We Get An Autoresponder
After sending Nick Snapp an email and getting an autoresponder back, we decided to critique it. Couple of reasons…
First, Nick is a big productivity guy. And he’s big on accountability. On his podcast, the Make It Snappy Productivity Show, he asks his listeners to hold him accountable. So in the interest of holding him accountable, and sharing some insights into auto emails in general that everyone can learn from, we decided to rake him over the coals and tell him how he’s completely ruining the internet…
I mean, provide constructive criticism.
Here’s the email in full.
Hi – Thanks for your email!
Just so you know, I have joined this group of crazy people who think they can get more done and make a bigger impact by only checking email twice a week (which is why you’re receiving this autoresponder)…
Like you, I get a lot of email, and for my personal sanity and better productivity, I’ve decided to create a schedule to review and respond to emails…I know…I know…imagine that.
Here’s how I manage email:
My assistant is in my inbox every day. He will read the email and if he can help you, he will respond.
If he thinks I’m best to handle this with you, we’ve finally worked out a process for him to flag it so I can reach out to you directly.
This means that depending on when you sent your email it could be next week before I’m able to respond accordingly.
You are important to me (and us), so I will respond as soon as possible…AND…
…If you require immediate assistance, please REPLY to this email and let us know it’s urgent so he can bring it to my attention, or text me directly if you have my cell phone (always a better option for me than email).
I look forward to connecting with you, talk soon.
Nick Snapp, MBA PMP
Inspire Me Solutions, LLC
The Make it Snappy Productivity Show
Please note: to reduce your email clutter and mine, I commit to never sending you a reply message with just “thanks.” If you seek confirmation of receipt, please indicate so in your message.
HOLY COW That Was Long
Ralph and I took turns sharing our thoughts, so here we go…
First, Ralph says this email doesn’t even need to exist. Just because someone sends you an email, doesn’t mean you have to reply immediately. So Nick can wait a few days before answering without needing an intermediary email explaining all those details.
Ralph doesn’t think anyone needs all those words, and I agree.
Perhaps taking the TL;DR approach can work. Open with a simple, one or two sentence statement that says the most important thing up front: thanks for your email, if I don’t answer you for a few days, don’t panic!
Then if someone wants to read about how and why you’re doing that, you can add that later.
Next, Ralph thinks that it takes way too long to get to a point in the email where it’s about him as the reader. From a marketing perspective, the email is all about Nick’s process which doesn’t bring the reader in.
So start with your reader, and make it less me-centric. Make your reader feel like the most important person in the world.
If Nick had led with a simple statement, followed by his reason for doing what he’s doing, and lastly his process, he could have framed it in the context of the reader.
In other words, be helpful. Instead of sharing it as “this is what I’m doing”, frame it as “hey, want some ideas that you can try yourself?”
That might inspire people to follow your lead and at the same time it will make the email about them.
I also think he needs to lose the PS. Too many words, too much information and an extra unnecessary layer of complexity.
Stuff Beyond The Email
Some of our comments were specifically about the email. Some were more about the process.
After receiving the email, Ralph posted in Nick’s Facebook group, telling everyone that we were going to critique the autoresponder. Someone else in the group said he would do a podcast talking about how great it was.
The problem is that everyone in the group is a big fan of Nick’s. And sometimes fans see you through fan-colored glasses. They love you. They love what you do. Which means you’d better break out of that bubble if you want some tough love!
Make sure you have people around you who will tell you the cold, hard truth. Like us! We’re super fans but we do try to be objective, too. We want to help our friends be better all the time, and we want our friends to do the same. We don’t want to be in a room full of yes-people.
So listen to people who don’t love everything you do. Not the haters – that’s a whole different thing. But honest people, who honestly want to help you.
One of the things that freaked me out, was the part where he mentions having an assistant read his email. I had no idea that someone else would be reading my email. I don’t know the assistant. I don’t feel comfortable knowing that someone else is reading my personal email.
Generally, when you’re emailing a specific person, you don’t think anyone but that person will read it. What if we sent something confidential? Or made a weird inside joke that could be misinterpreted by another person?
So maybe don’t tell me you have an assistant. I know he was trying to be open about it, but how much disclosure is too much?
Better yet, Ralph thinks Nick should have a general “business” email, like [email protected] or [email protected], so there isn’t the same expectation of communicating with someone personally.
Show, Don’t Tell
Towards the end of the email, Nick tells us how important we are. But that’s so far down on the page… long after he’s talked about his process, and how important that is. And his sanity, and how important that is. Finally, he gets to us, but saying “you’re important” doesn’t make it true.
Show me. Make the email about me. Involve me.
And while you’re at it, skip the “us” part. I didn’t email an us! I didn’t know there was an us! Who is us? The assistant? The rest of the company? Other unnamed person who may be reading my stuff?
Maybe a preemptive email to his list letting people know that this is the new process would help mitigate the unexpected nature of this email. Maybe springing all these details on someone out of the blue is too jarring.
While we’re on the topic of “feeling important”, Nick also mentioned that we could text him – if we have his number. Ok, but what if I don’t? Now I feel really left out! How come I’m not in the special insider group of people who have his cell phone number?
We think Nick needs to control that message a little better. And make it a bit easier to communicate if he really thinks we’re important. If he really wants us to text, how about including his number? Or maybe don’t say that at all, if there’s a chance he would refuse to give it to someone who asks.
Messing With My Productivity
Reading this very long and unexpected email took up some time! But that’s not all, because after reading it, I had to make a bunch of decisions. First, is what I need urgent? How urgent? Urgent enough to email back? Urgent enough to text?
If I decide it’s urgent, then I have to take a second action. And then if I want to make sure he received my email, I have to take yet another action! So thanks to Nick wanting to be productive, I’ve had to be pretty unproductive and take multiple steps to get to the same result
The key here is to simplify. Fewer words can get to the point the same way. Want to give people more information? Organize it in a way that makes it easy for people to decide whether they want to know more.
Always make it easy for people to communicate with you. Don’t ask them to take multiple steps.
We know Nick has good intentions. He wants to let people know he may not get back to them right away. He also wants to share what he’s learned about being more productive to help people improve.
So keep the intention, we love it. Just make it simple, and think about the reader.
In a nutshell, we love Nick Snapp! And we thank him for being such a good sport. Now, Fred, go listen to his podcast and get your productivity on!
Got any thoughts on the email? Anything you think we’re wrong about? Any ways you’d improve it? Let us know!