Love it or hate it, but writing emails is an inevitable part of being a freelancer or running a translation agency. And the more email replies you get, the higher your changes to get an interesting job or a well-paying customer. In this guest post, David Miralles Pérez of Circa Lingua shares the ways to make your emails more compelling and engaging.

Adapted from Circa Lingua blog

1. Make your objective clear

Every email has an objective. Otherwise, we won’t bother writing emails. If we write an email to say happy birthday to a friend, we want this friend to feel that we care about him/her in a special occasion. If we’re contacting a potential client about a new offer that we’re launching, it’s probably because we want to make him buy it. But you should always write bearing this objective in mind: why am I writing this email? Let’s have a look at this example:

email1-893x1024.png What do you want from me? Do you want me to hire you, or do you want to inform me about the Google algorithm? Why would I even care about knowing this changes? I’m not a professional digital marketer. Why would you want to answer all my doubts if I’m not going to hire you? The objective isn’t clear. This can happen mainly for two reasons:

  1. The first one is that your email covers too many objectives, and the reader gets lost. It’s the case that we can see in the example above: this guy wanted to help me with the changes in Google algorithm, give information about it, increase my traffic, increase my sales, phone me to analyze my competitors… (I wonder if he would have been willing to cook dinner for me as well!)
  2. You don’t bear in mind the objective of your email and you don’t make it explicit in your email. This happens especially when we want to be subtle about an issue or write about bad news.

Solution: If you want your reader to clearly see this objective and stop wasting your time writing three or four emails until this objective is finally clear, focus your writing on this objective. You can use bold text to highlight the most important part of your email, and ask your read to do a single action. If you want to include more than one objective, you can use bullet points and lists. This way your reader won’t get lost among all the information.

2. Sympathize with your clients

Wearing your readers’ shoes is basic. We need to understand them if we want to hear for them and make them interested in what we’re saying. If you want to connect with your readers, show them that you understand them. This happened to me a couple of weeks ago. There was a mistake in the amount of money that a hotel charged me, and I sent them an email. This was their reply: email2.png Firstly, I didn’t ask about the currency I was charged in, but the amount of money in the invoice. Secondly, they didn’t even say “sorry”, or “we’ll do something about it asap”. (I won’t even mention the grammatical mistakes.) I was worried and they didn’t show me that they understood my concerns. Obviously, I wasn’t happy. They lost a client. Solution: Write bearing in mind you readers’ emotions. If they are worried, show them that you care. If they’re happy about something, say congratulations. If they’re sad, make everything that is in your hands to help them. A sad client is the worst type of marketing for your business.

3. Focus on the reader, not yourself

This is probably the funniest of these communication problems. Let’s have a look at the example: email3.png I have counted 9 we/our/me/I and only 2 you/your. Big mistake. Why in this world would I want a video to explain my services? They didn’t mention the impact that this video would have on my sales, visibility, etc. They just focused on themselves. This may sound a bit harsh but it’s the truth: No one cares about your business. They care about what your business can do for them. So stop talking about yourself, and start talking about how you and your business are going to change their lives.

4. Add a call-to-action

And here we can use the same example than number 1 above. Every time you write an email, you want your reader to do something. If you really want your readers to take an action, then say it. If you want your clients to buy, then say it and add an explicit call-to-action. I’ve seen so many failed marketing campaigns because of a lack of a call-to-action… People are normally scared of tell others what to do. They think they can sound bossy. But what they don’t understand is that all their readers may not know what to do next, what makes them lose people taking a specific action. Don’t be scared of telling your readers what to do. At the end of the day, this call-to-action is providing value to your audience.

5. Speak your potential clients’ language

Another very important aspect to connect with your audience is to speak their language. Remember: If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. I’d never speak English to my Spanish clients, even if they understand me. Not because I prefer speaking Spanish, but because we can connect better in Spanish. Adjusting the way you do business to your audience can have a great impact on your business. You’ll make your clients more comfortable when they speak to you, and the conversation will have a different flow.

6. Add value in your emails

You can’t expect people replying your emails if you’re the only one who is going to benefit from that email reply. Let’s have a look at this example: email4.png Ok, so the objective here is pretty clear. They want me to hire them every time I have to do a translation in any Indian language (which I never do). But what’s the benefit here for me? What would I gain for that? Maybe there are benefits, such a future collaborations, but they didn’t mention that in the email. Why would I bother and reply to this email then? Solution: If you know that you’re going to gain something with an email that you’re writing, you should offer something in exchange to make your reader interested. If you want to be hired, highlight what you can do for your reader, how they’re going to benefit from a collaboration or simple answer this question: why should my reader reply to this email?

From Vova: I thought I'd add one more from myself, and it has absolutely nothing to do with numbers.

7. Keep it short

This one should be pretty simple, but I can't count the times I've read (or, rather, half-read) emails that went on and on. Michelangelo once said on creating his sculptures, "I take a stone and cut off all unnecessary." It's an excellent advice to follow when writing emails. Leave out everything that serves no practical purpose or that dilutes the focus of your message. Note: Make sure not to cut off something that is necessary and that does serve a practical purpose. For example, words like "I really enjoyed your article" do serve a purpose because they create a bond between yourself and the reader. But phrases like "I have thought a lot about this topic and came to the conclusion that [lengthy explanation before ]" do not. That is, unless your objective (see above) is really to start a lengthy discussion and not, say, offer your services.