How quickly can you get email into the trash?

I love email. It allows me to send messages to people far and wide and from wherever I happen to be. I don’t have to have a ‘I’m not in the office’ notice either, as I can always find some time to respond to people.

But it also means that anyone can send me an email, which invariably means that 90% of the email I get is “selling”. But it’s no problem, as on busy days it’s click, shift, click and hit delete and a whole bunch of emails are gone. I have it down to a fine art.

So how do those selling to me ‘get through’? Well on busy days they don’t.

And unfortunately 99% of the 90% never get through. Why? Because it appears that these days people just bang out emails with little or no thought.

Should email be more expensive to send?

Probably not but 15 years ago I read a piece about the day in the life of Raoul Pinnell (then the vp for global brands at Shell) and this is what he said:

“The surface mail that I receive is mostly "sales mail". I think that surface mail is too cheap. If the postal cost was £50 per piece, maybe those who start out with laudable objectives would think more about who I am and what I might need. However, the recycling bin on my desk seems to be happy with the contributions that I make to it.”

And he was/is right. Whenever I am been briefed to produce any direct communications I think about what he said and make sure we do think about what the customers might want.

Shame it’s doesn't seem to be on the minds of most the people that send me email.

Quantity is better than quality!

No it’s not. But that's what appears to guide most companies in their email strategy. And it’s not as if they don’t send nice looking emails (cos a lot of them have some very nice ‘templates’) – it’s the content and what they want me to do that seems all wrong.

The problem with email is that you can bash out a campaign in a couple of hours and I guess the temptation is to leave it to the last minute and not put much thought in to it beyond ‘we want to sell this, we could say this, and we can get them to click to this’.

Bring back direct mail thinking

Despite Raoul’s comment, I’m sure he would be happier with more of the direct mail he use to get than the quality of email he gets now.

When we did do a lot more direct mail we had to think about what we could achieve, the best way of doing it and also the way we could really make an impact on the recipients.

One pack I am immensely proud of just aimed to get recipients to answer the phone when our client did a follow up call. Individually the packs were expensive but the initial costs were low – we’d designed it this way so the client could scale the programme. 25% of people sent a pack ended up in a meeting with our client!!

The reason the pack worked (beyond the great creative idea - nothing to do with me) was because the thinking was right; we had a clear objective of what we could feasibly achieve and we had a defined ‘path’ of the steps we needed to take.

So if companies don’t want their emails to hit my deleted folder in the .023 second if takes me to put them there, they really do need to think more about my needs and how they can best address them and get me to respond (positively!).

The Stream Team


t 0845 644 8884