Sending out marketing emails on a regular basis is a great way to nurture prospects and clients and keep them thinking about your business. But merely sending out a slew of mass emails is not going to help you gain credibility, build trust and earn more business.
“Emails are a cost-effective way to stay top of mind with customers. Email allows you to communicate with people who have self-selected into your list. These are people who have raised their hand to say, ‘I want to hear more about what you have to offer.’ When you nurture your list respectfully, it can help build your business, keep you top of mind and increase your sales.” @MeredithLiepelt, entrepreneurial branding coach
Marketing accounting and tax services via email doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are 6 emails you must send to stay relevant to your prospects and clients, while establishing a rapport for your long-term success.
1. A Welcome Email
According to MarketingSherpa, your welcome email is likely to be the most opened and read email you ever send your prospects. Make it count! Your subject line should be concise, but inviting, and your introductory paragraph should thank them for subscribing to your e-newsletter and welcome them warmly to your marketing campaign. Remind them about any subscriber preferences that they are able to elect and provide different contact methods in case they want to get in touch with you. Keep your message light, friendly and personable.
Despite its proven effectiveness in helping to establish a lasting bond with prospective clients and customers, the welcome message is one of the most under-utilized and ignored marketing tools in a professional service firm’s email marketing plan.
If you haven’t given much thought to your welcome message, you are likely missing out on opportunities to establish fruitful connections and relationships that will remain loyal for years to come.
Here are 5 tips to create an engaging and effective welcome email:
- Send welcome messages immediately. The best welcome messages arrive in subscribers’ inboxes almost immediately following opt-in. Be sure you send your welcome email as soon after sign-up as possible.
- Be friendly. A welcome email is like a virtual handshake that offers acceptance and good will. Make sure that it comes across as inviting and warm by writing in a conversational tone, including an image (possibly of yourself), and signing it from a human being. No one will engage with a computer-generated, generic and static email. Some might even be tempted to delete it or report it as SPAM. Don’t be afraid to show a little personality. Believe it or not, personality is the key to more business opportunities – especially in the professional service industries. Get personal to maximize your impact and kick off your digital relationship on the right foot.
- Personalize your welcome email. The more relevant your welcome message is, the better. It should, at the very least, welcome your new subscribers by their preferred name. If you can acknowledge their inferred needs and stated interests as well, that is even better. Put yourself in their shoes and personalize your message to connect with their deepest emotions.
- Establish proper expectations. Remind new subscribers about the benefits of your communications, let them know how often they can expect to receive your messages, and tell them how they can help improve their user experience (by changing their preferences, etc).
- Thank them. The most important element of a welcome email is the “thank you”. They have subscribed to your emails, indicating that they are interested in you and your services. Thank them. And be sincere in your thanks. Consider offering them a small reward, such as a relevant whitepaper or report, a discount on your services, or a link for them to sign up to receive a free promotional item by mail.
You might be surprised at how a little welcome can go a long way.
2. An Email Newsletter
Statistics clearly show that relevance is the #1 element to engage prospects and pique interest, enabling you to develop the long-term relationships that your business needs for perpetual and strategic growth.
Offer your readers relevant, informative, entertaining and valuable content. Email newsletters are a means to that end. Help your subscribers learn more about your staff, your services and your value by including an interesting and diverse mix of news in an easily digestible format in each issue: upcoming events, staff profiles, service case studies, cartoons, surveys or polls, how-to articles, and content that will enrich your contacts’ lives.
Videos increase engagement in email newsletters as well. Video messaging can provide instructions to your clients, educate them on complicated matters and personalize your message in a way that no other form of communication can. Videos are engaging. Don’t be afraid to turn on your webcam, hit record and start talking. If you’re too camera-shy, look into packages of professionally-produced videos on relevant business topics. There are cost-effective options available for you to use to enhance your brand.
Here are 5 tips to help you generate quality email newsletters
- Design for instant recognition and comprehension. Newsletter design and layout can have a major impact on your readership and the overall effectiveness of your email marketing. A newsletter that is attractive and easy to read allows recipients to focus on your message and your brand. Make sure that your email newsletter template best represents your firm and facilitates reading of your articles. Create a dynamic header that draws readers in. Use subject lines that entice readers to open your message.
