Man yawning at a boring email

According to unofficial studies, an email that makes a prospect yawn is more than twice as likely to get marked as spam — if the reader doesn’t doze off first.

Q: I read that email marketing has the potential to bring my small business big prospects, so I fired up my computer and started sending missives to my list of prospects. I was certain those conversions were just a mouse click away. Yet a week later, the response has been so underwhelming that I’ve started reading spam just to comfort myself. What am I doing wrong?

Matilda R. Marketer


A: Dear Matilda –

After reading the email you sent out, we can definitely point you in the right direction. First, though, we need to ingest copious amounts of caffeine, because that missive sent us straight to snooze-land!

For starters, 2,500 words is far too long. Business owners are busy people, and don’t have time for the electronic equivalent of War and Peace.

Secondly, anything that sounds like it was written by a graduate of “Bob’s Discount School of Boring Business Practices” is not going to earn you a single reply, much less a conversion. It’s going to be sent straight to the trash, and you’ll be lucky if you don’t get an “unsubscribe” request to boot.

Here are four steps to a better marketing email:

  1. Get to the point in the first few lines, and keep it short and sweet.
  2. Inject some personality into your communications. We’re not saying you should be inappropriate or flip, but neither should your prose sound as if it’s coming from an academic writer explaining the finer points of algebra.
  3. Don’t just try to sell a product or service. An email should offer something of value – readers want to know what’s in it for them, not what’s in it for you. Offer a bit of advice, a great deal, a free download or a product sample.
  4. Include a good call to action – this will entice the reader to at least visit your site, if not purchase something from you.
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