Forging a strong, immediate rapport with prospects is challenging enough when you meet with them face-to-face, and increases exponentially when you are forced to build the relationship solely through electronic media such as email newsletters, social media and email nurturing campaigns.
When using email marketing as your primary channel for establishing and growing the relationship, the same rules apply as if you were meeting your prospects in person. It all boils down to trust. People do business with people they know, like and trust.
Here are six tips to help you engage your prospects via email and nurture that relationship, one email message at a time.
1) Be Sincere in Your Communications
The first key to cultivating warm business relationships with prospects via email is sincerity. You don’t have the luxury of eye contact, body language or intonation. Position your messages from the perspective of genuinely wanting to help your prospects. Walk the talk by delivering what you say you will. Offer consistent, helpful, honest, forthright and authentic assistance. Don’t sell your services – offer solutions.
2) Dress Your Emails Up Nicely
Imagine that your emails are a physical extension of you, particularly since you don’t have the benefit of meeting your prospects in person. How your emails and newsletters are “dressed” will impact whether or not you will even get the chance to nurture a relationship with your prospects. Your emails – from layout and design to imagery and content – reflect you. At a glance, prospects will know whether or not to trust you. An email that has blurry, disproportionate, or unappealing graphics, the wrong kind of content, and fonts that are unreadable is likely to elicit the same kind of response as if you walked into an initial prospect meeting wearing a Hawaiian shirt, shorts and flip flops, reeking of strong cologne, and displaying disheveled bed head. Your readers may not recognize when they are subconsciously developing a rapport with you, but they will definitely recognize when they do not even want to.
3) Be Charming & Personable in Your Messages
It is necessary to demonstrate and communicate why you are different from the others offering the same estate planning services or products. The best way to differentiate yourself from the competition while also working towards a common bond with your prospects is through personality. Tell a story. Use your own voice (first person). Show off your staff and their hobbies, achievements, and talents. Be entertaining. Use real photos of real people.
4) Listen Actively to Your Subscribers
It sounds counterintuitive for email marketing, but it really isn’t. You have multiple marketing tools that enable you to “listen” to your prospects’ needs and desires. Use them. For example, allow your subscribers to select the type of content that interests them when they sign up for your newsletters and emails. That’s their way of “telling” you what they want. Track click through rates and adjust your content when necessary. Consider switching to a one-to-one approach if your prospects show a devout interest in a particular topic – such as estate planning – and reach out to them personally with a phone call or follow up email.
5) Emotionally Mirror Your Prospects
At first glance, this may not seem applicable to email marketing either. However, mirroring your prospects in your email messaging lets them know that you understand them. Mirroring does not have to be purely physical (i.e., copying or emulating someone else’s body language). In email, you can (and should) employ an equally effective form of mirroring: emotional mirroring. Your prospects won’t realize that you are mirroring them when you use the same kind of language that they use; they will bond with you more quickly when you empathize with their emotional states in your verbiage, echo their feelings in your personalized communications, provide them with the content that they want, match their “tempo” by following the sales cycle and offering solutions to their problems.
6) Give Back, Reciprocally
Did you know that giving things away with no strings attached can subconsciously stir up feelings of obligation in the recipient? Your prospects have demonstrated an interest in your firm by subscribing to your email campaign. Reciprocate by giving them items of value with no obligation. This strategy will help you cultivate a sense of loyalty and commitment. Evoke faithfulness and increase your credibility as a trusted advisor by offering content that: helps them understand their situation better; provides guidance; offers insight into a particular problem; demonstrates commonality; answers their questions; and has no inherent or perceived expectation of a purchase. As your email campaign progresses, begin to add in client reviews, case studies and testimonials to also augment your trustworthiness.
Patience is a Virtue
Benjamin Franklin said, “When you are finished changing, you are finished.” Successful content marketing requires you to continuously listen to your prospects through their behaviors and actions (or lack thereof) and respond by adapting your strategy and messaging accordingly. Listen. Your prospects are trying to tell you what they want.
Rapport-building through email is a long-term commitment. Patience is essential when developing rapport and credibility through your email campaigns. It won’t happen overnight, but if you follow the suggestions listed here, you will cultivate long-term relationships that will help you grow your estate planning practice.
Becca Fieler is an Online Marketing Specialist for BizActions | PDI Global Marketing Solutions, a division of Thomson Reuters. She provides strategic planning and oversight for our online marketing and email marketing initiatives. Becca also works with clients, developing comprehensive marketing and lead generation programs for professional service providers, including attorneys, accountants, banks and credit unions, human resource companies and others, through her role at BizActions | PDI Global, Thomson Reuters. She is a prolific writer when she has time. Read more of Becca’s blog posts here.
Academy Guest Blogger
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
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San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (800) 846-1555