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How To Write Emails That Sell (You)!

Written By: Ron Sathoff

First off, let me offer a disclaimer: This article is NOT about
those “sales letter” emails that a lot of us use to promote our
businesses. Rather, I would like to discuss those OTHER
emails….the ones that get ignored, overlooked, and even swept
under the rug. That’s right, I want to discuss those plain,
everyday, “correspondence” emails and the effect they can have on
your sales and marketing.

I work in a business where about 75 to 80 percent of our
communication is done through email. That means I get to read a
LOT of messages, and it is really surprising how many of them are
either hard to understand or easy to misinterpret!

It is my opinion that, even though email is seen as being a
“secondary” form of business communication, we should look at it
as we would any other type of writing — that is, as a permanent
document that our customers and associates will use to judge our
credibility.

The main problem, I think, is the fact that email is so
instantaneous and so easy to use. It’s very easy to think of
email as being something that doesn’t really matter, so we just
jot off an email without thinking about it, just as if we were
chatting in a conversation. Unfortunately, this often leads to
messages that are hastily thought out, hard to understand, or –
worst of all — written in anger.

This shouldn’t be the case — we should make sure that our e-
correspondence is as well-thought-out as our sales letters or
office memos, and that they show the qualities that customers
look for — things such as a commitment to quality, friendliness,
and service.

To help create this kind of image, here are a few simple
suggestions. These are mostly common sense, but as I mentioned
before, it’s often easy to forget these things when you are in a
rush to answer those 300 messages in your “In” box!

* Make sure e-mail is the best way to communicate your message.
In other words, know when NOT to send an email. For instance,
sending an Email is almost instant, but that doesn’t mean that
email is the quickest way to get in touch with a client. Most
people will only read their email once or twice a day, which
means that if you need to get in touch with a person right away,
you probably will want to call them.

Confidential information is also best left off of email, for two
reasons. First, Internet security is getting better and better,
but there are still many ways that your sensitive email can be
“hacked into” by unscrupulous individuals. The second problem,
which I have heard about more often than I would like, is the
fact that with one simple mistake, you or your recipient could
send a sensitive email to the whole corporation!

* Be correct in your writing. It’s amazing how many emails get
sent without the benefit of punctuation, capitalization, or even
full sentences. Not only does this make it harder for the reader
to understand the message, it gives the reader the impression
that the sender is either sloppy or incompetent — or that they
don’t care enough to take the time to send a proper message.

Also, be cautious about sending a message in ALL CAPS. In the
“lingo” of the Internet, a message in all caps means that the
sender is shouting. Certainly, there may be times you want to
create this impression, but use it carefully!

* Give context to your emails. Once, I received a message from
someone that consisted of one word — “Yes.” It took me 1/2 an
hour just to figure out what question I had asked in the first
place!

Always give enough context to your messages so that your readers
will understand what you are talking about. If you are responding
to a prior e-mail, it’s usually enough to just include the
message you are responding to. Don’t, however, fall into the trap
of including each and every message in a 40-message email
conversation — That’s probably just a little TOO much context!

* Give full contact information. This one is pretty simple –
always let your recipient know who sent the message. Don’t trust
your email address to provide this information; Always sign your
messages with your full name and organization, just as if you
were sending a regular letter. Having a signature file can be
very helpful for this.

* Be as prompt as possible. Once again, this is a no-brainer, but
it is easy to lose track of your messages, especially when you
get a lot of them. I’ve found the best way to managing my
responses is to religiously use the mailbox function on my email
program. As soon as I respond to a message, it goes into a
separate mailbox (usually organized so that each client has their
own mailbox) — that way, I know that everything in my “In” box
is something that needs a response.

* Think BEFORE you send! This is probably the most important
thing you can do when you are sending email. Almost every horror
story I have heard about email has something to do with someone
who sent an email while in an emotional state, or who sent an
email without double-checking the message and who it was going
to.

If you get a message that makes you angry, don’t send an email
back right away. Take some time to settle down so that you aren’t
sending a message that you will regret later. Remember that your
angry words can be “saved” by your recipient, and you don’t want
them to come back to haunt you.

Also, always double-check your message to make sure it says
exactly what you want it to say, that it is going ONLY to the
people who you want to see it, and that it is coming from the
right address (important if you have a number of different users
on your system).

Remember — once the email is sent, you can’t call it back!

Just one last note: I’m not saying that we should take as much
time with an email as we would with a business proposal or case
study. What we SHOULD do, however, is make certain that every
piece of correspondence we write, whether it is a sales letter,
an inter-office memo, or an email message, should reflect the
image that we want to maintain — one of professionalism,
competence, and caring.

About the Author

Ron Sathoff is a noted speaker and manager of DrNunley’s
http://InternetWriters.com Ron works with business speakers and
writers, helping them with their copy-writing, marketing, and
Internet promotion. Reach him at ron@drnunley.com or
801-328-9006.

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