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Why aren’t we writing effective emails?

It isn’t for a want of trying, that’s for sure. But here’s the harsh reality.

Even if you write a good email, imploring someone to read it is a whole different story.

For starters, we definitely shouldn’t use words like ‘implore’.

Who says that in day-to-day conversation? Roughly no one.

Which means we’re alienating you as our blog reader right away. Slapped wrists for us right there.

To make up for it, we’re sharing our research on what prevents emails from connecting with customers.

writing effective emails one 1000x600 option one

1) English as a first language

We live in a multicultural society, which means we’re all international businesses these days, even if we only operate within the UK.

1,775 schools in England have more students who don’t speak English as their first language, than those who have it as their mother tongue.

Now consider that every student represents a wider family. This amounts to a lot of people whose native language isn’t the one we’re using right now.

How would you find trying to transcribe your daily diet of emails in your second, third, or perhaps an entirely foreign language?

This doesn’t mean we need to start writing multilingual emails; simply that we recognise we have a multilingual customer base to reach.

writing effective emails two 400x5002) The three-inch screen

Like it or not, the three-inch screen is king. It’s that one right there in your pocket: your phone.

70% of emails are opened on a smartphone.

Reading an email on your compact palm is a very different experience to a comparatively cinematic computer monitor. To put it bluntly, we have to spike customers’ interest in the space of a handspan. After that, they’ve got to be hooked enough to hit scroll.

3) Distraction

Mobile phones are called such for a reason. Whilst using them, we’re often on the move and doing other things from driving to buying coffee.

It’s often said that we don’t give each other our full-focus; we don’t give it to our phones either. Whichever way you look at it, our attention is divided.

Add to this, that mobile phones have evolved to become smartphones.

They’re clever enough to multi-task as radios, games consoles, televisions, work portals, cameras and the meeting hub of all of our loved ones.

Which means our email content is in direct competition with all of those dazzling options.

How are people going to pick an email newsletter over a new episode of Killing Eve, or Trump’s latest Tweet…?

4) Skim Readers

Which also begs the question, how does a generation of multi-taskers handle this mass of information?

Like we always have done, we skim read.

From filtering through faxes to sorting old-school post, it’s no different when we dive into our email inbox. Our first instinct is collect the highlights and ignore the rest. Which is even easier to do with the help of a scrolling (three inch) screen….

So even if our email gets opened, the bulk of it might not get read.

5) Literacy

We might fancy ourselves appealing to a highly literate customer base. We need to stop fancying ourselves. The average reading age of a working adult in the UK, is 9 years old.

writing effective emails three 400x500This is for a whole manner of reasons, and it’s our job to cater to it rather than question it.

For instance, 71% of The Guardian newspaper’s readers are from the UK’s most affluent social groups. The average reading age of their reader is 14.

According to the National Literacy Trust, 16% of UK adults are ‘functionally illiterate’. This means anything with complex sentence structure and unfamiliar concepts and ideas will cause difficulty.

Imagine the daily struggle of filing emails you don’t fully understand; we don’t fancy it, do you?

Our round up…

We’ve highlighted a lot of obstacles here, but we’re confident that recognising them is the best thing we can do to write ace, engaging emails.

Not only can we help your content pop, we can make it measurably better. Emails are rarely just reading material, they’re there to achieve a purpose, such as asking customers to update their information. We can help you convey the important stuff and convey it well, so that at the end of the day, the job gets done. Happy bunnies all round.

So do get in touch. We promise to read every letter.

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About the Author
Suzy Hyatt
Author: Suzy Hyatt
Head of Client Services

With over 12 years of experience at Adexchange, Suzy oversees the Account Management and Production teams, ensuring the planning and delivery of all our projects are completed to the highest standard.

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Adexchange Media Limited
Company number: 04344957

The Old Garage, Great Milton, Oxfordshire, OX44 7NP