Friday, April 3, 2009

Switching Google Accounts: Change of Email Address

One of the easiest parts of changing your email address to get wrong is notifying your friends, family, co-workers, and anyone else you might need to receive email from. I’ve gone through 12 of these in my life, and I feel that I’m getting fairly good at it.

Setting a Deadline

In the past I have failed to set a deadline, with disastrous results. Without one, many people can and will procrastinate updating their contact list. I’m nearly sure that, somebody I know is still sending email to an account I abandoned 8 years ago, because I failed to set a deadline. It doesn’t have to be a hard deadline: you don’t have to stop reading your old email account as soon as it passes — in fact, you’d be wise to continue checking it for a month or two, incase you missed somebody.

I set a deadline 3 days away from when I sent the email, and had at least 90% of my buddies switched over by the end of the first day — the remaining 10% were people I have no other contact with except through email, so I’ll have to wait for them to email me next time to see. You may need to set the deadline further down the road than I did — most of my contacts are obsessive email addicts, so I knew a large portion of them would check their email in that time-frame.

Choosing Who You Want to Notify

Be sure to focus on family, friends and co-workers when sending your notifications. It is recommended that you do not send notifications to mailing lists, unless you are a very important member — perhaps you can put a notice in your signature for a couple months, if you feel its really important that they know who the “new” guy is.

The Notification Message

Be sure to be polite, courteous, and to the point. For your contacts, this message is all about doing maintenance on their contact list, something very few of them will really want to do, so don’t make them read anything that has nothing to do with the purpose of the message. Be sure to put that you’re changing your account in the subject line, and get to the details very early in the body of the message. Here’s an abridged template based on what I send:

From: {Old Address}
To: {New Address}
Bcc: {All Contacts}
Subject: I'm changing my email address, so please update your contact list - {Name}

To All Recipients:

On {Deadline}, my current email address, {Old Address}, will be abandoned. I will be permanently changing over to my new account, {New Address}, which you may or may not already have — please update your contact list, if necessary.

Thanks and regards,

Do note the “From,” “To” and “Bcc” lines — these are set that way for a reason. You want to send the email from your old address, incase somebody has their account setup to mark anything from somebody not on their contact list as spam. “To” and “Bcc” are there so each recipient can see exactly two addresses on the email: theirs, and your new one — you want that new address to stick in their mind as much as possible until they get it into their contact list.

You may also wish to include a small note as to why you are switching, to head off the “why?” questions. Personally, I referenced the vast amount of spam I was receiving, and that some of their messages had been mistakenly sent to my Spam box months or weeks ago.

If you have any other accounts tied directly to an email address, this is a perfect opportunity to remind people to switch those as well. For instance: I included a reminder note to those that were on my Talk or Reader buddy lists to update those as well.