Many think that having all their contact’s email 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.
Well, that depends…
Proper Use of Exposed Addresses
I’ve written about To:, Cc: and BCc: use a lot.
When it comes to your business email communications, proper use of the To: and Cc: fields is critical. This isn’t just about what works for you. It is also about building trust and perceiving that you are a credible professional. You must also consider what is in the best interest of the recipients and the conversation’s goals.
What is “okay”?
One of the top questions I am asked is if it is “okay” to email those addresses in the To:/Cc: field about an unrelated commercial business. The answer is a resounding NO!
Not if they are not already customers. Not if you don’t know them. If they have not indicated interest — directly to you about your business — you don’t email them about your business.
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-feely, and emotionally charged political forwards. Or business offers or solicitations that they did not specifically ask for.
You’ll see in these emails all the other lucky recipients who were listed visibly in the To: or Cc: field. You most likely have received emails like this from folks you don’t know. Because all those addresses are visible in no way gives anyone tacit permission to email them about your business.
Another point to keep in mind when responding to a controversial or emotional topic that you were included on by virtue of the Cc: field is not to assume that those who do not know you want to hear your opinion.
Please take my word for it — they don’t. So here’s another tip — stay away from that Reply to All button.
But they can use my info!
Doesn’t matter. You did not acquire those addresses due to their direct stated interest. If you want to run a credible, trusted business, you don’t spam.
It is simple… If you do not know the person behind the email address, you don’t email them. If you are going to email anyone, you only email the original sender who breached their contact’s privacy by exposing those addresses to strangers. Rather than put everyone in the To: or Cc: field, they should have all been listed in the BCc: field.
Use Email Properly
So it is clear that this is not just an issue of time or being lazy. It is a matter of understanding the technology you are using to treat those who trust you with their email address with consideration for their privacy. And that’s how you run a successful business!