We’re all in the same boat; swamped with emails every day, all day. Add social media updates into the mix, and it’s near impossible to get through to potential customers. This inbox fatigue means your customers are likely to ignore or simply delete your messages. So, what can you do?
Your goal, of course, is to ensure that your emails stand out, get opened, read, shared and most importantly, encourage potential customers to act. But, how do you do this? Let’s focus on three key areas that, if done properly, can improve the effectiveness of your emails:
FOCUS ON YOUR SUBJECT LINE
What makes a subject line stand out and grab the reader’s attention? Your goal with a subject line should be to make it interesting or relevant enough for your target to open it. For example, if you work for ACME Ltd., sending an email with a subject line: How can ACME help you? likely won’t cause the recipient to open it. Think about their reaction when seeing it; they’re scrolling through their inbox, trying to separate the important messages from those they can ignore, when they come across your email. Are they really interested in how many ways some unknown company could help them? Probably not.
But, what if you change it to: Are you struggling with xxx issue? and your prospect is actually facing this challenge? You will immediately create interest and likely get an “open”. Of course, it helps if you do some research on your prospect beforehand, so that you are targeting prospects that face the particular challenges you can solve.
Take a look at these examples:
BAD: Just following up… This offers no value and will probably be ignored.
GOOD: Any luck with (your problem)? This reminds them that you have had contact before and suggests that you care. This tends to motivate a response.
BAD: Referral from (a mutual contact)… The word “referral” tends to come across as too much like sales-speak and seems more for the benefit of the sender than for the recipient. As such, there is a good chance it will be ignored.
GOOD: (Mutual contact) suggested we meet… This comes across as more personal, with a friendly manner. It suggests that the sender is thinking more of you than themselves.
BAD: Meeting request… This sounds a bit harsh, cold and even rude. It’s not personal at all.
GOOD: Cindy, do you have five minutes for a conversation? This shows respect, is not demanding and is personalised.
Yes, it takes a bit more time to come up with a good subject line but, with open rates so poor these days, anything you can do to increase it will drive your responses up. And, this is what will drive business in your direction. After all, if you are also extremely busy and get hundreds of unsolicited messages every day, which subject line, is most likely to get your attention?
CREATE MEANINGFUL CONTENT
Once you have worked out a powerful subject line, and assuming your recipient has opened your email, you need to be sure that the body of the email is made up of strong effective content that makes your brand stand out. Studies have shown that the human brain likes to be presented with three choices. No more than that. So the point is to try breaking your email into three (short) points, offer three meeting
time options, or describe your product using three phrases. Short, simple, concise.
Imagine you are the customer. Do you want to read a busy marketing brochure or would you prefer to see something more personalised, concise and tailored to your needs? It’s important that you show that you understand what the company does and, even more importantly, that you understand the issues they may be facing.
Write out the email with some industry insights for which your organisation has a solution, and give the reader a reason to respond. In addition, ask for a short call to further explore the business impact that you touched upon in your email. The reason many of us struggle to create effective emails isn’t in the writing of the email itself, but rather the way emails are used. Sending a digital version of your company newsletter to the same list every month is not enough to differentiate you. You have to earn a place in your targets’ overcrowded inboxes, and this means personalising messages and offering value.
How does a business get personalisation right? The key is context. Good personalisation is heavily dependent on getting, consolidating, and understanding customer data. One way to get good data is to simply ask customers about their preferences. A few well-chosen questions
can help determine, for example whether a customer, will soon be in the market for maternity clothing, a new phone or a holiday.
Where is value for your customers? It comes from industry news, relevant insights, infographics, free e-books and any fresh content that is targeted at them directly. The body of a good sales email is:
>> Concise and to the point
>> Limited to three points
>> About the client (not you)
>> Includes a call to action
If you do this, you will keep them engaged enough to want to open your next email as well.
GET THE TIMING RIGHT
When should you send that email? It’s a question that I get asked all the time, and there have been many studies and surveys on the topic. But the question you should really be asking is: When is the best time to send an email that will get opened by the recipient? In my experience it’s best to send emails out mid-week, either on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Why? Because generally speaking, these are the days when the baggage and distraction of the weekend is gone and people are focused and tend to put in a full day’s work. The worst days are Monday and Friday. Because people tend to be pre-occupied by catching up with their colleagues’ personal lives, and/or planning what is going to happen on the weekend. Emails tend to get ignored until these formalities are over and done with.
When is the best time of day to send an email? Open rates for emails tend to peak at about 10.30am to 11am daily. This usually follows morning meetings and high priority issues. Other high open rates are before the work day gets going (8am to 9am) as well as towards the end of the day (4pm to 5pm). This suggests that when people are relaxed and less busy – before and after work – they tend to give their inbox some attention.
Should you send emails on weekends? Not everyone checks their emails over the weekend. But some studies suggest that many people delay looking at emails until the weekend. Also, many people prepare for the coming week by going through their emails on a Sunday evening. Sending emails between 8 and 10pm on Sundays has been proven to be quite effective. Are you sending emails over these peak periods? You should be.
* by Sean Clancy, founder of Cape-based sales training consultancy SalesRockIT. Need some complimentary sales advice to jump start your year? Buy Sean a coffee and he’ll give you an hour of his time to assess your business. Contact him: firstname.lastname@example.org.