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Commentary by Mike Barnett

RISMEDIA, June 19, 2008-This month, I thought I would discuss one of the most overlooked fundamentals in e-mail distribution-the proper use of the “To,” “CC,” and “BCC” when addressing e-mail.

barnett_mike_bw.jpgWe have found that for better efficiency, the members of your team or work group should understand the fundamentals of e-mail addressing.

To help us with the discussion, let’s better define the fields:

-The “To” addressee is the one to whom you are directing the communication to or requesting action.
-The intent of the “CC” addressee is for them to receive the e-mail for information purposes only and usually need not reply.
-The intent of the “BCC” (blind carbon copy) addressee is to receive the e-mail for informational purposes only, with the specific intent to keep the BCC recipient unknown to the other recipients.

Use “BCC” to send an e-mail to a list of people without disclosing their e-mail address to everybody else on the list, or to anyone to whom the e-mail would be forwarded. The only addresses that will be visible are those in the “From,” “To” and “CC” fields.

Typically, using the “BCC” is a much better alternative than displaying a large amount of e-mail addresses in the “To” or “CC” field.

A risk in using BCC is that the BCC recipient is unknown to the rest of the addressees, but if the BCC recipient hits “reply to all,” and composes a message, the BCC recipient will become known to the group (those in the From, To and CC fields), which could create an embarrassing situation.

Creating address groups, or lists of people, that you will be sending CC messages to on a regular basis is a good use of the system. In Outlook Express, open the Address Book and click the “New” menu option. Choose “New Group” to open the group editing tool. Name the group (we have selected “e-PRO Friends” for the example) and begin to add members by clicking “Select Members.” Add all of the names for this group and save it. From this point on, sending a message to (in our example) e-PRO Friends will be the same as sending one copy to each of the group members.

Changing your display address to an address that is different from the one provided by the company you are using as your outbound server is technically called “spoofing.” Many companies don’t allow you to “spoof” while using their server(s) to send e-mail, and there are two main reasons for it.

First, that’s how spammers spam. They don’t want you spamming, using their servers and hiding your e-mail address. This could potentially get them blocked by other servers and they would have trouble finding the culprit.

And the more common reason-they want you advertising for them, not you. They like people seeing every time you send an e-mail. This is free advertising.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about this. You can try contacting your ISP, they might show you a way around this, but otherwise you’ll need to find another outbound server to use if you’d like to brand yourself.

Mike Barnett is CTO/VP of Technology for InternetCrusade’s

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