Don't Hit 'Send' ... Yet
>Craft your messages with care. Communication is almost too easy online—from the e-mails we dash off to colleagues or clients with little forethought ... to poorly planned, poorly executed e-mail marketing campaigns. The problem even extends to ill-thought-out Web site development. (The mentality, "We can always change it later," is a dangerous one!)
Focus on the message you want to relay, then do it as succinctly and clearly as possible in keeping with the brevity required for this "quick-consumption" medium.
>Use proper English grammar. In online communications, write in a casual tone when appropriate. But never forget you are using the English language—not some form of 'Net-speak.
If you're old enough to remember when we used to have to get out a typewriter to write a letter, you know the painstaking process we'd go through to make a piece of copy letter-perfect. The same care should be used in creating e-mail communications, as well as copy for the Web.
>Proofread your work. Before a piece of printed literature goes to press, it's put through several rounds of proofing and review. Typically, with e-mail, there are no proofs to review. You write it and it goes. Don't fall into this trap. Print out your copy and read it carefully. Better yet, if you have a little time, put it away and do something else; then read it with a fresh eye later and make sure it's something you're confident is your best effort.
And remember, just because "Internet Time" means we can communicate faster, cheaper and more easily than with any other medium, it doesn't give us an excuse to do less than our best work.
Alicia Orr Suman is executive editor of Target Marketing. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.