How to avoid the dreaded "delete" key.

Each morning as I open my e-mail, I sit with my index finger perched on the delete key. I suspect I’m like many others. Today’s e-mail environment has trained us all to be “vicious deleting machines.” We scan every sender and subject line looking for someone we recognize or something of value, and if we don’t find it … zap, it’s gone. How long do we take to scan and delete what we don’t recognize? I take about one second, maybe less. It helps that I get lots of training each morning — I’m relentless. The volume of unwanted e-mails is now so high that we’ve become experts at deleting it in a nanosecond. No e-mail “gets a break.” I bet most of us have even deleted e-mails that we wanted just because we failed to recognize it in the one second we give ourselves to scan it. So what’s my point? It’s simple. Unless you have a clear sender and subject line that communicates in one, two seconds max, your e-mail is dead! Gone. Poof. Zap.

So, take a good look at what you’re sending and how it arrives in the recipient’s inbox, and ask yourself, “Why shouldn’t the recipient delete my e-mail?”

Here are some of my instant delete cues.

1. A sender I don’t recognize. Here’s one from my inbox this morning: Bidz@jeg0otaxot.com . Apparently they were selling jewelry! (Why me?)

2. A sender field that has been truncated in some way. Obviously it was too long in the first place.

3. Anything from “Sales@” or “Customer Service@.”

Now here’s what I do open:

1. Anything sent from a real person. “JoeSmith@” gets my attention even if I don’t recognize the name immediately.

2. A subject line I’m interested in, particularly if it’s service-oriented. For example, “Renew your car insurance” or “Your order #123456 has been shipped.”

3. Offers in the subject line that interest me, especially if they’re relevant, timely or seasonal: “Take 15 percent off any order today only” or “Free S&H for our best customers” or “Free personalization of your holiday cards.”

What I see today is an inordinate amount of poorly crafted sender lines and subject lines. I suspect, given what I’ve seen, many B-to-B e-mailers are leaving this critical creative responsibility in the hands of their IT departments or e-mail providers.

So, once you’ve conquered the deliverability issue with your e-mail campaigns, make sure you get the sender and subject lines right. Remember, you only have one second to reel in the recipient or else you’ll suffer the wrath of the trigger finger on the delete key.

Got an e-mail you want to send me for my opinion? Go ahead, I dare you.

Have a comment? Please provide me with your feedback at tjukes@b2bdmi.com .

Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fl., that services clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes@b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221 (direct line).

Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services B2B catalog company clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes @ b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221

Comments or questions are welcome.

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