Communication Channels: Killing It With Emails to Customers

Send Killer Emails, Not Emails That Kill Your Chances

When you send someone an email, you’re not just competing with the other emails in their inbox for their attention. More than two-thirds of Americans now use smartphones*.

Smartphones allow us to check email everywhere. And we do. This means your email might be interrupting your customer’s work meeting, distracting them from their child’s soccer match, or intruding into their thoughts right before they turn out the light at night.

When you think about the fact that you could be front-and-center with your client at any time during their day, it pays to be considerate. For most people, that means not wasting their time.

Keep it short.

If a word, sentence or graphic doesn’t need to be there, take it out.

Keep it airy.

  • Consider the visuals.
  • Separate and clarify actions steps.
  • Use bullet points or numbered lists as appropriate.

Pay special attention to the beginning.

Many of us choose email settings that allow us to preview the beginning of a message. Choose your subject line and first 10-20 words carefully. If you don’t include something substantive right from the start, the rest of your email may never be read.

Get to the point, and make it a good one.

What is the purpose of your email? State it up front. What benefits are you offering? Make them obvious. What action step would you like them to take? State it clearly. The simpler you make it for someone to respond, the higher the likelihood that they will.

Use their name.

Using someone’s first name is a proven way to build a relationship faster. But Marjorie, no one wants their name to be overused or used awkwardly. Do you know what we mean, Marjorie, our customer? A good test is to read your text out loud. If it sounds like it’s too much, it is.

Think in threes.

People take in information well when it is presented in sets of threes. That can mean three adjectives at the end of a sentence, three sentences in a paragraph or three paragraphs in an email. Three concepts tend to feel digestible, understandable and substantive.

Humor helps.

If you have a gift for a witty turn of phrase, use it. But do so sparingly. You’re not auditioning for the Chuckle Hut. And never include humor that is bawdy, political, sexist, racist, ageist, or any other “-ist” that someone might find offensive. Use an imaginary Mr. Rogers as your arbiter and you’ll likely be fine.

Track and analyze your results.

Create three different versions of the same message, alternate using them, and see which gets the best results. Then analyze what worked and do more of that going forward.

Consider how your email will be viewed.

Small screens and large graphics or hard-to-read fonts are a bad combination. So are lengthy auto-signatures, inspirational quotes and/or well-meaning but unnecessary messages about recycling or asking forgiveness for spelling or grammar errors. Better to check that you have no grammar or spelling issues instead.

Time your message.

Sending an email on the Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend is a great way to ensure it won’t get read.

The bottom line: Take the time to craft and send your emails with your customer in mind, and it will end up paying off for you.


* – according to a 2015 study by Pew Research Center

This is the first of three blog posts about communicating with your clients. Read our last post about meeting clients on their terms here.

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