If opening your email felt more like checking the snail mail for something awesome from Amazon and less like digging through the trash, the world would be a better place. If every email you sent contained something awesome that the recipient deeply wanted, everyone would look forward to your emails. — Robert Williams
Why do so many companies and salespeople send out such junky emails? They honestly believe they’re not junk. But why? And how can we start writing better emails? Emails that people actually look forward to opening?
First Question — Why So Much Junk?
We all love talking about ourselves. Not just because we think we’re great, but also because writing about ourselves is easy. We know all about ourselves. And we don’t want to assume anything about the reader. After all, who knows if he or she even needs our services? Let’s just stick to a safe subject, shall we?
So we talk about our experience and our projects. Maybe we even share some case studies from the same industry. We try to be as relevant as we can while talking about ourselves. But we stick pretty close to the main topic — ourselves.
Second Question — How Can We Start Writing Better Emails?
Obviously, the answer to this question is to start talking more about the recipient of our email. But how can we do that? We know next to nothing about that person.
But communication can’t happen in a vacuum. We have to know something about the person we’re writing to in order to be relevant. So that’s where we need to start.
For Individual Emails
If you’re sending email to an individual person, say in response to an RFP or in response to an online inquiry that indicated email was the preferred contact, research that person ahead of time. Find out what he/she has written, and read it. Check out his/her LinkedIn profile and see what’s posted. What is this person interested in? What does he/she care about? You need to gather a small collection of tidbits that you can use as connection points. But it goes way deeper than noticing the photo of the bass boat on the office wall. You have to get beyond the easy stuff and connect with something meaningful.
Even better if you can uncover needs and issues you can help with directly in your email. If you’re a realtor and the person says in their inquiry that he/she is getting ready to move and looking for a realtor who is experienced and can demonstrate a good track record of sales, go ahead and read into that. He/she is nervous about hiring someone and doesn’t want to get stuck with a rookie who will offer subpar advice and sell the house for less than it could have sold for. This person wants your sales stats, yes, but every realtor he/she emails is going to send that. Every other realtor is going to drone on and on about the awards, the accolades, and maybe even throw in some comparables. How are you going to set yourself apart? What if you sent links to expert-written articles on home staging for a higher sales price, organizing tips for an easy move, and the tough questions you need to ask your realtor? What if you made 70% of your email about the recipient, and only 30% about you? That’s how you set yourself apart.
For Email Campaigns
When you’re sending a marketing campaign or an e-newsletter to a list of people (who have opted-in, of course!), the dynamic is a bit different. You can’t focus in on each person. Instead, look at the shared interests of your group. Do they all have some common issue, concern, desire? Look for the places you can connect with them on the things they care about.
For example, if you’re a CPA, don’t just talk about tax returns, P&L statements, and what you do for your clients. Talk about the article you read in the Wall Street Journal on startup funding trends, or what they need to know about the latest development in the healthcare law. Talk about the stuff that keeps them awake at night, the things they wonder about when they’re not consumed with what’s right in front of them. Suddenly, you’re not like all the other CPAs. And they actually like opening your emails because they know they’re going to get something good.
Writing emails that get opened takes guts. It requires getting out of your comfort zone. It demands that you get out of your own shoes and get into someone else’s. But if you want to keep your emails out of the trash can, it’s the only way to go.