How To Write Engaging Emails to Stakeholders: Tips & Templates
In every stakeholder engagement, there’s one communication channel that’s almost guaranteed: email! Email is a fantastic...
In every stakeholder engagement, there’s one communication channel that’s almost guaranteed: email!
Email is a fantastic tool for engagement because it’s relatively low cost, easy to use, instantly received, and most people have email accounts. Many of your stakeholders will also prefer to receive and respond to updates in email format.
But email is not without its challenges…
How do you actually get stakeholders to read and respond to emails? How can you ensure your emails actually lead to engagement?
If you’re tackling low open rates and click-throughs on your emails to stakeholders, it could be for a number of reasons.
So, let’s take a look at how to write engaging emails, with 6 tips based on strategies and best practices we’ve picked up from many years decades working in stakeholder engagement.
Tip #1: Set Clear Goals
Before you even start to write your first email to stakeholders, you need to get clear on why you’re doing it. What result are you looking for?
This might sound obvious, but consider the number of emails you’ve opened that try to cover two, three, and sometimes four different points. These are emails that don’t have a clear goal or purpose — and research shows that these types of emails don’t get good results. Some marketing companies have suggested that emails with a single call-to-action can increase by 371%.
So, before you draft your email, choose a simple goal that you want to achieve. Simple is key: you want the reader to know exactly what you want of them.
Imagine you received the following emails:
|1||An email asking for opinions with regards to changes to pedestrian walkways on Market St.|
|2||An email advising the role Council plays in updating the community, asking for opinions with regards to changes to pedestrian walkways on Market St, and inviting members of the community to a function on road safety.|
Which one would you be more likely to read (in full) and take action on?
I can guarantee that it’d be the first one. Here why:
- The first email has a clear goal. It’s simple and to the point: Give us your feedback.
- The second email is a bit muddled. Here’s some info, tell us what you think, come to this event. The sender packs in a lot of information, giving the recipient too many options, which may lead to the reader performing only one (or none) of the desired actions.
- A single call-to-action means your audience doesn’t have to think too much, so they’re more likely to do something.
- Multiple calls-to-action mean people have to process more information, which might lead to them doing nothing at all.
So, what is the main purpose of your email? If you need the reader’s feedback, don’t give them any other option or information that might distract from the core purpose.
Tip #2: Write Meaningful Subject Lines
You can write the most amazing email — concise, well organized, tone-appropritae, with a clear call-to-action. But none of that will matter if the recipient doesn’t open it. And to get people to open your email, you need to hook them in with a good subject line.
In fact, 47% of people will decide whether or not to open an email based on the subject line — and 69% of people will mark email as spam based on the subject line alone.
Subject lines matter. So, here’s how you can write an engaging email subject that’ll increase your chances of getting opens:
- Keep it short and sweet – The ideal subject line length is around 41 characters, although other research suggests that shorter lines (16 characters or fewer) may have even higher open rates.
- Personalize – Personalization is shown to increase open rates by 26%, so use your email software or stakeholder software to personalize email subjects with names or other details specific to the recipient (e.g. suburb, company, location).
- Encourage curiosity – Humans are naturally curious creatures, so if your email subject line hints at something new or interesting inside, it may entice them to click.
- Create urgency – If there are any deadlines or limits on your information or request, mention them in the subject line to ensure people don’t miss out.
- Be relevant – Mention what’s inside the email so that people know what to expect, and that it’s relevant to them.
- Highlight value – If you’re offering something of value (e.g. a giveaway, discount, draw, or special opportunity), mention that in the subject line.
- Don’t be spammy – Email filters may be more likely to mark your email as spam if you use certain words and characters (free, !!, $$$, cheap) that are associated with typical spam emails.
You have to really sell your message, grab their attention, make them HAVE to open your email based on that one sentence.
Tip #3: Nail the Structure
A lot of engagement professions forget to structure their emails, and in some cases don’t think they need to be structured at all. But that’s a mistake.
