Write Email Messages with Selling Power

Chances are, your business can benefit from a well-written sales email.

But hiring someone to put together an effective email message can be expensive. So your company may decide that the most cost-effective way to start an email sales campaign is to write your own material. As you prepare, remember that a poorly written ad can have the unwanted effect of convincing undecided customers to go elsewhere.

By following some guidelines, you can write a successful message that can help attract positive attention and clinch sales. Here are seven tips:

1. The subject line is the door. If customers aren't interested in the subject line, they won't come through the door and the next step is probably the delete key.

Put yourself in the place of recipients and ask whether you would open the email. Presumably you are targeting prospects within your demographic so they are interested in what you are selling.

The subject line should be no longer than seven or eight words, and should not be in all capital letters. One option is to start by telling recipients what the email is about, followed by the offer.

Example: Office Supplies: 30% Year-End Discount.

2. Consider the body style. Choose whether you want the message to be in HTML or plain text.

HTML has proven to be more effective than plain text, but not all prospects are able to read it. One way to solve this is to give them the option of plain text if there is a problem reading HTML.

3. Write a compelling headline. The first thing prospects see after opening an email is the headline, so make it stand out. The headline should be captivating, short (four or five words) and in a larger font.

4. Keep the message simple and brief. Generally, you have 45 seconds or less to get a message across.

Your prospects are probably bombarded with emails every day and don't have a lot of patience for commercial offers. Most people will read very little text and may not wait for slow-loading images.

Keep images small enough to load quickly and limit the text. Interested parties can learn more about the product or service on your company's website, so be sure to include a link. Describe the offer in as few sentences as possible.

5. Focus on the benefits. Let customers know what your product can do for them. Customers want to know "what's in it for me," and "what do I get out of it?" Don't make prospects search for the answers or you'll risk losing them before they find out. Sales pros know how to take a product's feature and turn it into a benefit for the customer.

For example, a car that gets 50 miles to the gallon could be described by saying: While other drivers are stopped at yet another gas station, you can sail by, confident that you are filling up half as often -- and saving money.

6. Include a "call to action." The last part of the message should give customers a sense of urgency. Let prospects know they should take advantage of your offer before it vanishes. Without a "call to action," busy people may decide to take another look later, which often means never because they forget or a competitor comes in with a similar product.

Example: This offer expires on Thursday, November 28. Call today!

7. Consider a final word. Many successful sales offers include a post script with an extra incentive that clinches the deal. This is the equivalent of the TV infomercial that sells the features, benefits and the price of the product, then adds the final kicker, "Order now and we'll send you two for the price of one." It's meant to push potential buyers over the edge and take immediate action.

Avoid the Spam Drain

Most consumers dislike spam email messages so you don't want a carefully crafted sales message to be sent to recipients' spam filters. One study showed that 68% of people like receiving promotional email from companies they have dealt with, but only 14% appreciate email pitches from businesses they don't know.

The key to avoiding spam filters is to target your list mainly to consumers with whom you have some established connection. Building a strong list takes time. But by focusing on prospects that have some level of genuine interest in your product or service, you're more likely to hit the mark with greater frequency.

More Telltale Signs of Spam

Spam filters work by looking for key elements common to advertisements. By choosing words carefully and eliminating these elements, you stand a better chance of having your message read. What to avoid:

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