Open Up Canned Emails

E-mail applications such as Gmail with Templates or Outlook with Quick Parts allow users to create a template e-mail, save it, and call it up either as a new message or as a reply to a message. Thus, if you want to thank participants individually, you can fire up the template and have most of your writing done for you once you create and revise it. You can even polish your message with an online service like Instatext [].

I refer to these canned responses as canned emails. What’s good about them is that you can make minor tweaks before sending them each time. If you are clever, the email message reads as if it were written personally for the recipient. Be careful, however, if you create personalized portions of your canned message, such as “Dear [name],”. Don’t forget to amend it each time by filling in the recipient’s name! You also might have to remove automatic signature blocks.

Canned emails serve wonderfully when you need to ask for information that is missing from a response. You can list in the text the most likely answers that are missing in action, and then delete the inappropriate ones – those the recipient answered – for a particular respondent.

You should have in your arsenal a premade e-mail if you send thank you emails to every respondent. That tailored, pre-written message might include your extended comments (such as urging them to reach out to peers in their metropolitan area) or questions.

if you set in motion a second-round survey, a canned e-mail efficiently helps you can launch that effort. Another off-the-shelf message might solicit support from the respondent, such as rallying the troops in the same industry or sector.

You might write a canned message for a targeted subset of your respondents, such as everyone with more than 10 years of experience or everyone who joined their law firm from another law firm.

So long as you name canned e-mails so that you can remember each use case, and so long as you become facile with invoking them, they will save you much time and deliver more potent outreach. That’s because they can be tailored and crafted to maximize their (and your) effectiveness. You may end up with a suite of ready-to-go canned messages that cover a range of situations.

In a side note, as far as I know, you can’t insert into an email message this paragraph from one template plus that paragraph from another template (other than by cut and paste). In other words, you can’t construct a full email message or supplement one from modules stored elsewhere, which is essentially what a canned email is – a module.