When creating accounts receivable emails, whether they are new customer welcome emails, collection letters, reminder emails or past due notices, sometimes collectors can get stuck in a rut. You’re sending so many emails a day that you only have time to summarize the information for the customer and get your point across. It’s not very often that the accounts receivable department sees cross over with the marketing department, but when it comes to crafting effective emails that customers will read and take action on, accounts receivable could take a few tips from marketing.Although there is a lot of important information to include in these accounts receivable emails, such as account number, invoice number, amount due, past due date and more, the email doesn’t have to be rigid and full of numbers. The point of sending accounts receivable emails is to get your customers attention and get them to take an action, whether that is making a payment or getting in touch with you about creating a payment plan. Marketing departments research and test how to get customers to open and take action on emails almost every day.There are four key areas to an email that will help get your customers to open and make payment from an email. The first is to craft an effective subject line. The subject line of the email can make a huge difference on whether the customer even sees the email in the first place. Depending on your word choice, the email could get stuck in their spam or junk mail. Further, the subject line is the first thing a customer sees and decides whether they will open the email or not. Crafting a catchy and appealing subject line makes the difference in whether the email is read or not.
The second area is personalization. Studies show that a personalized email delivers six times higher transaction rates. Although this is in regards to purchasing an item, it transfers to making a payment as well. By simply adding a personalized greeting, a customer will feel more inclined to take payment action. Time and frequency of emails also makes a huge difference on whether a customer will open. It’s important to take into account what time zone the customer is in or how often you are sending them emails. Finally, following up with customers to be sure they received the email or to send a second reminder helps to seal the deal.
In this blog series on sending accounts receivable emails while thinking like a marketer, we will delve deeper into all these email areas and how they can help you to become more effective.
Your subject lines in collection emails make a huge difference in whether your customer will pay on their invoice. Whether you’re sending the first invoice, a reminder email or a final collection email, the subject line is the very first thing they see that will get their attention. You subject lines can also trigger whether the email will even make it into their inbox, past their spam folder. Thinking like a marketer when sending these emails will help to craft a catchy subject line that is sure to get the customer to open the email and take action.We took a few tips from the marketer’s playbook that you can apply to your collection emails.
Words to Avoid
There are some words in your subject lines that you should never use because they will automatically trigger the spam filters. Spam filters have become much more sophisticated. Since so many fake emails pertaining to money no make it into our inbox, there are many words you may be using in regards to invoices that are automatically being flagged as spam.
Below is a list of words and characters you should always try to avoid.
One email is usually never enough to get a customer to remit payment. It is always good practice when trying to be effective through collection emails to follow up!
Accept Credit Cards
Entice the Customer
After reading the above list of words not to use, you may be wondering what you could even use in your subject line that will make it catchy enough for a customer to open. The main point you want to get across to your customer, even if you are sending a mass email blast with accounts receivable software, is that the email directly effects them. Studies have shown that putting a customer’s account number or invoice number in the subject line can help them to open the email. You can also try to ask the customer a question in your follow up reminder email, such as have they seen this past due invoice?
Subject Line Examples
Sometimes it can be hard to come up with subject lines that fall within these constraints on your own. Below we’ve included some subject line examples you can try.
Invoice for Account Number 1234
Payment Needed for Invoice Number 1234
Account Number 1234 Payment Needed
Have You Seen This Past Due Invoice?
Have You Paid Invoice Number 1234?
You don’t have to stick with creating one “perfect” subject line, either. Many marketers test subject lines and see which ones work the best. Try out a couple different ones and find the one that works best. Using the same subject line over and over can also cause your customer to lose interest, so switching it up can also be beneficial to ensure your customer takes action and pays.
Many professional’s email inboxes get flooded with spam emails, so many that they struggle to find their most important emails among the masses. Due to these mass email blasts that so many accounting professionals have to fish through, accounts receivable departments are seeing issues in getting their important collection emails opened and read. There are a few ways to combat this, and one way is to use a trick that many marketers have been using and seeing success with for years: personalization. Studies have shown that customers are more likely to interact with an email if there is more personalization in the email. According to Statista, the open rate for emails with a personalized message was 17.6%, compared to 11.4% without personalization. These marketing statistics are also transferrable to your accounts receivable collection emails.
