How to Use Email to Boost Sales

Lee Polevoi by Lee Polevoi on August 27, 2012
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When it comes to sales tools, email can be a highly effective way to build and maintain personal connections with your prospects. The best sales messages avoid the hard sell — and instead deliver content designed to benefit potential customers.

Here are a few tips for using an email marketing campaign to boost sales:

Provide value. Before reaching out, make sure you understand your potential customers’ needs. What information will make their lives and/or jobs easier? What industry news do they value? This approach — looking at the world through their eyes — will lead them to appreciate the messages (free content) you send. This is how trust develops and establishes you as an authority on a topic that matters to them. Resist any impulse to automatically direct them to a sales landing page. Instead, share a link to your latest — relevant — blog post, where they can find sought-after information and learn more about your brand and product or service offerings. Other types of valuable content include links to helpful articles, white papers, and social network pages, even if it isn’t your own material. Content needn’t be restricted to text, either: A brief video (or link to a video) offers a change-of-pace for your prospects, particularly those who are more receptive to visual material.

Get personal. People still buy from people, so when sending email it’s often useful to include an insight gleaned from your personal life. Or share your thoughts on how current events in the news may affect your customers’ lives or businesses. The more your audience feels rewarded by reading your emails, the greater the odds are that they’ll continue to read them — and want to know more about your product or service.

Include a clear call to action. Beyond providing valuable content in your emails, make sure that any next steps are clearly described and easy to follow. Whether it’s a limited-time offer or some other call to action that moves them toward a purchase, be specific about what you want people to do.

Be responsive. When a customer responds to an email, you should leap into action. People expect a prompt response, so if your reply is delayed, for whatever reason, you may damage the trust you’ve worked so hard to build. You want people to know you’re available to address their needs and answer their questions as they arise.

In addition, here are a few do’s and don’ts to bolster your email marketing efforts:

Don’t

  • Send an email just to “check in.” No one has time to read or respond to this type of message.
  • Pepper your messages with condensed “Twitter text” or hard-sell exclamation points.
  • Go on at length about your company’s history or “commitment to quality.”

Do

  • Get to the point (and always have a point).
  • Through surveys or questions within your email message, make it easy for prospects to specify areas of interest, so you’re not sending them irrelevant material.
  • Maintain a seamless transition from an email call-to-action link to filling out a form on your web page.
  • Use your signature file to support your objectives.

If your emails pester or confuse people, they probably won’t buy anything. But if you make it easy for potential customers to learn about your offer — and how it will benefit them — you’re likely to boost sales.

Lee Polevoi

Lee Polevoi is an award-winning business writer specializing in the challenges and opportunities facing small business. He is former Senior Writer at Vistage International, a global membership organization of CEOs.

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