6 Etiquette Tips for Sending Holiday E-Cards

Want to be environmentally friendly, save some cash, or avoid a mad scramble to the post office this holiday season? E-cards have become an acceptable means of appreciating your customers and suppliers at the end of the year.

Your digital greetings should follow the same etiquette as traditional paper cards, says Daniel Post Senning, who is great-great-grandson of Emily Post and co-author of Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th Edition. “Fundamental rules apply to all written communications, including digital communications,” he notes. “Take some care with your written word.”

Here are six more tips to consider before you hit the Send button.

1. Evaluate whether an e-card makes the most sense. “In a world of rapidly and disposable communications, a tangible thing has some actual weight and adds significance to what you want to say,” Senning says. Is it more valuable to you: (a) that a vendor may or may not hang up your card in a reception area, or (b) that your business appear green and economical?

2. Consider the recipients. Are your clients or business partners tech-savvy or not? Are they the type of people who primarily work offline or who frequently check their email? If you go to the digital route, choose your e-card carefully: iPhone and iPad users, for instance, can’t see cards developed with Flash animation.

3. Make your list and check it twice. You may be tempted to blast everyone in your address book, including prospective customers, with an e-card. But you need to follow the same rules as other email correspondence: Send greetings only to people who have opted to receive your company’s messages or with whom you have a close relationship. You may need two designs — one for clients, another for vendors.

4. Be inclusive. Don’t assume that everyone shares your personal belief system. Stick with general wishes like “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings.” Avoid holiday-specific imagery, such as Christmas trees, and look for generic wintry images, such as snowflake. In terms of timing, remember that Hanukkah is celebrated earlier than Christmas (and has already begun this year). A Happy New Year card could help avoid the issue altogether.

5. Keep it simple. If you frequently send communications to clients, limit this one to a simple message: You wish them well this holiday season. Save the marketing-speak, coupons, and requests for Facebook likes for another email. However, if an email from you is a rarity, a discount offer won’t hurt.

6. Use social media — carefully. After your cards are sent, you may want to post a “Happy Holidays” message on your social media pages to reach anyone you missed. Avoid sending direct messages to everyone who likes or follows you, which may be perceived as spam. Although e-cards have gained general acceptance, Senning says, using only social media to send holiday greetings is still considered a faux pas.

About Sarah Johnson

Sarah Johnson is a business writer and editorial consultant. Her work has appeared in CFO and CIO magazines.
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