Use advertising rules to write better emails
Everyone of you uses email, but did anyone of you learn how to write emails? In the old days of the ground mail there we learned how to write a business letter. There are books on how to write business letters with templates for any occasion. Here is my tip on writing a successful business email.
Writing a business letter is time consuming and the time it takes to get to the recipient seems endless nowadays. So the email took over. Faster to write, faster to send, faster to receive a response. What get lost? Not only the form. I cannot actually know how my email is displayed and and on what device. But the worst is, that many times we cripple the message because we are such in a hurry when writing the email.
I write every email like I would write an ad. I’m no copywriter, but I do fine enough. And I try to structure it, especially if I write to a person for the first time, following this advertising rules:
- Who I am (for first contact)
- Reason Why
- Unique selling proposition
- Call to action
Who I am
Introduce yourself in one sentence – if I get an email from an unknown person I want first of all know who he is.
Right after the introduction tell the people why you are writing them. Studies show that if you give a reason why your are asking for something people will be more likely to comply. You must give a reason why they should continue reading and make them know that it matters to them. How many times I get calls where a graphic designer asks me to send him a logo in a printable format. The first thing I ask is: “What do you need it for?”
Unique selling proposition
This is maybe the trickiest part, because you have to think always in a way that you are selling something – even if you ask them to do something for you. In fact if you ask them to do something for you (send you something, give you a backlink) you are actually selling them this favour they will do to you. You must therefore find a benefit for them and possibly one that doesn’t sound bland. Or it can be a straight “if you do this x for me, I can do this y for you”. Don’t try to sell “x” and pay “x” back (say backlink for backlink) – it doesn’t work. Your a genius if you can write this part in a way that the receiver thinks he profits from doing what you ask him to do.
Call to action
I sometimes wonder how many times I get emails where after reading them I think: “Ok, and what should I do next?” No, really. Check if your email has a call to action in the end where you distinctively tell the reader what you expect him to do. This applies also to “informative” emails, where you just want to inform someone about a specific topic – include in the end a phrase like “Please keep this email in your records for further reference” or “You can delete this message after reading”. Very popular call to action phrases for emails, where the request is actually clear from the central part or where you respond to a request “If you have any further questions, feel free to contact me.”
And now an example
A classic example – you are making a brochure for an event and your client gives you a list of sponsors. You have to include all the logos of the sponsors and you have none. The agreement between your client and the sponsors are usually made at management level and therefore the marketing department doesn’t know anything about it. Not all firms have printable logos at hand so the email must include the right information about what you need and that they might better forward the request to their graphic designer or advertising agency.
Dear Sirs, my name is Frank Neulichedl and I write you on behalf of Mr. Smith from ThisIsAfirm ltd. I am currently designing the brochure for the annual spring concert in Holland Park and I've been told that your firm is one of the sponsors. I would therefore include your logo in the brochure and would ask you to send me a high resolution digital version of the logo suitable for print in order to display your commitment in the best way. Suitable file formats are Adobe Illustrator (.eps, .ai) or high resolution images .jpg .tif (File size larger than 500 KBytes). If you do not have a suitable format at hand please forward this request to your graphic designer or advertising agency. Feel free to contact me for any further questions. Yours faithfully Frank Neulichedl ...
For further reference on this subject I’ve found a nice resource here:
- Better writing – tips, useful phrases and sample letters