The Importance of E-Mail Subject Lines

I have previously written, or at least thought about writing, about leaving your signature on the bottom of every e-mail.  I personally think that the people you work with know who you are and how to reach you so there is no need to throw your information at them every single time, especially during a string of non-stop e-mails.  There are of course exceptions but for the most part I try to stick to that school of thought.

However today, I wanted to wade into the subject of e-mail subject lines.  To go a little off course, I want to throw in another factor, the little red “urgent” flag with which you can mark important e-mails.  Luckily, it does seem like the people I correspond with know how to use if effectively and I personally only use it during extreme situations.  I think I can count the number of times I have used this red “urgency” flag in over a year on less than two hands.  If anyone who I work with reads this and finds it untrue, please do let me know.  🙂

But I digress; e-mail subject lines are like the red flag.  Stop yourself from using all caps, all the time, there is no need.  Also, try and not discuss several topics that may not pertain to the subject line and completely confuse people.  I am guilty of this and try to catch myself if I am doing it.

So what are the big no no’s that the likes of decided to dedicate a full article to?  Well, here are the top 5:

1. By typing the word “URGENT,” “ACTION ITEM” or “READ ME” in the subject line, she is hoping to stress the actionable items of her email. Her message is clear. Perception:Her subject line implies that she presumes her message is more important than any other correspondence you might have received. The perception is that she is over-confident and thinks very little of your time.

2. ALL CAPS – Intention: He’s trying to get his point across and ensure you know he means business. Caps=”this is a message that I am stressing.” Perception: Whoa. Caps-locked emails scream at you from your screen. It’s amazing how capital letters can seem so forceful, so arrogant, so—mean. The same should be pointed out for excessive punctuation. Follow AP style: use sparingly; one exclamation point is always, always enough.

3. Answering The Wrong Question – Intention: When a colleague on a group email answers questions that are under your purview before you have a chance to. He’s saving his colleague the hassle of answering—hey, he knows the answer too! Perception: It’s the online version of shouting out the answer without raising your hand. His colleague might think that he is undermining their authority or worse—out to get their job.

4. The “Always CC Me” Request – Intention: She’s hoping to avoid any problems from slipping through the cracks by being aware of all activity and correspondence. Perception: She’s a controlling micro-manager who doesn’t trust her employees. Why did she hire them in the first place?

5. Copyediting A Coworker – Intention: He wants to ensure that the higher ups see a clean, well-spoken document. By editing his coworker’s email and resending it, he ensures that the grammatically correct email is higher in the supervisor’s inbox. Perception: Public shaming of a colleague is never going to get him anywhere. Both the colleague and the supervisor are made aware of this one-upsmanship. And neither of them like it.

Read the full, Abusive Subject Line Behavior Article, and share your top pet peeves.

What did you do today?

P.S. I was happy to see that my two pet peeves, and some others, made it into Forbes’ top 10 list!

It’s All Online

Did you know that, “eMarketer estimates U.S. digital newspaper ad revenues grew 8.3% to $3.30 billion in 2011. Print advertising revenues at newspapers fell 9.3% to $20.70 billion in 2011. At magazines, U.S. print ad revenues are expected to rise 0.5% to $15.34 billion in 2012, up from $15.30 billion last year. U.S. digital advertising spending at magazines grew 18.8% to $2.70 billion in 2011.”

What does all of this mean?  Well, we’re going online.  Not to say that we haven’t been online but with Apple wanting to reinvent the textbook business and have every child in the world buy digital versions of books for grades k-12 and on it means that the publishing industry is slowly dying.  Personally, I’m sad.  I just joined a book club through Real Simple magazine and am relishing the fact that I am reading more.  And that I am reading more REAL books.  I may not read a lot but I have always enjoyed the way books feel.  I think people look more knowledgeable with a stack of books than let’s say a stack of kindle’s.

But as per usual, I digress.  What does this mean for us marketers?  Well, again, as a society we’re going online more.  Print advertising seems to constantly become more and more a thing of the past.  People want dynamic ads, they want something tailored to their interests and hobbies and a print ad just won’t do.  Print ads are what they are.  If a newspaper has decided to promote car sales for a month straight, and you as a reader are in the poor house, what does that do for you?  Nothing.  However, if you’re online and search engines, or Facebook or digital magazine copies, pick up that you’re down on your luck and things are not looking up as they should, I would bet you that you would begin getting ads for coupons and all kinds of deals that would actually appeal to you.  These ads are able to appeal to their audience which are placed on the pages that people visit and which depend on what you looked up, or read, previously.

