It’s Time to Re-Evaluate My Email Effort

Aaron, my oldest son, wanted to skip an easy class at school to prepare for his ACT test (standardized college entrance exam test) the following day. He is a responsible kid and I am not much of a Tiger mom. Therefore, I didn’t have any issues with him skipping class, as long as there was a good reason.

It’s interesting how my view of skipping classes changed when I became a mom. After all, I skipped plenty of classes without valid reasons when I was at school (OK, he doesn’t need to know that).

I told him to create a note for the attendance office asking to be excused from class, which I would review and sign. Of course, being a boy, he waited 5 minutes before he needed to leave for school to get this done. He rushed to write a short letter and asked me to sign. I read it quickly and signed.

In the car to the school,

Son: (look at the excuse form) “Really?!  Mom, you didn’t date it.”

Mom: “Grab a pen and date it for me, then. I am driving.”

Son: (Sigh and impatiently fumbling through the compartment to find a pen. Couldn’t find it and start searching his backpack.) Sh#$! Everyone knows you should date, when you sign something.

Mom: (I don’t like his tone and decide not to directly respond to his venting.) Aaron, are you still interested in being a software programmer?

Son: (responded with a tone of ‘you know the answer, why are you asking?’) Yes, what now?

Mom: The main job of a software programmer is not just to write code, it’s to write code that makes the users’ job easy. When you create the excuse note, you should give some thought as to make my job easy, including minor details like handing me a pen and putting the date in the text. You also should not wait until 5 minutes before we are about to leave the house to hand me the note.

Son: (Calm down a bit) Yeah, I get it. We were at school.

Mom: “Have fun skipping class.”

Son:  “I am not skipping class for FUN, Mom.”

Mom: “Ok, have fun studying for the ACT.”

This short conversation also prompted me to re-evaluate my email effort.

What are some steps that I can take to make my customers’ lives easy or provide value?

Can I attach a visual to illustrate my point better? Can I shorten my e-mail reply or structure my e-mail better so it’s easier for them to read? When I highlight issues to them, should I provide 2-3 recommendations to solve the issues?

We can always find something to refine or improve. Wondering about this, I noticed the numbers of unsubscribes for my email list is the same as numbers of subscribers in the past three months. Net-net, the number of subscribers has not increased. By analyzing the data, the opening rate for my e-mail has also been in a steady decline. Obviously, my content is not providing value or the format of the e-mail is not making the readers’ job easy.

That morning’s conversation with Aaron motivated me to put a stop on e-mail to re-evaluate my content planning and re-design my e-mail template. Once I made that decision, I actually felt a sense of relief. I am giving myself time to do what’s right for myself and my readers.

There are always little steps that you can do to enhance your customers’ experience.

Can you return their calls sooner? Can you change the copy to make it easier to read? Do you create content with their needs in mind? And, I will remember to date, when I sign any agreement in the future.

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