How To Write an Effective Email Message

Last Updated Oct 19, 2010 12:17 PM EDT

Last week, I shared my own advice about email subject lines, which resulted in this morning's post about email subject lines from sales guru Keith Rosen. Keith also has some great advice for email marketing in general.
Five Pointers to Increase the Success of Email Campaigns
1. Don't Send Attachments in Your First Email: One cardinal email sin when emailing to new prospects is to send out your first unsolicited email with an attachment. Whether you are sending out collateral materials or other attached information, never, ever do this. It has spam written all over it and in many cases, it will be blocked by a firewall or wind up in the recipient's spam box. For those of you who are compelled to want to disseminate so much information, this may challenge your current way of doing things. However, that's the point. The less information you provide, the more they will need to contact you to get the additional information. And that is the objective; for them to contact you.

You'll have time to send them your precious collateral materials, after you've made first contact and most important, have determined what materials they are interested in seeing and what information is a priority for them (not you) which would then move your sales process forward.

2. Hyperlinks: I know how difficult it can be to avoid placing links in emails. However, the more links you include, the greater the odds that your email will not make its way into the prospect's inbox due to the virtual gatekeepers of email: firewalls and spam filters. If you're going to include a link, try to limit it to one at the most. Multiple links in your email are what your spam filters are trained to sniff out and more links will increase the chance that your email will be flagged as spam.

3. Email Etiquette - Bulk Emailing and Blind Copy. If you're sending out emails in bulk from your CRM to multiple prospects at once, this can also cause a problem. Bulk email has been known to be more readily labeled as spam or junk mail rather than sending out individual emails to each recipient. However, if you're still compelled to do so because of the number of emails you need to send out, please, blind copy (BCC). If you are using a list management company that enables you to create newsletters or emails and sends out the email campaigns for you, or a program where only the recipients' email shows up in the "To" line and not the entire database you're emailing to, this isn't as much of an issue, as the blind copy is often automatic.

But keep in mind, you have other issues to contend with, such as whether or not the solution provider you're using to send out your emails is actually blacklisted and the company or prospect you're sending the email to does not accept emails from that provider/IP address. Yes, something else that prevents your emails from getting through. You can check to see if the solution provider or list management company is, in fact, blacklisted via some online resources, such as http://www.spamcop.net (a Cisco service).

In certain CRM solutions such as Outlook, where have to manually put the recipients in your "To" line yourself when sending an email, consider another roadblock that your email may encounter. While you still may experience the issues I mentioned when bulk emailing through a list management company, you need to consciously use the blind copy field in your email application so that all the recipients don't see who your email is going to. This is a matter of sound email etiquette and common courtesy which I find even to this day, is not very common when it comes to emailing multiple recipients, especially prospects who don't know you and who you don't even know.

Now, if you know the person who you are sending the email to, unless you've established the expectations, boundaries and parameters where it's acceptable and important that everyone sees who is on that email string, that is a different situation altogether. For example, internal company communications, communicating back and forth with clients and those who need to be involved in the conversation, even communicating with friends and family, general email copying that exposes all of the recipients to each other is fine.

However, when it comes to a cold email campaign or an email where it's a general announcement that you are sending to a group of people who you may even know but they may not know all the recipients included, no one is contacting you and saying, "Hey! Thanks for sharing my email with the world and to a group of people I may not even know! I really hope it helps generate more spam for me!" Okay, this is just one of my biggest pet peeves.

4. Words Spam Filters Love: Be mindful of certain words that will easily be flagged as spam. You can have the greatest email message ever crafted but it won't even reach the eyes of your prospect if it winds up in their spam folder. Unfortunately, when this happens, in many cases, salespeople feel their email didn't work, when in fact, it was never opened up in the first place. To counteract this, there are several technology solutions to this that could help, which confirms receipt of your emails, starting with the most basic solution in Outlook, which is requesting a delivery/read receipt.

In an effort to try and reduce the number of self imposed limitations that can restrict our most valiant of email attempts, watch out for the following words that can easily be tagged as spam and as such, send your email into the endless void of cyberspace. Here are some words to avoid:
  • Marketing
  • Market
  • Free
  • Bonus
  • Plan
  • Click
  • Click here
  • Advertising
  • Ads
  • Sales
  • Selling
  • Shop
  • Shopping
  • Package
  • Save
  • Save money
  • Savings
  • Insurance
  • Discount
5. Take Your Email For A Test Drive: Here's a final tip from your coach. If you're not sure whether your email will safely arrive in your prospect's inbox, then send a few test emails to either yourself, someone you know or to another computer. As long as you have your virus software and security updated and running on your computer, if it clears this test, you've at least increased the chance of your emails getting through to your prospects.

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