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Email Etiquette 101: BCC & Contact Privacy

Email Etiquette 101: BCC & Contact Privacy

Posted 11/05/2009 by Gareth Cutter

The way your business chooses to communicate with people can be a sensitive issue, and the consequences of getting it wrong can be as bad as:

  • Damaged reputation
  • Lost contact confidence
  • Forfeit of potential sales

This isn't limited to email marketing campaigns. Checking your email communications in general is worth more than the ten or so minutes it will cost you. Observing basic etiquette helps you stop treading on the toes of those who ultimately determine your business' survival.

Respecting contacts' privacy is a prime cornerstone of email best practice. Web users certainly don't want to receive junk or have their address circulated around the Internet in a game of pass the parcel. Therefore, if you are sending an email marketing campaign using an in-house solution, ensure that you have put all the addresses in the BCC field.

"This is pretty elementary stuff. Nobody gets that wrong anymore, surely?"

Not true. Today we received an email from a magazine that made such a mistake, revealing a list of around one hundred email addresses all nicely formatted and ready for harvesting into someone's email spam programme.

Thankfully, it wasn't a huge breach of confidence, and we dare say it won't have a lasting effect on people's trust. But if the worst were to happen and an email address was stolen and hacked, the size of the breach would be irrelevant to the damaged party. Would they be so willing to give out an email address again? Don't think so.

So just as a quick re-cap, here is the difference between CC: and BCC: for anyone who would like a reminder:

CC: short for 'Carbon Copy', the CC field is used to send duplicates of your original email to multiple addresses when separated by commas. These addresses are visible to all recipients of the email (given that you can now send emails to multiple recipients using the To field in most email desktop applications and service providers, the CC is more of a way of showing recipients who's 'in the loop' on the message).

BCC: short for 'Blind Carbon Copy', the BCC field is like the CC field except recipients' addresses are concealed from everyone else. As far as they're concerned, no one else has received the email.

To avoid making basic blunders in your email communications, exercise caution about where you are copying and pasting content and addresses into messages. After all, you don't want the wrong information to go out with your name attached to it. Breach users' privacy and you will lose their custom.

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