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How to Use Email: A Complete Guide

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Knowing how to use email properly is crucial for business. Image credit: Solen Feyissa

In this day and age, online communication is part of daily life. Sharing, planning and conversing has now become heavily reliant on online means of communication, and in the centre of it all is the email. Knowing how to use email is critical.

This can serve several functions and fulfil several goals if it is utilised correctly. You can use emails for personal messages or for mass messaging, and it’s all easy and simple.

Making use of emails and its various functions is an effective way to send your message and achieve your goals. While you may be familiar with the basics of emailing, let us walk you through the unknown features and the overlooked functions that you’ve been missing out on.

In many fields and practices this is where the magic happens. If you run a business or work in an office, your emailing skills need to be as effective and straightforward as they can be.

So we’re here to hook you up with some tips and tricks on how to make your emails precise and straight to the point.

But first, let’s start with the basics

What is Email?

First, let us walk through the basics and history of emailing, to familiarise ourselves with this online tool. The word is an abbreviation for electronic mail, as it was the one of the first methods of communicating through the internet.

In fact it was one of the first uses for the internet. Since its invention, emails have come a long way. At first, you were only able to send text files to one single person, nowadays due to technological advances, the possibilities are endless.

You can now send images and videos to any of just one or all of your friends all at once.

To get yourself started, you first need to create an account. There are countless domains out there so just pick one of them, you can try, Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo.

Depending on why you’re creating one, your choice of domain will vary.

Typically, if you work in an office a domain will be assigned to you, one that is usually owned by the company.

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Around half of the world's population use email. Image credit: Oberlo

Next, you’ll need to decide on a username. This could be your full name, nickname or any recognisable combination of letters and numbers. Your username should identify who you are or what entity you represent because it is the first thing your email receivers will notice.

In a business context, you might choose the name of the department as your email address, such as [email protected].

Now that you’ve set up an address, get ready to send and receive emails to and from all your acquaintances.

How Long Did it Take for Email to Catch On?

When email first started up, it was a convenient alternative to sending letters and postcards. While it is obvious to us today how emails are so much easier and convenient to use, back then people were not so convinced.

We’ve come a long way since, and it’s important to recognize the advantages emails have allowed to make use of.

  • It’s free! Outside of internet costs, you can send and receive emails for free. If you were to send a letter, you’d have to pay for postage stamps.
  • It’s global! You can send and receive emails from anyone living anywhere in the world at any time
  • It’s fast! You don’t have to wait days for your letter to arrive, it’ll be there in seconds.
  • You can store it! You can store as many emails as you’d like for however long you wish. They won’t keep up space in your closet like letters do.
  • You attach files! Emails are not just limited to text, you can send images, videos, e-cards and so much more.
  • It’s eco-friendly! Sending virtual letters saves paper and keeps mother nature safe.

The ease of sending an email has made it a lot more popular than sending letters. In return, emails became shorter and more frequent and altered the general means of communication worldwide.

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Most people check their email at least once a day. Image credit: Cognique

Emailing in Different Contexts

In almost any field of work and even in your personal life, you will have to send a lot of emails. The different uses of email are centred on your purpose as an email sender and receiver.

People send messages for endless reasons, but here are some general uses for the email.

How to Use Emails for Business

This can range from emailing your workmate to ask a question about the report they just sent in, or sending an email to your entire department to set up the weekly meeting. Once you are familiar with the features of the email, you can make the most use of them in this field.

Using Email For Personal Reasons

When the holidays are coming up, you won’t have time to give everyone a call and wish them a happy holiday. Sending holiday e-cards through email is an example of how you can use emails for personal reasons.

Using Email to Make Money

Emails often used for marketing purposes to generate profit. If you own a business and want to get people talking about it, you try emailing your customers on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis. This is known as email marketing.

What Can Email Be Used For?

Within the fields mentioned earlier, email can serve a range of functions. In each context, sending someone a message means that you need a response in order to get a task done. Emails can help you achieve that through their multiple uses such as:

Collaboration

Working with other people on a project can be challenging when some members are more informed that others. Emails can help you create a group chain that keeps everyone informed of all communications between group members.

Sending Documents

As mentioned previously, adding attachments is one of the email’s most beneficial uses. Sending a document or a picture to someone else has never been simpler.

Setting Appointments

If you’re looking to set up an appointment with someone, send them an email. This is helpful because most emails are linked to the user’s personal calendar, that way they can add it to their agenda and a reminder is automatically set.

Group Conversations

Group conversations are easier through email. Everyone gets an equal say and since they move at a relatively slower pace that text group chats, it will be easier to hear everyone out and plan things easily.

