The problem

E-mails are a widely used tool to contact new clients. Especially today, forced to stay in our offices. Many clients ask me: how do you write an effective e-mail? What should it contain? What should the tone be? Should I attach a file?

It is impossible to write an e-mail that is suitable for everyone. Much depends on the product/service you want to present as well as on the recipient. However, there are some rules that I have learned with experience.

Five Rules for an effective e-mail

  1. Subject. Let us think about how many e-mails we receive every day and how many we delete without opening them. If I have managed to create curiosity with an interesting subject line, I will have overcome the first obstacle. To create an interesting subject, let us put ourselves in our clients’ shoes. To this end, we use the “buyer persona” technique to focus on his profile.
  2. Keep it short! If our recipient has opened the e-mail, let us not abuse of his time since he does not know us. In a few short lines we must touch on just the important points; the ones that distinguish us. The purpose of the first e-mail is not to tell them everything about the product or the company. Our aim is to get “a light bulb to go off” in the receiver’s head and get a first reaction.
  3. No cliches. We run the risk of sounding too formal but also too friendly. Again, it’s important to know the recipient. Let us start with a standard e-mail that we’ve prepared – and then customize it.
  4. No attachments. In addition to the risk of ending up in their spam folder, we also overload our first attempted contact with too much content and risk annoying them. Rather, insert a link to a catalogue/brochure or to a short presentation video. If anyone is interested, they’ll go and see it. Once we have obtained an answer – it’s a bit like as if they have opened the door – then we can send some material, based on what will be asked of us.
  5. Call to action. If the purpose is to get a reply then we add a sentence or question that invites them to answer. Better to close with a question like “Would you like to receive our mini guide on how to …” rather than “we are at your disposal for anything you may need”

One last piece of advice

We can’t be discouraged if we don’t receive a reply to our e-mails! There can be many reasons behind a non-reply. They do not necessarily show a lack of interest or that we have written an ineffective e-mail. Our recipient that day may have been on vacation, busy with an unforeseen situation, or simply opened the e-mail but then received a phone call. We just try again with another e-mail in a couple of weeks or we can try contacting them with a telephone call.

I have already written on these issues in my post Exhibitions and Hyper-communication

Or read my book Exporting in 7 Steps