An e-mail group, or “mailing list,” as it’s often called, is an easy way to send e-mail to specific group of people.
An e-mail group is useful for everything from interoffice memos to long-term projects, especially those projects which involve teams made up of people in multiple locations. Rather than daily phone conferences or time-consuming face-to-face meetings, an e-mail group can enhance collaboration by ensuring everyone involved in a project stays up to date.
They’re also great for non-technical users, since members can reply to everyone in the group at once by sending mail to one address — there’s no need to add a bunch of addresses to an e-mail by hand every time they want to send a message.
While e-mail might not entirely replace human meetings, a list that delivers important updates and facilitates communication between project participants can significantly smooth your workflow.
Step 1: Create a group
The first step is to create a new group within your e-mail client — different clients have different names for it, but it’s almost always called a “group” or a “list.” Give your group a name relevant to the project.
Step 2: Add your members
Next, add the names and e-mail addresses of everyone in your group. You should be able to add people to your group directly from your contacts.
Step 3: Individual or digest?
Some e-mail software lets members chose between individual messages or what are called “digests.” Digests simply collect up all the e-mails sent to the group — including any replies to older messages — and deliver them as a single e-mail, usually about once per day.
Typically, individual messages will work just fine, but some members may want to receive daily digests since they cut down on the number of e-mails flowing into one’s inbox.
If you’d like to allow group members to select the digest option, make sure you enable it when you set up your e-mail group.
Step 4: Send a welcome message.
Once you group is set up, send out a welcome e-mail to all your group members with some basic instructions on how to use the group — how to reply, how to behave and how to unsubscribe. Make sure you include vital contacts for technical issues — your address or the address of your technical administrator. That way, if any of your group members have problems, they know where to get help.
Unless you run your office like Michael Scott (Steve Carrell’s bumbling manager in The Office), you’ll probably want to set up some ground rules for group e-mail etiquette. Gently remind your group members that the success of the list depends on their behavior.