There’s a time to be creative in stakeholder engagement and there’s a time to stick to the rules and conventions. The good news is… you can (and probably should) use templates for writing your stakeholder engagement emails and this can actually speed up your writing time!
Whether you’re writing a quick response to a colleague, following up with a stakeholder, or contacting someone for the first time, your email should have a beginning, middle, and end.
Here’s a generic stakeholder engagement email template you can follow and adapt to suit your needs:
|Template ⤵||Example ⤵|
|Greeting||It’s usually best practice to personalize emails with your stakeholders’ names. This has been shown to increase reader engagement.||Hi [First-Name],|
|Introduction||If necessary, introduce yourself and then build rapport with your reader. Establish mutual trust, friendship, and affinity.||Because you signed up to be informed about upcoming projects at Council, the consultation team is reaching out about an opportunity to share feedback.|
|Body||The body of your email should contain all the information your stakeholder needs to take whatever action you want them to make.
You need to provide all the contextual information, details or data in a way that is easy to read.
Use bullet points for lists — and to visually break up your email.
|Based on initial community feedback, Council has now prepared the following proposed Local Laws and made them available for your review and comment:
Community members are invited to submit feedback on the proposed laws during the next two weeks.
|Conclusion or call-to-action||Wrap up the email with your call-to-action and key details to support that:
||Whether you support the laws, oppose them, or have specific suggestions, we want to hear from you!
Please review the proposals carefully before making a submission via the link below:
Alternatively, you can contact our team to request a paper copy or share your feedback over the phone or in person.
Another important consideration for email structure is that some of your stakeholders will read email on their smartphone or tablet. In fact, a 2021 analysis of nearly 8 billion email opens revealed that 44.7% of opens happen on mobile. So, think about:
- Size and placement – Target links and buttons should be big enough (and far enough apart) to accurately tap on with a thumb.
- Length and scannability – Readers should be able to quickly find the info they need without too much scrolling.
Tip #4: Don’t Overcommunicate
No matter how good you are at writing engaging emails to your stakeholders… you can always have too much of a good thing.
- Experts generally agree that the average professional receives 121 emails per day (that’s one email every 4 minutes!)
- Most people who subscribe to get updates from someone wouldn’t expect to hear from them daily
- Unsolicited emails from the same organization or person everyday will frustrate anyone.
So, you need to be thoughtful when engaging with your stakeholders via email and don’t email them too often. Otherwise, you’ll soon see your open rates drop and your unsubscribes go up.
Tip #5: Make Sure You Proofread
You’re only human — mistakes will happen. But there’s nothing worse than hitting send prematurely on your email and realizing your stakeholders are opening some correspondence that’s riddled with grammatical errors, missing a subject line, or has the wrong link.
Your emails are a reflection of you and the organization you represent. And if this is your first email to a stakeholder it’s vital that you leave a great first impression. After all, first impressions are hard (if not impossible) to shake.
So, you must proofread your content. You can go about this a few different ways:
- Use the built-in online spelling and grammar checkers in Word and Google Docs
- Assess your writing skills (and readability score) in Grammarly
- If possible, send your draft to a colleague to get another set of eyes on your work
- Once you’ve done all of the above, proofread again (ideally, after you’ve slept on it)
This process isn’t just for spotting spelling and grammar problems. Proofreading is also a good time to ‘cut the fat’. People are more likely to read short, well-structured emails that get to the point quickly and don’t waffle on. So, while re-reading the content of your email, take out anything that doesn’t contribute to your email’s core purpose.
Tip #6: Think Outside the [In]Box
Lastely, it’s worth mentioning that there are many other methods to get your message heard and engage with stakeholders outside of email. So, think outside the [in]box.
Contact your stakeholders via phone calls, deliver letters, post on social media, set up online chat, and schedule face-to-face meetings and events. SMS or text messages are another great way to reach stakeholders.
When deciding on your engagement methods, consider the potential for back and forth correspondence and whether stakeholders might have questions. In some cases (especially when delivering bad news or communicating something sensitive), it can be better to pick up the phone and talk to the person directly.
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