“To delete or not to delete?” This is the question your email recipients ask themselves when scanning your email in their inbox. On average, 51.1% of readers spend less than two seconds looking at your email*. To ensure that your email isn’t sent straight to the Recycle Bin, you should employ a combination of proven elements into your messaging. Here are 10 of the most successful strategies and related elements used to craft a powerful email message.
1 – Pique their curiosity
From the subject line to the very first sentence, you need to grab your prospect’s attention and elicit a “Hmmm … I want to know more” reaction. Remember, you only have two seconds to make an impression. Avoid generic subject lines and salutations. Make a surprising statement, ask a question or use a statistic to capture their interest. Use captivating and relevant imagery to draw their eye. Avoid black hat tactics to trick your readers. Ensure that your content matches the focus of your message.
2 – Establish credibility by name dropping
If you are emailing a new prospect for the first time, name the specific referral source (a real person or company) that has recommended you. Include the referrer’s name in the subject line: “John Smith suggested I contact you.” Expand on that in your first sentence, concisely specifying your expertise in the recipient’s industry or area of need: “John Smith mentioned that you may have some inventory assurance needs and thought we should talk.”
3 – Identify the pain point
Whether your prospect was directly referred by someone or not, research your prospect in advance to identify a specific pain point that will trigger a response. Pain points could be related to his/her industry, position, current economic climate, a change in leadership, or some other catalyst often tied to change. Some pain points are highly specific, while others are practically universal. The new tax laws expected to come out under the new administration may be a pain point for a majority of your prospects.
4 – Establish relevance and alignment
Relevance is critical to generating a powerful message that will lead to future opportunity. Your recipients must recognize that you not only understand what they need, but that you want to help them. Point out how their goal is attainable through collaboration. Align your relevant solutions with their specific problems to produce cohesion. Include specific metrics – how, when, what. Sprinkle in some testimonials or case studies (anonymously, if necessary) as examples of how real clients have benefitted from the solutions.
5 – Convey a sense of urgency when appropriate
We are more likely to respond to a message if we feel that it is a priority. If your service or product has a tangible time frame for implementation, specify that clearly and concisely. Be aware that the urgency must be real and realistic (for example, a tax refund opportunity is expiring). Creating a false sense of urgency will diminish your credibility and turn your prospects off. Don’t cry wolf.
6 – Offer valuable resources and thought leadership
Provide value-added extras to your contacts, such as whitepapers, money-saving tips, deadline reminders, tax guides, and thought-provoking content. In addition to your own content resources, also provide ways for your prospects to connect with valuable resources outside of your firm, such as links to government agencies, informational resource sites, organizations or other relevant, credible resources. Your prospects will appreciate the guidance and begin viewing you as a trusted advisor, not just an accounting firm.
7 – Keep it simple; keep it short
“Simple” and “short” are not synonymous, but are both important elements of a successful message. Remember that your prospects are usually laymen. Technical jargon probably won’t resonate with your readers. Boil complex issues down to the meat of the matter. Be careful not to distill your messages to the point of ineffectiveness, but speak to prospects in a way that they can easily understand. Highlight your main points in a brief summary and break up longer messages with headings, sub-headings, bullet points, information call-outs, graphs, images, quotes and so on.
8 – Consistently brand your messages
Aesthetics play a major role in content engagement. Consistently brand your messages across all platforms and distribution channels to prompt instant recognition. You want your prospects and clients to immediately recognize your firm, regardless of where they come across your brand (social media, email, website, etc). Make sure that your digital messages accurately reflect the tone you wish to convey for your firm in addition to being easily recognizable as yours.
9 – Call your audience to action
You must motivate your audience to act. A call to action (CTA) is an essential tool in driving engagement. The “call” requests interaction or begins a dialogue, and the “action” typically involves a simple click of the mouse. Give readers the ability to respond and react in an unobtrusive and non-committal way that subtly elicits further communications or even a potential buying opportunity (because you’ll follow up on their behavior or at least track it until the time is right). CTAs should be present in all of your communications, including your website, blog, social media sites, emails, newsletters, advertisements, etc.
10 – Keep the conversation going
Your prospects will engage your firm if and when they feel you are trustworthy and a valuable resource to them. Follow up with timely contact, keep the conversation going, respond sincerely to parties who demonstrate an interest in your content through their activities and continue to grow the relationship through relevant messaging even after you’ve concluded a sale to maximize future opportunities.
You will not employ all of these communication devices in the same message. The trick is to develop your editorial calendar and carefully craft your messages by mixing and matching the most effective techniques for each individual prospect or target audience. The most powerful messages may only incorporate two or three of the above elements. For the long-term relationship, you will have multiple opportunities to touch base with your prospects. Don’t try to squeeze all of the elements into one initial email. Develop a year-round nurturing campaign where you can incorporate each of these recommendations into a series of emails as appropriate. Start creating your own powerful email message today.