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Striking the Right Tone in Emails to Build Member Relationships

Ashley Wucher
October 8, 2021

I was perusing LinkedIn the other day and came across this pun-filled cease and desist letter sent from Netflix lawyers to a small Chicago bar that held an unauthorized "Stranger Things" pop-up event. It got me thinking about the importance of tone—something we at PropFuel think can go a long way in building relationships with your members via email.

Effective messaging isn’t all about what you say; it’s also about how you say it. The difference between copy and tone is that copy is the message you want to get across and tone is how you want your member to feel when they receive that message. Your tone can completely change your copy, so it’s important to strike the right balance in your member communications to convey the right tone, especially in our increasingly virtual world.

If you're communicating in person, there are many visual, physical, and audio cues to observe and pick up on as you interact with somebody. This includes things like body language, hand gestures, the pace and pitch of your speech, facial expressions, and much more. In emails, your tone and word choice act in the same way to give your reader cues to what you really mean.

Renewal and prospective member communications aren’t unlike cease and desist letters. No matter how much a member might enjoy being part of your association community, a renewal email is still a bill at its core—and nobody truly enjoys getting a bill.

That’s where tone can come in handy. Take the below emails, for example. This is an example of the typical bill-type renewal email that I’ve sent in the past:

From: APFC Memberhip
Subject: Your Membership
Nancy,
Your membership will expire on Oct. 31, 2021. To keep your membership current, you can log in and renew here.

There isn’t anything wrong with the above email; it’s short and to the point. But, it doesn’t do much to show you’re a real person behind the email. Now, let’s change it up a bit with a slight tone-change:

From: Ashley at APFC
Subject: We don't want to lose you
Hey there, Nancy!
I noticed you haven’t renewed your membership yet. Hey, I get it; you’re busy. I can help you renew when you’re ready.
Are you planning to renew your membership?
All the best,
Ashley Wucher
APFC Membership Manager
555-901-5675

I’d say the second try is much better. With the addition of only 20 words (my signature included) I’ve let my member know I am checking in on them and that I empathize with them during this busy time. I ended with a short question that encourages my member to tell me what they want to do next. And the good news is that you don't have to go quite as far as Netflix did in its letter. You can make even the slightest tone changes and still be effective.

I encourage you to experiment with tone in your PropFuel emails. I’d love to hear about your results!

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