How to Write an Email Effectively

The rise in popularity of email naturally also means that we all receive a lot more messages than ever before. This means that if you’re sending emails, you’ll need to follow a few best practices to stand out from the crowd.

Get to the Point

Keep your emails short and concise, you don’t want to bore your reader with unnecessary details that will distract them from the purpose of your message. Realistically, people will stop reading if your email gets too wordy.

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Most emails have under 500 words. Image credit: AWeber

Create Effective Subject Lines

The subject line of your email should indicate precisely what you wish to address in your email. That way, your receivers know exactly what you’re talking about. In email marketing, your subject line should be catchy and exciting

Personalise Your Emails

Emails can seem a little intimidating, try starting your email with a “hello!” and ending it with a friendly and relevant remark. Also, try to include the name of the person you’re sending the email to to make it feel more personal.

Take Care of Your Spelling and Grammar

While emails may not always be the most formal mode of communication, it is important to maintain formality.

Also, this will make your message easier to understand. If there is a mistake in a mass message sent out, receivers will focus more on the mistake rather than the content of the email.

Hold the CCs and the BCCs

Be careful with the number of CCs you add to an email as it can also distract from the content of the email. If it is not important for your email receiver to know who else is reading this email chain, add them to the BCC list.

Use an Effective Email Signature

Mark your name at the end of every email, this also adds to personalizing the email. This could be in the form of a “Warm Regards” or a “See You Soon” followed by your initials. In a professional context, you should have a professional email signature with your company details.

How to Manage Your Email Inbox

There are a fair few ways to keep your email inbox clean. As trivial as the idea can sound.

Keeping your mail organised and precise, can make communication a much easier affair. Considering these days most of our communication is digital. We know how significant the use of email can be.

Get Rid of What’s Not Important

The most important part of keeping your email clean and uncluttered is recognizing what your email is for. Your email is not a calendar, looking at it should not be able to tell you your schedule for the short term or long term future.

The idea that it is untenable, as you begin to lose track of it as emails begin to pile up. Very quickly you will find what you trusted to help assist you in work, has become an anchor to weigh down your organization.

Be Responsible

In response to an email you should almost always act quickly. Do not encourage yourself to respond later or to move the folder for later access. If there is no way to respond to the email, you may choose to schedule another time to address it or forward it to a colleague, either way you should delete it.

Use Filters

Modern email based web services all have some kind of system that allows you to organize emails in whatever order or form you choose. Whether they be in priority, or the social circle in which that email originated.

Either way, the manner in which you use these filters can be very useful in organizing your email.

Newsletters, Marketing and Spam

Although subscribing to newsletters and automated services can be enticing, they are often not useful at any other purpose than cluttering your workspace. It might also be useful to deactivate any notifications from any social networking sites that may choose to auto email you with updates on your page.

Do not reply or entertain spam you do not wish to deal with on your email. Deleting the email is the best way to respond to an unwanted message.

You may also wish to check your email at regular intervals. Ranging from every hour to every day, depending on how many emails you receive.

Familiarise Yourself With Email Features

Email is one of the oldest forms of online communication that is actively used in modern society. However, the way we use it and consume information passed between one another is very different.

The use of new features which provide both function and beauty should be taken advantage of. To make your emails more interesting, there are many features you could use. These features will brighten up your emails and will make your message clearer.

Attachments

Large blocks of text in any form are hard to read. They often overcomplicate the simplest messages, and if you are using email for a service based function this can prove fatal. Adding interesting, even simple images or drawings can give your content more appeal!

Attachment’s are usually simple in whatever web based email service you use. The web based service usually contains an option for ‘attachments’, and a subsequent box from which you decide which exact file you would see added to your document.

These options provide a pathway for the development of marketing through email, where images and files attached give insight to the products or services left on display. However, a marketing officer must keep in mind the relative speed for the loading of said files.

Depending on the device used to access these emails and the speech of the connection. If not kept at relatively low sizes, these images may become unload-able and make the purpose of such an endeavour moot.

Compatibility

Attachments can be a wonderful tool. Turning hard to read blocks of description can become easy to follow and engage images which support your brand. Even so, they can become a nuisance.

Where image files are too large, or there are too many files on one email. The entire email can become clouded and hard to interpret depending on your device, assuming you have a perfect internet connection (which most of your audience will not).

Because of which, testing becomes an essential part of your marketing ploy via emails. Without which, you will never be sure of whether you are truly able to communicate with your target audience.

The Subject Line

The idea of a precise and catchy subject line being useful is most relevant to the modern consumer. Making your title too long, you risk losing the attention of your audience before they have even begun to look at your content.

