qmark“Watson, why do people open emails?” The Effective Detective asked me.

“Sir?” I responded, not used to The Detective being the initiator of our conversations.

“What are they looking for?” he continued.

“I’m not sure what it is you are getting at sir,” I answered, still confused.

“Watson, must you be so dense? These are the questions no one asks when determining their content. We merely assume they want to hear about the subject in which we are professing to be experts in. Which  in some instances creates totally dense and boring content that no one reads, advertisements that no one reads – or considers spam, or worse, creates paralysis due to fear of crossing compliance lines.

“So I return to my original question, why do people open emails?” The Detective looked at me expectantly.

“To read them?” I volunteered.

The Detective rolled his eyes, “Yes, Watson, to read them. Why do they read them?”

“To be informed, or perhaps, entertained,” I replied, starting to warm to The Detective’s point.

“Precisely, Watson! The combination of the subject line and the sender tells the recipient that they are about to be informed, entertained, or updated. What emotion exactly is not the point. It is the anticipation, it is the expectation. If one signs up for LOL cats, one is not anticipating messages informing you of the latest political news. You anticipate being amused! The content is not necessarily life changing, although it might bring a smile to an otherwise dreary day, but it is something you want. This is what so many businesses who misuse or don’t use email as a marketing vehicle miss!” The Detective paused per his custom to see if I would venture an opinion.

“So… sending content isn’t necessarily about sending out information per-se, but rather something engaging?” I ventured.

“You’re very warm now Watson, excellent!” The Detective exclaimed.

“How many times have we heard ‘But I have nothing to say’, or ‘I can’t talk about business stuff because of compliance issues’? They are missing the point. Those that make such statements forget that marketing and selling is about developing relationships. Yes, information is part of that, but so is entertainment or just plain human interest.”

“Are you suggesting people start sending out jokes, sir?” I asked, slightly alarmed at this turn of the conversation.

“Bah! Of course not Watson! You’re drifting from the point. Take the focus more on human interest. Especially the interests of the people you are talking to. What you send out does not necessarily even need to always be related to the business at hand, it can wander over many different subjects, the key being that they are related to the interests of your audience. After all, don’t you do that in conversation with people of your acquaintance? Why shouldn’t you do the same with the people in your list. They may even be interested in your life events occasionally,” The Detective finished.

“So content can be almost anything as long as the expectations have been set appropriately?” I asked intrigued.

“Bullseye Watson! Don’t require your content to match your business, especially when you are limited by compliance or subject matter. Set expectations to something else that is possible for you. After all, the point of all of this is engagement, and an engaged audience is more likely to buy from you when the time is right than one that is not. Let us move on, Watson,” The Detective replied, ending today’s conversation.


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