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Email Etiquette - How to Use Email Effectively

Submitted by Teo Graca | RSS Feed | Add Comment | Bookmark Me! print

As most people are checking email now on their mobile devices, our basic research over the last 3 years is becoming more and more applicable. Our studies show that most people don't read emails with pictures. When they see a picture, they tend to spend 15-20 seconds looking at the pictures instead of reading the message. If they have 5 or more emails to go through, this time spent looking at pictures is generally half the time they have to review the email, and they either shelve it for later or delete it. Also, if there is too much information in the email, most people will either shelve it or delete it.

The solution to this problem is to provide short messages with a link back to more information on your website. When people get used to getting short, infrequent and potentially useful information from you, they get in the habit of reading your emails. They will then either click the link to the details, shelve it or delete it. They key point here is that they READ THE EMAILS and your basic message comes across in a very short time.

The most important conversions for any email are:

  1. Get recipient to open the email.
  2. Convey your basic purpose or message for the email.
  3. Get the recipient to read the details.
  4. Get the recipient to take some significant action like opt-in or buy now.

We have run survey's over the years and the general consensus is that the most important features of an email are:

  • Priority #1 - Does the sender have credibility (do they recognize and respect the sender)?
  • Priority #2 - Does the subject (just text) contain an interesting message that is applicable to the recipient (what is in it for the recipient)? This is the most important part of your email.
    • These first two factors get recipients to open the email.
  • Priority #3 - Do they have time to read the email?
    • If it is a short message with a link, recipients will read at least the first couple sentences once the email is opened.
    • Most people will spend up to 30-40 seconds at most reading an email, which translates to 60-80 words.
    • Pictures can work, and can hurt an email campaign. Since Pictures attract the eye, the time they might have spent reading your text is spent looking at the pictures. On the other hand, new pictures inspire more time spent on the email. Back to the first hand, when people see the same pictures in every email, it tends to signify that the email is conveying the same message or requires more than a minute to read. Emails with pictures tend to create an immediate "delete" or "shelve the email for later" action with most people. Also, people using mobile devices either don't see the pictures, or find the pictures annoying.

Other Important Factors Include:

  • Send Days: Tuesday through Thursday are the best days in general to send out emails. Most holidays occur on a Monday, so your email becomes buried if you send it prior to the first day someone comes back to work. Sending on the next day when people get into the flow of their work weeks is the best day. For example, most holidays occur on Mondays, so Wednesday is the best day to send emails in this case. Also keep in mind that what works best for most, is not necessarily best for everyone. There are always exceptions.
  • Frequent emails: People tend to delete or unsubscribe to daily emails, even if they have great content. Most people can't absorb too much information and daily emails become annoying for most people, unless the emails are providing content for people taking a course.
  • Infrequent emails: It's important to send out an email at least once per month, or people will forget you. There are exceptions, but in general, the recommended frequency from those surveyed is 1-4 times per month from any sender that provides relevant information on a subject they have expressed interest in.
  • CAN SPAM Compliance: The two most important elements of an email that make it compliant with this Federal law are putting your name, address and phone number (contact info.) in the email, and providing a one-click unsubscribe link in your email. If you are sending out email without this information for commercial purposes, you could be liable for fines of over $10,000 per email.

There it is - email best practices, short and sweet! If you are looking for a contact management that works with all of these best practices, we currently recommend MailChimp. For details on how to use these programs within a business perspective, contact us for more information.

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