How many email messages do you send during the course of your day? How many email messages do you get during the day? Do you ever find yourself getting angry when you read them without knowing why? Do you ever give much thought to what you write and how the receiver will interpret it?

Most of us use email many times during the course of our day. Email has transformed how we communicate for business. Most people use email because it’s easier than picking up the phone and talking, but we don’t really give much thought to those little messages we send. More often than not, it’s harder to write a complicated email than it is to pick up the phone and call.

Email is quite often the worst way to send a message. How many of you find yourself sending an email when a phone call would be a much better way to communicate? Several problems exist with email. Most importantly, you miss ninety percent of your communication cues with email. Researchers have shown that ninety percent of communication is nonverbal. That means that you miss tone, inflection, facial expressions, and body language.

When you can see the person’s face, hear his voice, or see how they are standing or sitting you know right away if he or she is joking, serious, or neutral, but in an email, you don’t have a clue. Short emails are often worse than long ones in terms of getting your point across. I sometimes get emails from people with a very short sentence and I find it difficult to tell of they are angry or joking, particularly in the case where you send somebody an email with multiple questions and they respond with a yes or no answer. Short and curt answers often leave the reader wondering if you answered one or both questions.

People developed emoticons to show whether you are happy or unhappy. I’m sure you’ve seen these little smiley faces or sad faces that people add to their emails. Business etiquette tells us that it’s not appropriate to use these emoticons in business communication but sometimes it sure helps us understand what the writer meant. Become more aware of how what you write can impact your reader; don’t write using CAPITAL LETTERS as that is shouting and it’s considered bad form.

When you decide to use email for selling purposes, you can see how important it is communicate clearly. Six things to consider when using email for selling purposes:
•    Have an attention-getting headline that asks a question
•    Keep your email short – be respectful of your reader’s time
•    Stay on target
•    Use testimonials
•    Have a call to action
•    Test your email.

Marketing research shows us that asking a question in the subject line of your email will get more people to open your email. The question prods people to want to answer it. We are programmed to answer questions whether it comes from a schoolteacher, a police officer, or a customer, and it’s a natural way to start a conversation. Ask a question in the subject line when you send an email; you’ll get more opens that way.

People are very busy so grab their attention right from the beginning with an interesting offer or important information. People will not read a long email so try to keep it to three short paragraphs. If it has to be longer than that, give them a link to a webpage where they can go for more information.

Stay focused and do not wander from your intended message. Don’t include double messages in the same email as this can confuse readers. Provide the who, what, where, when, and why to help your reader decide what to do.

If you are marketing a product or a service, provide testimonials from customers who have used your service or product and are happy with what you did for them. People like to read what others say about you and how the job turned out. Essentially these are your references.

Make sure you provide a call-to-action. A call-to-action, is simply telling your reader what you want them to do next. If you have outlined your argument well, the reader will be willing to take the next step. A call-to-action can be as simple as, “Pick up the phone and give us a call. Do it today!” You can use any number of calls to action or combinations of several of them. Another way to think of this is a trial close.

Finally test everything you do. If you have 500 people in your email database, send half of them one message and the other half use different headline and see, which one gets the most opens. In addition, you can also test the body copy of the email by sending different versions to part of your list and then keep track of the opens, click throughs, or phone calls that you get.

Using an email program such as iContact or Constant Contact makes it very easy to track opens and click throughs because they provide a report with every email that you send. It’s better to use a mailing program such as one of the ones mentioned above because in the event that somebody tags one of your messages as spam, it prevents your Internet Service Provider (ISP) from blocking your business email as spam. Email selling is a great inexpensive way to market your business, and sell your products, and services.

My website contains links to all the marketing articles I’ve written for the HVAC-Talk Newsletter. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of my new book, Navigating the Marketing Maze, click here. If you need a branding consultation, a complete strategic marketing plan, or help with marketing services, call or send an email to discuss your needs.

Andy Fracica is president and CEO of Fracica Enterprises, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in marketing, and social media strategy. He has over 30 years of sales, marketing, and product management experience in the heating ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) industry. He concentrates on helping companies deliver their message in an ever increasingly crowded market by helping HVAC dealers more effectively market their businesses without breaking their budgets. Contact him at 260-338-4554, or visit the Fracica Enterprises, Inc. website.