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How not to write a follow-up email

CommunicAsia 2008 ended barely a week ago. I suppose because I visited the show under the auspices of a press pass this year, I have been receiving a higher number of follow-up emails than usual.

I would like to highlight a mail that I received earlier this week from an exhibitor. In a nutshell, it contained a number of basic mistakes which I felt reduced its effectiveness — yet could have been easily avoided.

Vague title

CommunicAsia 08

While there is nothing inherently wrong with putting the name of an exhibition as the title of a follow-up email, it would be much better to list out the reason or purpose of the email as well. Some examples might be: “Follow-up on our CommunicAsia meeting” or “Thanks for your interest in our [product] at CommunicAsia.”

Sloppy use of salutation

Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. Paul Mah

The reason for having a salutation is to personalize your email. You know, make your recipient feel a tad more special. Putting something like “Mr./Mrs./Ms./” is not only counterintuitive, but also counterproductive. Personally, I can’t really imagine any ladies by the name of “Paul”. So even putting it there only tells me that its a template letter, and you don’t really care.

The ideal is to start the email off by “Dear Mr. Paul Mah,” or if your are unsure of the gender — possible with gender-neutral names like “Lesly” or most non-English names, just use “Dear Paul Mah.”

Use of terms with a religious connotation

Thank you & have a nice day. God Blessed.

Though I am a Christian myself, I don’t think phrases with a religious connotation have a place in a business email or letter — unless you are writing from a religious organization that is. The reason is very simple: only recipients who are religious will appreciate it. Unfortunately, since there is no way for the writer to know of the recipient’s religious affiliation, they will automatically (and correctly) assume that it is just part of the template.

The downside is that some of your recipients might actually be biased against the religious. As you can see, you are actually putting yourself in a potentially disadvantageous position with no tangible benefits. This is the same reason why best practices — as well as laws, in many countries actually forbid employers against asking for extraneous details such as religion and race in a job application form.

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