The one thing that may save print ads are social media call outs asking people to either join a conversation or follow a brand online where the brand can then appeal more to these new customers and followers by assessing their needs via insights and tracking.  A post from 4Ps Marketing about the outlook for social media in 2012 states the following:

“We have already started seeing how brands are using print adverts to drive customers to their Twitter and Facebook pages. This shows how important brands consider them to be. Hashtags have been appearing during TV shows encouraging you to join in the conversation. Brands have been driving customers off their website onto their Facebook page to get a discount or offer. Digital ads off and on Social Media platforms will provide links to the pages and related offers. We believe that we will be seeing increasingly more of this type of cross marketing integration.”

So there you have it.  We have to begin focusing more on digital and online, if we haven’t already.  But you can never forget about print, although by the time my kids go to school they’ll laugh at the fact that their parents have books on “book” shelves, as print can also evolve and become more dynamic…even if it does point the reader to yet another online site, with a more appealing ad, with the help of a QR code or some other new age widget.

What did you do today?

Pinterest for Business

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I love Pinterest.  I have pinned things like fashion, home ideas, diy ideas, party ideas and wedding ideas to my little heart’s content.  I even began to feel pinned out after a while but it sucks you right back in.  That is why I was happy to begin using Pinterest for work.  It allows for such a wonderfully visual way for others to understand what your brand, products and techniques are.

We, as humans, like to understand things visually.  No matter how analytical and engineerical (a new word) your thinking might be, you still need to see, touch and feel something to get the real grasp for what that something is and how it works.  With pinterest you get to see that something in a much more robust way than working your way through a company website. 

All companies thrive to have a visually appealing site, but at the end of the day you can’t just have hundreds of photographs and very minimal content, unless you are a photographer or something of the like.  Well, no worries, Pinterest allows you to have your cake and eat it too.  How fun is it to say, Pinterest for Business?  I think it’s great and it’s a true statement.  Why am I so sure?  Well, my thinking got validated just a few days ago when I stumbled upon, another great site, an article that gave 7 creative ways that Pinterest can be used for business.  I won’t paraphrase and take away from the article. Hence why I invite you to read it and explore the new social media platform that is hopefully here to stay!

What did you do today?

P.S. Here are just a few of my favorite pins from my various boards:

 russian fashion       more breakfast: avocado, tomato, sprouts & pepper jack with chive spread  mmmmmmm   Like the cute touches   Prada Spring 2012 Ready-to-Wear. looove!   Love Olivia Palermo's lace dress!

Ace Your Next Interview

Do you want to ace your next interview?  How silly, who wouldn’t?  I havea  friend who has an itnerview this week so this one’s for her, and all fo you of course.

Recently I came across an article that once again highlights the most basic of the basics that we all seem to keep forgetting, paying attention to detail, proofreading, preparing for an interview, being professional in e-mails and during phone calls and finally…being honest.

So why do we forget these five basics?  Maybe because we try to focus on 100 different things and not on the basics.  We try to memorize answers to potential questions, which may never get asked, and worst of all, if you’re preparing for several interviews you might get the two jobs confused.  Don’t talk about your skills as a social media guru if the job you’re interviewing for needs you to build a website. 

Now as for the honesty, just as with anything else, use it in moderation.  The article cites an example of asking an applicant if after six months of being in one position they were approached by another company, would they take the job?  Apparently some people say they’d consider it. 

So I leave you with my general five tips:
1. Find jobs that fit your skill set.  I know, when you’ve been down and out like I had been for 16 months I would have worked almost anywhere.  Luckily someone took a chance on me and now I get to do what I love.
2. If you have the time, tailor your resume and cover letter for each new job…because as we know no two jobs are really alike.
3. If you have a phone interview, sit up, turn off the tv or radio and focus!
4. Prior to an in person interview drive to the location so you know how long it might take you to get there and so you really know where you’re going.  I cannot explain to you how thankful I am that I drove to the place that I work at now prior to the interview.  I never thought that I could possibly stay on one road for so long actually get to where I was going.  Had it been the day of the interview and I would now be agonizing about not only the interview but also about getting there?  It would have been a total lost cause.
5. Breathe and prepare!  You’ll do fine as long as you’re confident and know what you’re talking about.

