I heard an amazing statistic last week.

As many as 75% of e-mails currently do not make it to the intended recipient’s in-box. This goes for legitimate e-mail as well as for spam.

This recently got me into trouble with my wife. Friday night has been date night for us for the last 20 years. She sent me a short email a few Fridays ago asking where I’d like to go for dinner that night. She offered a few suggestions and mentioned a number of restaurants that she knew I liked. When I didn’t respond and she was about to leave work, she called me asking why I hadn’t responded to her e-mail. I didn’t know what she was talking about as I hadn’t seen the e-mail, so I had to defend myself.

I checked, and there it was among about 500 other emails for Viagra, penis enlargement, sure fire stock picks, get rich quick schemes and an assortment of other topics. I have my wife on my safe senders list, but somehow my spam filter decided this e-mail was spam.

There’s a few things you can do to reduce the risk of your e-mails going into people’s spam folders:

  • Use a spam checker to see if your message contains spam triggers

  • Ask your recipients to add you to their safe senders list

  • Avoid sending large numbers of e-mails using the BCC category

Once you’ve done all of these, there’s probably not a lot you can do to ensure your e-mails don’t get relegated to spam folders. But there is something you can do to minimize the chances your e-mails won’t get deleted before being read when the junk mail folder is emptied.

There are two factors which have great impact on the likelihood of any e-mail being read.

  • The first is who sends it. There’s not much more to say about that, but the better known you are to your audience, the more likely it is your e-mil will be read.

  • The second is the subject line. If this is compelling and promises some kind of benefit or offers useful information it has a greater likelihood of being read. Just like any advertising or direct mail piece, changing the headline can double or triple response.

I subscribe to a number of newsletters and many of them end up in my junk mail folder. Once there, most don’t get read. Its easier to delete them than it is to interrupt what you are doing to read them. So yesterday I was emptying my junk mail folder, happily deleting almost everything in there, when suddenly one of them stopped me in my tracks. The subject line read “Why Your Sales Staff Shouldn’t Market.” It was from Dan Kennedy who I think a lot of. But what really attracted me was the topic. It was relevant because I have been looking at ways to help sales people market and I happen to disagree with what the subject line implied.

Did I delete like the rest or did I read it? Of course I moved it to my in-box and read it right away. Do your subject lines make people do this, or do they sound like all the rest?

So, if you are sending an e-mail how much time do you spend on the subject line? If it’s only a few moments, what impact would it have on your success if you took the time to create a powerful subject line that would stop your intended audience in their tracks.