Most people have at some point, “replied all” when meaning to reply to only one person. It is definitely embarrassing, can be a major privacy issue and aggravates those people with emails flooding their box. Another common email gaffe is misusing the CC and BCC fields in outgoing messages – this “little” mistake can prove costly for business.
If you don’t already know, CC stands for carbon copy and BCC for blind carbon copy.
When you use CC, the email gets sent to the recipients in the To field as well as anyone you have CC’d in. All recipients can see who else you have sent the message to. This is a great way to encourage collaboration and accountability.
When you use BCC, your To recipients and anyone else you BCC’d gets the email, but the recipients can’t see who in the BCC you sent the email too. This is for when you are addressing a large group of contacts that may not know each other, when you are sending a group message (and want to respect the privacy of all your recipients) or when you don’t want the recipient to know you have also sent it to another party..
The Blind Carbon Copy Nightmare
A big problem is using To or CC when you should be using BCC. If you don’t use BCC you inadvertently expose all your contacts’ email addresses. Personal contact information needs protection and people’s privacy demands respect. You do not want to make this mistake with a single or a few emails, or worse still hundreds or thousands of emails.
There are many examples of BCC blunders from around the world:
West Ham United Football Club faces the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office fines for confirming all season ticket holders with email addresses in the CC field.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in the UK was fined US$260,000 last year for exposing possible victims of child abuse.
Scotland’s National Health Service messaged transgender patients with their addresses in the To field. Instead of using BCC, the sender used an open distribution list. This shared 86 Glasgow patient email addresses along with their patient names and dates of birth (when the addresses incorporated those details).
In Australia, a real estate company employee mistakenly CC’ing 300 customer emails. A customer complained which resulted in a six-figure aftermath. Lawyers, a consulting firm and eight full-time employees worked on a data breach response plan for weeks.
What’s Better Than BCC
Any CC or BCC blunder could be a data breach, so take care and don’t risk the loss of customer trust and possible compliance and privacy issues.
When you need to send out an email to a large group of people when you’re not necessarily expecting a response, use mailing software such as Mailchimp. Email marketing platforms send an individual copy of your message to every person on your mailing list, so there’s no risk of your contact list being exposed. They also make it easier to comply with the various privacy legislation around the world.
Need help setting up your email client or getting up to speed on an email marketing platform? If you are located in Adelaide or in South Australia, we can help, please contact us today on 08 8326 4364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.