How to Write Emails that Get a Response


Email is invaluable for communicating with customers, with its effectiveness significantly increased when care is taken to adapt to the new expectations of this powerful form or communication.

Many of the web marketing practices you are using to get your online content read and acted upon will also work equally well to do the same with your customer emails.

This should not be surprising, as you are dealing with expectations and human behavior in both situations.

It is important to recognize that your customer has given you permission to interrupt them with email when you have something valuable to communicate, and that alone is why you should treat every single email correspondence with care.

#1 –  Open with Friendly and Familiar

The inbox is sacred space and should be treated as such to avoid being ignored or even blocked. So, opening with a friendly greeting significantly increases the odds that it will be favorable

Also, keep in mind that business is now personal.

Since business in my entrepreneurial world is informal, I prefer to simply open with “Hi” and their first name.

In addition to that, whenever possible try to include a little something familiar that reminds them of your personal relationship.

#2 –  Shorter is Always Better

To send lengthy emails is to disrespect the medium. When you send a lengthy email (or social media post for that matter) you are saying your message is so important that its recipient should drop everything to give you their full attention.

That’s crazy!

People have families, bosses, and other customers to communicate with in addition to you. Respect that and take the time to send short emails that are ideally focused on only one topic.

If there are more than a few items that you must address in one email, organize them by grouping related items, and then numbering them in a list. When you make the effort to do this, you send a signal that you respect their time, and that encourages a prompt and thoughtful response.

 #3 – Deliver Value Quickly

In the early days of email, we all excitedly looked forward to receiving them.

Now that email is integral to our business and personal lives, it is considered to be an interruption.

For this reason, if you expect your emails to be well received, deliver value and do it quickly. Here are 5 methods for providing value. Consider using more than one in your emails.

  1. An important update
  2. A timely alert
  3. A kind thought
  4. Useful news or practical information
  5. Step-by-step instructions for easily fulfilling your call-to-action

That last one is my favorite.

#4 – Carefully Choose Subject Keywords

Many of us will spend nearly as much time choosing the title of our blog posts as we do writing the article because we know the right keywords will get it read by our audience. That also holds true for Google and the other search engines. Take the same approach with your emails.

People are skimming through their inbox just as they are the web. So, use keywords to clearly address the topic of the email. Then be sure the body of the message delivers on that promise from the very first line.

Also, be sure to avoid any special characters within the subject line such as exclamation points. Not only can this push your email into their junk folder, it tends to look like you are trying a little too hard.

#5 –  Open and Close with Your Call to Action

The challenge with emails (and especially email marketing) is having them arrive safely within inboxes as opposed to spam folders so that they get opened and read. About 1/2 of all emails accomplish those two objectives.

So, when you do beat the odds, it should be crystal clear what actions are expected of the recipient.

Suggestions are not calls-to-action. State what you want in no uncertain terms. For example, studies prove that the surest way to get your content retweeted on Twitter is to simply state: Please retweet. Simple enough, right?

Like any other form of communication, using email effectively is a skill that will improve with practice, and the application of these basic tips are sure to help.

#6 – Leave the Back Door Open

You cannot always get what you want for any number of reasons. It may happen that the recipient wants to help but the timing just isn’t right.

Don’t compromise the relationship. Always provide an easy “out”.

For example, I recently made a request that closed like this: I’ll greatly appreciate your help, and will also understand if this doesn’t feel right for you.

Actually, just as I made two calls-to-action; I also twice opened the door to leave them a means for gracefully backing out.

#7 – Follow-Up to Yes or No

Emails often get lost or forgotten, especially because we all get more of them than we can usually handle.

Too many people make the assumption that no response is a rejection. Wrong!  As LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman suggests: “Your goal is to persist until you get a specific yes or a no.”

This takes some guts because most people do not like rejection. If you follow the aforementioned steps when you follow-up, you will discover that persistence does indeed pay off.

Now over to you. Let’s work together on this.

Please share your practices for getting a response to your emails in a comment below.

If that’s not your thing, take a second to click one of the buttons below to share with your tribe.

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, helps mainstream small businesses create exceptional customer experiences that accelerate business growth. Get more from Jeff on LinkedInTwitter and Google+.

