4 Reasons people don’t read your email (and what to do about it)

So you want to craft the perfect organizational email newsletter that will capture the attention of your fast-paced digital audience. Like with most communication strategies, it starts with a good understanding of your audience. In today’s digital world, your audience is short on time, they’re probably reading your email in line at the grocery store. They have high expectations for your communications, mirroring their experiences in the private sector. And they’re receiving upwards of 100 emails per day, so you’re constantly competing for their attention.

When you want to reduce call center volumes, or promote important events and meetings, how do you avoid having your content fall into the online information abyss so that your emails can effectively inform and engage more citizens?

iStock_000021346456_Large_sad guy on laptopStart by avoiding these 4 reasons people aren’t reading your email.

1) Too long, didn’t read

Your email may be falling into what is known as tl;dr in internet-speak. Simply put, people tend to consume short bites of information online. A 2008 study from the Nielsen Norman Group revealed that users only read about 20% of content on any given Web page, and page viewing time does not increase proportionally when you’re adding more words on a page.

2) You didn’t promote it

Do you ever notice recycled stories appearing in your inbox, on social media, and on websites, packaged slightly differently but providing the same information? That’s because you won’t achieve the type of engagement you’re looking for by simply posting something on your website one time and leaving it there to (hopefully?) be found. Your content promotion and distribution strategy should include digestible pieces sent out via email, multiple scheduled social media posts, coordination with local press or community groups, text messages highlighting key information, and a range of other promotion strategies to make sure you’re maximizing your readership with each piece of new content you produce.

3) You attached it

Attaching files to email may negatively impact deliverability and the likelihood that people will read your content. I’ve seen emails that instruct me in the message body how to download the latest version of Adobe Reader to read the attached content. If attaching content is absolutely necessary, give the user a short description of the content attached, and what you want them to do with it. Always offer links to content online to avoid forcing users to download software updates, and to draw the user back to your website.

4) No one could read it on a phone

I’m an avid email reader – I receive messages from a majority of GovDelivery’s 1000+ clients and tend to read them regularly. I’ve given up on trying to read 2 or 3 column emails – it’s just not happening on a 6 square inch phone screen. With 65% of emails now being opened first on mobile devices, mobile design matters. If you’re not designing emails in a format that works for your audience’s mobile devices, chances are no one is going to be absorbing your content and engaging with you in the way you’re hoping.

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