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4 Steps to Writing Emails That Convert to Business Avoid the dreaded spam folder-and write emails that sell -- by following four simple steps.

By Stephanie Mann Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Every entrepreneur should have a healthy fear of the spam folder. After all, having your emails end up in spam means just one thing: Your target customers are ignoring you. But, you respond, It's increasingly difficult to write e-mails that convert to business!

Related: The 5 Magic Elements That Boost Email Marketing ROI Into the Stratosphere

That's certainly true. But think of the situation from your customers' and prospects' perspective. They're slammed with probably more than 100 business emails every day, and most of those are tossed aside, or ignored. So, how can you make your emails stand out -- and get a response, instead of being getting sent to spam?

Follow these four steps to craft engaging emails that convert to business leads:

1. Always email with a purpose.

This is as simple as it sounds: If you don't have a reason to send an email, then don't send it. Emailing clients and prospective customers just for the sake of it is a sure way to get on their spam lists. Always have a purpose for reaching out to your audience, such as a new service, improved product, special offer, industry news or helpful tip or strategy they'll want to hear about.

2. Share value in the subject line.

The best subject lines use clear, powerful language and offer an exciting promise to the recipient -- a promise that's fulfilled in the email itself. Avoid grandiose claims that entice readers to click but don't match up to the message you've written. Focus instead on personalizing your subject lines, to appeal directly to the self-interest of your customers.

To that end, your subject lines should share value by speaking to a specific benefit readers will gain -- or a problem they'll solve -- by opening your email. Here are three examples of ineffective subject lines that have been transformed into value-sharing alternatives that engage customers:

• Checking in on sales → So your sales momentum hit a wall? I can help!
• A business offer for you → How to build an unstoppable business . . . now
• Top marketing tools → 5 must-have marketing tools for you

Related: How to communicate effectively over emails at workplace

3. Reference something current and personal.

These days, it's easier than ever to research your customers. If you're sending emails to new prospects, spend 10 to 15 minutes researching them before you write. Use the prospects' company websites, LinkedIn pages and specific Google searches to find at least one relevant detail about each one. Focus on recent business milestones, work experiences or new potential needs as a customer. Then customize each email according to what you discover.

For example, if you discover on LinkedIn that a prospect was recently promoted to sales regional manager at his or her company, use that information in your email. You might begin like this:

"Hi [client's first name],
First off, congratulations on your recent promotion to sales regional manager at [name of company]."

By including a simple detail like this, you not only personalize the message but also show the prospect that you took time to get to know him or her. This approach is a far cry from how most businesses write emails, spamming inboxes with generic greetings and zero personal references.

If you're sending emails to existing customers, the same principle applies. Before crafting your messages, do some online research to see if anything new or exciting has happened at your customers' companies, or in their personal lives, since you last spoke. Then, think back to the last time you connected with each client. Did one customer mention her plans to vacation in Florida? Did another talk about the possibility of getting a new dog?

Any details you remember can be used to great effect in your email, showing the client that you're invested in the relationship you share.

4. End with a question.

Many emails go unanswered, simply because there was nothing requiring a response. By ending each email with a straightforward question, you'll compel your recipients to respond to you -- and engage them in thinking about what you've written. The best questions will assess your customers' interest level and ask if they'd like to connect with you directly. No more writing weak non-questions such as, "Let me know if you want to connect" or "I look forward to hearing back from you on this." Instead, ask the question outright, giving the recipient a real reason to answer.

Related: 13 Steps to Effective Emails That Don't Suck

Here are some examples:

• Does this sound like a good fit for you?
• Would you be interested in setting up a call?
• Do you want to work together on this?
• Does it make sense for us to meet and discuss?

Stephanie Mann

Content Strategist

Stephanie H. Mann is the author of the book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Business Writing. As a content strategist, she helps entrepreneurs attract customers and build credibility with exceptional content. 

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