Jeff is also the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley 2013)

5 Tips for Using LinkedIn Contacts

2013-05-15 LinkedIn Contacts

LinkedIn is in the process of rolling out LinkedIn Contacts. In addition to several new features that are giving it a new look and feel – if offers enhanced functionality for better managing your relationships and social engagement.

There is no question that all of the major social networks want you to use their service as your social dashboard. However, many social networkers prefer to use an independent tool such as Hootsuite to effectively manage their social networks and build relationships.

One of the challenges is there is a disconnect between public social networking and private means of communication that often lead to sales conversion – namely email. This is where services such as Nimble are leading the way, by bringing social and email into one dashboard, and one reason why I especially like LinkedIn Contacts.

What gets even more interesting is that concurrent with LinkedIn’s rollout of LinkedIn Contacts, Nimble has launched Nimble 3.0, and there are some interesting contrasts and similarities. More on how Nimble brings big data to small business.

For now, here’s how to get the most out of LinkedIn Contacts.

#1 – Import Your Contacts

You have always been able to import your contacts from other sources into LinkedIn. However, now with LinkedIn Contacts there are multiple options for doing this – while also tracking where the source of those contacts. To get started, just go to contacts in your LinkedIn profile, and then settings.

2013-05-23 Linkedin Contacts

Some of the possible sources for importing contacts into LinkedIn

What is especially useful is the refresh button. So, let’s say you imported your friends from Facebook a month ago, just hit the refresh button to bring in the new ones.

Incidentally, while Facebook does not let you export the email addresses of your friends, there is a workaround using Yahoo Contacts to import your Facebook contacts into LinkedIn. Since Facebook is not prone to sharing, I suggest doing this now to avoid the risk that this capability will be blocked in the future.

Know that you won’t get all of them, because not everyone has an email address publicly linked to their Facebook profile.

#2 – Set Reminders to Connect

It’s easy to make that first connection, but anybody that has ever attended a live networking event knows that often nothing happens after that. In the old days, business cards got pushed into a drawer. Today, connections are made and forgotten days later.

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So, a great solution is to use LinkedIn Contacts to set a reminder to follow-up with your connections a few weeks or so later. At the very least, your new connection will be impressed with your organization, and if you can also share some useful information, better yet.

 LinkedIn reminders, tags, notes, and conversation history

LinkedIn reminders, tags, notes, and conversation history

#3 – Merge Duplicate Contacts

Many people unknowingly or not set up multiple profiles on LinkedIn. As a result, you may find yourself connecting with their abandoned profile because they did not delete it.

Now LinkedIn pulls up what they believe to be all duplicate profiles so that you can merge them. You simply unclick those on the list where the same name is actually two different people. Then just click merge and just like that – you have cleaned up your database

#4 – Tag Your Connections

It appears that LinkedIn automatically assigns a tag such as colleague or friend based upon the respective social graphs or source of the contacts. Regardless, you should be making the effort to accurately tag your connections

This is the true power of a CRM – using tags to create micro-communities. If you do not have a means for targeting your message for a specific community, then you run the risk of having it reduced to spam.

When that happens, your ability to connect with future opportunties is compromised, because you have lost the trust that you may have otherwise earned.

#5 – Note Relevant Information

I have always wondered about the privacy of the notes feature in LinkedIn, and have now confirmed that profile notes are private to you.

So, when you make a connection, jot down important notes for later use – including how your met and any opportunities that may have been discussed. It’s easy to forget, so take the time now, so that when that follow-up reminder pings you later you’ll recall important information.

LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman likes to say, “It’s better to be the best connected than the most connected.”

Now LinkedIn is not only giving you the tools to do so, but making them seamless and easy to use for getting more from this platform.

In addition to that, LinkedIn plays well with others. So, while Google and Facebook continue to slug it out on their respective properties, it’s nice to know you can count on LinkedIn as a friendly and neutral partner.

If you are still looking for more from LinkedIn, consider setting up your LinkedIn Business Page.

How about you? How are you using LinkedIn to grow your business? 

About the Author:  Jeff Korhan, MBA, helps mainstream small businesses create exceptional customer experiences that accelerate business growth. Get more from Jeff on LinkedInTwitter and Google+.

Jeff is also the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – Just Released April 2013 (Wiley)

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