Less is more when it comes to office e-mail, a new survey suggests. Twenty-nine percent of advertising and marketing executives polled said receiving large unsolicited files is the most annnoying aspect of communicating with business contacts online. Another 29 percent cited being copied on superfluous “reply all” messages as the most irksome e-mail practice.

The survey was developed by The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service that provides marketing, advertising, creative and web professionals on a project basis. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes 250 responses — 125 from advertising executives with the nation’s 1,000 largest advertising agencies and 125 from senior marketing executives with the nation’s 1,000 largest companies.

Those surveyed were asked, “Which of the following do you find most annoying when communicating via e-mail with business contacts?” Their responses:

  • Receiving unsolicited large files 29%
  • Unnecessarily being copied on’reply all’ messages 29%
  • Messages that are too long 16%
  • Typos or grammatical errors 13%
  • Having to scroll to find information 6%
  • Other/don’t know 7%
  • 100%
  • “As professionals increasingly rely on e-mail to communicate, it becomes more time-consuming and cumbersome to manage messages,” said Tracey Fuller, executive director of The Creative Group. “When composing e-mail, it’s best to be brief and identify what action is needed at the beginning of the message.”

    Fuller noted that although e-mail is considered a casual form of communication, the rules of etiquette still apply. “Professionals should keep the recipient in mind, making messages relevant, clear and easy to file. Not only does this show respect for someone’s time — it also helps ensure you receive the desired response.”

    Fuller offered the following tips for crafting effective e-mail messages:

  • Keep it mega-lyte. Provide links to photos, PowerPoint presentations
    and other large files, or offer to send them on request. Many
    professionals have limited in-box capacity, and bulky attachments can
    be hard to open or consume needed space.
  • Don’t be too quick with your “trigger finger.” Before replying to all,
    consider whether each person on the list will benefit from your
    response and remove those who will not. Conversely, if someone is
    copied on a message that you receive, be sure to include that person on
    your response if he or she needs the information.
  • Be specific. An informative subject line lets the recipient know the
    topic of the communication and whether action is needed. It also makes
    the message easy to file. For example, instead of using “Today’s
    meeting,” try, “Pls. review: today’s branding strategy agenda.”
  • Unravel the mystery. Rather than forwarding a lengthy e-mail exchange
    to colleagues as an “FYI,” forcing them to scroll to understand why
    they’re being copied, give a brief synopsis of the situation. This
    allows them to choose whether or not to review the details.
  • Avoid “crying wolf.” Mark messages high-priority only if they are
    truly urgent.