by Tracy Jensen | Featured Contributor
Because most of us work at least partially in the online space, if not entirely, our emails are often the initial point of contact with a potential customer, and leave that critical first impression. It is how we conduct the majority of our communications, where we pitch new projects, and accordingly, where clients decide our value – both in services and how much we deserve to be paid.
Because of that, here are 5 non-negotiables for even the leanest businesses.
1. Have a professional email address.
Stop using free personal email platforms for work. Just as Steph Calvert commented about why investing in your website design matters, consider your competition. When others in your field are presenting a professional virtual storefront through their messaging, what impression does your email@example.com email address provide in comparison?
The financial investment is only a few dollars each month, which is much more affordable than losing business to someone who appears more on their game. Even better, you can still use your personal platforms to check these messages. I have five different email addresses from various platforms that all forward directly into my Gmail, and are tagged by account automatically.
2. Sign with style – and include a call to action.
Any time you send an email, you have the opportunity to drive action for your business. This can be anything:
- Collect newsletter signups
- Close new business through a promotional offer
- Spotlight a social media platform
There are a number of websites you can use to build visually appealing templates that will render correctly across email providers. My personal preference is WiseStamp. The templates and optional fields offer plenty of versatility, and I can create multiple signatures – so I have a different one for each of those five email addresses I mentioned.
Here are a couple of ways that I use my signature. For my personal account, I have a note that asks people to keep me in mind if someone needs marketing services.
In my business email signature, I include both an opportunity to sign up for my newsletter and a free product trial.
3. Consider your customers’ questions first.
When you send marketing messages and newsletters to current and potential clients, consider why it matters to them. You may have a new product or service for which you are trying to gain visibility, but sending out information and a promotional offer is not enough. Always frame your messages from the viewpoint of your clients: Why do – or should – they care? What problem are you solving for them?
4. Keep it simple.
Constant Contact analyzed over 2 million customer emails and found that messages with 3 or fewer images and approximately 20 lines of text were most successful. Still sending out a lengthy eNewsletter? If your open and click-thru rates are faltering, it might be time to test more succinct, segmented messages.
5. Consider your platform.
If you’re sending marketing emails and/or newsletters to your customers on a consistent basis, you should absolutely be using a platform that can provide branded templates, include unsubscribe features (which are legally required) and include metrics to track how successful your efforts are.
There is a broad range of email platforms available for businesses of every size and budget. Not sure where to start looking? Two of the most common for small businesses are Constant Contact and MailChimp, depending on the services and integrations that you need.
Tracy Jensen is Founder and CEO of Frizz Marketing, a Chicago-based marketing firm. Tracy has over 15 years of experience in communications, branding and community outreach. Through Frizz, her focus is helping small businesses and nonprofits extract their central identity and voice, cultivating compelling and authentic content. Her specialties are strategy, email marketing and content creation.
Equally content in front of a group as she is typing from her home office, Tracy has spoken on a variety of topics from social media to fundraising tactics. As a writer, she has contributed to a range of platforms, including BlogHer, EverydayFamily, Mamalode, Scary Mommy, and BonBon Break.
A single mother to two, Tracy believes the only limitations to success are the voices within our own heads. When in doubt, fresh air, a good cup of coffee and a book can cure just about anything.