The Modern Art of Communication


Almost all of us use e-mail now. It’s a powerful and convenient tool. You can communicate with friends, family and business associates within a matter of seconds from virtually anywhere in the world. But for most of us, opening up our e-mail client in the morning just brings forth a deluge of what the industry calls SPAM.


Last week CNN Technology reported that SPAM is costing U.S. corporations $8.9 billion and European businesses $2.5 billion. The reason for such a high expense is in the productivity of the employees being cut into by having to take the time to delete or sift through the junk mail. How can you cut down on at least some of the endless stream of SPAM? In most e-mail clients you can set filters to automatically delete certain e-mails as they come in. We’ve found this method to work best. It’s easy to do and won’t cost you any extra. Just learn how to use your e-mail client to its fullest capacity.


One other popular method is to have a server side application that will filter your e-mail for you before it ever reaches you. The problem with this method is you don’t know if it is deleting messages that you really need because you didn’t set the parameters for the filter. This is where another large cost in time comes in. You now have to go find the deleted e-mails, and that’s only if the person notifies you that the email didn’t go through.


One last trick is to create an e-mail account with a free service like or This way when you’re doing research and want to receive information without giving out your real e-mail address you can put in this fake one and still receive information without all the SPAM that comes along with it.


How can you use e-mail to benefit your company and its bottom line? From your website start collecting data from your visitors. Have a privacy policy available to them so that it states clearly why you are collecting that information and what you’ll be using it for. Make it easy for a visitor to opt in or out of the e-mail list. State how many times approximately that they’ll be receiving e-mails from your company. If someone contacts the company asking to be removed, remove them immediately and let them know that you’ve done so. Customer service will go a long way.


Now that you have a list of potential customers from visiting your website and opting into your email list, what kinds of e-mail are you going to send them? There are three main types, plain text, html, and interactive rich media e-mails. All of these options work in different ways. All of the recipients will be able to receive plain text e-mails. Most will be able to see an html e-mail and less will be able to view an interactive e-mail, but research shows that you’ll get your highest return from the interactive e-mail. This is because it engages your prospect and it’s harder to pass something over that’s interesting.

So how are you going to use that double-edged sword?


Tim Parsons is the principal of PANAGRAFIK – A visual communications group.

Send us your questions or comments about business branding, corporate identity development, environmental graphics, architectural signage, interactive design, packaging, marketing and graphic styling of your business materials. We can be reached by e-mail at or snail mail to P.O. Box 8206, Bend OR 97708-8206


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