Guest Post - Does your email pass the Scan Check?

Before you read an email, you scan it first to determine if you “want" to read it.

This “always on" scanning mode helps you filter out the noise of the Internet from the messages that you actually want to read in your inbox.

Without knowing it, you probably did this today, with this very blog post. And guess what? Your customers scan your emails too! In the blink of an eye, your customers evaluate every email to meet two criteria:

1. Is the message important? 2. Will it be quick and easy to read?

Even if your information is important to your contacts, if your emails don’t produce a “yes" for criteria #2, your message may be ignored or deleted right along with the spam.

To get your emails read (and get a response), you must format your emails for scanning.

Here’s how you can write emails that are quick and easy to read:

  • Keep your emails and ezine articles short. Try to keep everyday emails to 150 words. Limit your lead ezine articles to 400 words. If your email goes on and on, they will immediately fail the scan test, and you’re toast.
  • Restrict the majority of your paragraphs to three sentences or less. Long paragraphs are scanning quagmires that can trigger the subconscious minds of your recipients to demand, “next email!"
  • If you can’t avoid writing a large paragraph, make it easier for the reader to scan. Summarize the paragraph with a bolded title and structure the main points as a numbered or bulleted list. The result – instant “scannability!"
  • Don’t bury your calls to action inside a paragraph. Whatever you’re prompting your recipient to do (download a PDF, visit a webpage, register for a webinar, or answer a question), put it on a line by itself and bold it.
  • End your emails with a dialogue opener, not a closer. Stop writing “best wishes" or “warm regards" at the end of an email. It translates to “have a nice life." Instead, use something that opens a dialogue. Try “Thoughts?"; “What do you think?"; or “Eager for your reply."

Everyday I’m cc’ed on ezines and emails from salespeople who are delivering value to their customers with Ace of Sales. They’re answering customer questions and delivering ideas, updates, and success strategies.

They’re experts in their industry, just like you. However, there’s a big difference between them and you. Their customers are aware of their expertise and are repaying them with their loyalty.

Are you writing regularly to your customers?

If you think you don’t have enough time to write, allocate more time. Make it a priority.

If you feel you have nothing to write about, switch to an industry that ignites your passion.

If you don’t think you’re a good writer, you just need confidence, and some pointers. I've got some for you.

Here are 5 pointers to improve your writing:

  • Follow great content creators. To see how bloggers and expert article writers do it, use www.alltop.com to find popular blogs regarding topics you’re passionate about. Or, find your favorite magazine’s online version. Digest and examine their free content to grow your writing skills. I frequent wired.com and dwell.com for my inspiration.
  • Improve your diction. Remember vocabulary tests from grade school? For most people, learning new words stopped about the same time. If you have a smart phone, get Dictionary.com’s app and turn on the “Word of the Day" feature. Each day, you’ll learn a new word like, “perspicacious." To retain the word, force yourself to use it that day in conversation.
  • Use more precise words. No one is expected to speak with Elizabethan eloquence, but it would behoove you to swap more general, common words with more fitting synonyms. The word “discover" is better than “find" and the term “aesthetically captivating" is more informative than “interesting." Using a more accurate word makes you appear more educated while improving your customers’ engagement and comprehension.
  • Break your sentences down. If your paragraph feels awkward, chances are you’re trying to cram too much into one sentence. Split unwieldy sentences into two or three and you’ll find your words and ideas will work themselves out into a more flowing arrangement.
  • Don’t reuse words too often. A quick way to sound pedestrian is to recycle the same words over and over again. Everyone has pet words, but when they appear too often in your writing, your readers may view them as a crutch for your inability to communicate clearly.

Andy Horner is the Founder and CEO of Ace of Sales, an easy-to-use email marketing program and CRM. Download his ebook, 'Get Responses! 10 Tips To An Irresistible Email.'