them all (up to 100 a day) it's not hard to do! We can now be in contact with friends and family around the world more than ever... Yet the jokes keep coming... When are you gonna get skype? Arghhhhh