The Fine Art of Writing Persuasive E-Mail

By May 09, 2007

E-mail has become the primary method of communication for many business owners. For some, e-mail is the “face” of the business to customers and prospective customers. A compelling, well-crafted e-mail will catch the reader’s attention and drive sales.

E-mail messages always have one primary purpose. They are either written to inform the reader ABOUT something or persuade the reader to DO something. Here is an example of an e-mail message that is written to inform…

“The local bank is now open on Saturday mornings between 9am and noon.”

Here’s an example of an e-mail written to influence…

“Come back to the local bank. We can meet all of your needs by providing excellent products, superior services, and essential conveniences. Our short and long-term investment and borrowing products are competitively priced. Our staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and well informed. Our branch offices are open longer, we have eliminated most transaction fees, and won’t charge you to use other ATM’s.”

What makes the second e-mail so much more compelling? IT was written to influence/persuade the reader to do something. When you’re writing to influence or persuade, your goal is to move your reader to action. When you’re writing to inform, you are just passing on information.

After reading the first e-mail would you switch to that bank? How about after reading the second e-mail? Why or why not?

Here’s how to plan an effective persuasive e-mail message (or any other written communication that’s intended primarily to persuade):

1. Think about your readers. What are their needs, interests, and concerns? How busy are they? What is it about your product or service that is likely to interest them? (If there’s no reason for them to be interested, you might as well stop here.)

2. Looking at the product or service from the reader’s point of view, what’s your most important message? Imagine that you and the reader are in an elevator. You have only a few seconds to get your message across before the elevator reaches your reader’s floor. What would you say?

3. Once you’ve written down your most important message, imagine your reader asking, “Why should I buy your product or service?” The answers to that question give you the content of the e-mail. Here’s another example from a firm that does high quality book printing.

Main point: Hire our firm to print your books.

Readers’ Question:
Why should we hire your firm to print our books?

We have 25 years of experience.
Our costs are competitive.
We have the most up-to-date equipment and highest quality…
We provide comprehensive customer service.
We offer a money-back guarantee.

Once you’ve come up with a sufficient number of compelling answers, you’re ready to write the e-mail. Here’s what our example might look like:

Dear [prospective customer]: Are you looking for a reliable, efficient, reasonably priced firm to your book printing projects? We have more than 25 years of experience in the field, the most up-to-date equipment, and very competitive costs. As a recognized leader in providing comprehensive customer service, we know you will be satisfied. But if you’re not, we’ll redo your print job for free or give you a full refund.

One of our specialists will be glad to give you a no-obligations quote