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10 Tips for Writing Emails That Get Results

Posted by Bill McRae Filed Under Content Strategy & Creation, Advertising, Social Media, Lead Nurturing, Customer Engagement, Content

Tech B2B email marketing is alive and well, and is still one of the best ways to reach certain audiences, such as C-suite executives (see my blog The Comeback of Email Marketing). But with business people receiving an average of 121 emails per day (according to The Radicati Group, Inc.), how can you help ensure that your promotional email gets opened, engages the reader, and drives a conversion or click through?  

Here at McBru, we’ve honed our skills in email marketing and email-based nurturing programs for major technology companies, with campaigns that reach hundreds of thousands of readers per send. We’re experts at using email to get results, with some of the highest click-through rates in the business. This blog is part of a series about writing email marketing content; click here for tips on Writing Email Subject Lines That Get Results.

Here are ten tips to keep in mind as you create promotional emails.

  1. Use action language to engage and motivate your reader. Be direct and get to the point immediately. This is not the place for long discursive discussions. Tell your reader why you are writing them and describe what you are offering that will be useful or attractive to them. One rule of thumb: Start the email body copy with a verb. Introducing your email with “Learn” or “Discover” or “Explore” gets the reader (and you, the writer) to the heart of the matter immediately.
  1. Make sure your email copy is scannable. Keep emails short and easily understood at a glance. Use bullets or numbered lists, with judicious use of bolding to make sure that readers can get your message as quickly as possible.
  1. Add CTAs and links early and often. Make sure that your reader has plenty of opportunities to click on a link or a call to action (CTA), which takes them to your download, offer, or registration page. We like to include a clickable link “above the fold” so a reader doesn’t have to scroll down to find a link. You should also have a clear CTA button in the email. Add one in anywhere else that makes sense, even in imagery—we’ve conducted “heat map” studies on emails and have found in general that given a chance to click in multiple places, readers avail themselves of CTAs everywhere. After having made the decision to click through, the reader just uses the most convenient link, wherever it is. Multiple links and CTAs just makes it that much easier. However, one thing to avoid is placing links in your copy to resources outside your domain. Once readers clicks off your site, chances are you’ve lost them.
  1. Address the reader directly. Write in the second person as much as possible, speaking to the reader as “you.” If you mention your company (or the company sponsoring the email), shift into the first person plural as soon as possible: “At Acme Plumbing, we care about our customers.” A simple change in pronouns can greatly boost the level of engagement in an email.
  1. Use personas to directly target your audiences. You can reach a much deeper level of engagement by writing emails for specific customer personas. Most businesses have identified their primary audiences by role and needs (for instance, economic buyer and technical buyer), and have created personas for each of these customer groups. Write your email copy directly to each persona, making sure that you address their interests and pain points and “speak their language.” You may end up with a slightly different email for each persona, but this shouldn’t be a problem as long as you have properly targeted lists. Which brings us to the next point.
  1. Make sure your email lists are up-to-date and segmented according to your marketing requirements. If you are buying email lists, be sure to have the list differentiated according to the audiences that are important for your email campaign. These will usually align with your key customer personas. The same rules apply if you are using your own business’s list.
  1. Proofread your copy! Nothing will sink your email campaign faster than misspellings or typos. Would you choose to engage with a business that fills your inbox with typos?
  1. Verify the email address and test for spam. This get us into the technical side of your emails. Make sure the domain you send from is verified; if it isn’t you run the risk of getting dumped straight into someone’s junk folder. In addition to that, it’s important to run spam tests. Most email platforms have a straightforward, automated process that tests whether or not your message passes spam tests across a variety of email service providers.
  1. Don’t promise anything for free. Speaking of spam, nothing has more potential for landing your email in someone’s junk folder faster than including “free” in the subject line. And even if it makes it into the inbox, most people have developed a sense of cynicism when offered anything for free, especially via email. Best to just steer clear of that word!

  2. Test everything and test often. While there are many best practices out there, no one knows your audience better than they know themselves. Let data tell you what works best for your people. We're big fans of testing subject lines, send days and send times on a fairly regular basis. And, just as your audience probably isn’t stagnant, your best practices shouldn’t be either. Don’t forget to revisit your test results on a regular basis.

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