Big news to whom? What do your emails really say?

By Chuck Sink | May 25, 2017

Email marketing works very well, except when it doesn’t.

Let’s explore the fascinating scientific phenomena that make emails practically delete themselves. It still seems to befuddle a lot of marketers out there.


One of the easiest things to do is make people delete your email immediately, with or without opening it. Simply disappoint them with irrelevant content. That’s all. There’s literally nothing to it… nothing worthwhile in the content that genuinely relates to audience needs.

I’m a big fan of email newsletters. Can you tell? I like reading or skimming newsletters from companies I follow in my network. I’ve learned quite a lot from some of them and done business with a few. I’m never annoyed when people who’ve snagged my email address add me to their email lists. I always take a look if I know who the sender is. You can never predict what legitimate organizations might inform you of, and it’s easy to unsubscribe from any email service provider if you don’t want more to come.

The YOU Attitude or the US Attitude?

A couple of recent emails from familiar firms hit my inbox last week. The subject lines were “Big News from…” and “News from…” Upon opening the “Big News…” one, I found that the news was really very small and mundane from my vantage point. The “News” could only be “Big” from an internal standpoint – to the owners and managers of the company. It was really just an announcement of something you would expect to hear from this company in any given month. They reported that they just accomplished something that they’re in business to do anyway, so the content was a bit of a letdown.

The “News from” email was mostly a long list of things this company would be expected to do. I’m sure there’s some value in the brand impressions, but how much engagement or response do newsletters like this generate? The answer is less than they could if they were instead using an audience-centered approach – taking on the “YOU Attitude.”

With an audience-centered approach, your subject line will resonate with relevance and more likely get an email opened. With a company-centered approach, your subject line will have little or nothing of value to the recipient. There’s really nothing in it for them. So take on the YOU Attitude and give your audience a compelling reason to engage! Instead of talking about YOUR accomplishments, talk about THEIR opportunities and what THEY value.

Relevance and Congruence

Your subject lines and content must not only be relevant, they must align so that your audience gets rewarded for opening your email. The reward can be as basic as breaking industry news, new & innovative technology or a simple email-marketing-relevancesolution to a nagging problem. It could even be a call for expertise – giving members of your audience a chance at being recognized for their professional knowledge, offering space in your newsletter or blog to give them direct access to your newsletter/blog community. Whatever it is, be relevant and relatable. Your audience should at least be able to identify with keywords in your subject lines and the general themes of your articles or promotions.

It’ fine to sprinkle employee and company news updates into your newsletters as long as that isn’t the main thrust of the content. In fact, people will be more likely to pay attention to your internal news once they see that you are a purveyor of worthwhile information.

The last thing you want your subject lines to do is promise “Big News” when upon opening your email, the recipient thinks “fake news” or “no news is good news.” When that happens, the unsubscribe link will be the most relevant section of your email.

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