Email marketing is one of the most important sales channel online. It’s a direct line to your consumers, allowing you to send personalised communications that offer real value.

Most B2B marketing professionals will agree that email marketing is a vital part of their marketing mix. But it’s not easy to get right every time. When it goes wrong, email marketing can waste a lot of time and money. If you use bad data it can even cause serious reputational damage.

We’ve already looked at some of the biggest mistakes people make in their email campaigns. In this blog, we revisit the topic with a fresh perspective and consider what makes some marketing emails better than others.

Understand the purpose of the subject line and opening

Perhaps the single most important part of your emails is the opening. I mean the subject line, the headline, and the first few sentences, in that order.

It doesn’t matter how good your offer is, how great your product, or what brilliant deals you have. If no one opens your message, they’ll never know about it. That’s why the greatest email marketers in the world spend up to 50% of their time on the subject and headlines of an email.

What’s the purpose of the headline? To get people to read the first line of text. The purpose of the first line of body copy? To get them to read the second line, and on. It’s as simple as that.

You must find something interesting to say and you need to say it quickly, before the recipient deletes your message and moves on to the next. With an email it’s so easy to click delete (or worse, junk) and the message is gone. You could even be blocked for forever, without a second thought.

What’s the wow-factor? What big difference will your offering make to the customer or their business? Perhaps it will save them time and money in the future. Perhaps your product will lead to greater efficiencies.

If that’s the case, tell them and be specific about it. Quantify your claims and then people will really pay attention.

TOP TIP: Don’t tell people things they already know

Do you know someone that frequently tells the same old stories over and over? Hey did I ever tell you about the time I…? The email marketing equivalent might go something like this:

Hi …,

The world is changing. We are facing a climate emergency and we need to focus on sustainability…

Perhaps your organisation offers a solution to the problems caused by a changing business environment, or the imperative for sustainable business practices. If so, tell the reader straight away. Write something like this instead:

           Hi …,

Are you looking for ways to improve sustainability in your organisation? We can help by…

Tell people something interesting. Get straight to the point and be specific with your claims.

Don’t leave your call to action until last

There are entire books on the topic of writing a good call to action (or CTA). It’s a vital part of any persuasive writing because it tells people what to do next, where to find more information, and how to make a purchase.

The conventional wisdom is to put the CTA at the end of the text. Ever wondered why?

Conventional wisdom is dangerous because people accept it as truth without a second thought. In this case it’s probably a throwback from before the times of the internet. In those days, a CTA meant filling out and returning a form or coupon, picking up the phone, or even physically visiting the sender’s office. It was much more of a commitment and people needed a lot more persuading.

Nowadays things have changed. It’s far easier to respond to a marketing message. We just click a mouse and complete a few text fields. The level of commitment required is far lower so it makes sense to put multiple CTAs throughout your email. When the reader is ready to take action, they will.

If you’ve written a compelling subject, headline and opening, you should put a CTA right at the start and have several more throughout the text.

‘Contact us’, or ‘Read more’, are both common CTAs, and they are OK. If someone is interested, they’ll probably contact you, or click to find more information. But a really good CTA is also persuasive.

TOP TIP: A CTA should be more than a signpost. It’s a persuasive element of your text.

Instead of “Find out more”, write “Find out how we can save you time and money.”

Change “Contact us”, to “Speak to our team of experts for a free consultation.”

Get the right tone for your audience

No one knows your industry, or your customers, as well as you do, so choose your tone and style carefully. More often than not, I would recommend a friendly, personal approach.

It starts with your salutation. Have you ever read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie? It was one of the first ever self-help books that covered sales techniques. To give you an idea of how good it is, it was written in 1936 and it’s still in print today.

This book is essential reading for marketers, and it’s full of great advice for sales and marketing professionals. There’s one thing especially relevant to this topic. Carnegie says:

The most beautiful word in the English language is a person’s name. Learn it, remember it, and use it frequently.

It might seem obvious but it’s absolutely vital and it explains why you should avoid starting emails with phrases like “Dear customer” or “Dear subscribers”.

TOP TIP: A copywriter’s favourite word is “you”.

Once you’ve written your text, check how many times you’ve written “you” compared to “us” or “we”. The reader needs to feel like you’re talking directly to them, about the problems the affect them. Don’t be the person at the party who talks continually about themselves. Ask people questions and address the reader directly. It shows you care.

With B2B markets especially, you’ll need to strike the right balance. Don’t be so formal that you come across as stuffy, patronising and (worst of all) boring. On the other hand, don’t be so informal that you risk losing credibility.

You’ll need to find a way of sounding authoritative and approachable. In an email, people are used to a slightly more informal language, so the advice is to use simple, plain English (check out this free guide from the Plain English Campaign). That means using short sentences, short paragraphs, plenty of white space, and if you can delete a word without damaging the meaning of your text, always do it.

Avoid personalisation errors from bad data

Have you ever received an email that looked something like this?

Hi {first name} {last name},

As a highly valued customer, we thought we’d take the time to send you this personalised message…

This sort of mistake, where the customer’s name hasn’t been added correctly, is called a personalisation error. It happens when a specific tag in your email software has failed and it normally comes from incorrectly formatted, missing or simply bad data.

This is one of the worst mistakes it’s possible to make, yet it’s completely avoidable. Even if you notice it immediately, manage a partial recall, and follow up quickly with an apology, the damage has been done. It’s worse than a waste of time, you’ll anger people, damage your reputation and get your future emails flagged as spam.

The best way to avoid this is to use top quality, regularly cleansed data in the first place. Your business depends on it. Find out how we can take your email marketing campaigns to the next level, with high quality data working in harmony with our dedicated email client called Marketscan Edge.

Visit our contact us page to get in touch with Marketscan’s email marketing specialists.

Related Topics: Email Marketing