The Email Program

I’ve always thought that most business emails aren’t very effective. Which means that I don’t open most of them. And I suspect that that’s the same for you.

Why? Why don’t we open most business emails? Because they’re business emails. They’re selling us stuff. And most of the time, we don’t want to be sold. We like to buy. But we don’t like to be sold. We don’t like to be treated as ‘consumers.’

After all, we’re men and women. Human beings. We like it when people just talk to us. But most business emails don’t talk to us. They’re trying to sell us. And sell us. And sell us. And it gets old. And so we don’t read most business emails. We opt out of them. We delete them.

But there are emails that we do read.

We read emails from friends.

Friends just talk to us, about things we’re interested in. Or about what’s going on in their lives. And we read that if it’s written in an interesting way.

How do friends send emails to us? Not with templates and signature blocks and links and images. Instead, they just write to us. Sometimes their notes are a few sentences. Sometimes a few paragraphs.

And most of those emails, from most friends, are all text, aren’t they? Just words. But not ‘just’ words. Words are everything.

And we read emails that sound interesting, based on the subject heading. And if what’s inside, delivers on what the subject heading suggests, we open it. If it’s interesting inside, we read that, too.

We read emails from people we know – so long as those emails are interesting. So long as it’s not the joke of the day, unless we’re into that sort of thing. And most of us aren’t.

Emails set up expectations. And with the right kind of notes, the right subject headings, with things that are interesting to these men and women, you can set up an expectation that, when you write to them, it’s worth opening.

And then you come through on that promise, basically, email after email.

I’ve written about 80 different emails that you can send to customers. Some are short. Some are longer. Each one has a subject heading that I encourage you to use.

The beauty of email is that it’s free.

The danger of email is that it’s free.

Being free, all kinds of businesses use it for all kinds of things – almost entirely to tell you about their next sale. Now, I’m not saying never to do that. But if that’s all you do – send stuff about you, your store, your sale, your event – well, it gets old.

But it’s free to use email. Well, if you use Constant Contact – a good thing; I use it – you pay a few bucks a month. But that’s nothing. That doesn’t count as a cost. Relative to regular media, it’s free.

So you can send as often as you like, as little as you like. It doesn’t cost you, really.

Most small businesses don’t use email on any kind of regular basis. Why? I think it’s because they don’t know what to say. They don’t want to send the kinds of emails that nobody opens.

Another reason is that they don’t collect emails from customers. They don’t ask customers if it’s okay to send emails to them. If you’re not asking, you should. If you don’t have a collection of customer email addresses, it’s a very good thing to have. You can’t use email if you don’t have the email addresses.

With the emails, I suggest you send one out every week to every two weeks. And just keep sending.

You’ll have people opt out. No matter what you send, you’ll have people opt out. Try not to take it personally, as it’s usually not that.

And you’ll have people respond to some of the emails. I mean respond, telling you that they really like what you said.

Here’s the thing. You can use email just for sales and products and events. And again, using it for those things IS important. By all means, do use it for that. But don’t use it only in that way.

Use email to talk to these men and women like friends – aren’t many of them friends? Don’t you want more of them to become friends? To feel like they’re actually friends with you? Well, the way you get people to feel more like a friend, is to talk to them ... like they’re a friend. Which means let go of the notion that you always have to ‘sell.’ That everything has to be ‘measurable.’

Instead, take hold of the idea that every contact you have ... is selling. You’re selling YOU. As someone they like, trust, and want to do business with.

When you go to Rotary, or some civic event, do you sell product to everyone you talk with? No. You likely NEVER do. Instead ... you build relationships. You build friendships. By talking about them. Sharing about you. There’s this give and take. And over time, you come to know each other better. Like each more – or not, of course. But the idea is to build relationships by selling YOU, not product. If you sell you, then the product sales often follow. And you know that if you only focused on product in those situations, you would likely sell little to nothing – ever.

So consider this program in conjunction with other things you may be sending. This isn’t meant to be the only way you use email. But it can be an important way.

About collecting those email addresses – again, if you haven’t been doing it, go after it. Offer a $100 gift certificate in a monthly drawing. Have people fill out a form that asks for their email address.

And think about how you want to present this to customers. I mean, it’s not that big of a deal. You can offer reasons like fun and different emails ... notices of sales for customers only ... a birthday and anniversary gift that they’ll receive in email (of course you have to deliver on this) ... a way for you to follow up on sales and repairs ... and other ideas that come to mind.

Kurt Hill owns Cottage Hill Diamonds in Elmhurst IL. He has over 4,000 customer email addresses. He’s been collecting them for several years. It doesn’t happen overnight to get that many.

But it doesn’t matter how many email addresses you have. If you have 50, begin there. Begin to keep in touch with these people. If you have 100? 200? Great. Begin. And keep going.

Along with the collection of 80 or so emails that I have – enough to keep you going for quite awhile – I’ll write more. And as with other programs that I have, your agreement is that you use these only while you’re with the Email Program.

Cost? $495 a year. A small investment to use this free medium to have contact and conversation with some of the most important people you know: those men and women who have been in your store, and who have entrusted you with their email address.

If this sounds interesting, call me. Let’s talk more.