Email is still one of the best means for communication. As social media and marketing guru Chris Brogan indicates about email, most people wake up (get their coffee) and check their email, their text messages and probably their Facebook way before they go to their RSS feeds, favorite blogs or Twitter sites.
Knowing that, you need to write good emails…. Really good emails!
The first step is to stop writing like a marketing person and start writing as if you were writing someone you know. Your parents didn’t like the high-pressure, door-to-door sales pitches and guess what? Nothing’s changed.
The next step is not to make your emails look like a marketing brochure. If it’s your newsletter, sure, but if it’s an email to an early stage prospect group or new lead, a simple html/text email is perfect. In fact, these emails render well on a phone as well as desktop computers.
The last thing to remember is people get A LOT of email. It better be easy to read, be about them and come from a real person. Why do people who write marketing emails feel the need to change the way they communicate? Perhaps the best test of your email is to read it aloud and ask yourself:
- Would I talk to someone like this?
- Would I use all these big words?
- Would I really say this much?
Stop Using Overused Words – Big fancy words and jargon don’t impress anyone. From a Dan Heath (Made to Stick) session, words like: world class service, best quality, full service, high-impact results and my favorite… solutions.
Quit Talking About You and Your Products – Unless, you’re Apple, no one really cares. Don’t be that annoying person who can’t stop talking about themselves.
Keep It Short and Simple (KISS) – You know the sales guy who talks for five minutes without interruption? Don’t write like him! Keep your emails less than 65 words and cut out the extra garbage logos and lengthy information in your signature files. This means stop asking people how they are doing or telling them you know they are busy… stop it! It’s a waste of your word count. Get to the point softly.
Offer 1 or 2 (Max) Call to Action Links – The rules of successful landing pages apply to emails too. Limit the number of options. Some of the best emails I receive have just ONE link. Try these suggestions:
- In an early-stage lead – Offer a link to an expert article or resource (not yours!) that deals with your subject’s area of expertise.
- With leads who are considering your company – Offer them a comparison report, industry news or white paper.
- For leads who are evaluating you – I hope your email isn’t a mass email. Ask them what would be helpful in making a decision to buy. Things like feature lists, case studies or how to’s might be what they are looking for.
Be Trustworthy – If your recipient doesn’t know you, they won’t buy from you. Work to build trust. Think of it like dating. Start slow. Proposing for marriage isn’t a good early on technique.
Know Your Target Reader – Is your email aligned with the recipient’s pain points? Is it aligned with the stage of the relationship you have with them? Speak to their pain points, not your features. Work to build trust early on and only introduce your company after you have done this.
Offer Something Invaluable – Give them some knowledge to help them do their job better, lower their risk or lower their costs.
Ask Questions! – If you don’t know, ask. Quit assuming the person is in charge of “x” or has the authority to do something. Try “I’m not sure if I have the right person.” Or, “I’m not sure you handle the marketing at your company.”
Use Bullets When Appropriate – If this is a trust-building email to someone you barely know (e.g., an early prospect), avoid bullets. Prospects are looking for a reason to say no. Each line item is an easier reason to do this.
Lastly, Have a Purpose! – What are you intending to accomplish with your email? I always ask myself:
- What is the purpose?
- Who is my target audience?
- What do I want the person who reads this email to do?
Hint: When you get good emails from a marketing person that you opened, read and maybe acted on. Save them as a reference. Create a folder in your email of good emails and bad emails. Check it on occasion. Then decide when you send an email, which folder you would file it in.