Benefits of E-mail and the Internet...

email-icon-256.pngUsing Email for business
Email is a powerful, low-cost communications tool that businesses are using to market their goods, provide better customer service and work more efficiently.

Email can provide a cost-effective way of marketing. Customers can be targeted cheaply and instantly and, unlike other forms of marketing, email can be easily and quickly forwarded to colleagues or friends. Encouraging the recipients of marketing emails to forward them on is known as viral marketing or word of mouth.

Email marketing is effective because it is a personal, time-sensitive interaction. However, it is most effective when not over-used, as people may simply delete it if they are receiving large amounts of irrelevant and unwanted material. 

The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations introduced an opt-in consent procedure for commercial emails, which means you can only target people who have agreed to be contacted. See our page on E-Commerce and the Law.

Email can be a useful tool for improving customer service. Encouraging customers to contact you by email can benefit both parties - they do not have to hang on the phone or make contact in working hours and you do not have to respond immediately, which can free up staff from answering the phone.

However, it's essential to set a reasonable reply period and stick to it or you may find customers abandoning email and going back to the telephone. To prevent this happening, you could set up an automatic reply system so that any email query receives a standard reply, confirming receipt of their enquiry and detailing the likely response time.

Under the Companies Act 2006, if you have a limited company you can send information to shareholders using email and other kinds of electronic communication, although you will have to send information on paper if shareholders ask for it.

Although an email is less formal than a letter, it should still be professional - a defamatory statement in an email can still lead to litigation. Even a brief acknowledgement email needs to be grammatically correct and spell-checked before it is sent.