Do Your Emails Flunk the iPhone Test?

//Do Your Emails Flunk the iPhone Test?

Do Your Emails Flunk the iPhone Test?

This one doesn’t apply to all of you. Just 99%. I receive emails either wanting me to write about a particular subject or publish an article. The bulk of them are off target. And for that, I am somewhat thankful.

You see, I want to delete your emails. I get too many. I can’t possibly read them all. So I have to filter them. The first filter is the sender’s name. I will open email from established contacts. The second filter is the iPhone. It summarizes the first 30 characters of every email’s subject line. An amazing number of requests fail to get over that hurdle. Here are a couple of examples as I see them on my phone:

Pre-brief? EMBARGO REQUEST New Sol…

Story idea: Startup Seeks to q…

Innovation in unlikely places (…

PRESS RELEASE: How clever e…

Confluent News Announceme…


RE: Interested in connecting w…

The authors had 30 characters to catch my eye. They wasted them. Their emails might have been about something relevant to an article I am researching. But I don’t care. I delete them without opening.

But the likelihood of relevance is very small. Today’s batch included pitches about: Kelly Clarkston, stylish clothing with hidden pockets, fundraising for underutilized youth, spa treatments, a new pharmaceutical tablet process, legal cannabis propaganda, the equine industry, creating forests in the Sahara, luxury bridal giving, and wearable alternatives to hospital drips – I am not kidding.

Result: I delete them without further inspection. My inbox has now been slimmed down to a more manageable level. Smile.

Of the remaining 10%, all but a few suffer from a peculiar disease – failing to get to the point. I open each one, but 9 out of 10 don’t say much in the 10 or so lines I see on the top screen of the phone. The common failings are long-winded introductions, corny attempts to build rapport, some history about a client that I don’t need to know, how much they like my articles, and so on. Once again – delete! More smiles.

I’d like to finish with a happy ending, but I can’t. The 1% remaining are read, although most are not acted upon. But those are the ones that are at least on point, MAY fit something I write about, and have passed the iPhone Test. And I’m more likely to open email from those sources in the future.

Note: My own title “Do Your Emails Flunk the iPhone Test?” violates the 30-character rule. I tried shortening it and came up with “Why Emails Fail iPhone Test.” That’s how I would word it if I was sending out email blasts – which I’m not.

Lessons learned:

  1. Hit home your key message in the first 30 characters of the email subject line
  2. Don’t waste words on “RE”, “Press Release”, “Under Embargo”, “Media Alert” or other unnecessary verbiage.
  3. Include the topic clearly in the subject line such as ransomware, CRM, power plant efficiency or Kelly Clarkston tickets.
  4. Your company name is unimportant unless you are a massive one like Microsoft, GE, Dell or Amazon. It’s just more wasted characters.

6. The body of the email MUST get to the point instantly. Use the old inverted pyramid approach. The first paragraph should give the main news. Succeeding paragraphs can elaborate. If the first paragraph, doesn’t grab me – delete!

By | 2018-01-08T17:13:07+00:00 January 8th, 2018|Uncategorized|23 Comments

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