Thursday, November 1, 2012

Are Your Association's Emails "Getting Through?"

Someone tweeted a link to this blog post.

I think it speaks to us as association executives and association marketers.

She shares the importance of (1) the subject line (the headline from my j-school days) and (2) the opening sentence (lead).  Both are hugely important today more than back in my old newspaper days!

Rather than rewrite it, I asked Katie Atkinson if she would guest post it.

You Talking to Me?

Guest Post by Katie Atkinson via

It’s Tuesday morning, and I’ve got an email In Box overflowing with messages.

I’m determined — in the next 5 minutes — to purge it of every useless sales pitch, event invitation, “newsletter,” and other waste-of-my-time message that’s come in (and bypassed my spam filter) since last night.

I scan down the list of senders and immediately Delete, Delete, Delete all messages from unknown or unwanted senders. Then I look down the Subject lines and Delete any message that doesn’t immediately capture my attention.

Finally, I scan the message previews. If I can’t determine “what’s in it for me” within the first 2 sentences, I hit the Delete key.

What do I have left? A very small number of messages that have escaped my trigger-happy Delete finger and are actually worth my valuable time. I suspect that your email routine may be similar.

So why am I bothering to write a blog post about this? The answer, dear reader, is that many of your (and your association’s) messages are probably victims of the Delete key.

Maybe it’s time you took a hard look at your email communications and asked yourself some questions:
  1. Am I (naively) assuming that recipients will open and read my messages because they’re from me/my association?
  2. Am I using Subject lines that are “clever” but don’t tell what my message is about?
  3. Am I writing lengthy introductory sentences (or even paragraphs) before actually getting to the point of my message?

If you answered “Yes” to any (or all) of the above, then you’re wasting your time as well as mine. Your messages are not getting read (or even opened).

The recipients of your messages actually expect you to understand what they need, what motivates them, and what constraints they have on their time (imagine that!). By shifting your focus away from your own needs, you’ll quickly find that your email communications are easier to write – and are better received:
  1. Put yourself in the place of your readers!
  2. Tell them in a 4-5 word Subject line why they should open your message.
  3. Distill “what’s in it for me?” in your opening sentence.

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