Good luck!

What did you do today?

P.S. Go on and read the full article for the tip breakdown and some anecdotes, 5 Things to Look for in a Great Job Interview.

What the Recruiter is Thinking During a Job Interview

I always enjoy sharing advice with you about the other side of the job interview.  We all know what we, as an interviewee are thinking and trying to say but what does the recruiter think about and focus on while he or she might be asking a question?

Well, I came across a great article to share with you all and because I personally do not have any inside information about a recruiters mind, and luckily have not had to try and impress one in over a year, I am pulling out the most interesting parts of the article for you.

As it turns out, and as Jayne Mattson (a Senior VP at Keystone Associates here in Boston) writes, there are three main questions that a recruiter needs answered before he or she can make up their mind as to whether you are a good fit.  The recruiter might not come out and ask you these questions but you are being assessed to figure out…

  • Can this person do the job?
  • Will he do the job?
  • Will he fit in with the company culture?

And now, and I love top ten lists, here are the top ten questions that a recruiter may ask you during an interview.  Some of these I have written about before but it never hurts to highlight them again.

1.      As you reflect back at your last position, what was missing that you are looking for in your next role?

2.      What qualities of your last boss did you admire, and what qualities did you dislike?

3.      How would you handle telling an employee his position is being eliminated after working for the company for 25 years, knowing they would be emotional?

4.      How do you like to be rewarded for good performance?

5.      Can you give me an example of when your relationship with your manager went off track and how you handled it?

6.      When a person says “I have integrity,” what does that mean to you?

7.      Can you tell me about your experience working with the generation X or Y? What are the three qualities you admire about them?

8.      Do you think age discrimination exists in the job market and if so, why?

9.      Can you convince me you are the most qualified person for this role based on what we have discussed?

10.  As you look at your previous companies, can you describe in detail which company culture did you excel in the most and why?

Basic and to the point right?  But be careful, you NEVER want to speak badly about your previous employers so tread lightly when being honest.

Now go on and read the article, Inside the Recruiter’s Head: What He’s Really Asking You During the Interview, and get tips on how to answer to the questions above.

What did you do today?

Social Media Schedules

It’s a new year and time to think about how you will outdo what you did in 2011 for your business.  I’m focusing on social media for this post and you let me know if it helps with your efforts for 2012.  At one time I wrote a blog post about managing LinkedIn in 5-15 minutes a week.  However, the article I found talks about building your social media strategy and breaks down the monitoring and prep work down to tasks you need to do, twice a day, once a week and things you need to think about and monitor on specific days, such as getting involved in industry specific conversations.

But, before I send you on your way to read the article I wanted to tell you what I do to monitor our social media at work.

Once a month I think about the postings for the following month by looking at the rpevious month’s numbers and outcomes.

Twice to three times a month I update all analytics, which allows me to find out if our postings are effective and it also allows me to change things up throughout the month.

On a weekly basis I look at some of the social media platforms that don’t need as much monitoring, such as the LinkedIn corporate page and put up an update that reflects the important highlight of the week.

Finally, daily, I monitor every post that gets posted and see if there are photos that someone may have posted of our products and see how I can incorporate them into a posting that day or week in order to bring some visual aspects to the postings and get people interested and hence encourage them to interact.  Photos and videos always get people excited!

So, now it’s time to learn from Brad Friedman and see what he writes in his article titled, Build Your Social Media Schedule for 2012.

What did you do today?

The Top 10 Things Social Media Can Accomplish for a Business, Part 2

To continue on the topic from my last post I want to give you the last 5 of the top 10 things that social media can accomplish for your business.  I compiled these answers by asking a question on LinkedIn Answers. I asked the following question: What are the top 5 things social media can accomplish for a business? so here are the last 5 of the top 10.

6. Mark E. “Social media can boost SEO (search engine optimization). When companies post on social media sites they can use relevant keywords and links to their website; ultimately, elevating their Google ranking. ”

7. Kenneth L. “…I linked everything together on “Linked In” and began answering questions at the “Answers” feature there as well as registering at many of the free applications for networking web sites on the Internet to see how that could benefit my work. Twitter, BlogCatalog, Facebook, Widgetbox, Friendfeed, Ning and similar free applications served my site well. ”

8. Lee J. “Identify new sales opportunities.”

9. Nick R. “Reduces Customer Service Costs ”

10. Robert M. “Facilitate research and development”

Do you agree with all ten points?

