The Grammar Gram is back. Time after time, I find myself making the same edits to emails across the board – old habits die hard. We all know by now that brevity is key, so if you won’t take my word for the below, perhaps you’ll take Inc. Magazine’s tips?
They say marketers can increase the likelihood of getting a response to emails by avoiding the following trite and ineffective phrases. I agree and disagree with some of the below, so here goes:
- “I hope you are well…”
The idea behind this phrase is to express positive concern for the customers so that they will think kindly on whatever you’re about to propose. However, unless you’re actually friends with somebody, inquiring about his or her health rings false.
Hannah’s take: I start most every single one of my personal emails with this line. I would never use it in a marketing email, however, because it’s a waste of precious, precious time and space.
- “I am writing to you because…”
These are just wasted words. Customers already know that you’re writing to them with some purpose in mind. Rather than pointing out that you’re writing for a reason, jump immediately to the reason.
Hannah’s take: Agreed. This goes along with my most-hated remarketing email the begins like this – “I wanted to check in with you and see if anything has changed since my last outreach…” If I were the recipient, I’d already be moving my mouse to the delete button. How about instead replace it with, “Have you given a second glance to the materials I sent over a couple of days ago?” “We were wondering if what’s holding you back could be reversed with …” or “Given your expertise, we believe your attendance at the event would be invaluable to …”
- “In today’s business world…”
Sentences that begin this way always end in a platitude, like “managers must be cost-conscious.” Telling customers something that’s painfully obvious doesn’t make you seem like an expert. It makes you seem like you think the customer is stupid.
Hannah’s take: I can’t summarize better than the above, but the good news is I rarely see this! Side note: Editorializing (where you’re gratuitously offering an opinion on a matter for which you’re not an obvious expert) is different than leading in with a quote or statistic.
- “[Our product] reduces costs and increases revenue.”
Every product that’s sold business-to-business makes these exact same promises. Unless you can put numbers on them, talking about cost savings and revenue growth is just so much empty noise.
Hannah’s take: PREACH. Again, I don’t see this very much, if at all, but could you imagine….
- “[Our product] enables/empowers users to…”
Either your product does “X” or customers do “X” with your product. The concept of “enabling” or “empowering” customers to do “X” adds extra verbiage and an unnecessary level of abstraction.
Hannah’s take: This kind of verbiage usually happens when the copy of a marketing email is pulled from homepage copy. It should go without saying, but not everyone on the team is a prolific writer and therefore no one’s writing should be taken word-for-word in your emails. More importantly, however, website copy and email marketing copy are in two different media – therefore the messaging needs to target the intended audience.
- “[Our product] was designed specifically to…”
The idea behind this phrase is that “if it was designed to do ‘X’ it must be good at doing ‘X.’ ” However, customers don’t care about your design process; they just want to know how things will be better if they buy “X.”
Hannah’s take: Eh, moot point
- “I would like to know if you’d be interested…”
As a general rule, customers don’t care about what you want. Stating your wants and needs keeps the focus on you rather than on what you can do for the customer. Your credibility suffers accordingly.
Hannah’s take: While I agree that customers don’t care about “us” or “our company,” I’m not sure if this phrase really means that.
- “I am absolutely certain you will enjoy…”
Really? Absolutely? Either you’re exaggerating or you’re insane, because you can’t predict the future and you certainly can’t read the customer’s mind before the customer has even had a chance to think about your offering.
Hannah’s take: CHURCH
- “Please don’t hesitate to call me at…”
In addition to being corny, this phrase is presumptuous. It’s like you’re claiming that you’re so busy that normally you’d resent it if the customer called, but in this case you’d be delighted.
Hannah’s take: I don’t agree with the description, but I do agree that we shouldn’t be putting the responsibility of outreach into the hands of the prospect. You must go after them time after time. Do you all agree?
- “For more information, visit our website…”
First, your customers know that there’s information on your website, so pointing that fact out is wasting words. Second, most customer are in a constant state of information overload anyway. Just put the URL after your signature.
Hannah’s take: The URL in your signature thing obviously won’t work all the time, but like I’ve said many times people know what to do when you provide them with a link, email address or phone number. It is wasted space and it is kind of treating them like they’re stupid.
Until next time!