6 hidden email threats to your business 25 October 2012

Image for blog by Nottingham copywriter on email content

Never mind what you’re trying to say. What does the way you use email say about you and your business? Take this example. It was unfortunate for everyone involved, but the everyday email (aside from the eshot or enewsletter) can create other risks for businesses.

Not so average

I’m referring here to the average email that gets sent out, perhaps to remind existing clients of what is available or just to make contact. In my role as business copywriter, I often find that companies forget that this content is just as powerful in making a statement about their product or service.

Is it really worth it?

Some companies are really starting to wonder whether email is really worth the effort anyway. I think this is short sighted. Email does have a role to play in everyday business communications, when it’s done effectively. But it’s important to watch out for these six hidden threats:

1. One size fits all – A general email can feel incredibly impersonal. What it says is that each recipient is just one of a crowd. It could end up weakening those client relationships you’ve worked so hard to develop.

2. Too formal – I’ve seen some companies do a great job of connecting with customers face to face or over the phone – then revert to a formal, jargon-loaded tone of voice in their email content. Again, this can seriously undermine the relationships they have built up and obscure the value of what they’re offering.

3. Too casual – Informal is serious. How you use it matters. Companies sometimes use a casual, chatty tone when they are trying to appeal to people’s sense of humour. This needs to be done really carefully or it can create a perception that your company is a little cavalier in its approach to its customers.

4. We don’t know who we are – This applies to external emails sent out by different employees within an organisation. It’s great that your employees are keeping in touch with customers, but does it all add up to a clear one about your business? Look out for inconsistencies in your overall email content which could undermine your message.

5. We want to tell you everything – This is the classic content problem of information overload. The temptation is to include everything in one email, without considering the format, length or relevance to the reader. Yet failing to be selective may mean that your voice goes completely unheard.

6. We don’t like talking to customers – You might be surprised to hear a copywriter say this, but there are times when the written word is not appropriate. Sometimes, the next natural step in communicating by email is to have a conversation. Who knows where it might lead?

Free, but not risk-free

So what’s the take-away here? There is certainly more to the everyday email than just an inbox-filler. It’s worth taking the time to consider exactly how you’re communicating with email – and why. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it couldn’t end up costing your business a great deal.

Camilla Zajac, Green Light Copywriting, Nottingham, October 2012

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