Rant of the week!

In the last week, I’ve read a number of supposedly sales emails that made me want to fall asleep/whack my head against the wall repeatedly.  How do these people survive in  the real world?  Fifty buck words, long paragraphs of rambling sentences, never.getting.to.the.point. It’s infuriating!

Now, most people will instantly delete these types of emails.  Not me, these are an education for me in how not to engage your audience.  So, here’s:

How to write a sales email that doesn’t make your reader want to whack their head against the nearest wall!

It’s not all about length

After you’ve written your sales/introductory/anything email, copy and paste it into MS Word (or word processing programme of your choice).  Is your email more than a page long?  Don’t send it! Edit it!  Nobody is going to read such a long email, cut it down.

This is not a round-robin Xmas letter to your Aunt Patty and cousins

Emails are not letters – you do not need to include photo of fountain penthe words ‘From the desk of’ at the top of your email, it looks very old fashioned and would have me hitting delete quicker than it takes you to decide what type of wood your imaginary desk is made from.

Spelling, spelling, spelling and the wrong words

Don’t just run your email through the obligatory spellchecker, READ IT OUT LOUD.  Why?  You’ll pick up on spelling errors but you also might have used ‘where’ when you meant ‘were’, you might have written ‘a the’ when you meant ‘at the’ – mistakes that spellchecker won’t pick up on as you’re not spelling wrong, you’re just using the wrong words.

Talking to yourself isn’t always a bad thing as long as nobody answers back

No spelling mistakes? READ IT OUT LOUD ANYWAY! A lot of people with dyslexia do this all the time as it helps them pick up on wrong words, bad grammar and everything else that comes with having difficulty transposing your thoughts on to paper/screen.  Not dyslexic? Read it out loud anyway!  Reading your email out loud will instantly show up the following issues:

  1. Your email sounds too formal – take out the ‘I would be most grateful if you could peruse the following on your computer’ (paraphrasing one of those headbanging emails I referred to earlier)
  2. Your email sounds too casual – take out the ‘dude’
  3. You’ve missed out key information
  4. You’ve gone off the point

photo of chimp toyKeep it snappy!

Unless your email is an email newsletter (in which case, you should really be using a good email newsletter provider, e.g. Mailchimp, which I can highly recommend (so far!)), the body of your message shouldn’t be more than two to three very short paragraphs, each paragraph being a maximum of three relatively short sentences.

Add the personal touch

Start your email by introducing yourself first, preferably with how you know your addressee (e.g. Hi Paul/Dave/Stewie, we met at… or we both belong to…).  Ed Gandia has lots of tips on how to make emails personable when you’re aiming for a sale.

It’s not all about you!

State the benefits your reader can gain by working with you/buying your product/service.  It’s not all about you!  When writing your email, keep thinking ‘what’s in it for them’.

No spammy subjects please!

Make sure you have a great email subject headline – this depends on your audience’s culture.  The winners of Copyblogger’s email subject line competition are great examples of subject lines but the Denver one won’t get very far in the ‘soccer’ loving UK .  A really formal subject line might not cut the ice with a social media company.  Whatever your subject line, make sure it makes sense, is relevant to the actual email, doesn’t have any spelling/grammar errors and, above all, doesn’t just say ‘hi’.

Is email the right approach at all?

If you can’t get your point across in an email, think about calling/connecting on social media/connecting on LinkedIn/talking to the person in actual, real life.  We are all overloaded with emails every day so take a break occasionally to connect elsewhere.

Okay, rant over for now.  Are you guilty of head against the wall emails?  Go on, share your worst examples and we can all get through this week without concussions!

Pen photo by Linda Cronin and chimp photo by foilman under Creative Commons