In an ideal world, every email you wrote would flow effortlessly from your fingers with no need for editing. You’d touch every one of your prospects’ pulse points without ever missing the mark. You would strike that perfect balance between pithiness and persuasion.
The reality is that marketing emails intimidate even professional writers, let alone executives and assistants whose duties don’t include crafting the ideal email. Some guidelines can help you face emails fearlessly.
Know Your Audience
Stephen King has famously said that he writes for one reader: his wife. Take a page from one of his many books and apply the same philosophy to your emails. Keep a picture of your prospect in mind as you write your message to that person, not to the whole list. When possible, use the recipient’s name in your email. Working from a clean email list lets you add the personal touch of getting your customer’s name right.
Right-Size Your Email
When non-pros write prose, they often add too much information or too little. Including every detail of a product’s spec sheet or forgetting to tell prospects how to use a discount code are common mistakes. Answer the five journalistic questions – who, what, when, where and why – as directly as possible to avoid omitting important details or taxing your prospect’s patience.
When you open your mailbox, what’s your first reaction to eye-searing neon pink sales fliers stuffed between the catalogs and bills? You probably throw them away without a glance. Your prospects will do the same if they perceive your marketing message as a hard-selling howler. Using extra exclamation points, all capital letters, random bold or italicized words and strings of dollar signs are the textual equivalent of those neon handbills, and they will consign your email to the trash – or worse, relegate you to the spam bucket.
Your customers will notice even a small typo, let alone a major gaffe; editing makes the difference between a polished email and an amateurish effort. Even professional writers have trouble with self-editing, so try a couple of the pros’ tricks. Read the email aloud to spot syntax errors. Never trust an automated spelling checker; it doesn’t know the difference between a 24-carrot ring and a 24-karat one. Changing the font can help you see errors. Get a second or even a third pair of eyes on your text, especially if you have a grammar whiz on your staff.
Cut the Fluff
Some non-professional writers are hooked on fluff. They pad their missives with more and bigger words, hoping to give them more weight through sheer volume. Lean, spare writing hits harder and leaves a better impression. If you need literary inspiration, remember that Ernest Hemingway’s shortest story contained only six words.
You don’t have to be Hemingway to write a great email, but by keeping your writing concise, correct and targeted, you’ll face your next marketing email bravely.
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