- Send only the most relevant content to each of your subscribers. Newsletter content should be targeted specifically to your readers’ interests. Entrepreneurs will be interested in business and management strategies, while individuals may not be interested in these topics, and would rather receive articles on retirement planning or saving for college. Many companies send one generic email newsletter to all of their readers. This can be a huge mistake.
- Segment your database. Group readers according to interests, industries and other identifiers, and send targeted newsletters with relevant content to each group. By sending content that speaks directly to each recipient, you will reinforce your understanding of their needs and your ability to address them. Segment your list. Increase the effectiveness of your marketing efforts by identifying unique groups of readers within your database and delivering content based on those data points. Segmentation also enables you to data-mine your prospects, hone in on needs and respond to pain points. Take your segmentation even further by identifying demographics, interests and subscriber behavior. You will reap the rewards in the long run.
- Be consistent with your delivery. Give your prospects and clients something to look forward on a regular basis. Whether you send your email newsletter out bi-weekly or monthly, do it on a dependable schedule, such as every other Wednesday or the first Monday of every month. Let subscribers know when they can expect to receive it, include great, quality, personalized content in every issue, and they will begin to look forward to your communications – which will help move them through the sales cycle.
By following these tips, your click through rates (CTRs) will rise, unsubscribe requests will fall, relationships will blossom, and (assuming you give people the option to do so) more people will opt in to your newsletter. Your list will grow, extending your reach and ability to earn new business.
3. An Educational Email
According to HubSpot, if you could only send one type of lead nurturing email, the educational email is the one to choose because “educating your prospects is a crucial step in closing a sale, and one of the easiest ways to shorten your sales cycle.”
Content marketing is all about providing relevant, educational, engaging, compelling, and entertaining information to your clients and prospective clients. Ensure that your audience can clearly identify your value by demonstrating that you can solve their problems, address their needs and answer their questions. Provide them with quality content that educates them.
The goal of an educational email is to build and enhance relationships with your prospects and clients. The best way to do that is to teach them something they care about. Offer solutions and provide answers in short, to-the-point how-to articles that can be read “on the go”.
Here are 3 tips for creating effective educational emails:
- Listen to your contacts. Draft articles that inform your clients on important topics. Answer frequently asked questions that you hear time and again from prospects and clients. Provide your readers with timely news and information they need to know.
- Stick to one topic per email. Since you are already sending out a digest of articles and other content in your email newsletters, keep each of your educational emails to one subject. Short emails can be very effective, especially if they include a link to more information that you can use to track interest. Pull out the most impactful piece of information you wish to share and use that as your email, and then post the rest of the information on your blog or website.
- Use case studies to educate and inform. Case studies can be highly educational and are often written in a compelling story format that readers are attracted to. It has been proven that stories can help you sell more professional services. Use stories about your existing clients to engage your readers and heighten your credibility, while educating your prospects and clients on lesser-known services or the benefits of services that they may not be aware of.
4. A Testimonial Email
Using client testimonials in your email marketing can be a highly effective method of enhancing your credibility while subtly promoting your services. Testimonials can dramatically increase your opportunities for new leads. Sincere, relatable client comments essential serve as referrals. They can be the key to a moving a prospect toward a buying decision or nudging them to take a closer look at your service offerings. Seventy-eight percent of consumers trust peer recommendations.
Here are 4 tips to help you design an appealing testimonial email:
- Think about the design. Email design elements are especially important when it comes to testimonial emails, particularly if you send them out as a campaign in between other digital communications. You want something that’s eye-catching and easy to read. Keep your brand in mind when designing your template, and consider how it will apply to other testimonials you want to share down the road. Consider using a “module” method: one placeholder for a header, another for an image of your client, another for the most engaging pull-out quote, and finally, a placeholder for the rest of the story.
- Highlight the benefit or solution for the reader. Your client’s testimonial (hopefully) showcases your strengths, which enables it to function as an educational email as well. Make sure that the benefit or solution that you obtained for your client being spotlighted is clear and present so that your subscribers also understand that you could also help them with similar issues.
- Create video testimonials when you meet with happy clients. Whenever you meet with particularly satisfied clients, ask if they would be amenable to recording a one-minute testimonial on video. You can help them draft the message in advance, or let them respond to questions that you pose live while recording. Some of the very best and most engaging video testimonials are spontaneous and the client hasn’t heard the questions before. Capturing a video testimonial can be a simple process. Don’t shy away from asking. As with referrals, the best way to get a testimonial is to ask for one!
