Many think that by having all their contact’s e-mail addresses displayed in the To: field (particularly folks who do not know each other) is no big deal. Even listing them all in the Cc: field is considered “proper” so that everyone knows who got a copy. That depends…
I’ve talked about To:, Cc: and BCc: use a lot.
The basic analogy is you do not expose e-mail addresses to folks they don’t know (or are not being introduced to).
Since we’re talking business you should really use the To: and Cc: fields properly. This isn’t just about what works for you. You should also consider what is in the best interest of the recipients and the conversation’s goals.
What is “okay”?
One of the top questions that I get asked about is if it is “okay” to e-mail those addresses in the To:/Cc: field about a new business or commercial enterprise. The answer is a resounding NO! Not if they are not already customers. Not if they have not indicating interest — directly to you. Can you say Spam?
I receive mailings and forwards from business associates, folks who are not my direct clients, who add me to their lists. That is not okay — unless I asked them to add me. Which I did not. Since business mass mailings need to have an unsubscribe option, (That’s that law. [DMCA PDF]) I do not hesitate to use that link!
Sometimes what also follows are non-business related, touchy-feeling and emotionally charged political forwards. These e-mails display all the other lucky recipients visibly in the To: or Cc: field. Folks I don’t know. Because all those addresses are visible to me in no way gives me tacit permission to e-mail them about my services.
When responding to a controversial or emotional topic that you were included on by virtue of the Cc: field, (stay away from that Reply to All button) do not assume that those who do not know you want to hear your opinion. Take my word for it — they don’t.
But they can use my info!
Doesn’t matter. You did not acquire those addresses due to their direct stated interest.
It is simple… If you do not know the person behind the e-mail address, you don’t e-mail them. If you are going to e-mail anyone you only e-mail the original sender who breached their contact’s privacy by exposing them to strangers. Rather than put everyone in the To: or Cc: field they should have all been listed in the BCc: field.
Use E-mail Properly
So it is clear, this is not an issue of time or being lazy. It is a matter of understanding the technology that you are using to treat those who trust you with their e-mail address with consideration for their privacy.