Is your business really getting the best value out of its email communications?
It’s an interesting fact that, when we have to write something really important (an official complaint, condolences, congratulations, a message of support to someone having a bad time) we still tend to put it in writing via a letter or card rather than an email. Despite the fact that email has been in common usage for around twenty years, paper-based correspondence still carries more weight, has an official status that can’t be ignored and – at the other end of the scale – can convey an emotional warmth that’s difficult to achieve with email.
So what does this mean when we try to use email to build business relationships – whether through day to day correspondence or by building email databases?
It means we have to try harder not only to make a connection with the person reading it, but to get the result we want from the email.
Taking the first point means taking trouble over the heading and the introduction to the email. Certainly avoid spam-filter fodder such as ‘sales proposition’, ‘an invitation’, ‘survey’ etc and be specific. Try to make a connection your reader will respond to. If you’ve met them recently, why not use this in the header (‘Re last Monday’s networking event’) or if they have bought from you once and you want repeat business you could build on this (‘3 new designs we think you’ll like’).
Your connection-building needs to continue in your opening, if possible. To develop our first example you could say briefly what you liked or didn’t like about the networking event where you met, before going on to the main point of your email. Email is a ‘cold’ medium that’s usually devoid of visual interest so the more interest-building and connectedness you can create in your opening, the better.
It’s also a medium that’s read quickly and usually without the reader bothering to return to it, making it more like a press ad than a direct mail letter. You have only a few seconds to engage the reader and get them to respond. Which brings us to the second, hugely important point.
Your reader is likely to be scanning emails at speed, particularly if they are at work. This is not the place to give detailed information or ask for several things at once. (You will have probably noticed that if you ever ask a list of questions, the reply will tend to only answer the last one!)
Think carefully about the the one thing you most want the reader to do, focus on that and make it as easy as possible for them to respond. If you need them to answer several questions or consider several subjects, it’s better to put in links to further information or take the correspondence step by step – ask them to get back to you with one answer and then arrange to discuss your proposition in more detail.
Finally, and this depends very much on the nature of the email, warmth and/or humour can be invaluable in countering the cold, one-dimensional feel of an email. With so many emails being so obviously computer-generated, a well-judged human touch or a little playfulness can ‘reach out’ and overcome the many barriers to response. On a Monday morning in the office – who knows? – they may even make someone’s day and get forwarded to a like-minded colleague.
With our background in direct marketing, we know all about the value of words: how a specific phrase, a careful choice of opening sentence can mean the difference between a response and a deafening silence. If you would like your emails or emailings to work harder for your business, we’d be happy to help you with an emailing contact strategy or simply some coaching to help you achieve a more responsive style of email communication. To find out more why not email us or call us on 01403 731 028.