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Right-Click Here to Download–or Delete?

If you created a sophisticated, elaborate weekly or monthly ezine, would you want your clients and customers to delete it without reading a word? Of course not. 

But most of the ezines I receive get deleted within a few seconds. Usually the reason is that graphics (or text formatted as graphics) fill them. When I open the ezine, I am faced with multiple Outlook instructions that say "Right-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet." Sometimes the entire ezine is little red x’s in boxes next to that Outlook instruction. My instant response? Delete.

As someone who is not an expert in HTML, I can’t speak on how to avoid having so many "Right-click here" messages. But I can suggest that you test your ezine. If it contains nothing but "Right-click here" messages, your readers must have a powerful reason to "Right-click here." Maybe that powerful reason is a great relationship with you or the knowledge that the information awaiting them will be worthwhile. Without that reason, most busy readers will click Delete.

An intriguing or persuasive title is one way to get people to open the ezine. But be sure the information promised in that title is readily apparent once your readers right-click. Otherwise, their next step will be–again–to click Delete. And who can blame them?

Syntax Training

Posted by Lynn Gaertner Johnson
By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English. She grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois.

6 comments on “Right-Click Here to Download–or Delete?”

  • This is an email client setting. You can set your preferences to always display images from a particular email address, or from all senders.

  • Skatie: You’re right. However, she has a point – and anyone involved in email marketing should realize that very few people will change Outlook’s *default* settings (that block email images).

    I use MailChimp ( as my email service provider. They have a great little tool called the Inbox Inspector that allows you to see what your email message will look like in dozens of different email client/site configurations. I highly recommend MailChimp. I don’t work for them – just a satisfied customer.

    PS If you click the link above, you’ll be taken to a page where you can sign up for a free trial and get $30 in free credits.

  • Skatie, thanks for pointing out the issue of client settings. I have not taken the time to change the default setting. When I know I want the information in an ezine or other message, I do right-click. However, when I look at a newsletter and see no recognizable content without right-clicking, I typically don’t bother.

    Lisa, thanks for noting MailChimp’s Inbox Inspector. It sounds like a valuable feature.


  • I agree with Lynn, but for a different reason. Images can be used within an email via two methods: linking and embedding. Marketers use linking because it is a homing becon back to the mother ship telling them that a message has been read. Embedding is unpopular because it increases the size of the message dramatically.

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