Brand Design Photography & Styling Clarity Consulting

Lesson Learn-ing: Communication Through Email

Sometimes, communicating with your client is the best way to share information due to busy schedules and comfort levels. Email communication doesn’t come without it’s barriers and there is almost always a loss in translation along the way. I actually prefer to communicate through email because it’s most convenient to my current schedule and also provides me with written documentation of the design process/feedback. Over time, I’ve found some strategies to minimize the “lost in translation” effect, but I’d love to hear your techniques.

Mine are as follows:
• Use only one email chain per client. Tell your clients that this is how you prefer to stay organized and ask them to always respond in the same thread.
• When gathering feedback, ask your clients to use bulleted lists. I then use those lists as a guide, checking things off as they are completed
• Something I’m going to try soon — removing/minimizing my email signature from the bottom of my email so that the email chains aren’t excessively long.
• Avoid emailing quick little notes. Try to gather your thoughts and email one concise email, less often.
• Figure out a filing system to use within your email service. I use Gmail, and there are lots of color coding/folder options that keep me organized

What are your tips??

18 comments on “Lesson Learn-ing: Communication Through Email

  1. yes. you nailed it. same thread, bullets, less is more + having an insanely organized color-coding system for email makes everything easier.

  2. YES YES YES to the whole one email chain per client. I’ve never thought of actually telling them I want to do this. No idea why, because I get pissed when a chain is broken haha. I’m going to say this from the get go now. 😉 xx.

  3. On the tip of “Use only one email chain per client…” I’m a fan of this method but per subject topic. “Estimate or Invoice” emails are one thread and various design/writing/consulting discussions that are happening maintain their own unique threads so I don’t have to expand/collapse one giant thread. Color coding and folders + filters in Gmail keep my inbox sane! If it’s a big project, I share a document and the client & I change colors for feedback notes which works well to address and cross off as we work through projects.

    Great tips – thank you for sharing!

  4. I agree with you about Gmail. I obsessively label emails, and I think setting up filters is helpful, too. As much as I can, I try to set it all up on autopilot. That way, it’s easier to catch up if I’ve gotten a bit behind during a week.

    Great tips, Cassie!

  5. I use evernote for EVERYTHING.
    I have so many email addresses theres no way I’d find everything I need in there plus I dont want to have to access work emails outside of work so everytime someone sends me an email with information relevant to the project I pin it to evernote (untagged) then every day I review them all, merge them into one note and I have everything I need in one task. (you can also add attachments too but I just use dropbox/links to the network drive for that as I have a free account)

    I have work, home, freelance and learning japanese tags. Then I have notebooks for project ideas, design inspiration, I even have ones for code snippets and backups of all my contacts in csv format just in case!

    my method is based on TSW. (
    the site looks like its one of those spammy pay for sites but its just a series of 3-4 minute videos that changed my life!!

  6. What a great tip about asking clients to keep with one email chain. I’m definitely going to do that from now on too, it’ll make things so much easier!

  7. Great! I especially love the idea of asking clients to built lists.

    I also use Gmail and I organize it by type of work, labels etc.

    If the initial email is about illustration, it goes into ILLUSTRATION Label, that is placed into the general CLIENTS label. But if it’s only a discussion, I’ll place it into ILLUSTRATION :: LEADS . Once she/ he hires me, I move her into CLIENTS –> NAME OF CLIENT.
    The same with my web work. Initially it goes into CLIENTS –> POLISHLAB –> POLISHLAB ::LEADS and once the client decides working with me, I’ll move him, her into CLIENTS –> POLISHLAB –> NAME OF CLIENT.

    About the signatures. With wisestamp addon to chrome, I am able to set up 3 diff signatures and yes, one of the options I have is NO SIGNATURE. I just need to click it and it’s going to be empty.

    Great blog!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Marta. Really great insights into the way you organize your folders. I love how everyone does things differently

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