What did you do today?

The Top 10 Things Social Media Can Accomplish for a Business, Part 1

I have been using LinkedIn Answers a lot lately, to both ask and answer questions.  So to learn something new, because we always can, I asked the following question: What are the top 5 things social media can accomplish for a business?

I was so happy when I got so many replies that opened up my eyes and made me think about new social media approaches, I even got a book suggestion, Jason Falls new book, “No Bullshit Social Media.” So here are the top ten things, as told to me by others, that social media can accomplish for a business…

1. Carrie W. “JOIN THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY – Even if yours is a local business with local clientele, you can’t ignore the value in keeping your finger on the pulse of the larger world around you. I believe in supporting your local economy for the financial health of your city and state. There is also great value in building relationships with others outside of your target market who may be a resource to you as this economy continues to change. We all need to help each other. Resources can show up in unexpected places. ”

2. Sarah B. “Keep your clients thinking about your company even if they’re not planning to buy just yet. They will remember you.”

3. Karen, “Before defining what social media can accomplish for your business, it’s important to have a solid social media strategy in place that’s fully integrated with your offline marketing efforts/messaging. Once that is done – only then can you define the top 5 or 10 or maybe it’s only 3 things. AND…this will differ for every company – so there is no way to say these top 5 things will make you succeed in the social arena.the sole function of that feed is customer resolution. The top items will differ for every company based on whatever your overall business/marketing objective is. ”

4. Stoney G “Authority – Using SM to push out authoritative content can help establish you as an authority and the go-to place for what you offer. ”

5. Kent L. “Managing reputation/brand (crisis management)”

Tune in to the next post to see the rest of the top ten list!

What did you do today?

My Two Cents: The Travel Channel

Somewhere recently I saw Samantha Brown’s name. For those of you who don’t know who she is, she used to have a great show on the Travel Channel.  Now I know, her show has moved to the day time, 9am on Friday’s.  I’m not sure who is home at that hour as I think weekend mornings are prime time for these shows.  Case in point, I switched to the channel guide to see what was on on the Travel Channel one Saturday morning.  This used to be prime travel show time, and now you have shows such as, When Vacations Attack, Mysteries at the Museum, Man vs. Food and Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations.

When I brought this topic up to the fiancee, he asked why I was hating on the Travel Channel because all of the above shows have the main host traveling to various places, which I don’t disagree with. But I want to see a show that solely revolves around travel, where the host experiences the sights and the culture and has no intention to binge eat to prove a point.  If you’d like, Travel Channel, I can even contribute to the stories and share where I’ve been. 🙂

So here are my two cents, I think that there is room for the true travel show, especially on the Travel Channel.

Riga, LatviaWhat are your two cents?

Asking about growth opportunities

I have written about questions to ask during interviews and about questions you should be prepared to answer.  The topic was even a top post which I highlighted before the end of 2011. Well, here is another point of view on the “growth opportunity” question from dkny PR girl.

DKNY is a brand I have begun to follow on twitter in the last month or so because it was deemed as one of the top twitter handles to follow.  I also knew that this mysterious person had a blog but I hadn’t checked it out until very recently.

Well, Ms. DKNY, as I have decided to name her, gave her two cents on this question and realized that there are basically three schools of thought.
1. One that thinks that you shouldn’t ask such a question because it makes you look like you don’t want to be here long if there are no opportunities.
2. There are also those that think this makes the candidate sound like they want to stick around for the long haul.
3. And then there was the third which realizes that this type of question is a generational question, which I find a very interesting take on the matter.

So there it is. Personally, I have asked the question in an interview but this makes me wonder if you should think twice.  At the end of the day, I think you should either feel out the interviewer, the company and then phrase the question carefully and maybe even add in that you are asking because you want to be able to stay in a job long term…then again, that statement might back fire as well.

How are you planning on handling this question?  Or will you not handle it at all and not even ask?

Thanks to Ms. DKNY for bringing up this interesting topic.

What did you do today?