Your email advisories and updates are awful. And they’re being ignored.


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Here’s what you can do about it.

Why do they stink so bad?

1: They’re getting lost in the clutter.

Labeling them urgent, typing them in all caps in red ink, and adding the smiley with the string around his finger is not helping.

Your reps see dozens –or more!– of these per week- everything from HR job openings, Operational Announcements about the new VP of Operations over in the Bulgaria site, specific reminders from Team Leads about contests, to actual urgent reminders forwarded from the client that could cost them their jobs.

How are they supposed to weed out the gold from the dross?

2: You are caring too much or too little about the layout, formatting, and illustrations.

The content is what’s important, and the design needs to catch the eye and engage the viewer, but if the content is deadly dull, all the great design in the world won’t fix it.

On the flip side, sometimes your design is busy, overdone, and generally awful, distracting from the content. Some illustrations are also so clichéd that they scream “I’m a generic, boring, easily ignored email. Delete me.”

3: You’re speaking business-ese.

“This is just the kind of synergistic, customer-centric, upsell-driven, out-of-the-box, customizable, strategically tactical, best-of-breed thought leadership that will help our clients track to true north. Let’s fly this up the flagpole and see where the pushback is.”

(From: Brian Fugere et al, “Why Business People speak like Idiots: A Bullfighter’s Guide”).

Sounding like the proverbial “Pointy Haired Boss” is going to guarantee a delete after (at most) a quick once- over. This applies doubly if you’re sending messages to reps who speak English as a Second Language.

4: You used a PDF and it’s blurry or otherwise looks like hell.

I can understand (sort of) why you chose to use a PDF— many internal memos contain trade secrets or other confidential information. But is there a reason why we can barely read the terribly boring memo?

5: You sent it out and just hoped for the best.

There was no survey, quiz, code to capture, follow- up, or spot check process. Hey, they know they’re supposed to be reading these things, right?

6: You used your Blackberry to send urgent information and upon first glance, it looks like just another message.

Blackberry emails generally look very plain, often just black text on a white background—they sometimes even look like the “error” messages that Outlook sends- they use the same font and layout. Try to avoid this.

7: You used email at all.

Email has its place- it allows you to customize your recipients list, for one thing, among other advantages. More and more, however, we’re hearing “I don’t really read my emails.” I’ve personally seen many busy people simply glance once at emails before deleting them. Uploading your advisories onto a SharePoint or Website is a much better idea.
Okay, so now what, smarty-pants?

If you choose email:

1: Make sure your subject line is NOT crappy: “URGENT! ADVISORY # 2479: NEW KU ROUTERS INSTALL PROCEDURES EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY!” is a flop.

Subject lines should be punchy, direct, and attention getting.

Instead perhaps try “Trouble explaining the new KU install? Help inside!” or “It’s here! All about the new KU routers inside!”

2: Your design should be balanced between form and function. With so much visual “noise” out there, it should be eye catching and rewarding to look at and read, without taxing your design staff to their limits for a one- time project that will usually only get read once or twice.

Here are some online resources for basics in design

Want to know how to design? Learn The Basics.

Beautifully designed sites for inspiration



It would save time to design a template that looks great, with a space for updated artwork.
Develop a “portfolio” of great artwork and simply select a terrific shot (perhaps only tangentially related to the subject, rather than on- the- nose) and plug it in.

3: Clearly articulate the WIFM: “Hey, team– Have your customers been asking you about the new phone address book? / Have you been having trouble explaining the new billing cycle? ” (Etc).

Explain how this update should be used going forward, gently hint at any negative consequences (without using clichés like “Effective Immediately!” or the like), and stress the benefits of application for your team.

4: Keep the advisories to a minimum. Don’t be the boy who cried “Urgent”.

5: Include a call to action to show they’ve read it. A code that’s in a changing spot for each email.

A quick quiz, a read-receipt, a prize for the first person who screen caps and emails it back to you…something! Having your reps physically do something, even if it’s just clicking a link, will help cement the information in their minds.

Make sure that the information is applied, not just blasted out to an overwhelmed audience.

If you use SharePoint, Box, or other online shared resources sites.
•Update at a set time every day or week
•Send out a link with a thumbnail—don’t rely on reps to just amble over to Box and check out the new content all by themselves. This email should follow the rules above.
•Keep it scrupulously updated- weed out older versions and outdated materials daily or weekly at the most
•Train all newbies on best practices in checking the shared resource daily—make it a habit from Day 1

Follow these tips to keep your updates and advisories fresh, relevant, and above all, READ!

Naomi Kelsey
Naomi Kelsey has 10+ years of progressive responsibilities in the customer service industry, and 3 in the BPO training field, with an Instructional Design focus. She specializes in creating custom-tailored training programs in Language, Customer Service, and US Culture for both internal and external call center clients. Her vision is to bring "supernaturally human" customer service to all customers through innovative training methods and materials, great coaching tips, and true expert advice.


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