Email secrets from Scooby Doo
👉 and Ben Parr
Quick question for you: how many emails do you open, but never get any further than the first few sentences?
Quite a few I’d guess. Probably the majority.
Here’s how to make sure people really do read your emails…
The secret is based on the science of attention. In Ben Parr’s excellent book Captivology he explains the three different phases of attention:
Immediate Attention - the gut reaction where we notice something and can’t help but focus on it. A car backfiring, a popup appearing on your screen, a funny meme on Linkedin.
Short attention - where we choose to give something a little bit more of our time. The trailer for a TV show on Netflix that’s interesting enough we click to watch it.
Long attention - voluntarily seeking out things to focus on. Like tuning in to our favourite TV show each week or reading the Hogfather in December every year.
Each type of attention is driven by different factors.
Immediate attention tends to be based on difference. Something stands out so we’re drawn to it (the survival value of spotting a tiger in the bushes).
Short attention is driven by curiosity. Something looks interesting and potentially useful so we give it a few seconds or minutes to see how it pans out.
Long attention is driven by value. We know we like it and get something from it so we seek it out.
In the world of email newsletters we rightly focus a lot on value. Making sure our emails are interesting and useful so people seek them out and open them every time.
And we’ve learned that by making our subject lines stand out (an emoji here, an unusual phrase there) we can get immediate attention. Sprinkle in some curiosity and we can get more people to open our emails.
But then usually we launch straight into the content. And that’s a mistake.
Opening an email isn’t a commitment. It’s more Scooby Doo sticking his head inside a door and scanning the room for snacks than it is Wile E Coyote running off the edge of a cliff.
If Scoobs doesn’t get sight of a something yummy - or worse, if he spots a ghost - he’ll turn tail and head out.
Same goes with email.
So you need to give your readers sight of a Scooby snack in the first few sentences of your email.
Did you spot how I did it today?
“Here’s how to make sure people really do read your emails…”
If you want more people to read your emails, that’s a decent bit of curiosity.
And because it was the third sentence down I bolded it to get a bit of immediate attention and make sure you saw it.
All thanks to
Scooby Doo Ben Parr.
And if you’re looking for a decent Christmas present to treat yourself, you could do a lot worse than grabbing his book.