Okay, so you love talking about email. I have some more information for you, because you asked. First, you asked about the back side of the form. I’ll give you that. I’ll also tell you about some ways YOU can improve your effectiveness in getting your email answered (as there’s much more we could’ve covered).
My Email Contact Form
So, I went to Google Docs and started a new form. File>New>Form. I put in the categories that you see when you see my contact form. Then, I save the form with a template. Finally, I wrote a new WordPress page called “contact” and embedded the form into it (copy/paste level of difficulty).
On the back end, I get a spreadsheet. The sheet has the following categories from left to right:
I’m Contacting Chris Because
Brief description of what to tell chris
Diane’s Notes (my assistant)
I open this spreadsheet, and everything you send on the form shows up there. I then scroll through each request, and either give Diane instructions on what to do next, or I reply myself, depending on what is requested. When I’m done with things, Diane moves the handled requests to an old spreadsheet for storage.
The #1 contact type that I ignore: press releases. Why? Because they’re so rarely about my community.
The #1 contact type that I answer: speaking requests and other consulting needs.
In between, I answer as many personal emails as I can, and if I can’t get right back, I ask Diane to at least contact the person and tell them that I saw the message and that I appreciate the support.
Now that’s how I handle what I’m getting in. Let’s talk about some more tips for mail you send out.
Sending Email That Gets Answered
I got a lot of good feedback on what to do and what not to do with emails. Mixed into that are things I didn’t cover well the first time. Oh, and I’ve covered this before in great detail.
Subject lines matter. In an earlier post, I recommended these as starter advice:
- DECISION NEEDED: Picking the corporate logo today
- SCHEDULING: Check Tuesday, Wednesday, or Friday
- PROMOTION HELP: Looking for some blog and Twitter love
- [chrisbrogan.com] seems offline. You might want to check.
- MICROSOFT DEAL: Should we take it? (from JYang@yahoo.com)
Of course, you can pick whichever way seems to make sense to you, but do you see how those pop out at you? The ALL-CAPS is maybe extreme, but maybe not.
More on brevity. It’s amazing how effective I am at answering emails that are spit out in short lists. I got this from Jon Swanson, who sends little list emails to me now and again. Here’s what I mean:
1. We have you arriving at 10:40AM. A driver will be there with your name on a placard. His name is… His cell is…
2. Do you want to go back to the hotel or right to the event?
3. We don’t have your presentation up front. Will you be using your laptop, or can we load your preso onto the show computer?
4. We have your check. Should we give it to you before or after you speak?
I get about 3 or 4 emails like this every day. I answer them right away. Think about it: plow through your 2000 word missive or respond to these rapid-fire questions? I’ll take B any day.
Are there times when you need more? Yes. At those times, I just reply and ask for more. MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, this is enough.
Bring every email closer to DONE. Try to make every email definitive. If you’re planning a meeting, put out three or four days and dates. For the most part, emails should exist to inform, move ideas around, and then stop. (Most times. Conversations are different, obviously.)
What else will you tell people about how to manage email? What else should we cover?
Photo credit pink sherbet