For Ghost Blog Writers, nearly all of the sales process is done via email.
Our goal with the GBW website is to have it act as the salesperson. We want the website to answer common questions and get a potential customer to the point where they are ready to get started with our blogging services when they reach the contact page.
This concept does cut down on the number of inquiries we get. Some potential customers read the content on the website and realize that maybe they aren’t ready for what we offer or maybe they realize that GBW can’t provide what they need.
These people end up leaving the site, but it saves time in the long run for me and the GBW team.
But I know that once a new inquiry comes in that it’s very likely going to be our ideal customer.
But that also adds another type of pressure – the pressure to make sure that we make a good first impression.
First Impression Email
A potential client sends in their inquiry. They usually have a few questions about the service. If we see patterns and consistent questions in inquiries we try to answer them on the site to cut down on questions with inquiry emails, but usually there are still one or two questions.
The inquiry will then also ask how to get started with the process. That’s good and from there it’s our job at GBW to make a good first impression with the email.
Here are a few key points I feel are necessary to make a good first impression with emails like this. And really I think they’re good rules to follow for anyone looking to make a good first impression with an email. It might be for potential clients. It might be with new employees or potential business partners.
Whatever the email is that you’re sending, consider these rules before you hit the send button.
1. Answer Within 1 Business Day
I’m pretty good about answering all inquiries and really all emails within 1 business day. I actually used to be even more on the ball with things trying to answer every email with the same day so about 12 hours, but that got out of hand. It also set a bad precedent making people think that I was always available.
Now I try to answer emails with a business day, which doesn’t include the weekends. Over the years I’ve found the value in making sure that work and life and separate. It allows me to unwind and come back to work with a fresher mind. And it also seems to promote higher quality time with family and friends.
If someone emails me on Wednesday at noon I try to answer by noon the following day. If someone emails on Friday afternoon, I respond usually on Monday morning or by Monday afternoon at the latest.
I’m sure some would like more prompt emails, but I would say I usually hear “Thanks for the quick response…” more than any other comment.
2. Address The Person By Name
It’s good to use templates or “canned” responses for emails that are often the same. It can save you time. And over time you can learn how to improve these responses.
But it’s still important to take a few moments to customize each message. This means addressing each person by name. And if they have mentioned something about themselves or their business I try to mention something specific in the email.
For example, if they say they’re an SaaS company, I’ll refer to that in the response. This makes people feel like you’re being more sincere about their unique inquiry, which is the truth.
3. Use Short Paragraphs
Nobody likes getting emails that are one long paragraph.
You know what I’m talking about.
In blogging, we try to avoid long paragraphs in our blog posts and I try to do the same with email.
It’s intimidating to open an email and see a huge block of text. My first thought, when I see one, is that it’s going to be a pain to read. You don’t want someone to sigh when they first open your email.
Use short paragraphs – even one sentence paragraphs especially early on in the email. This will ease the person into the message.
It’s also better for comprehension. It’s a challenge to consume all the content in a long block of text. Shorter blocks are easier to read and that means people will be better able to understand and respond.
4. Use Headings As Emails Get Longer
Taking things one step further are headings. you don’t see these in emails all that often, but I try to use them when my emails get to be more than 2-3 paragraphs and when I’m talking about more than 2-3 topics in a message.
The post you’re reading now uses headings to break up the content. It makes it easy to scan before and after reading. Use the same layout with your emails and you’ll have happier recipients and you’ll get better responses.
5. Limit Questions To 1-3 Per Email
I’ve found that asking more than 1-3 questions per email makes the email too long and usually the recipient will only respond to 1-3 questions. Some will respond to them all, but when I’ve asked more questions, even in a nice looking list, that people just don’t have the time to respond to them all.
If you do have a long list of questions, identify the most important ones based on where you are in the timeline of the conversation. Stick to those and leave the rest for another email. You’re more likely to get a response and you won’t have a really long email that would turn the recipient off to your correspondence.
6. Limit Calls To Action To 1 Or Maybe 2 Per Email
On a similar note, limit your calls to action. I’ve struggled with this one, but have been better recently.
Instead of asking customers to do a handful of things, I’ll ask them to do just one thing and sometimes two things. This seems to make it more likely that the person will do something.
For example, I’ll ask the customer to tell me about their target customer. Where in the past I might have asked them that question along with other questions.
It works the same if you ask someone to do multiple things. They’ll get overwhelmed and they won’t do any of them.
Stick to the most important next step.
7. Include A Next Step
Finally, just stick with the single next step.
Once I’ve asked the questions I need and have the info I need I always let the customer know what the next step is. People seem to always want to know what’s next. And they want to know what party is responsible for the next step.
So I’ll say that we’re working on the first blog post and I’ll provide a date that we will deliver. The ball is in our court and the customer knows this.
Doing all these things seem to work well for giving a good first impression with email. Most of our communication at GBW is via email and we’ve gotten pretty good at it over the years. We’re always tweaking our messages and looking for ways to be more efficient and effective. These are the suggestions we have so far.