Don’t add an email address if you’re not going to use it

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Using email is a common way for professionals to communicate with clients. Almost everyone has an email address. It is great for keeping track of discussions, and the time frame of emails comes with reasonable expectations. A problem with emails is that by supplying an email address, it is assumed that you will be using it properly.

This is, however, not always the case. I often use email as my first choice to engage with service/product providers about their offerings. There were many times where I never got any response. If this is you, rather don’t add an email address.

If you’re not using or monitoring your email address, rather don’t advertise it as means of communication.

Communication by email

Email addresses are added to business cards, websites, client correspondence, invoices, and so on. By doing this, the client is placed under the impression that the email address is supplied as a way of communication. The assumption that many people prefer to use email as a fast and easy way communication is correct, but don’t overestimate their patience.

Don't add an email address if you're not going to use it
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Just like other electronic communication media, the user often has a routine for using it. The correct email client (e.g. Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Thunderbird) makes it easy to follow an organised, well-controlled workflow. Many people, including me, will spend a set amount of time per day going through their emails. This is usually done at a set time of the day, every day or at least most days – sometimes even more frequently.

Points to take into consideration when allowing email communication for engagement

  • If potential clients prefers email communication and are given the opportunity to use it, they will use it. Other means of communication will only be considered when no email address is supplied.
  • Potential clients will rarely use a second communication medium (e.g. phoning) after the first communication medium (in this case, email) has failed.
  • Generally it takes a lot of consideration for web users to supply their personal details over the internet. When they do so, they are often genuinely interested.
  • To enquire about services, potential clients will often engage with multiple providers at the same time. Replying, and the speed of replying, will significantly influence their decision-making processes.

My rule of thumb is that if the service/product provider is committed and it is important enough, the reply will end up in your inbox at a reasonable time. Apart from not receiving a reply at all, the reply shouldn’t be days or even weeks later. I expect a reply within 1 working day, but deem it reasonable up to 2-3 working days. Without an acceptable excuse from the email replyer, anything after that is viewed with far less priority and the service/product provider is seen as non-committed. This will result in potential business loss for the provider.

Fix the problem

In my opinion, email communication is important. If there is a reason, other than simply ‘not caring’, for not responding to email engagements, fix it! Don’t just continue creating that false impression and lose business.

Reading your emails
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If your time is the major limitation, either try to speed up the process or rather remove the email address. Although a little more tedious and time consuming, email correspondence should not take huge chunks of your time. If a lot of email correspondence is received, consider adding an hour or two to your day or get someone else to attend incoming emails. Some people enjoy having their first cup of coffee while reading their emails first thing in the morning.

Some people might perform better by adding their email account to their smartphones instead of their PCs. Consider a laptop or tablet. In my opinion, browser-based email clients have lots of limitations, so rather move over to a (free) stand-alone email client (e.g. Microsoft Outlook Express or Mozilla Thunderbird). If your budget allows, get a proper (paid for) email client instead.M

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