As is my tradition, I sent out a Jackson family Holiday letter to friends, family, and colleagues. Although many of the letters were sent by “snail-mail”, I also sent an electronic version to a subset list, which included Internet sophisticated people. The letter included photos and a word document. Simple stuff really.

Unfortunately, I just received a “flaming email” from one of my best friends who had received the letter, but only after doing a 20 minute download. His home computer has dial-up Internet access only and my email size was onerous at 6 MB (mega bytes). I had not compressed the files as I normally do. He suggested that I should buy a stamp and mail it next time. Bah Humbug! Although I felt like suggesting that my friend get a high speed line, I bit my tongue.

I am reminded that in our email marketing communication, simplicity still reins supreme whether you are emailing a business or a consumer.

For the business email recipient, firewalls are getting more and more sophisticated; my friends at large corporations are finding more and more emails filtered out by spam filters. Corporate email policies are getting tougher, too; it makes them fearful to open attachments or emails from unknown senders. I have a friend that was fired for sending a joke email to a colleague (it was offensive to the recipient’s cubical mate).

Consumers are aggressively signing up for high speed lines, but dial-up is still used by many users. According to eMarketer, 65.8% of US households were on-line in 2006; broadband hookups represent the majority at 52.2 Million installations for 66.7% share for all households. Still, this leaves 26.1 Million households using dial-up and that is a lot of people. For the consumer with dial-up internet, this means that complex emails with attachments, graphics, and photos are not getting read.

This problem also applies to website design for consumer or business visitors where overly complex websites with Flash intensive software causes many people to hit the delete key. Once again, simplicity rules.

So, my friend is right. Keep your emails simple if you want them opened.

John Bradley Jackson
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