How to Write Emails to your Customers: A Checklist for Coffee Roasters

A practical guide to sending email that converts

March 30, 2020

In my article Selling Coffee During a Pandemic: Email Frequency, Tone and Content for Daily Coffee News, I reminded you that one of the best sales techniques is honest, focused, helpful emails—especially during a pandemic. I walked you through how often to send emails (answer: often), along with what tone to strike and what content to share. 

In this complementary post, I go a little deeper to offer advice on the nitty-gritty, everything from what makes a powerful subject line to how to get over the mental hurdle of writing one email to your whole, diverse, stressed-out email list (hint: you can successfully do that, with one simple trick). Since you’re writing strong and frequent emails, invest in a little prep work by reviewing these checklists for prewriting, writing, and postwriting. A lot of this information comes from our recent webinar with Lianna Patch.

Prewriting

Confirm your email list. Is your list complete? Build one if you don’t have one. Consider using a service like Square Marketing to pull together lists of customers.

Consider what automated emails you’re already sending. You may want to pause those. Your standard first-of-the-month email to your subscribers may no longer fit society’s tone. It may even contradict the special emails you’re now sending.

Confirm your sender name. Make sure the From field is an individual in your company, preferably the person most of your customers know. During this crisis, it’s OK if someone different, like the CEO, steps forward. Definitely do not let “no-reply@” send your emails.

Get in the right mindset. You’re checking in with your customers, just as you’re checking in with your friends, family, and neighbors. I want you to think of this work as you being the brand that reaches out and that offers meaning, help, and maybe a little joy. (We are selling coffee, after all.) I feel deflated walking through my neighborhood past shuttered storefronts—but I’m immediately elated when I see one that’s open, even if for shortened hours and offering abbreviated services. Those changes don’t matter. All I see is this: a brand I love, led by people who are part of my community, is there for me. Remember: we’re physically distancing, not social distancing.

Write to one person—and then send that message to everyone on your list. It feels overwhelming to craft one message that is somehow magically suitable for everyone, so don’t do that. Think of one customer as you write. You’re not speaking about them specifically—because this email needs to go to all your customers—but you’re speaking to them directly. This personal touch will translate as each customer reads the email. And again, this technique makes it easier and quicker for you to write the email in the first place.

Writing

Write a subject line that gets people to open the email. That’s the subject line’s only job. Here are some ways to stand out from the crowd:

  • Play around with supershort subject lines and with ridiculously long ones. Also, do customers open emails where each word in the subject line is capitalized, or do they seem more enticed by subject lines that start with a cap and then use lowercase, like a sentence?
  • Use emojis at the beginning or the end of the subject. Do not use them to replace a word. Your customer’s email may not read the emoji, and then your point will be lost on your customer.
  • Promise something or stoke your customer’s curiosity. Just make sure you fulfill that promise or answer that mystery in the body of the email.

Write a focused, clear body. With each email, you’re asking yourself two things: 

How can I be the most meaningful to my customers? 

What action can I tie to that meaning?

I know so many working parents—me included—who are getting approximately one zillion emails a day, between work, our kids’ schools, and companies desperate to keep us up-to-date on how they’re handling the virus. By being short and truly helpful, you won’t be one of those annoying companies.


Postwriting

Listen to your customers. Maybe you asked for replies to your emails. Let your customers tell you what they need—and then try to craft a solution. 

Learn from your previous emails. The response to your first email will help you craft a more successful second email. The responses to your first and second emails will help you with your third email, and so on. If you listen.


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