Successful Email Marketing begins with a single question.  Would I open it?Whether you are a sophisticated email marketer or just trying to get someone to reply to a personal or business email, you will increase your changes of people opening by taking the time to do this 1 Easy, but Incredibly Crucial Step.  Ready?  Here it is —

STEP 1 in getting emails opened — Ask yourself “Would I open this email?”

Duh!  Too easy huh?  Well maybe this needs a little more context.   “If I were the intended receiver of this email, would I open it?”

Put yourself in their shoes (or inbox).  Think about your day and your email inbox.  Unless you have a lot of time on your hands, you need to perform “email triage” a few times a day.  You’re going to scan your inbox and look for the most important and urgent emails to open.  In my case, my first priority is usually my clients.  If I get a direct request (or something that looks like a possible request) from a client who usually needs something when they email me, I open it first.  Plain and simple.  Everything else gets put as a distant second…..sorry, but I’m in a service business.

If I get Cc:d on an email from a client, I take a quick glance to see if anything is urgent or “actionable”…meaning something I need to take action on.  If it doesn’t look urgent or actionable, it gets put into a folder to “get to later”.  Usually I’ll get 6 – 10 more emails from other people hitting “reply all” when many times just hitting “reply” will do.  Pile the folder a little bit higher.  Next in line are co-workers, friends, family (unless there is a real emergency obviously, but there is usually a frantic phone call, not an email in this situation), then emails I subcribe to from email marketers….like myself.

After awhile you get to know the senders who tend to have clear, actionable requests vs. those who just like to send emails around.  You know who they are.  The problem with this type of triage, once in awhile a typical inbox clogger needs something urgent but you don’t believe “the sky is falling” and you do not make yourself aware that something important really does need your attention.

So what can you do?  I’ve tried to read faster or scan faster.  I’ve tried to check my email less, then more, then less again….and only at specific times.  Checking email at specific times (a more “batched” approach) does help so you can focus on answering what is important, then close your email program for awhile so you can actually get something done.

But, what REALLY HELPS IS THIS – Commit this following statement to memory, tattoo it on your hand, put a post-it on your computer….whatever it takes -The responsibility is on the sender (you), not the receiver (me) to quickly give me a compelling reason to open your email.

I don’t mean for this to sound arrogant and too demanding.  I need to take this same responsibility before I send an email, whether it is part of an email marketing program for a client or a direct email from me.  I need to ask myself “Would I open this?”  If the answer is no, I try to make the subject line more quick and compelling…and give the receiver a reason to open it.  I’d like to think that my name on “from” is enough, but I know other people need to do the same thing I described above and perform their own email triage.  People are just plain busy and bombarded with information from everywhere.  Email is still a very effective form of communication….but like any, it needs to be done with respect.  Talking does not ensure listening.

If your honest answer to this question (would I open this email?) is NO, it isn’t ready to send.  Just because you can send it, doesn’t mean it will truly be received.  ….and if you get a reputation for sending lots of irrelevant messages, none of them will ever be opened.