Companies and businesses reach out to customers; it’s just a fact. In most cases, you’re sending an ad or reminder about a sale or event going on at your place of business. These are short and often flashy means of communication, and don’t have a large amount of text on them. What do you do when you need to convey much more to your audience though? Write a direct letter!
Why A Letter?
When you need to lay out a good amount of information, address a complicated situation, or apologize to customers, you don’t want to leave interpretation of your message to chance. Letters give you an opportunity to go over specific points without significant concern about graphic design getting in the way. Most of us are not in practice for writing letters, so here are a few reminders and pointers to keep in mind when writing a “longform” letter to customers.
Address Them Directly
Whenever possible, a letter should be written to someone. If the first words in a letter are “To Whom It May Concern,” people are less likely to feel that direct connection. By using the recipient’s name, you’re taking that extra step to engender a bit more of a connection. If you can personalize, it’s always a good idea to do so.
Just like with your other mailers, a great way to get your reader to do something with the letter is to give them incentive to do so. “Respond to this letter and receive 10% off your next purchase!” “Use this code to activate a 1 month subscription to our service!” This will almost certainly improve response rates for your letter.
Have Something To Say
While the customer letter is a time tested method of reaching out to your base, you should only use it when you have cause to do so. The occasional longform letter has more impact than consistently sending one unless that’s the primary means of communication with your customers. Don’t lose the impact of what you’re sending simply because it loses its importance out of repetition.
Be Direct and Don’t Mince Words
When writing a letter to customers, it can be tempting to use this space to wax poetic about your topic. You aren’t limited by a postcard size or design constraints, so why not? Because customers can see through it. Don’t try to hide the reason for your correspondence. Getting right to the point about your letter gives it more urgency than hemming and hawing.
If there’s difficulty in production, you need to be clear about that. Are you apologizing for an error on behalf of the company? Acknowledge the mistake and address it directly. Spending too much time beating around the bush gets your letter tossed pretty quickly.
Thank The Customer
In every correspondence that allows you to do so, you should acknowledge that you appreciate your customer. Tell them that you value their patronage and that they are the reason that your company does what it does. By telling your customers directly that you appreciate them, they will feel like they’re more connected with your business, and likely return the sentiment with continued use of your services.
Don’t just send a letter with empty promises and false flattery for your audience. If you’re sending them contact, it needs to be verifiable. If you say that you’re going to take steps to correct an issue, actually make it happen. If you send out an offer, it needs to be valid long enough for your customers to be able to use it. If your letter is all talk and no teeth, customers will be less likely to believe you the next time you promise something in letter form.
Double Check Everything
Just like with your other mailers, you need to be thorough in your revisions and edits of your letter. A misspelling or unclear sentence can sink your credibility. Taking an extra 10 minutes to reread your copy can save you the sinking feeling of seeing your error after you already mailed them out. Even better, have someone who isn’t familiar with the letter take a look. They’re less likely to skip over minor errors that you didn’t notice during the writing.
The time honored tradition of using a letter to communicate with your customers isn’t lost. Don’t forget about this handy tool you can use to engage with your audience when you’re looking for a fresh method of outreach!