Newsletter, Blog, Promotion, Advertisement, Spam – An Email by Any Other Name

When you scan your inbox each morning, how do you decide what to open, what to delete, or what to leave for later reading?

People choose to open emails based roughly 50% on the subject line and 50% on recognizing the sender’s name. That’s a rough approximation based on stats I’ve been reading about and experiencing for years.

What else goes into that decision to open an email? Really it’s about interest. Based on what you know from the subject line and the sender, you decide if you’re interested. Here’s an interesting way to think about that, although it’s not backed up by statistics.


Recently someone forwarded some different emails to me and asked if I considered them all to be newsletters. My answer was, sure, they’re all newsletters. But it was obvious the person who forwarded them didn’t consider them all in the same category.

When we’re making the split-second decision to open or trash an email, we’re categorizing it based on the bits of information we can see in our inbox – the subject line and the sender’s name. And of course, we’ve all had to become really efficient at doing this or we’d be overwhelmed.

What about the emails you send? How do your subscribers categorize them? Are they opened due to self-interest, emotional interest, or relational interest – or a combination? Once you understand why your subscribers open your emails, you can plan to keep doing more of that. It informs your overall strategy and your execution.

I’m curious! For most of my emails, I think it’s a combo of self-interest and relational interest. What about yours? Please share in the comments.

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