Jackie banged her fists against her desk in frustration, staring at her inbox and stressing over the fact that she still hasn’t received a response to any of the email queries she sent out last week.
She sent out no less than 50 queries last month, with an additional 30 so far this month, and she’s only managed to obtain “just” enough business to keep her floating along for another two weeks or so.
Sighing, she idly tapped her teeth, wondering what her next step should be. Maybe she should pack it in and go back to her old job. Freelancing is a lot harder than she thought it’d be when she first started.
Jackie grimaced and shook her head decisively. No. She wasn’t giving up yet. Picking up the phone, she dialed Sherry’s number. Sherry was a successful freelancer in the same line of work, and had been mentoring her since she started.
Maybe she’d be able to give her some insight into this problem, too.
After a couple of rings, Sherry picked up. “Hello?” she said.
“Sherry… its Jackie… I need your help again!” Jackie laughs, halfway worried Sherry was going to be totally sick of her and hang up on her. Thankfully, she didn’t.
“Hey Jackie!” Sherry said. “No problem, what’s going on?”
Jackie quickly filled her in and outlined what she was doing, as well as the results she was getting from it, ending with an almost tearful “And my rent is due next week!”
Sherry asked her to email a sample of one of the queries she had sent out, so Jackie sent one over while they were on the phone.
Sherry was quiet for a few minutes as she read. Then she said “OK… I know what you can do to improve your response rate, and it’s really simple, so calm down.”
“My initial thoughts are that you’re all over the place with this email, and it’s not really clear why your recipient should even bother reading it. Some simple copy tweaks should help you.”
Sherry proceeded to give Jackie several suggestions on improvements to make, while Jackie quickly scribbled notes. It was like a light bulb went off for Jackie, and she realized not only would this help her with her sales pitches, this was awesome information for her fledgling newsletter list too.
Fast forward three weeks, and Jackie almost danced with glee in her desk chair. Opening her email, she saw 5 new messages, all asking for samples of her work. Jackie clapped her hands together with a huge grin and said, “Thank you, Sherry!”
Does that scenario sound familiar to you?
It should, it’s all too common of a problem today.
Email is fast becoming one of the noisiest places on the web. And despite so called “permission marketing” with people willingly sharing their email with their favorite businesses, these businesses often wind up falling short in what they deliver.
Which, in turn, makes people no longer want to read their emails; they are soon relegated to the deleted file, or even worse, they wind up in SPAM.
There does seem to be an art to writing effective emails, but that doesn’t mean you can’t master that art. The simple tips below should help start you off on the right track.
Vital- Know Your Why
Why are you sending that particular email, of that particular “type”, to that particular audience?
- Are you writing a sales email to pitch a new product or service?
- Are you writing an information-rich newsletter, building a relationship with your audience?
- Are you writing something that’s a bit of a hybrid of the two?
If you don’t know your why, you certainly can’t write an email that holds value for your reader. And delivering value is essential in building a relationship, especially through something like email that can feel so “impersonal” for many.
Remember- Your Subject Line is a Headline
This is something many people tend to forget, but your subject line is crucial. It’s what initially captures the attention and interest of the email recipient. If it’s not intriguing, it will no doubt wind up in the virtual trash bin.
However, the even more crucial aspect of any good subject or headline is that your email content live up to the expectation that your subject line creates.
There’s nothing worse than following a captivating headline into an email that falls flat in the content or value department.
Even worse are the headlines that trick you into opening them, but then offer nothing but a hard sales pitch, screaming “buy me now!”
Practice Brevity- People are Busy
Just as you appreciate a short but succinct email that “hits the spot” so to speak… so do your readers. While a longer email is not always a bad thing, it really boils down to knowing your audience well.
However, as a general rule, busy people are busy people, and most don’t have time to read a massively long email, even if they want to.
Worst case scenario is you wind up in the trash bin. The best case scenario is that they save your email to “read later” and then never really get around to doing it.
A message that no one reads is a message that has zero chance of achieving its goal.
Don’t Meander Along- Stick to a Point
An effective email will stick to one point and have one focus.
Just like any written medium, running off on tangents or focusing on too many things at once simply confuses your reader, stresses them out, and turns them off.
Focus your message around one key offer, or one key idea, and lead with the most important and impactful information first. Minor details can be filled in later in the message.
Another great strategy that seems to work well for Chris Brogan is to let your reader know right off the bat if your email is a pitch or if it is just sharing information. Then invite them to continue reading, or not, and leave the ball in their court.
Those interested in hearing your offer will continue reading, those not interested will delete the email, and ultimately any response you get to your offer will be much more valuable.
Deliver Value- Whatever That Looks Like
Every audience is different. It’s up to you to figure out what your audience views as “valuable”. When you do, deliver it.
You might even need to ask them what they want from you. That’s OK, too. It means you’re opening up the lines of communication and making your readers aware that you are a person on the other side of that email, and their feedback is important to you.
Whatever you have to do to get the information, figure out what your readers prize most from you, and then deliver that to them consistently, respectfully, and in a way that resonates the most with them.
That’s what will encourage people to open your emails week after week.
Be Genuine- People Respect It
Someone that allows you access to their email is basically inviting you into a part of their lives. It’s like giving someone your home phone number… you don’t give it out to just anyone.
So when you’re genuine and honest in your communications to your readers, you build trust. People like people they trust. People do business with people they trust. People refer people they trust.
It’s really that simple.
Why would you jeopardize the possibilities of your email marketing efforts being anything less than genuine?
Following these simple steps when crafting your next round of business emails will ensure your message is actually read by your audience. With engaged readers on the other end, your inbox should be buzzing with replies in no time.