How I Delete Email (read: how to keep your email from being deleted)

Recently I put together a video series I titled “Effective Email Communication,” because I see so many emails that are, well, crappy.

I know that isn’t a professional word, but I can’t think of another word that captures what I’m trying to say.

I’m telling you, they are bad emails.  And “bad emails” don’t discriminate… I see them from old people (who should know better), young people (who think emails are going the way of the dodo birds), educated people, executives, professionals, and branding and marketing experts.

We need to do better at our communication (remember the 2012 theme for JibberJobber?), and we can start with our emails.

Here’s ONE tip on writing better emails: write a subject line that will decrease the chance of me deleting your email before I read it.

When I come into my office every morning, here’s what I do:

  1. I open my email.
  2. I look at the subject lines, and select all the ones that look like spam, or are not personal, or that I think I know about already.
  3. I delete all of those from step 2, without reading them.
  4. Then, I go through whatever is left over.

I’ve been doing this for more years that I can remember. I did it with Outlook, I do it now with Gmail.

And I bet many of you do the same thing… do you open that email from the Nigerian spammer, or do you delete it?

That’s what I thought.

I bet there are others that you automatically judge, based on the subject line, that you simply delete.

Here’s some unsettling information:  You are sending emails to people who are doing the same thing, to your precious emails!

Ouch, right?

My message: write BETTER email subject lines! That is the topic of my 7 minute clip titled “Compelling Subject Lines: Want your email to be read?” (the forth clip in the email series).  You can get the entire video series here for $50.

3 thoughts on “How I Delete Email (read: how to keep your email from being deleted)”

  1. When I started in the operations group at one of the world’s largest ISPs I used to get four or five e-mails a week with the subject lines “Urgent” and usually nothing else in the subject line. It drove me crazy. Why was it urgent? When did I need to respond? What help was required of me? Sometimes I couldn’t get to the urgent mail since I was tied up with other “urgent” activities. Sometimes I ignored the note because the sender would overact re the urgency. Finally I got feed up and conducted a class in effective e-mail communications. Most important piece: Subject lines are usually 65 to 70 characters. Use as much as needed to get the “call for action.” Urgent is important but why. What is broken? Who is affected? When is help needed? Perhaps if you don’t hear from me in ten minutes you will go to Plan B. Let me know. What do you need me to do? Perhaps you need me to get additional resources, make a phone call to a sr. exec, or you just want to let me know that you are handling an urgent issue.

    It doesn’t cost any extra to use the whole line so use it if needed.

    In the job search world the subject line could include things like who suggested we speak, why you should talk to me, what you need from me. Perhaps “Jason Alba Suggested we get a Cup of Coffee to Discuss Future Trends in Cybersecurity/Privacy.”

  2. Thanks Mark. I kind of get beat up when I write stuff like this because people think I’m a heartless, mean grump. But it’s what I’ve seen, not just with how I handle email, but with how others handle it… I’m glad to see your experiences are aligned.

Comments are closed.