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When the word email comes up in conversation, watch the reaction you get from others. You’ll likely hear grumbling, bragging, dread or cursing. It seems the subject of email garners different reactions from people. Knowing how you personally react can influence how you use it. Now for me, I’m a big fan of the zero email box, and that requires organization and diligence. My desire to process my email, discard the useless and put the useful into action has freed me from the out of control feeling an email avalanche can cause.

So I began to think about what it takes for me to want to open an email and make me want to read it and above all else, save it. Now I’m not talking about email from clients with specific requests or comments on work in progress, or email from trusted resources who operate virtually or even emails that tell me it’s time to change my oil. I’m talking about people who took the time to share thoughts, images and a slice of their brain with me in a creatively packaged email.

Recently, I learned from my crafty tech guru that when I have an email that I want to save for later I can export it as a PDF, or I can just file it in a folder to read at a better time. Just like a book you set aside for vacation reading. So I began to discover what it takes for me to open, read and click through to read the rest of the story?

Here’s what I found.

When an email makes me believe that I’m the only one getting it and that it has something important to say, I go for it. Having an real person’s name as the sender gets extra points and when there’s a reward for reading – that’s helps too. I began to notice that when the subject line reads like a headline and grabs me, well, that grabs me. I know I don”t like numbered lists, that makes me feel like a dummy who needs it spelled out – even when I do. I like when it’s short, asks a few questions and seems personal – that makes me feel comfortable. I know that when the content is conversational, includes me and feels like we’re talking then I gain trust.

Since I’m in marketing, I admire a solid marketing approach, but i need to hear the benefits of the product or service, or why I should visit their website. When the call to action is defined and appealing, I go for it. When clearly positioned links of interest are there for me to dig deeper – that works. If I have to fumble around or become prey to a trap, then I hit the exit. And if I go down the path and decide it’s not for me I want assurance that I have truly unsubscribed. Don’t play games with me when I’ve decided to part ways.

So here’s what I find works best: make it personal, make the subject line enticing, be sure that your content is worthy of the time you’re asking for and always add value to the reader. Only then do you stand a chance that your next email will be opened and appreciated.