What is email? How to send an email?
Electronic mail (email or e-mail) is a method of exchanging messages (“mail”) between people using electronic devices. Email entered limited use in the 1960s, but users could only send to users of the same computer, and some early email systems required the author and the recipient to both be online simultaneously, similar to instant messaging. Ray Tomlinson is credited as the inventor of email; in 1971, he developed the first system able to send mail between users on different hosts across the ARPANET, using the @ sign to link the user name with a destination server. By the mid-1970s, this was the form recognized as email.
Email operates across computer networks, primarily the Internet. Today’s email systems are based on a store-and-forward model. Email servers accept, forward, deliver, and store messages. Neither the users nor their computers are required to be online simultaneously; they need to connect, typically to a mail server or a webmail interface to send or receive messages or download it.
Features of email
The many different features of email include:
- automatic reply to messages
- auto-forward and redirection of messages
- facility to send copies of a message to many people
- automatic filing and retrieval of messages
- addresses can be stored in an address book and retrieved instantly
- notification if a message cannot be delivered
- emails are automatically date and time stamped
- signatures can be attached
- files, graphics or sound can be sent as attachments, often in compressed formats
- webmail and mobile email can be used to receive and send messages while on the move
mail you must be connected to the internet. Dial-up users pay by the minute, so it makes sense for them to write their emails before they connect to the internet and to disconnect once they’ve received their new emails. This saves money. Broadband users pay a flat rate monthly subscription, the price they pay is not determined by how long they’re online.
How to send an email?
- Open the email client, eg Microsoft Outlook, or if using webmail open a browser and enter the webmail address, eg http://www.gmail.com and log in.
- Click ‘New’ or ‘Compose’.
- Enter the intended recipient(s) email address(es) in the ‘To’ field.
- Write a suitable subject in the ‘Subject’ field.
- Write the message in the space below the Subject field.
- Click ‘Send’ to send the email.
There’s the option to add an attachment, eg a photo. For security reasons, webmail users should log out once they’re finished as the computer they’re using might be used by other people who, if they forgot to log out, would be able to gain access to their email.
Email clients and webmail periodically check for new emails. A manual check can be performed by clicking ‘Send and Receive’ in an email client or by refreshing the page when using webmail. Email clients download attachments automatically but webmail users must choose to download attachments.
Email on other devices
Today email is not limited to computers. It can be sent from many other devices too, such as:
- mobile phones (using the carrier’s network or a wireless hotspot)
- games consoles
- public kiosk terminals
With wireless hotspots becoming increasingly common, it’s easier than ever to connect to the internet while on the move.
Benefits of email
The Advantages of Email for Internal Communications
- Email is a free tool. Once you are online, there is no further expense that you need to spend on in order to send and receive messages.
- Email is quick. Once you have finished composing a message, sending it is as simple as clicking a button. Email, especially if an email system is integrated into the network, is sent, delivered and read almost immediately.
- Email is simple. It is easy to use. Once your account is set up, composing, sending and receiving messages is simple. Also, email allows for the easy and quick access of information and contacts.
- Email allows for easy referencing. Messages that have been sent and received can stored, and searched through safely and easily. It is a lot easier to go through old email messages rather than old notes written on paper.
- Email is accessible from anywhere – as long as you have an internet connection. Whether or not you are in the office or on the field, or even overseas, you can access your inbox and go through your messages.
- Email is paperless, and therefore, beneficial for the planet. Not only can you reduce the costs of paper, you are actually reducing the damage paper usage does to the environment.
- Email allows for mass sending of messages. An effective medium to utilize to get your message out there, you can send one particular message to several recipients all at once.
- Email allows for instant access of information and files. You can opt to send yourself files and keep messages so that you have a paper trail of conversations and interactions you have online just in case you may need them in the future.
On the other hand, while email certainly has its advantages, it can also have disadvantages especially if an email alert system is not available in the workplace.
The Disadvantages of Email for Internal Communications
- Email could potentially cause information overload. Some messages may be dismissed or left unread, especially if there are a lot coming in and the network has not integrated some sort of email alert system into the computers at work.
- Email lacks a personal touch. While some things are better off sent as written and typed messages, some things should be verbally relayed or written by hand in a note or letter.
- Email can be disruptive. Going through each email can be disruptive to work as it does require a bit of time. This disruption is decreased through the utilization of an email alert system.
- Email cannot be ignored for a long time. The thing with email is that it needs constant maintenance. If you ignore it, more and more messages will enter your inbox until it gets to the point that your inbox is no longer manageable.
- Email can cause misunderstandings. Because email does not include nonverbal communication, recipients may misinterpret the sender’s message. This is particularly true of senders fail to go through their messages before they send them.
- Email messages can contain viruses. It’s best to be aware of this possibility so that you are careful when opening messages from people you don’t know, or when downloading attachments.
- Email should be kept short and brief. This is especially difficult if you are one to send messages that are too long.
- Email requires timely responses. While some people tend to disregard messages, those that require responses should be replied to as soon as they are received and read. If not, urgent and important messages may be left untended.
Improving email communication in an organization
Love it or hate it, email is probably here to stay for a long time to come. It doesn’t have to be the bane of corporate life if you take steps to make it work more effectively for your organization, recognizing both it’s strengths an limitations and including it alongside other internal communications tools and channels. Actively improving email communication will make it a much more valuable internal communications tool.
Effective email communication in the workplace is achievable if you set clear guidelines for employees about appropriate email use.
- Minimizing the use of email when there is an email substitute that is a more effective option, such as having a face-to-face conversation with a colleague, using instant messenger, sharing ideas on a project platform etc.
- Employees should be discouraged from hitting “reply all” or responding with unnecessary one-word emails like “ok” or “thanks”.
- Emails should only be sent to relevant employees.
- Restricting access to those who are able to send emails to the entire organization.
- Encouraging employees to adopt “inbox zero” or similar programs to cut down on their emails.
- Using clear subject lines that people can look at and instantly know what the topic of the email is going to be about.
- Email communication should be clear, concise, and easy to understand.
- Insisting on a standard of professionally written, proof-read emails.
- Encourage employees to delete unnecessary emails and to set up good archival systems to hold on to important emails they may need in the future.
For urgent communications and in situations where it is critical that you have to ensure everyone sees the message you are sending, you can overcome the disadvantages of email in business communication by using an alerting system, such as DeskAlerts, to bypass email and send messages straight to computers.
Example of email
Here is an example which can get many different responses. Suppose you pay for an item online through your credit card. The company in return tells you about the time it would take the product to be delivered to you. Now, you are relaxed that the product will arrive on or before the time.
But many days have passed and still, the order has not been delivered. So, you think of calling their customer care service to find out about the product delivery. You try and call them several times a day but the call remains unanswered.
The next best option you have is to email them. So, you try and email them about the details of the product and asking them when you will receive it. There are multiple attempts already done by you to get an answer from the company.
But all have been futile so far and that is why you have become angry with the company. Even after emailing them, no one is giving you any reply. Days are passing and you still are getting any reply either on phone or on email. You have already paid the money so you cannot get this out of your head.
Thus, you decide to try one and final time. This time though you want to lash out your anger on the company. Further, you accuse them of being a thief and return back your money. And you threaten them more to take legal action against them.
Will this be beneficial to any of the parties though? Do you think this will prompt them to reply you faster? Surely you will feel better while writing this email, but in most of the cases, you do not get a reply further.