- Give your readers the next step. Now that you’ve gotten your readers’ attention with a fascinating testimonial, keep the momentum going. Include a link to a relevant resource where subscribers can learn more about the topic discussed, such as a blog post, service description, additional testimonials, case study, or article. Always give them a way to take action, regardless of what kind of email you send out.
5. A Survey Email
One of the most effective yet under-utilized marketing tools for professional service firms are surveys. You may believe that you already know what your clients think about your firm. Or perhaps what your prospects are looking for in a professional services provider. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. A survey can give you the answers you seek, while also bringing to light potential issues that you need to address in your marketing, management or client retention.
It is critical that you know what your prospects, clients, employees think about every aspect of your business, so that you can respond, manage, promote, plan, reward and achieve.
Requesting feedback is also a compelling and interactive way to stay top of mind with your clients and prospects. For example, after you’ve engaged a new client, send a thank you email with a brief, 3-5 question survey so that you can get to know them a little bit better. Gain knowledge by polling your prospects about what kind of content they want to see in your newsletter, which services they think about, or how they plan to prepare for the future. This kind of data is essential for a relevant content marketing campaign that your prospects and clients will perceive as valuable.
Here are 5 tips to guide you as you develop your survey email:
- Ask the right questions. Make sure the questions you ask are relevant to the recipients and will generate useful results. Ensure that your questions are clear and understandable.
- Keep it short. Few people actually enjoy completing surveys. Make it as easy for them as possible by keeping it short – no more than 5 minutes; less whenever possible – and giving them as many multiple choice answers as you can. Exclude free-form text answers unless they are optional.
- Give them a reason to do your bidding. Any incentive, including small rewards such as a $5 Starbucks gift card, will help you get more people to participate in your surveys. The bigger and better the incentive, the more likely the answers will be measured and well-considered as well. If your budget is limited, plan fewer, more strategic surveys that offer larger rewards. Or segment your list and send only certain surveys to specific groups.
- Explain the purpose of the survey. In addition to unofficially bribing your contacts to complete your survey, tell them why you want the information. In many cases, your reason for the survey may be more stimulating than the reward for completion, especially if that reason is to serve them better or make their lives better. If they inherently benefit from answering your questions, you both win.
6. A Holiday Email
Holidays are a wonderful time to show some e-love to your contacts. From Halloween through Labor Day, you can use any holiday to send your clients and prospects some virtual cheer. Most of us enjoy a little spooky humor in October, count our blessings and find reasons to be thankful in November, celebrate joy and light in December, ring in the New Year in January, talk about love on Valentine’s Day, and dress up in green on St. Patrick’s Day (whether we are Irish or not). Holidays are relatable. Holidays are also predictable. You know when they are coming. You can plan in advance. Utilize holidays to add instant appeal to your email campaigns and let your contacts know that you are thinking about them.
Holidays are also another great time to utilize video in your emails. Holiday video messaging can cheer the spirit, warm the heart and personalize your message better than any text or image can.
Here are 4 tips to help you produce brilliant holiday emails, all year ‘round:
- Create a holiday marketing campaign calendar. Plan out your messaging in advance. Determine which holidays will garner their own separate emails, and which will become the theme for your email newsletter or other digital communications. Plan out videos, costumes, scripts, and any other technical items.
- Stick to your theme. Use each holiday’s theme to its maximum advantage in your calls to action and email “conversation” to maximize its impact.
- Go on sale. Even professional service providers can discount their prices for a sale, or bundle services into a more cost-effective package. Take advantage of holidays to include a tiny blurb about a special discount new clients can receive if they act within a certain period of time.
- Ensure that your year-end holiday emails emphasize relationships and family. Business is all about relationships. Definitely reach out to prospects with your holiday emails, but don’t forget about your existing clients and how valuable their ongoing business is. Let them know that you appreciate them through true personalization – create a video of your staff singing an appropriate holiday song, take a group photo in festive attire, or design an e-card using other imagery from your office and/or staff. Your year-end holiday emails might require a little bit more time than other holiday communications throughout the year, so be sure to allocate the appropriate resources to make it great.
New business can indeed be easily generated through the use of proactive email content marketing campaigns. These six emails remind your prospects and clients that you’re not only ready to be of service, but that you are the right firm for the job. Through strategic planning and thoughtful emails, your business will remain top of mind, which will encourage your clients to come back for more, and inspire prospects to make the leap and become clients.