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The use of urgent flags

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Monday February 23, 2009 )

Do you use the urgent flag on email liberally? You may find it counterproductive.

I have a few people that write to me on a regular basis and use the urgent flag each time they do so. Their thinking is that it will grab my attention.

The first couple of times it did and I opened the email immediately only to find it was a non-urgent tidbit. On consequent occasions, I noticed the email, but didn’t bother opening the note until much later. Unfortunately, in one situation, the message was indeed urgent. That person died as as a result of me not getting to their email quick enough.

Actually, that’s a gross exaggeration, but remember the story of the little boy who cried wolf? Improper use of the flag is an online equivalent.

Using the urgent flag to communicate with your subscribers, suppliers and associates should only be used when.. yep, the communication is actually urgent. Really urgent That’s what it’s for :). Additionally, an urgent flag might grab the wrong sort of attention – from spam filters; as it’s a common trick that spammers used to use.

If you’re looking for ways to get people’s attention, consider putting a little bit more thought into your subject lines. If you know of someone who uses this tactic repeatedly, do yourself and probably a ton of other people a favor and politely point out that it’s irritating and why. You’ll also be doing them a favor that just might save their life one day ;).

Learn more about more effective email subject lines, avoiding spam filters or pick up other tips on email etiquette.


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