The power of Email: Friend or Foe

Power of emailI remember in the late 90’s sending an email and being literally amazed that within a second it had travelled the length of the country and arrived in some one’s computer screen/mail box, quite remarkable, as with many recent inventions we will be in the historical position to be able to recite tales to our grandchildren of the old day’s when we used parts of tree’s and vans to spread messages and contact other humans 😉

Email has generated a love/hate relationship with many of us, purely down to it’s amazing qualities of lending itself to extremely cheap and wide reaching advertising campaigns.. or spam as we now call it but don’t be too critical, email still has the power to yield huge change in our lives and is an immeasurably valuable tool in the webmasters artillery.

The power of Email
The power of sending an email is something I saw great value in early on and used to my advantage getting me on the long road to becoming an online entrepreneur, I had an idea to offer small business website design and hosting for a monthly fee and pitched the idea by email to Sir Alan Sugar who ran a column in one of the UK’s largest newspapers The Mirror. Sir Alan is a hugely successful millionaire originally with his company Amstrad and more recently publicly famous for the UK version of the USA hit The Apprentice.

The newspaper column was about entrepreneurs inviting ideas that he would either encourage with words of wisdom or destroy with a quick scathing reply that it wasn’t already done for a very good reason! I took time to prepare my email, treating it as an exercise or exam rather than rapidly punching keys as many do today, sending a good email can take as much preparation as formulating an idea for a new business, plan the email well and you could get a valuable response, type it straight from your own initial thought process and sending it without proper research and analysis and it could disappear in the bin faster than you typed it.

Preparation is the key
I created a few drafts and used written notes before finally sending an email with my pitch/idea, I studied what ideas he had previously been given the thumbs up, I looked at his previous replies in the column and analysed his comments and made sure my pitch fitted in well with his philosophy and made it easy for him to like the idea, like what I had done and opened the door to make giving me advice very easy, and once I did all that I pressed…PRINT, I then checked the email over and how it read and asked someone else to read it and comment. It was only then that I pressed SEND!

Taking that extra time and using the power of email paid of well, I was telephoned to say I would be the main feature with a half page in the UK’s second largest newspaper, great success! After the feature ran I have to say the actual hits to my website was a disappointment generating around 400 uniques, still I was up and running with enquiries and soon small websites I had put live were emailing Sir Alan back to thank him and recommend my service.

siralan.jpgThe Reward
Almost a year later Sir Alan awarded me Excellence in Enterprise which involved a morning flight down to the Mirror’s office in Canary Wharf,London and then off to meet Sir Alan at his office in Park Lane for a photograph, a quick meet, lunch and a plane back home to the North East of Scotland, quite a surreal day!

All this came from a carefully formulated email.

The other side
More recently I almost lost one of my translators through confusion in an email when I ‘quickly’ sent 3 emails in succession with the last email saying

“Tanya just ignore me, I am having one of those days”

I meant, just ignore me, I had misplaced an order email from her and then found it, my punctuation was poor, I think I should have said “Tanya, just ignore me” whereas she took it as me being stroppy stating that she was ignoring me and I had to spend a bit of time explaining that she had taken it the wrong way, so easy to do!

Email truly is a powerful tool when used wisely, just because it is abused daily doesn’t mean that it cannot completely change your life for the better if you take the time to use it well.

Useful resources:
Email: An author’s guide
Making your email more effective
56 characters or less subject lines

About Scott Jones

Scott hails from the north east of Scotland and started earning online at the end of 2000 building websites for local businesses during which time he won an award from Lord Alan Sugar for Excellence in Enterprise. After having quite a bit of success with domaining Scott mainly runs educational evergreen websites which generate over 3 million visitors per month but is always on the lookout for a fresh thinking out of the box way to turn a buck. Follow on Twitter.


  1. I have seen that happen a lot of times before where I write something and someone takes it completly the wrong way, calls and asks if all is ok and I get confused to why they are asking and just laugh.

    I notice a link to 56 charachters or less subject lines. Doesnt it just bug you when people send their reply in the subject line. LOL.

    • What bugs me the most is when people leave the subject blank, I have a friend that does that all the time and it annoys the hell out of me (I have told her on multiple occasions to no avail).

  2. I’ve received so many poorly written emails! Granted, language can be ambiguous, but spell checkers at least are common enough these days to make it reasonable to expect everything to be properly spelled.

    I’m still working on getting the right conversational tone in my emails, rather than just trying to convey information.

    • The etiquette of letter writing seems to have been just dropped altogether & email writing is a free for all. Tone isn’t always easy to convey, especially when its business & emoticons are not suitable.

      • I wouldn’t say that the etiquette of letter writing has been dropped altogether. Rather, email is more widely and frequently used than formal letters ever were.

        I use email very often, for various purposes, so I have two styles of emails: ones that are like telephone calls, and ones that are like letters.

        Most emails are the short telephone message variety. I start with an idea that I wish to transfer to a friend, and end up sending “dear goose lol :p cya at 8pm flinders. kthx”, or something to that effect.

        But rarer is the letter-esque variety, the kind that I would actually proofread before mailing. This kind of email has complete grammar, clear meaning and eloquent expression. It also has the “Dear So-and-so” and “Sincerely/Faithfully/With thanks/etc” lines.

        Occasionally, to appear quite very fancy indeed, I will treat the email itself as a “with compliments” slip, and enclose a letter as a PDF, complete with letterhead.

    • Spell checkers! Rah!

      I have my email client set to run the spell check dialog box (if it finds typos) before sending. It has saved me many a time from embarrassing typos. Even when it pulls me up on a person’s name, it is good to have another chance to make sure you’ve typed “Bertschik” correctly.

      Tone is difficult indeed. I often resort to putting “:p” or “:)” at the end of most lines in conversational emails with friends. Otherwise a happy email can turn out sterile.

  3. Where can we get our hands on his comments and the ideas of back then?

  4. Thats it

    thank you very much

    do you happen to know where i can find other people idea back then when they were published?

  5. Not sure Abdul, they were never published online, just in print. It used to be a weekly column but doesn’t run any more so the only way would be to contact the Mirror.

  6. It is so easy to pay less attention to detail when it comes to emails. Something about the online world makes us naturally lazy, I think!

    – Martin Reed

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