Last week I anonymously roasted one of the many commercial lenders on whose mail list I’m included, on over a poorly structured email message I received that was intended to develop new business. Instead it had me rolling my eyes for days because it was so bad in so many ways. Read my post here if you missed it, but as promised, this week I’m going to offer some best practices to use when you’re trying to recruit new business through email.
The first rule: Recognize how you feel about unsolicited emails, and don’t send anything you’d hate to receive (aka, “do unto others”). If you routinely delete unrecognized mail for whatever reason–the subject, appearance, length or tone–don’t inflict that irritation on others. Do better.
Second and possibly most vital rule: Give them a reason to care about what you’re sending in advance of reading it, lest they delete it without knowing what you want. Telling the world that you closed another loan is so 1990. Who cares? Take your commission and go out to dinner, but skip the appeal for applause because frankly, nobody cares. Your email, beginning at the subject line, should tell me what you can do for me.
Third–Be brief, correct and focused. I don’t care how many years you’ve been in business, where you went to school, or the fifteen convoluted–and often conflicting–rules you can find not to do my deal–I want to know what can you do. Tell me how you can solve my problem. Pique my interest to get me to call, but don’t expect I’m going to read six pages of advertising claims. If you don’t convince me in the first paragraph, chances are you won’t.
Fourth: Remember that you are looking for business leads through email, not closing a sale. I cannot read enough of your message to decide to buy, but rather you should focus on giving me just enough information to call you.
Fifth: Respect the readers time and sensibilities. Don’t bait people into calling you for something you can’t deliver–the ol’ bait & switch–and don’t make outrageous claims you can’t deliver. Getting me on the phone without some qualification of what I need vs. what you sell is wasting time for both of us, and will likely slam the door that I’ll ever tune into you again.
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Six: Cultivate an email list over time and avoid the temptation to add large numbers of worthless contacts. When the list count starts getting too high, it usually includes people who are not really candidates for business or even those who can help you find business. Don’t add names for the sake of having more names, but rather add good contacts that are appropriate for the potential mutual benefit.
Oh, and clean it up regularly–delete all of those folks for whom you have a bad address, changed companies, appeared in the obituaries or were just hired by a competitor. If I ask you to delete my name, the law says your polite compliance should be in a timely manner.
The best emails create engagement between sender and receiver in the form of a two-way conversation. Work on establishing some level of a relationship with the reader before asking them to the prom. Try these proactive suggestions:
- Give them something of value, like a suggestion, advice, fun fact, or your analysis of a news story; anything that serves as a good reason to open your email.
- Establish trust–build yourself up in their eyes as a competent source of information or a resource that can be beneficial to know, now or later.
- Try to get a two-way conversation going and then slowly start introducing to them what you do, and the kinds of business you are looking to manage.
- Be consistent, sending mail on a regular basis, not too often and not to sporadic.
These four steps cannot happen in a single email, but you’ll be rewarded for your patience with either some qualified, engaged prospects or even a referral source of two. If you’re emails are really good, some recipients will share them and your list will grow organically to others.
Like all marketing, there is no one magical source–use email as one tool from an assortment of tools engaged to search for new business. The average open rate from the best practitioners only get opened about 15% of the time. It will be higher if you actually know the target contact–and give them a good reason to open.
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