Some ways you can improve this is by aiming to answer simple questions like, ‘what is this about’. You should also challenge yourself to use as little words as possible. Given that you can still answer your question.

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Email subject lines are most effective when they are concise. Image credit: AWeber

In a similar way, the way your email sounds is essential to how it is received. Are your messages personal and engaging? Do all your emails represent your company in the way you like? Is the email generic?

It is in the small details, such as the addition of a recognizable symbol of your company, that make the customer feel that you care about their experience. A personal touch or message, that your audience has associated with you. All of these factors can help make you venture successful.

Mass Messaging

Another immensely useful function available on any modern web based email service is the option to ‘Carbon copy’ (Cc) or ‘Blind Carbon Copy’ (Bcc) other people to an email. This option allows people to send an email to multiple recipients.

In either a form that is observable to all recipients ‘Carbon Copy’, or in a form that does not allow the recipients to be informed of each other ‘Blind carbon copy’.

The function is remarkably useful for time saving and organization. The idea that multiple recipients can be cued into an email or chain of emails allows for group communication in a way that would be impossible on electronic mail without it.

How To Make Your Emails Stand Out

Amongst the heaps of emails your customers receive, you want to make sure that they click on yours.

When consumers receive emails from unknown senders, they assume it is spam and most likely will not check it. Here are some tips on how to make your emails stand out, and your brand more popular

Build a Strong Email List

While some businesses buy email lists, creating your own list is much more worth it. Buying email lists will reduce your chances of turning your recipients into customers and label your emails and brand as spam.

Start a Conversation

Rather than always advertising a product to buy, or some way that your customers can spend money, use your email lists to talk about ideas, testimonials and insights. You can use this platform to share personal experience or a memorable story that would humanize your content and your brand.

Stick to a Schedule

If you’re sending out a newsletter, stick to a weekly or biweekly schedule. This maintains the consistency of your image without overloading your customers with emails on a daily basis.

Your email efforts should be frequent enough to keep your audience entertained but not too frequent so they overlook it.

Use Attractive Subject Lines

As mentioned earlier, your key goal is to get your recipients to click on your email and look at the message. Think about what your target audience likes to see and include that in your subject line.

How to Use Email for Marketing

Email marketing is the use of email for the promotion of products and services.

Digital marketing is a growing field, and email marketing is one of the most popular parts of it.

At its most effective, email marketing is a powerful tool. It allows businesses to tailor their messages to the consumer and keep them well informed. Email marketing is used by business to promote products, events or ideas.

It has many benefits and limitations but let us briefly introduce you to the world of email marketing.

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Most brands use some form of email marketing. Image credit: Oberlo

Know your Customers

Email marketing brings you closer to your customers and allows you to establish a more personal bond with them. One particular benefit of email marketing is that it allows for the information distributed to be tailored to a target customer.

While your email recipients may be receiving the same broadcasted message, personalising the email by including the recipient’s name or username moulds the message into the individual.

This is highly effective when sending out celebrations on special events like birthdays and holidays throughout the year. These are the kinds of gestures that help companies earn special relationships with their target consumer.

Develop your Technique

The biggest thing to avoid in online marketing is the spam trap. Where advertising becomes a generic and unmodified mass message to the public which shows no thought or consideration to the consumer, and appears as such.

Creating your own list is a good way to avoid such an issue. Creating your own community, developing personal touches and graphics of your own that create a unique sense or feeling in your email’s is the right way to go with mail marketing.

Be regular. Be consistent with your content release. This may be a consistent message or advertisement appearing within a set time, however this technique does not stipulate there is no room for spontaneity with your content.

How Does Email Marketing Work?

Your marketing emails can be sent out in many ways depending on the audience you’re aiming to reach. There are two main types of email marketing systems that help you do that.

Transactional Emails

Transactional emails are usually triggered by users taking an action on your website. For example, if someone just made a purchase on your website, they would receive a transactional email confirming their purchase and details of the package delivery.

Sometimes promotions and advertisements are included in so it becomes a form of email marketing.

Another example of a transactional mail is sent when you click on ‘forgot my password’. The system then automatically sends you a link to reset your password.

Transactional emails like this are a great opportunity to extend your relationship with your consumers and build a larger audience. Once the system is familiar with the recipient’s email, you can now send as many emails as you wish.

Here are some more examples of transactional emails:

  • Cart abandonment reminders,
  • Time-sensitive promotions,
  • Receipts,
  • Sales follow-ups,
  • Upselling opportunities,
  • Review requests.

Direct Marketing Emails

These types of emails we are all more familiar with. Direct emails involve a more personal relationship between the sender and the recipient. This form of email is used to directly communicate a promotional message or advertise a product.

The list of recipients for this type of email is created by the company based on their previous customers.

