[SEND]. It’s gone. Work done.

But hang on, will it make it through or die on the frontline?


Think about it. How do you determine what emails you’ll read … or delete?

Most of you at least check the sender’s name and the subject line. If they don’t connect or speak to you (aren’t relevant to your needs) it’s an easy decision to [DELETE]. Or maybe you’ll delay reading them, if you’re in a generous, Tim Tam-kinda-mood.

Research has shown that there are five stages of viewing an email and you can lose readers at any of them.

Your reader makes a snap decision: to read or not to read, at every stage. All the decisions are made in seconds, without much conscious thought.

So your email should build trust and help your reader feel comfortable moving to the next phase.

Don’t stretch the truth, overpromise or deceive the reader.


5 stages of email viewing

Each of the five stages have green-light:red-light junctures, where split second decisions are made on whether the email is desired or an important enough interruption to use up precious time.

Here’s a road map to try and get the green light at each stage:


1.      Sender’s name

It’s the same old story – people judge you by your label.

If the name/address seems to be unprofessional or is unknown to the receiver, then [DELETE]. If the brand or company name is respected and known [GO].

If you can’t change your email address, you have a split second to recover yourself with an amazing subject line; make it work.


 2.     Subject line

This is probably the biggest, toughest roadblock to overcome. There are two rules: i) Do not trick your reader with your subject line (deliver what you promise) and ii) Make it relevant to your reader (they’ll miss out on something important).

Three things to remember when crafting your subject line: be interesting, relevant and important. Then check: Does it make a connection [GO]? Does it raise curiosity [GO]? Or does it promise too much [DELETE]?

Well written subject lines build trust and the right ones get results.


3.     Preview pane (the amount seen without opening the message)

From here your reader reads what they can see onscreen without opening the email. Typically the preview pane (depending on how it’s set) shows just 4-15 words.

Make sure the first sentence is a killer and delivers on your promise.

If those first few words travel along a different road to what your subject line promised, it’s [DELETE].


4.     Opened email (the amount seen without scrolling down)

So far you’ve lined up your first words and subject line with your reader’s expectations. Your email is opened. But, it’s still not a clear open road ahead.

There’s a chunk of text viewable without scrolling. Is that chunk compelling, clear and relevant? Is it what you promised? If the answer is yes, then you’re on the last stretch.


5.     Complete email

As you’ve managed to get through the other four challenges, hopefully now your reader will scroll through your email and take the action you suggested. If they do, then give yourself a well-deserevd pat-on-the-back.


Help them want to open your email

Crafting compelling emails is a constant challenge. It takes practice, but it’s not impossible.

Focus your attention on the subject line. It can make or break your campaign – no matter how great, colourful or compelling your message.

The goal of your subject line is to pique the reader’s interest and persuade them to read, open and act on your email. Then, the further you can move your reader through the five stages of email viewing, the more likely your reader will trust you with their time, attention and money.


Killer lines

What killer subject lines have you read lately? Why did they pique your interest?

Photo credit: Ed from Ohio via photopin cc


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