One of the questions that comes up on a weekly basis, usually by folks sending me news about a new product, is how to craft an email so it gets attention. It's tough to cut through the digital clutter these days, but email is still the best method for now because it's a long-form message. You can explain all of the details, include a call to action, and then check in for a response.

Interestingly enough, there is one technique that many people seem to forget about. It's important to know because the primary goal with email is not to get attention anymore. That's not going to work. In fact, you might think a goofy subject in the email will help your chances of attracting an investor or landing a new customer.

Here's my tip: Make sure you say enough in your email to make it searchable. Use terms people will eventually want to use for a search. Don't go overboard with this and make your email look like an SEO cheat sheet. But think about searches, not attention.

There's a reason this works. People do not read emails at first these days. They process them using labels or by dropping them into folders. Sadly, this "processing" is really just a way to shove needles into a haystack. What most people do is they archive messages and then eventually search for them later. If you find your PR pitch or investor query is getting lost in the shuffle, it might have something to do with the content you included.

I'll give you a real world example. I'm in the middle of writing a few holiday gift guide round-ups. I know, it's early. Yet, PR reps seem to know I'm thinking about this already, so they have started sending me pitches. Quirky eggnog makers, app-controlled sprinklers-you name it. It quickly becomes a problem of email overload. I just can't process them all, so I've started archiving them instead. And, you guessed it, forgetting about them.

So, instead of reading, I just search later. If someone sent me an email with the search terms "tech" and "holiday" in the email, it will probably come up. When you send an email about a new product or a potential partnership, or just to introduce a new feature, think about how the recipient will find your email in a search, not whether the subject is flashy (although that can help initially).

I'm not alone in being more search oriented in my email. I recently held a roundtable on productivity, my first ever, and talked to a few entrepreneurs about how they process email. I'll explain in more detail what they said another time, but the basic theme is that they are not winning this battle. Most of them said they are just barely staying above water; email is causing a cacophony of superfluous content. The only way to survive is by searching.

My advice is to include enough detail to make your email searchable. When is your event, what day, what hotel, what city? What is the full name of the product, what does it do, why would someone use it? Save the short and snappy emails for those times when you check in a second time. Make sure your first email is rich enough to show up in a search.

Maybe this is a practice you already use, but I'm surprised how many emails don't include enough detail. In my rough estimate, it's about one out of ten that are actually that searchable.

If you start adding more detail to your emails and start adding more obvious search terms in a natural way, ping me about your success and how it helped.

Published on: Nov 5, 2015
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