Nowadays, everything from the latest blog post and a social media presence to email marketing and maximising click-through rates can be the difference between success and business failure. Emails are a vital component in almost any business to get the message across, whether you are going to write cold emails pitching for business or building a community around your brand via a mailing list. Some marketers have even built whole businesses revolving around emails and mailing lists so it is clear to see that, if done right, they can be a powerful tool. If done wrong, however, they can be a huge waste of time.
Think about all of the emails you receive daily. Many are just an off-the-peg email template and how many of those do you actually open? Actually, how many subject lines do you even read? Email campaigns went from being revolutionary technology to being a platform for spammers in no time at all, and everyone’s tolerance for emails that are unsolicited or uninteresting is incredibly low. Many emails get dumped straight into the trash without being opened leaving the click-through rates at 0.
So, how can you avoid being instantly binned? What makes targeted email marketing worthy of someone’s time and how can you compose emails that can even drive more readers to your business?
Get to the Point
In many respects, we live in a society of instant gratification, and when it comes to emails, people have next to no patience. An email with a huge chunk of text that looks uninteresting and irrelevant is not going to grab anyone’s attention.
Be engaging and interesting, sure, but also very quickly arrive at the point to get the message across. Waffling will not be tolerated in an email inbox! Binned again!
If you compose an email and it feels finished, go back through and be ruthless. Cut out words you don’t need. Don’t use five words to say what can be said in two. No matter how compelling the content you are putting out is, or what incredible offers you have for the recipient, people won’t hang around to see if the word count is too high.
This is especially true with cold emails but works for mailing lists and existing customers, too. Any cut-and-paste email is an absolute no-no. People are wise to spam emails and they’re wise to emails sent with no thought attached to them, too.
If you’re reaching out to someone who blogs or is active on social media, you could open your email by discussing something they’ve recently shared or even something they have written. You don’t have to go into stalker mode, just find something that explains how you found them and why you are reaching out. “I really enjoyed your blog post on X, I totally agree with what you said about Y” can prove you have paid attention and not just bought their email address to infinitely spam.
Being personal works for existing customers and mailing lists as you can address them by name. Let's say you run an e-commerce store and want to reach out to an existing customer. What better way than sending follow-up emails on a purchase they’ve made and see if they are happy with it. Include a discount code at the bottom to drive them back to your site but make their original purpose your reason for emailing.
The Power of “Because”
Psychologist Ellen Langer carried out a 1978 study that discovered the word “because” is an extremely useful linguistic method to create a sense of purpose and fascinatingly make it far more likely that you get your own way. Her famous example was wanting to use the copy machine in a workplace when there was a queue. She asked to skip the queue without a reason and the results were, as you might expect, not great. Once she introduced the word “because”, responses skyrocketed. Even if all she was saying was “can I skip the queue because I need to make some copies?” the inclusion of this powerful word increased her success rate.
It makes sense. Having a reason or a purpose validates your email. Even if you are sending out a promo to customers, including the word conversationally, can trickle into the subconscious and bring results.
It is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Social proof gives you validation from an external and, in theory, impartial party. You don’t have to shove it down someone’s throat, even testimonial quotes in your email signature may catch the eye and prove that you have done a good job for others or that whatever you are selling is worthy of being pitched.
If you go onto a website and you see a bunch of logos under the heading “previous clients”, for instance, the reason is to build trust. When you are reaching out via email, people have no reason to trust you, but if you are able to build in some form of social proof, they can see that when others have trusted your business, services or product, they haven’t been disappointed.
Include a Call to Action
This is normally something at the bottom of your email. It can be as simple as saying “for more info, click here” but is preferably a bit more enticing. Many people have found success by including their call to action as ‘PS’ messages at the bottom of their emails.
The thinking is to make it as easy as possible for someone to click through to where you want them to go and to get their eyeballs on an offer or proposal which intrigues them. This is often the first part of your sales funnel and should serve to grab potential customers’ attention rather than bombard them with information.
The real art of email writing is to build trust and rapport and be able to engage your audience and stand out from the rest of the thousands of emails received. All of these tips when used correctly, can do wonders for conversions and driving results, but it is important to experiment with what works and keep a track of the successes you have had. Try different turns of phrase and linguistic techniques and see if the response rate improves or people are more likely to click through. Every business is different and those which are adaptable and tweak techniques are far more likely to see positive results.