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I spent a lot of time over the weekend trying to clean out the messy overloaded closet that is my email. And, ironically enough, one of the messages I came across was a MediaPost blog on how people manage their email.

According to blogger Kara Trivunovic, senior director for the email and social media marketing firm StrongMail Systems, every email user falls into one of three categories:

  • Filers, who immediately put everything away in a relevant folder, to be accessed later.
  • Pilers (that would be me), who hoard emails in their in-boxes because they “might need it someday.”
  • And dumpers, who periodically do a clean sweep, deleting everything when messages pile up or get too old. Kara calls this email bankruptcy, although I would apply the term to any time your message goes kaput.

Kara maintains that all three styles present problems for marketers: the filer, because he doesn’t really read anything, just stores it; the piler, because messages get lost at the bottom of the stack; and the dumper, whose nuclear strategy mean everything gets blown up.

These styles have implications for anyone who wants to get an email message across. But for me, they add up to one piece of advice for anyone creating email: If you’re writing a text email, you need to make sure your subject line and first few sentences get your whole point across. If you’re creating a graphic email, it’s all about the subject line and the headline and visual in the graphic.

Whether you’re dealing with filers, pilers or dumpers, you’ve just got a few seconds to get your message through. After that, communication is over, and you (the sender) is bankrupt.

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