Best Practice for sending Emails

Posted on 22nd November 2018

A cartoon image of an envelope - a symbol generally recognised as depicting emails.

I’ve spoken previously on my Facebook page about good email etiquette – we know we shouldn’t type in capitals in an email as it’s considered to be SHOUTING – very bad form!  

It’s not a good idea to write an email in anger – take a step back and return to it when you’ve had time to calm down.  If you still stand by what you said – go ahead and click ‘send!’

Prompt, courtesy replies, even if they are just ‘holding’ emails, are appreciated and can buy you time.

However, I haven’t previously talked about best practices from an IT security perspective. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy nowadays to have a legitimate email marked as spam as recipients are, quite rightly, becoming ever more security conscious.  As a result, spam filters are becoming more sophisticated and more stringent.  

While I’m no IT technician, I’m an admin specialist, and it’s important I keep on top of these issues, and I like to share them with my clients and followers where appropriate.

So, here we go ….

Tip #1

Think carefully about both the words you use and the punctuation too.

Requesting urgent action is a trick used by spammers frequently. They try to get the email recipient to panic and react before they've had time to think. I imagine most people can remember an email they've received like this.

Excessive punctuation (particularly exclamation marks and question marks) and poorly spelt words are 'red flags' too for spam.

Tip #2

Think about your salutation - address the recipient in person. This indicates your email has not been spamming numerous recipients (this is when using day to day email clients, such as Outlook or Gmail).

Tip #3

Think about the way you use attachments. Attachments are commonly used to spread viruses. Zip files, in particular, are often blocked by spam filters to try and mitigate this risk.

If you do need to send an attachment, ensure the file name is correctly spelt, short and specific. Try not to send an email with an attachment to too many people.  Think about breaking it down into several emails to far fewer recipients. Try to limit the number of attachments per email or use a link instead (for example, to Dropbox, Google Drive or One Drive).

However, this leads me to -

Tip #4

Do not link in your email to websites without checking their reputation first, and do not use links which contain IP addresses.  Be aware that spammers sometimes use shortened URLs to hide the actual destination of their links, so shortening a URL will increase the likelihood of your email being marked as spam.

On the flip side ...

If you are in receipt of an email, think carefully before opening attachments and following links - do you know the sender? Were you expecting the email? Are you being pressured by the suggestion that urgent action is needed, or you have won a competition that you haven't even entered? Check out the sender by Googling them (other search engines are available!). Is there a phone number to call and verify (but not one contained in the email)? Are there any spelling mistakes or poor grammar? Are you really likely to be due a tax refund? - we can but dream!

However, do check your junk folder regularly for genuine emails which have not got through your spam filter. You can prevent this from happening again by marking them as a 'safe sender' or 'whitelisting' them - depending on your email client.

If all this has left you feeling muddled (or discombobulated - I love that word!), please feel free to contact me; I'd be happy to help. Better still, any good email provider will be able to give you the benefit of their experience and knowledge.

Good luck, and stay safe!
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