GUEST POST BY ANDREW LOWEN

How many emails do you get on weekdays? How about the weekend? And just how many do you open? And do you also read all of them? How many do you just delete?

Let me tell you my score for this morning (and today is a Friday): 16 emails, of which 7 are from companies trying to get me to do something. I’ve opened 3 (the rest of them are newsletters), and I didn’t read any of them, to be honest. Needless to say, I haven’t clicked on any links.

If you are faced with the same problem, namely, that your prospects and leads are sending your emails directly to the bin, read on for a few tips and tricks about sending less boring, and more action-provoking business emails.

Set a goal

The first thing any sales-oriented email needs to have is a goal. If you are sending out “general” sales emails about “buy our new product” or “try our new service”, you don’t have a goal. And your emails are likely not being opened.

I agree that your goal is in fact to sell something. Hence the email. But it is not the goal of the email to sell something. The email is there to get your recipients interested, and land them on your website. That is where you make the sale.

The goals you can set can be “have X email opens” (this is good for improving subject lines), “have 5% of opens click on the link” (this is good for testing audience/message correlation), and so on. Just remember that you can’t expect people to decide to make a purchase right off the bat. They will likely need a bit more wooing.

Choose the subject line carefully

There is an entire science out there devoted to writing subject lines with high open rates. In fact, this topic alone would warrant a completely separate article. However, here are the key things to keep in mind:

  • Write specific subject lines, not generic ones (“The BeautyKiller collection is back in stock” vs. “Items back in stock”)
  • Adapt the tone of voice to your target audience (are they more formal or laid back?) and keep it in line with your brand (the way you communicate across all platforms)
  • Be clear about what’s inside – don’t advertise something that is not actually mentioned in the email

Open it carefully

Most sales emails often get the subject right – at least to the extent of getting people to open them. And then they often do the completely wrong thing and write a bland email that wouldn’t get anyone to actually read its contents.

Teaching someone how to become a good writer (be it a writer of emails) takes time. And more importantly, it takes practice.

When writing an email that aims to sell, you need to tailor it to the people you want to convert. You are not writing for everyone or just anyone: you need to have a specific type of person in mind.

If you can, segment your target audience as much as you can, and write different emails for different groups. And most importantly – keep monitoring the success of your emails (open rates, click rates, conversion rates). That is the only way to know if what you are doing is actually working.

Format it right

You wouldn’t believe how many sales pitches I get in the form of a regular email. Nothing is bold, nothing is in italics, there is no white space.

Designing your email properly is as important as the words on the page. People are visual creatures, and they will be much happier to read through a well-formatted email with plenty of empty space, something skimmable, than plow through a Times New Roman size 12 email that is written in three paragraphs and has nothing to distinguish the sales pitch from the greeting.

Spice it up with images

Along the same lines, don’t forget to add images and video to the email if you can. Like I said, visual people.

And if you are adding images, make sure they are not dull. Don’t use free to use images if you don’t have to. Or if you do, make sure they are perfectly in line with what you are trying to achieve.

Also, don’t forget to make all of your content mobile-friendly. A lot of marketers forget that even their emails need to open properly on mobile. Huge images or embedded videos that slow the process down will not result in click-throughs.

Provide a hook

If you were hoping to read an article about how to write better emails and have gotten this far, you will probably be disappointed that there has been little talk about words so far.

The simple truth is that most people will not read an email. Not if it doesn’t provide all that we have talked about so far – a good subject, a tailored approach, a scannable layout.

Once you have all that down, you can focus on the actual writing itself.

To be perfectly honest, becoming a good writer will take years, as I have hinted above, and will involve a lot of trial and error. You just have to do it to learn, and not just read about it. There is only one piece of advice I can actually give you that can help you right now.

You need to hook your bait.

When my first mentor told me that in a meeting, my mind instantly conjured up an image of leads as large ugly fish, dwelling on the bottom of the ocean. Later I started to think of them as colorful dancing fish who live near the surface of the water, but that is beside the point.

Your hook is your pitch. What is it that you will be doing for your prospects and leads? What problem do they have, and how are you going to help them? Because remember, sales are all about them, and not one bit about you.

Your words need to speak to them and let them know exactly how your offer is going to make their lives better. Finding a way to do that will take some time, but as long as that is your only focus, you will be just fine.

Don’t forget the call to action

Another thing that so many companies forget is to include a call to action and a link to your promoted product in the actual body of the email.

If you don’t tell people exactly what step they need to take to get their hands on your amazing offer, you will cause the exact opposite effect of the one you were hoping for.

Make the CTA stand out, make it bold, make it clear. Something like “Click here to save 20% with code OCT20” is what you are looking for. Not something like “Click here to shop”.

Choose the right time to send

One final key point before we wrap things up: sending out sales emails is all about timing. People are much more likely to read an email during a coffee break or during a boring commute than while busy at the office or while winding down in the evening.

You can use a sales automation platform to help you set up a sending schedule, and save you the worry of timing you emails. In fact, such a tool can do much more than just send things out for you. And once you analyze actual numbers in terms of open rates and the best times to contact certain target audience segments, you will be well on your way to success.

Don’t forget the follow-up

Finally, depending on the type of email you send out initially, you might want to consider following up.

It’s often not enough to get a prospect interested – you need to remind them of your offer with a gentle nudge. Don’t make it a pushy nudge though. And don’t push the people who haven’t opened your emails at all.

Those who have opened the email and clicked on the CTA but have failed to convert could use a friendly follow up. Ask them for genuine feedback: what has averted them from making a purchase. Was it the price, the payment gateway, something else? All of this data will later only help you improve both your product and your sales efforts.

 

Andrew is the CEO of Next Level Web, a trusted marketing agency based in San Diego, California. He has three lovely daughters and the most patient wife of all time. They specialize in Web Design, Search Engine Optimization, PPC Advertising, and Email Marketing (The Agency – not the daughters… yet).