Email overload: Who is getting your attention?

Something that has been on my mind for a while is the massive amount of internal email we get and send at Wayne State. There have been countless articles written about the death of email but from the user’s point of view it has appeared to pick up faster than normal. We do have a proposed solution coming, but is it going to be our saving grace? Or just another piece of noise?

Hoarding emails

I have a special “_email” folder in my inbox where I place ALL internal bulk mail. My hope is one day I would analyze it for who is sending out the most, create a wordle of the subjects or body of the messages but I just have not had time. But I wanted to do something useful with them.

The 10 second test

Just like a website, email has the same “10 second test” factor. I would argue it is shorter and a message may not even make it to the test if the subject (or sender) isn’t appealing enough. Since creation is decentralized on campus it is impossible to have a consistent message through every email. Additionally, every email has a specific audience who has different tolerances to the information they are use to (willing to) receive.

Standing out

For those of you who don’t get as many emails as I do, I put together a representative sample of what is coming out of the university and going in to people’s inboxes. I am making no judgement about the content of the emails, purely looking at visuals in this case. Flip through the examples above as an end user. Some of which went out to lists with 50,000+ people on them, are they conveying the message you think they are trying to convey?

If you were trying to get your email read and have the recipient take action, how would you stand out? Which messages would you pay attention to? What catches your attention? Is it the images, colors, headings, links?