For example, once a customer buys something from the website, their email is set up in the system, and from there you can sign them up for a weekly newsletter that keeps them updated with the latest promotions and offers.

How to Create An Email Marketing Plan

The creation and implementation of an email marketing plan can be a major challenge. They often struggle with planning the exact set up and minutiae of what they plan to do. As a result, they often become very regular, very predictable alerts and programs.

To be successful in email marketing, you need to produce better content. What an email marketer must create is something that will keep their audience engaged. Ideally, the audience should be excited to receive an email from you.

Basically, you should not be reproducing the same email as it can become bland and uninteresting.

Email marketing ROI stats
Email provides the best ROI of any marketing channel. Image credit: Campaign Monitor

Set Your Goals

Your email marketing campaign should have a goal, what is the message you want to get across? What action do you want your audience to take? You should establish a few points you want your viewers to take away from your campaign.

If there are multiple ideas you’d like to send across, that’s not a problem. This broadens the scope of your campaign and expands your target audience reach. The goals you’ve set out are important to keep in mind when deciding on the other aspects of your campaign.

Build Your Email List

To start an email marketing campaign, you need people to send emails to. Setting up your email is easy, have a sign up pop-up on your website that encourages your viewers to sign up for your website.

Once you have their email addresses you can send them as many emails as you want.

The trick to this step is how to actually influence more sign ups for your emails and newsletters. People are already receiving tons of emails from brands everywhere, what would make them want to sign up for yours as well?

To ensure sign ups for your emails and generate additions to your email list, you can always lure people through free stuff. If consumers are getting something in return like Free Downloads when they sign up for your emails, they are more likely to willingly sign up.

This is known as a lead magnet, and typically means offering discounts or premium content in exchange for email signups.

Get Yourself White-Listed

To be white-listed in the same as being added to a friends list. This means that your emails will not be seen as spam by the system and will arrive in the mailbox rather than the spam/junk folder.

This ensures that your recipients will see your emails and check them out. Check out some instructions from online providers on to get yourself white-listed:

Send the Right Kinds of Email

We’ve already familiarized you with emails and its various types and forms, now it’s your turn to decide which one is best suited for your campaign. Depending on your goals and target audience, your choice of emails will differ.

Although, it is important to maintain balance and variety in your choices.

If your product is best portrayed by showing its uses, use a video to advertise it and send it through one of your emails. As mentioned earlier, try to constantly send out new ideas to your viewers so they do not lose interest.

Evaluate Your Email Marketing Success

Once you’ve started your campaign and seen some results, track the activity on your website as well as the engagement rates to determine which types of emails work best. Remember it’s alright if you don’t see results as soon as you send out your first email, keep working at it and by time it will get better and better!

Benefits of Email Marketing

When thinking of your online marketing plan, you should weigh out the pros and cons of each form of online marketing. Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective means of marketing through email.

The largest advantage of email marketing is that it is cheap.

This means that your returns on investment (ROI) will definitely be higher than through other means of online marketing. Email marketing represents a very economical way to advertise a wide range of products or services.

It is also relatively easy to manage which makes it a very accessible marketing strategy. Creating and updating databases of contact information is simply not very difficult. Alongside its inexpensiveness, here are some of the advantages of email marketing.

It’s Unavoidable

One particular advantage over more modern networking tools such as social media is its significance. People are more likely to recognize an email, as it will sit in your inbox until addressed.

However, a notification or post on social media may easily pass and be unrecognized or ignored by it’s target audience. This does not mean that the two cannot work in hand with each other, in fact they should.

It simply suggests an advantage email may hold over social media. Amongst the chaotic world of Facebook and Twitter, email mailboxes is where people go for a sense of sanity and directness.

When it comes to online communication, emails are the most preferred channel amongst users, so take advantage of that!

Larger Reach

The number of social media users around the world is huge!

There are over one billion Facebook users and over 255 million Twitter users. While these statistics are easily to believe given that social media is immensely popular these days, the number of email users is often overlooked.

There are over 4.9 billion email users worldwide, which means that your reach is larger and your campaign is more effective.

Most internet users have an email address, so when it comes to connection people, sending messages and advertising, there is no wider reach than through email.

Delivery is Key

Sending someone an email ensures that they are going to end up in someone’s inbox.

This ensures that when you send emails, your audience receives it. Unlike for example, creating Facebook posts that only some might see. If you need your messages delivered, emails are the way to go.

Another reason why sending an email ensures delivery is because of subscriptions.

The email list you’ve developed is made up of people who want to hear from you and signed up to do so. This means that not only your messages are surely delivered, but they are delivered to the right people so you can get the reaction you need from your audience.

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