FACT – People receive too much email.
As an email guy that’s probably not the most intelligent thing to admit. But it’s true. I know I do.
FACT – People are looking for an easy way to perform triage on their email inbox.
Smartphones are notoriously used as triage devices. Mobile inbox triage is segmented into three categories –
- Respond immediately to clients/family.
- Save what you’re mildly interested in to read later on your desktop or when you have time.
- Delete before you ever even open the email.
These same categories exist on desktop devices as well. But they are certainly amplified by the smartphone.
FACT – The triage decision is based entirely on SENDER, SUBJECT LINE and PREVIEW TEXT.
That means you have 148 characters to prove your email is worthy of opening. These three fields make up your Email Worthiness Criteria.
Be Brief! Be Bright! Be Opened!
Far too many emails never stand a chance of hitting the immediate open category because they make some very basic blunders. When crafting an email most people spend hours and hours on the body content and spend virtually no time on the important Email Worthiness Criteria.
So what can you do with those 148 characters to get yourself into the immediate category? Or at the very least into the save for later column.
Let’s examine each criteria to see what you can do to pass the mobile triage test.
Will Your Sender Information Get Your Email Opened?
Sender info – 20 characters
If you’re like me, the very first thing I look at when assessing the worthiness of an email is the sender. Who sent this to me?
The decision here is largely based on “Do I know this person? Do I trust this person?”
There’s not a lot you can do about whether or not they know you in a single email preview. This relationship is built over time. In the real-world or online, it takes time to show someone you bring value into their lives. Heck, sometimes even my own relatives don’t make the short list of trusted senders. I’m talking to you – the one who keeps sending me email chain letters! You know who you are.
On the other hand, I open every email Neil Patel sends out. I see his name and bam! – instant trust. At the very least he gets the benefit of doubt because I’ve received so much value from him over the years. Until he gives me a reason to change my mind, just the site of his name alone earns at least a “save for later” decision.
There are a couple of basics here that you can follow just to avoid a major fail. First, don’t use your company name. Emails come from people not corporations. Unless you’re Apple or Amazon your clients buy from you or your people. So the email should come from the owner or the customer sales rep – someone your clients will recognize.
Secondly, if you want to make things a little clearer you could add @Company Name after your name. As an example it could be Bob @Acme Screw or Steve Jones @ABC Done Right. But remember you only have 20 characters to convey who sent this email.
Lastly, whatever you decide keep it consistent. One company I know sends an email each week from a different employee name. How confusing. I have no idea who this person is. If they left it alone, over a few weeks I would at least begin to recognize the name. In this case, adding the @Company might help.
Will Your Subject Line Get Your Email Opened?
Subject Line – 30 characters
Subject lines are the headline of your email. You need to grab someone’s attention and compel them to open the email.
Curiosity is your friend when it comes to subject lines. You want your reader to think “I’ve got to know more.”or “What is this email about?” I see far too many businesses that answer all the questions right in the subject. They never give their readers a chance to get into the finer points because they answered the big picture too soon.
The subject line represents your best chance of getting your email opened by someone who isn’t familiar with you. So spend some extra time here. Create multiple versions of your subject line and send test emails to yourself. If this email appeared in your inbox, would you open it based solely on this one string of 30 characters?
Here are two subject lines to always avoid…
“January 2015 Newsletter- Issue 47” Wow. Hold me back. I want to spend my afternoon reading your newsletter.
In case you missed it, the above line should be read with sarcasm. No. I don’t have time to read your newsletter. A newsletter is something I keep in the bathroom for reading material. Not something I want to read on my computer.
Instead, write a headline based on what’s inside. What benefit will I receive if I read your email? Give me a reason to open it.
Repeating the sender name Your subject line is precious real estate. Don’t waste it by repeating what is directly to the left of it already.
If I don’t know you, I don’t know you. Saying your name twice isn’t going to jog my memory.
Will Your Preview Text Get Your Email Opened?
Preview Text – 98 characters
I’ve got a big problem with preview text. Most companies don’t know how to use it and it drives me crazy!
Actually there are two things I see over and over again in preview text that you should never do.
“Having trouble viewing this email? Click here.” When was the last time you had trouble viewing an email? In my twenty plus years of reading emails I can only think of two times I had to use this option.
You might as well start out your email with “JUNK MAIL _ DO NOT OPEN” or some random string of characters.
If you have legitimate concerns about whether people are able to ready your emails you can do one of two things. Use a service like Litmus which tests your email in a variety of email readers to make sure they look good across all platforms. Or put the trouble link lower in the email so the preview text is grabbing something worth reading.
Repeating the subject line – Repeating the subject line Your subject line already gave me a reason to open your email. Don’t waste your precious 148 characters by saying the same thing twice.
When creating subject lines you should have come up with several variations. Use one of your variations at the top of your email. Give your reader a second reason to open your email. Show them a different benefit.
Make Your 148 Count
Creating a quality 148 characters takes time. It takes practice. And it takes a bit of trial and error.
Commit to spending more time on the header of your email. If you don’t have extra time, steal it from the time you spend on the body copy. You’ll see your open rates rise.
More importantly, you’ll sell more stuff.