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The Green Sheet Online Edition

December 28, 2020 • Issue 20:12:02

The enduring power of email

By Jeff Fortney
Signature Payments

Lately, I've been revisiting the use email as a sales tool. At a time when, in-person interactions are severely restricted, email is an essential outreach tool, yet when we press Send, it's likely no one will open the message immediately. Some merchants won't ever read it, viewing email as bothersome or old hat compared to text messages and platforms like Instagram.

Still, emails offer excellent benefits. They can be longer than any text, create a paper trail that can't be found with Instagram, and, when written with care, they can communicate nuances and be easier to understand than texts or posts on social media. So, email remains a valuable tool—if you know how to use it.

Some of you are already expert in marketing with email and work with ISOs that provide CRM tools with sophisticated, powerful email list management features. Others may be new to the industry and working with little resources at your disposal. This article will provide a review for experienced email marketers; for the inexperienced, it will serve as a quick-start guide.

Create a good email message

To use email effectively, three things are necessary: an email list, a message that applies to all of your merchants, and a good grasp of how to use your email provider's features. In "It's critical to talk with your merchants now," The Green Sheet, Nov. 9, 2020, issue 20:11:01, I discussed how to create a merchant database, including email addresses, so I'll delve into crafting an email here.

Critical to any email message is the subject line. For example, today I would suggest a topic along the lines of, "How are you doing?" This shows empathy, which you can further demonstrate in the body of the message, while also reminding them you are their partner and offering information that will help them get through this time. Here is an example of body text in draft form that could fit any merchant.

Dear [fill in merchant's name],

I hope this finds you safe. Today, we are all facing difficult times. I wanted to let you know that, as your payment processing partner, I stand ready to support you in any way possible. Working together, we will survive and thrive once these times end. I would like to talk with you and hear how you are handling the current restrictions today how you are preparing to ramp up when the pandemic ends.

[At this point, insert a sentence that best fits the merchant's vertical. For a restaurant: I know many merchants like you are only providing curbside service or delivery. If you are, and would like me to share your numbers with others, please advise. For a retailer: Many merchants are unable to open their doors today. If you are one of those, let me know. I will keep you informed of the changes and opportunities you can do now, like online ordering, that can help you still generate business.]

Please stay in touch and reach out at any time. Let's work together.

This draft gives you an idea what you should say. You can improve upon it and make it your own. Also, this should be the first email in a series; others can be more specific. 

Send it out

Write your email in Word or other format that you can copy and paste into an email message. You can further refine the text, if needed, after you paste it in.

There are two easy ways to send the email using tools offered by your email provider. The first is to address each message individually. This is time intensive, but it allows for customization. The second is to use the BCC function. This will require you to keep the message generic, but you can send many messages at once. Address the email to yourself, and paste the addresses into BCC.

Also, make sure you turn on Read Receipts for all outgoing emails. Then you'll know who has opened your messages when you follow up. Remember, email might not be a flashy or trendy tool, but it works especially well at this time. end of article

Jeff Fortney is vice president ISO relations for Signature Payments. A long-time payments industry executive and mentor, Jeff is focused on strengthening and developing partnerships and evaluating new business opportunities. He can be reached at 214-458-1379.

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