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How To Get Your Email Messages Read

How To Get Your Email Messages Read

Copyright (c) 2003 by Angela Booth

Who's reading the email messages you send out? Not as many people
as you think. For example, research by Internet marketing firms
suggests that only ten per cent of email ezines are opened and
read.

Email's turning into a spam-filled jungle to which the only
sensible response is a flame-thrower or a machete.

Here's what I do, and I expect that I'm typical. I get around 200
email messages a day. I delete 150 unread. I move 30 to a "follow
up" folder, and read 20. By "read", I mean I open the message and
scan it quickly.

Will your message be read? Think about how your message will
appear in someone's overcrowded Inbox, and structure it carefully
to differentiate it from all the spam and other trivia.

=> The From field

When you're scanning your list of messages, your glance moves
first to the From field. Is it from a friend or foe? Will you
read or delete? If it's an address which sounds genuine, the
message has passed the first test.

Therefore, your email address is important. Use your own name, or
that of your business.

Your email name shouldn't be cute, or weird. When someone's
cutting through swathes of spam, after the tenth invitation to
view utterly vile images, your cute email address will inspire
rage, not a smile.

Remember that you're conducting business, and strive for
professionalism.

Because I'm a writer, much of my email is from other writers.
Many beginning writers select strange email addresses. Such as:

ialwayswantedtobeawriter@freeemail.com. Or
writergrl27@atanotherfreeemailservice.com.

Even if you're forced to use a Web-based, free service because
you don't have a computer at the moment, or because you're
travelling, read the Help file to see how to set the From field
to your own name, rather than to your User Name for the service.
Many people have their email filters set to automatically delete
mail from free services.

=> The Subject line

The primary rule: be clear.

Many people you're communicating with won't have any idea who you
are, so your Subject line should make your reason for
communicating with them plain.

If your message's Subject line is blank, or if it has a weird
subject line, it will be deleted, unread.

Drop cute, friendly, or mysterious subject lines. Spammers use
cute, friendly and mysterious subject lines.

I automatically delete: "Hi!" (sounds like someone sending me a
virus); "Hey come see" (not while you live and breathe); "Re:
your account payment" (the address has to be from someone I do
business with); "Auto-response confirmed" (you're an idiot);
"thanks for your subscription" (I didn't subscribe, and I hope
you die a slow, miserable death).

If you're sending an article proposal, for example, say so right
on the Subject line, with:

"Article Proposal: 10 ways to fold your socks"

Can't think of a Subject line? Take a moment. Ask yourself why
you're sending the message.

Think of your subject line as a headline. If you're having a sale
at your business, come out and say so: "Sale: Ten per cent off
everything at Sally's Garden Center this month".

An honest, up-front subject line ensures your message will be
read, if the addressee is interested. For example, if I'm a
customer of Sally's Garden Center, I'll be interested that she's
having a sale, and will save the message.

=> The Message

TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT! Please. Don't obfuscate or waffle. If I
don't know what you want after giving the message a quick read,
I'm not going to read it twice. It's easier to hit the delete
button.

Make your message short. Try to keep it at one screen, which
means less than 200 words. Use plenty of white space, don't send
me the entire 200 words without a paragraph break.

HTML or text?

Your choice. However, I admit I'm biased against HTML. Not only
because it's becoming the format of choice for spammers, but also
because people who use HTML emphasize the medium, not the
message.

A year or two ago Flash-animated Web sites were all the rage.
They had the same problem. Nothing much to say, and they said it
with pretty pictures and glowing colors. Look, I read magazines.
I watch TV. I don't need pretty pictures. I just want to know why
you're sending me a message.

=> Don't send message attachments

With all the viruses around, this one should be obvious, but it's
not.

If you want to send someone an attachment, send them an email
message first, to let them know what the attachment is, and ask
them whether they want to receive it. (If you want to send
someone a two megabyte file, the answer will be NO. Whatever it
is, send it by postal mail.)

Like most people, I don't open an attachment unless I know who
the attachment is from, and what the attachment is.

I expect to receive attachments from my clients. My students also
innocently send attachments until I tell them that I prefer their
exercises pasted into a text email, not sent as five DOC
attachments.

If I don't know you, and you send me an attachment, I'll delete
your message, including the attachment.

=> Include ALL your contact details

Spammers never include verifiable names, phone and fax numbers,
and postal addresses.

So you MUST include them if you want someone to take your email
message seriously. This is the easiest way to differentiate
yourself from spammers.

If someone trusts me enough to send me their phone and fax
numbers, and their postal address, I know they're sending a
serious message, and I'll read the message carefully.

Getting your email messages read is easy. Just treat the people
you contact the same way you want to be treated. If you do that,
your messages will be read.

***Resource box: if using, please include***

Veteran multi-published author and copywriter Angela Booth crafts
words for your business --- words to sell, educate or persuade.
E-books and e-courses on Web site. FREE ezines for writers and
small biz: http://www.digital-e.biz/

About the Author

Australian author and journalist Angela Booth is the editor
and publisher of Creative Small Biz, a new free weekly ezine for
writers, designers, photographers, artists and other creatives.
Creative Small Biz helps creatives to transform their talents
into a flourishing business.

Angela Booth