Email Schemes Continue - Be Aware!

Email has brought tremendous changes to the way we communicate, conduct business and stay in touch. Perhaps more than any other profession, marketers rely on electronic communications to sell a variety of products and services, and to keep an ever-watchful eye on the 'next big trend.'

It's here, and it's called 'Tell-a-Friend,' an email feature to encourage recipients to open the piece of mail and read its contents. Unlike spam mail, which comes from sometimes (more often than not) unwanted sources who are sending the mail to millions of potential users, the Tell-a-Friend emails are just what they say: they come from your friends!

In many cases, this is a very different scenario than the traditional 'send this story to a friend' found on the AccountingWeb site and on many other editorial-oriented sites. Sending a story to a friend via an email is a good way to encourage others to grow and learn from an established knowledge base for the future.

What's the incentive? If one person offers a sales opportunity to a friend, then the originator is compensated in some form or fashion. An example would be a discount on a product or service from an online store.

One retailer went too far when they began a 'Draft-a-Friend' campaign in which users were asked to supply email addresses of friends for a Web site promotion. The sticky wicket arose when no disclosure was made as to what would happen with the friends' email address; would they be kept confidential or be sold up the river?

Experts are asking email recipients to be wary and watch out for schemes, especially when a 'subject' line is enticing. Exercise caution and aware that your 'friends' may, indeed, not be friends at all.

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Excel spreadsheets are often akin to the American Wild West, where users can input anything they want into any worksheet cell. Excel's Data Validation feature allows you to restrict user inputs to selected choices, but there are many nuances to the feature that often trip users up.