How did any of us make an ass of ourselves as easily and on such a broad scale before the existence of email -- either in our professional interactions, our marketing communications, or both? In reality, we didn't have the tools to self-destruct so readily at hand. Let me give a couple of examples. Those of you who've attended a few rodeos will remember a time when memos were actually on paper. Yes, that's right, on paper! So if someone in your company needed to communicate some news to the staff, everyone got the memo. But if you had some snarky comment regarding the memo you wanted to share with its sender, you had to pick up the phone or walk over to her desk. Since email, however, you've had the opportunity to respond with your quip immediately. This wouldn't be a problem unless you mistakenly hit "reply all" rather than simply reply to the sender. If you haven't actually done this yourself, you probably know someone who has. Ouch.
The same goes for your marketing communications. Before email, you didn't really have the ability to easily and quickly offend a large portion of your customer base. Email changed all that. We've all received emails that we know the sender would love to get back if they could -- whether it's a test email mistakenly launched to the entire list with a salutation of "Dear Stupid" (I got that once) or with a typo on pricing no one caught in advance and which is impossible to honor without taking an enormous financial hit.
What's the bottom line? Email is dangerous in the wrong hands, kids. There are so many ways in which we can step on a land mine in our professional emails or the ones we send to customers. Those are mistakes we don't intend to make. What's worse -- and the subject of this screed -- are the things we do on purpose which we need to stop doing right now if we want to emerge with our professional and marketing reputations intact! What follows is a list of email habits you need to break in your own business correspondence and in your email marketing campaigns.