E-mail and the BCC

I’m sure you’ve seen it, and probably more than once – sitting in your inbox, an e-mail that is 99% To: or CC: and 1% actual message.

It looks a bit unprofessional, and also raises some privacy concerns.

Enter the blind carbon copy – the BCC.

It’s obvious to some, but new territory for others: instead of cramming address after address into the CC: field, you should opt for the BCC: field.  That way the list remains hidden from view from all recipients.  The benefits are two-fold: firstly, in many e-mail clients this will save user from having to scroll through a seemingly unending stream of e-mail addresses just to reach your message.

Omitting the cascade of “@’s” makes your message appear more personal & targeted – less like the mass mailing that it is – and thus more likely to actually get read by your recipients.  In today’s often frenetic business climate, no one is going to spend more than a split second contemplating reading an e-mail that looks like spam.

Which brings us to the second (and for many most important) point, the issue of privacy.  When sending email to a few colleagues or business associates – people who already know one another and are probably already in each other’s address books – multiple recipients in either the To: or CC: fields is perfectly acceptable (don’t go crazy though).  But what about distribution to a disparate group of recipients?

If you’re emailing a group of people who don’t know one another, one sure-fire way to quickly reap some ill-will is to expose their e-mail addresses to a bunch of strangers – which is exactly what you’re doing when you use the CC: field instead of the BCC: field.  Think of e-mail addresses as unlisted phone numbers; you’ve just published all those numbers by putting them in the CC: field, obliterating your recipients’ privacy.  And privacy is one thing that is in decreasing supply in our increasingly connected world.

So next time you go to hit that “Send” button, check to see if you should be using BCC: instead of CC:.  Your recipients will thank you.

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