Below are some ways you can add personalization to your collection emails.
- Include your customer’s name in the subject line. A study from HubSpot shows that emails included the first name of the recipient in their subject line had higher rates of taking action than emails that did not.
- Use a greeting with the customer’s name at the beginning of your email
- Make sure the email you are sending is relevant to your customer. If you’re sending out a mass email blast to remind the customer to pay upcoming invoices, be sure they have an outstanding invoice to pay.
- Use personal language. You don’t want your emails to sound like they are coming from a robot, such as “Please remit payment to Your Company for invoice #1234”. Consider using friendlier language, such as “Hope you are doing well! This is a friendly reminder that invoice #1234 will be due on Sept. 1. Let me know if you have any questions!”
- Be aware of what time you are sending your emails. If you know a customer in a different time zone will be receiving the email when they are not even in the office yet, wait to send it.
- Give them an easy way to make payment on their invoices, like a personalized payment portal.
By using these personalization tricks in your collection email, customers will be more likely to recognize that this is an important email, not just spam. Once they read the personalized email, they will be more likely to take action and make a payment on their open invoices. Additionally, they may even begin recognizing your emails in the future and making sure they open they open them.
Timing and Frequency
If you work with a to-do list, many times you’re simply just pushing through everything that you need to do. You’re checking off the boxes as efficiently as possible. However, sometimes this isn’t the most effective route to take when sending emails. The timing and frequency of emails has to be planned carefully to ensure your customer has the best chance of reading the email and will not completely ignore you.
Many accounts payable professionals have inboxes that are flooded with emails. If you’re not timing your emails to them correctly, your email could simply get lost in the mix and be left to sit unopened for days. Below are tips to get your timing and frequency right.
As the saying goes, timing is everything. Before sending an email out to a customer, take the time to look up where they are located. If they are in a time zone that is three hours behind you, don’t send it at 9 o’clock in the morning as they likely won’t see it soon. Once they get to work, it will be mixed in with all the other junk they received over night and will put it off.
Try not to send emails at in-opportune times. Consider when a customer may be on their lunch break, when they may have left the office for the day or when they may be out on a long weekend. Never send an important email on a Monday or Friday, because these are the most likely days a person would take off for a long weekend. By the time they get back and look at their pile up of emails, yours will be sitting at the bottom of the to-do list.
Have you ever gotten so many emails from someone that you simply stopped reading them? There is a fine line between not enough emails and too many emails in accounts receivable. If you don’t send enough emails, the customer may not understand the urgency and necessity to remit payment immediately. If you send too many emails, especially if they aren’t specific and personalized to their account, they may start ignoring you.
Every business is different and you will need to play around with your frequency to find the sweet spot for your customers.
In marketing, many professionals set up tests to see which email gets the best response at what time of day. Try out a couple different times and see where you see the most immediate response or payment. Try sending more or less emails and see what your customers respond to best.
Once you have sent out your collection emails with personalization, a catchy subject line and at the right time, your job isn’t quite over yet. You always want to be sure to follow up with the customer. If a customer still doesn’t pay after sending the first email, you have to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they didn’t receive the email. Maybe they have been meaning to get in touch but is swamped with work. Following up allows your customer a second chance to pay on time.
Following up with the customer via email gives them another chance to see that their account is due. You may have sent the previous email during a busy time for them and it got pushed to the wayside. Additionally, they may have seen the email and simply forgot to follow up with you. By sending a second email, you have the chance to remind the customer again and confirm they received it.
This is the best method of following up with a customer after sending an email. The customer could very well have not received the email at all. Many companies have very strict email filters, blocking emails that could even be important. By calling the customer, you have the chance to double check that they received the email and ask them to add you to their safe senders list. If they did receive the email, you now have the chance to ask them why they have not sent payment yet.