If you’ve been around this blog long enough, you probably know that communication is one of the best ways to keep your referral sources engaged. But for all the talk about the importance of communication, there’s less understanding about how to do it effectively.

There are many ways you can keep in contact with referral partners and others in your channel, but email is one of the more convenient ways to fit it into your schedule and theirs. While some things may benefit from an in-person or video meeting, a lot of day-to-day communication ultimately works as an email.

Here are the steps to creating an effective email to channel partners.

Step 1: The Hook

This is the part that catches the reader’s attention. When crafting this, there are a few simple questions to ask yourself: why should the reader care? Why should they want to click on this email to open it? How do I make them feel glad that they did? The subject line is certainly part of the hook, but make sure to include one or two sentences max at the beginning of the email to keep them there, as well.

Step 2: The Message

Once you’ve got your reader’s attention, it’s time to cut to the chase. Do you have an update about channel performance? A challenge? A success story to share? Whatever it is, give it to your email list in a way that is easy to understand — now isn’t the time for industry jargon. Don’t be afraid to get a little personal, but don’t ramble, either.

Step 3: The CTA

What do you want your readers to do once they finish reading this email? Is there a contest you want them to enter, a certain number of leads you want from them before a certain date? Or do you simply want them to keep up the good work? No matter what it is, try to end the email on an action — something that your readers can get up and do once they’re done reading.

Bonus: Tips and Tricks

The above steps are the broad strokes of creating a good referral email. However, here are some other things to keep in mind.

Keep the message short and sweet. Channel partners have limited time. Don’t waste it with long, rambling messages that take paragraphs to get to the point.

Keep things aligned with your brand. If your brand voice is cool and casual, an overly formal email will feel out of place. Likewise, if you’re a more formal or professional brand, suddenly switching to a casual voice will throw readers off.

Include special offers or incentives. Nothing keeps partners clicking and opening messages like offering them special deals or prizes for bringing in more leads.

Automated doesn’t mean impersonal. Automated emails can help save time and also make it easier to track open and click through rates. Automating this and other parts of your referral channel can ultimately make it more effective.