Friday, June 17, 2005

Watch your e-mail distribution lists

When I woke up this morning, I had no idea that it would be e-mail day. But it is. After the two previous posts about e-mail today, I thought I'd just continue the theme.

One of the partners in my firm got an e-mail from an accountant or actuary or business valuator or some other fellow professional. It was to announce that their offices had moved or something. I didn't really read the e-mail, because it was one paragraph on page four when he printed it out. The first three pages were the e-mail addressees. Three pages of them in ten point arial font. Hundreds of them. May have been in the thousands.

I have seen this happen, mostly by accident. I've seen it happen because of careless employees, new employees or those who just don't understand the technology. I've seen it happen over and over and over again. I know it bothers more than a few people when they know their address is being shared with hundreds of others, many of them strangers. Some people get bothered enough to complain. When a business does this, not only are they compromising the confidentiality and privacy of the people on the list (and their goodwill), but they are giving away their mailing list that they often have taken hours or thousands of dollars to compile. A good (opt-in) distribution list is valuable and practicing unsafe e-mailing is just giving it away. In this particular example, some of the sender's competitors were on the list and all it takes is a quick "cut and paste" to take that valuable intelligence. You may be giving your competitors a quick view of your clientele and an easy way to reach them.

E-mail to a distribution list has risks. Be sure that your employees appreciate this fact, because one click can cause a bunch of headaches.

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