If you’ve been following this blog you likely know that I subscribe to the Inbox Zero approach to email management. I treat my inbox as a todo list and strive to get it down to zero with varying success. In any case, I spend a lot of time in my email and I noticed an odd pattern to how I deal with handled messages. Some I will delete while I others I’ll archive but it happens naturally. It’s not entirely subconscious but it’s a very quick decision I make as I run through my messages. The obvious rule is that anything I expect to search or reference later on I’ll archive while the truly useless emails I’ll simply delete.
If you’re building a product that relies on email it’s useful to consider your users' purge behavior. Does your email have anything that will motivate users to keep it around? Or is it one-and-done? The latter isn’t necessarily bad since there are many emails that are transactional - imagine a promotion that a customer just doesn’t find valuable or a call for a donation - but it’s worth striving for something that has staying power. I’ve found that I’ll even treat newsletters differently - some I’ll keep while others I’ll read and delete.