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Old 4th February 2008, 04:15 PM   #1
Tazlow
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Default Make Your Emails "scan-able"

I was helping a client create an email to send to her salon clients last week and thought I’d post a tip to avoid a common mistake I see our clients make when creating their emails. The mistake is not creating emails that are “scan-able” - emails that can be quickly scanned to see the high points without reading the entire email.

As much as we’d all like to believe that our customers hang on our every word, the reality is they’re busy and don’t have time to read a book. They want to scan an email to see “what’s in it for me” and then they’ll read more about what they’re interested in. If they can’t quickly scan the email, odds are many of them won’t read it at all – they’ll just delete it.

Working with this client, the final result was an email that told most of the story with just a glance, to ensure that her clients would know about the new services, sale prices, and contest she was advertising. It didn’t rely on the clients reading a lengthy email to know all about these great things.

To give you an example of scan-ability, see how easy it is to scan this copy and quickly get the message (even without a color font):

Deep Tissue Massage
$75 (reg. price $95)
Come enjoy the healing effects of deep heat therapy with a Swedish massage. Hot stones are used to massage the muscles to release and dissolve deep muscle tension for an intensely relaxing experience.


I just wanted to pass along this tip, as it’s one that generally our clients need help with on their first few emails. So, when you create emails for your customers, keep this in mind. Use font size and color to create headers that tell your email story even if your smaller text is never read. And lead with what will grab your customers’ attention the most – the product, the price, a catchy headline, etc.

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Old 4th February 2008, 09:21 PM   #2
Amir W.
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Good tip. I sometimes wonder if there is a fine line between having some bold parts for "scan-ability" as you say, and having the e-mail look too much like a salesy e-mail.

In other words, I sometimes shy away from bold or colored text, so that the e-mail looks more personal, just like a regular e-mail would - and perhaps this increases the chances that it is read. What are your thoughts about that?

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Old 4th February 2008, 11:33 PM   #3
Tazlow
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Amir,

Great thought, I have several thoughts about this.

It's great to have a goal of making newsletter and marketing emails look personal. Merging in the customer's name and keeping a personal tone are great ways to do this.

If done professionally, bold and color headlines shouldn't detract from the professionalism of an email, they should just make it easy to scan, which I find that most readers appreciate.

As an example, I subscribe to several stock newsletters. They use headers to clearly delineate categories, stocks, etc. I always appreciate that, because I don't want to spend a ton of time reading the whole newsletter, I want to quickly jump to the items I care about. But it's done in such a way that the email remains conservative in feel.

As far as emails looking "salesy", I often hear this from people like it's always a bad thing. If you start a newsletter that's informative, then you clearly want to respect your recipients and not turn it into a sales email. But for many businesses who are emailing actual customers, sending marketing type emails is the right thing to do. When I get my emails from Nordstrom, I expect them to send me an ad about their new products, sales, etc. I'm not expecting a newsletter from them. The same holds true for many businesses emailing their customers.

Of course whether your email falls into this category or not is a question you have to ask yourself.

If you're concerned about degrading the professionalism of your newsletter, maybe try mocking up a version with headers and have a few friends, colleagues, or even customers review it and tell you what they think.

Now, if I could just get my Mom to add headers to the emails she sends me, then I could skim those too!

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Old 5th February 2008, 08:17 AM   #4
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Just couple of thoughts...

First, scan-ability is much more important when the reader uses their computer to read your material. That screen is not eye-ball friendly. So if that's the scenario, you will do better to use short sentences, short paragraphs, and lots of compelling sub-heads.

The subheads not only break up your text but also should pull the reader back into your text.

A second thought: seems like everyone has a newsletter these days. Many of your readers are already swamped with them. Frequency is important - how often do you send your newsletter? Don't drown your readers, don't send so seldom that your readers forget about you.

And finally, what about just sending an article instead of a whole honkin' newsletter? This could be something shorter, quicker and more to the point that your reader could use without wading through other stuff. This works best if you're trying to establish your expertise in an area. And you don't need to sweat the formatting nearly so much in an article.

Dot

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Old 5th February 2008, 10:19 AM   #5
Amir W.
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Dot, I agree. Lately I don't send newsletters, but a short "tip" - just one article, providing some free value.

Newsletters still have their place, and it's a matter of using the appropriate medium to meet your specific needs.

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Old 5th February 2008, 04:20 PM   #6
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test, test, test.

Good points Mirinda & Dot

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