Ever turned on your heel and walked away from a shop-counter, money in hand? I'm sure you have, and that action is not restricted to physical shopping. In an online world, under-served prospects do exactly the same, and on most occasions you'll never know why.
Please read on to see how healthy email habits can convert the potential clients you have enticed into your digital shopfront - and keep them.
Start with some spring-cleaning
How many unread emails do you regularly have in your inbox? Three? 20? 50? 100+?
More than 10 and you’re at risk of losing business. Over 80, you may have lost prospects already. Exceeding 160? You’ve almost certainly missed the chance of attracting - or keeping - a client altogether!
Surprised? Don’t be. Research shows that business people receive on average more than 80 emails per day. Most of us would like a reply within the hour, but at least by the end of the day. After 48 hours, they say, we’ve given up on a response and gone elsewhere.
Simple common courtesy is not only good for your business but also reflects on you as a person and a trusted adviser. Do you inadvertently ignore messages from someone, even after you have requested information, because their response got lost in an overflowing inbox? How do you then feel when a potential client ignores your emails? Do unto others.
So, what better reason to get on top of your inbox? Sit down and commit to clearing it by the end of this very day. Then set up a system to keep it that way.
Tip: set up email rules to prioritise your messages, for example, a rule can automatically file newsletters in your reading folder for when you can put some time aside to get the most from their messages. You signed up for a reason and you might be missing out on some business-changing information.
For the next three weeks, don’t end your day before the inbox is clear. Maintain this simple regime and you’ve got yourself a good – and likely profitable - habit.
Next, let's create effective emails
Email is the backbone of our business communication, so it’s worth getting it right. Also, easier than most think. Spare a moment and let your mind go – what style of incoming emails do you fancy? Is it anything like the ones you send out? What works for you may work for others.
Courtesy and emotions
The gurus on email etiquette and persuasion are united - be courteous! If you’re not comfortable sharing it face-to-face, then don’t put it in an email.
Avoid highly emotive words they say; use softer alternatives instead. Or, even better – hold back the writing until you’re cool, calm and collected. Heat-of-the-moment exchanges only invoke anger and resistance; are highly counterproductive and mostly regretted later.
The subject line
Perhaps the most important part of your email, experts say. Make sure your message stands out and gets answered promptly - call for action in the subject line. For instance, “Your thoughts please” instead of “Feedback and action plan requirements”. Interestingly, emails with the word "quick" reduce the open rate by 17%. Avoid trickery at all times.
Start the email on a personal note
In sales school it’s referred to as rapport. But don’t overdo it – a simple line or two will do.
Zero in on common ground or empathise with them on something as uniting as the weather. "Wasn't it wonderful to finally get some rain last night?”
Short & sweet
This is where we get it all wrong, writing coaches say. Upon opening your email, if the sheer size is too daunting your reader will either put it aside for later (with a good chance of it being forgotten) or simply scroll on to something more "interesting".
Remember, less is more. The perfect size to get your emails read is four paragraphs:
1. rapport – two lines;
2. body – max five lines;
3. action and desired outcomes – two lines
4. closing – two lines
Call for action & outcomes
Before saying goodbye to your readers, lock the core theme of your message into their minds and tell them exactly what you’re after.
Be clear and concise – people respond favourably to reasonable requests, especially if they don’t have to try and figure out what’s expected of them.
Express gratitude. We all love to feel appreciated.
Say thank you - for reading your email; for their continued support; for considering your request; or for the action to be taken by them.
Keep it relevant and to the point. Be sincere and watch the goodwill multiply.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article today – we loved preparing it for you. The couple of minutes you have spent will prove to be a very worthwhile investment when you put the ideas into practice.
Once your inbox is clear of clutter, the low-hanging fruits will show. Then start picking these ripe-and-ready business prospects securely into your basket using your effective email skills.