Although Twitter and Facebook seem like they’re taking over the world, good old emails still have a vital place in your communications.
The length of email gives it more weight than a quick Tweet or status update. Many people still do business by email because of that.
Email can and should be a little formal, depending on your relationship with your members. It’s the equivalent of a business letter today. Don’t be too breezy in your greetings or sign off. Also, proofread important emails before sending. Write it, then wait a few minutes to get it right the first time. A few minutes of review can save a whole of lot of time down the road if you make a mistake.
Also, create a signature for your emails, even for those sent from your phone. It gives you more of a professional feel. A few years ago, “Sent from my iPhone” was cool. Now it’s commonplace. It’s a lost opportunity to promote yourself and your association.
Here are a few tips to make your emails more powerful.
1. Be concise and write plainly. Resist the urge to write things like “I’d like to take this opportunity to take the time tell you about ….”
Instead, type something like “We have a new service that could save money for your company.” Real value will get their attention more than rhetorical flourishes.
Long emails don’t get read thoroughly. The more to the point an email is, the more your readers will read.
2. Use effective subject lines to grab readers’ attention. Read this post for 11 Email Subject Lines Your Association Can Use To Get Better Open Rates.
Here are three sample subject lines:
- Why You're Paying Too Much for Employee Benefits
- 7 Ways You’ll Be Smarter After Attending the Big Event
- Legislative Alert: The Latest Threat from Capitol
3. Deliver value to your members – Go beyond “informing” or “engagement.” Strive to deliver real value in your communication. That means communicating with a purpose and a perspective.
Your readers are quickly turned off by self-congratulatory news. For an association, communication is almost always about and for your members.
Valuable communication is news they can use – tips, lists, instructions, advice, a call to action.
If you include links – and you should in many cases – tell readers what the link leads to. Otherwise people will be wary of following the link.
Delivering value to a select group of recipients also helps you keep away from seeming like a spammer. Shotgun style wide spread emails may be caught up in spam filters. The recipient will delete a pointless email quickly.
Even if you’re communicating with a large group, write your email as if you’re talking directly to a person. That will help keep you on target and create a warm tone.
4. Break up your text – Instead of writing 3 paragraphs that are 4 sentences each, try to write 5 paragraphs that are 1-2 sentences each.
This goes along with point #1, but it's more about giving your readers a break.
If they can clearly see breaks in the email, they'll know they can quickly read though it and will be more likely to do so. If all they can see is long, run-on paragraphs, they are likely to click the delete button without reading it.
5. Use a call to action – Tell your readers what you want them to do. After all, your email has a purpose, right? Tell them to click here now, sign up, contact their legislator, ask for more information, reply by a certain date or whatever you need them to do. Encourage action as part of the value you deliver.
Take your emails seriously and your readers will too. In this age of 140 character messages and short attention spans, that’s a real accomplishment.