If your inbox looks anything like mine, you're scanning and deleting your email quickly, trying to sort through it all and find the stuff you need - as quickly as possible.
The preview pane is a wonderful screening tool. Subject lines are often misleading so I tend to scan the opening sentence to see if I want to delete or continue. I want to know immediately if the message is relevant to me. Unfortunately, not many of those sentences get my attention.
To put this in context, let's look at some real email first sentences:
"I wanted to share with you the success of our [company] program which allows marketers to tap an influential group of [company's] readers for product sampling and reviews."
Really? Why? I don't know you. I don't know who your readers are, or what they could mean for me.
"I've been trying to contact you regarding your interest in the business implications of social media."
You have? First I've ever heard of you. So, if you've tried before, you didn't make any better of an impression. And why are you trying to make me feel like I failed to respond to you when I don't know you?
"[Company] has spent years perfecting its product for small businesses, leading to awards for both the company and the product, and attracting more than 40,000 customers."
Woo Hoo! Good for you. So?
"If [Company] has its way, every last one of us will be communicating with video as naturally and regularly as we now use email and our phones, no matter what industry we work in."
Good luck. What does this have to do with me? Although this one got my attention with the boldness, but soon lost it again with the five long paragraphs of dense stuff that followed - which was all about them.
And that's the missing for each of these. Every single first sentence here is all about the sender.
- There's no consideration evident about me.
- No reason at all for me to keep reading.
- Nothing relevant to anything I'm thinking about right now.
- No attempt to engage me.
All of them are speaking AT me, not WITH me. The problem gets even worse. I have one of two possible responses. Both result in DELETE.
Disinterest - I've deleted your message. You're gone from my mind immediately with no residual value for you to build upon - even if you wanted to try. The good thing here is that you have a clean slate to start again. Unless, I've blocked your access to my inbox.
Dislike - The tone and words caused me to want to hit reply and tell you how much you irritated me. But, I didn't. I have no time for that. I deleted your message. But I'll remember the bad impression you made and will be predisposed not to pay attention to anything else you send. But I probably won't know because you've just been blocked.
There are a number of articles, reports and research out there that say email effectiveness is declining. Or that email is dead. Don't believe it. Email is a valuable tool. One that all of us use every single day.
The reason response rates are not impressive for a lot of companies isn't due to the technology, or the delivery method. It's the message companies choose to put into it.
It's worth taking the time to think about who your audience is and what you're saying to them...and why.
If you want better response:
- Focus on your audience, not your company, yourself or your products.
- Segment based on expressed interests.
- Don't make assumptions without basis.
- Start with a great hook.
- Be interesting (add value), for heaven's sake.
- Don't try to sell me at hello.