We all get a lot of email. That includes a lot of email written by professionals with a specific job to design their organization’s email template and content. A lot of it I consider to be unsolicited, but that is an eye of the beholder thing and I can see the gray area between I as the receiver and they as the sender in the interpretation of “unsolicited”.
Nevertheless, I have a complaint about MANY of these professional emails.
They are too long.
Like I said, we all get a lot of email, and we read them on various devices at differing times of the day. So that means there is no guarantee about how “focused” we will be in reading any long email at the point we get it. As for me, if I’m busy anything I deem important I will certainly keep to read at a better time. Sometimes I look at email with images on, sometimes with images off, sometimes on a phone, sometimes on a computer – just like everybody else. And here’s the thing, professional email writers:
You’re wasting a lot of space.
I know you think that montage of photos taking the top two inches of height in your email makes it more attractive. If those photos aren’t ENGAGING TO YOUR POINT it also provides a delay to the point of what you want me to read. It forces text that you want to be visible in the FIRST SCREEN of email to scroll off. To the scanning eye it is hidden.
Speaking of which – how much text is really important? When you make a powerpoint presentation do you spend slide after slide in prosy narrative? Or do you have bullet points and allow your voice to expand on those bullet points? Sorry, professionals, but your email is one slide, not five. Bullet points with links to further detail is what you want. Let the reader scan.
Email writers have to put themselves in the position of the recipient – particularly if it’s in the gray area of whether the recipient really wants it or not in the first place. There’s a balance sought between maximizing the interest of the recipient and promoting the interest of the sender, and that balance is RARELY achieved with more text or boilerplate images. In addition, you want your email measureable – not only in receipts and opens, but in clicks. This will better prepare you for prioritizing content to the same population in the future. So…
Keep it short. Use links to expand on your points. Think like a recipient, not like a sender.