Creating useful, timely content for your prospective clients and customers is essential in today’s inbound marketing landscape. Prospects are actively researching products and services and seeking information about problems and solutions. When you are composing emails for professional services there are some important principles to work to. Keep these in mind and you will create better, more effective content.
Let your reader choose their starting point
If you are sending a newsletter then it’s important to start with a set of links to the articles within. These should each be a short, easy to read sentences that help to sell the articles, give the reader a choice of entry points and guide your readers down the most appropiate path. If it is a long newsletter with many items, you might want to choose just five or six of the strongest and most appealing to link to.
Make it easy for your readers
All managers working in a busy company environment share a common enemy – lack of time. So, whilst they may be seeking information – and that information will be very important to them they do not want to waste their time reading non-beneficial content. What does this mean to you when you are writing an email? Well first and foremost you must demonstrate to them, right away, that reading your email will benefit them. The email subject line is key. Emails often live and die by their subject lines. A great subject line motivates prospects to open the message, while an uninspired one means they won’t read a single word.
Once you have your readers attention, the introductory paragraph needs a strong benefit message – something that gives them a compelling reason to read further. Try and imagine yourself in their shoes – they are busy, they have little time – they need to know that every single paragraph is worth reading. When you write, every sentence must lead into the next and every sentence must make a point.
Build in Structure and clarity
Every article in your email, no matter how short, should have a beginning, a middle and an end – a clear structure that tells a story and leads to a conclusion.
As well as ensuring you have a strong subject line and body copy, it’s equally important to have good titles and subheads – many readers will be scanning the newsletter for the essential bits of information they are interested in. If they need to read your entire newsletter to get to the one piece of information they are looking for, they will not thank you, or worse, they will not even bother – they will move on to the next email in their inbox – maybe one that is well structured and has clear subheads signposting the section of content. Well-written subheads should draw the reader in, tease the article’s content and give the reader a reason to read it.
Bullet points are also great for breaking up text, attracting the eye, and summarising important points. Similarly, where appropriate, numbered lists can be equally effective.
Don’t waste your reader’s time – give them a reason for reading and deliver the content clearly and concisely.
Try to include Stats and data
There is nothing quite as valuable as a good set of statistics – whether they be from a survey or collected data. Statistics and data are highly prized by professional services clients – they have a value and an integrity that just telling a story cannot match. Of course, they need to be relevant, timely, authoritative, valid, and crucially – clearly presented. A clear chart or infographic are always highly rated in surveys of valued content.
If you can gather your own data, or commission a survey, then this can form the basis of a powerful article, or even a series of articles. Failing that, then a post highlighting key points from publicly available surveys or data – adding your take on them – works nearly as well.
One element of producing effective email newsletters that is often overlooked – especially in professional services content – is imagery. It is important to break up your long, scholarly articles with images – whether that be photos, illustrations or charts. A well-chosen image can attract readers to the article and illustrate a point more effectively than paragraphs of text.
If you are short of suitable imagery, then another tip is to use a ‘pull quote’ – a quote pulled from the text and featured large in the middle of the article.
Create Invaluable content
Try and come up with some unique content that helps the reader with their job – this doesn’t necessarily have to be direct related to the subject you write about – it just has to be something you know your readers will find useful. It could be financial information such as stock prices or exchange rates, it could be professional information such as awards, league tables, salary tables or other regularly published data.
Give Advice and be helpful
Remember that helpful and useful content is what you are aiming for? Well, articles that explain or give advice make for very effective content. Whether it be an overview of a subject or specific advice about a problem – you should try and include as many of these as possible. Write down a list of all the major topics that your clients and prospects find difficult to understand. Talking to them, and to your sales and customer support staff, should help with this – and plan a series of articles. You can also look at the buying process, the initial period after buying and the long-term outlook as subjects for overview articles. More in-depth advice articles will depend on what field you are in, your client’s businesses and local factors – but again talking to clients and staff should help you add to your own list of possible topics to write about.
Always include links to more
Finally, but most importantly, always include links to more information. Not just links to landing pages, ebooks, and other sales related content, but links to more in depth information on your website, to articles on other websites, to other overviews and related topics. When writing, think to yourself: what links would be most useful to the reader in this article? The more helpful you can be, the better.
Good quality content is essential in professional services marketing, but only if it gets delivered to the right people at the right time. These tips will enable you to keep your prospects engaged in your content and move them down your sales funnel to become customers.