Email is one of the most powerful tools in the webmasters toolkit. And it is also one of the most misunderstood, misused and just plain bungled things on the internet.

The internet is not about web sites or chat rooms or newsgroups. It’s about communication, and email is the best way to communicate. And that’s the key term – to communicate. Email on a web site is how your visitors will communicate with you most of the time.

I don’t know how many web sites I’ve visited that didn’t even have an email link at all. What a waste.

Even more sites put the link to email in a difficult to find place, making it hard for the visitor to communicate. Most visitors will not look very hard for the email button. They just want to say something and, well, you lost the opportunity to listen.

emailSome sites put a link to email just on the home page or on a contacts page. Again, this makes it more difficult for a visitor to send that communication.

Worst of all, though, is the webmaster who does not respond promptly to emails. This is so important, and yet it’s like some strange disease. Webmasters have a visitor who is interested enough to send a communication and they just let it drop, or take days or even weeks to respond.

Dimwits. People without a clue. Amateurs.

A person visited your site. That person probably had to hunt, if only for a few seconds, for the email link. He had to spend a few minutes writing an email to you, asking some question or making a comment. You have an interested party.

And you ignore it. An opportunity blown. Come on, ladies and gentlemen, respond. If it’s a complaint, you can address it. If it’s a suggestion, you an acknowledge it. If the visitor wants some data to make a purchasing decision, you can fulfill it. About the only kind of emails to ignore are pure flames – those should not be even acknowledged (why encourage more of the same?)

If your traffic is so high that you are getting too many emails to respond to, then hire someone to do it for you. DO NOT IGNORE EMAILS FROM YOUR VISITORS. EVER. If you do, you will loose them forever.