How to Innovate Your Email Marketing for 2019

  1. Good email marketing delivers a personalized, relevant message based on the recipient’s position and needs.
  2. Successful email copy has a compelling subject line, interesting preview text, clear call to action, and well-formatted body copy.
  3. Clean, validated, detailed contact lists are the basis of a successful email campaign.
  4. Don’t forget an opt-out feature: it’s the law.

Think about the number of emails you receive in your business inbox everyday—dozens, or even hundreds, of messages vying for your attention, with some obviously more important than others (especially if you were expecting them). Of the emails you didn’t expect, how many caught your eye? Made you want to open them? Or take their suggested action?

That number is undoubtedly much, much lower.

Nearly every B2B business with an internet connection has tried its hand at email marketing. It’s a relatively inexpensive and quick way to try to sell your prospects. But with such a heavily saturated market, how do you craft compelling email copy that actually connects with your prospects? In other words, how do you form an innovative email marketing strategy that sets you apart from your competitors?

Account Based Marketing: A Foundation for Success

A successful sales strategy has a foundation in relationship building. Long gone are the days of vague pitches and pushy conversations driven by your hunt for a sale. Instead, it’s been replaced by mutually beneficial conversations where a salesperson genuinely tries to find solutions to a prospect’s problems. Not only does this strategy increase trust and confidence in your company, but it also helps you more accurately qualify leads.

This strategy has evolved over time for many reasons, but the most compelling is that prospects today conduct more research than ever. Chances are that they already know the kind of solution they’re looking for and can see through a salesperson’s phony concern from miles away. A salesperson’s job, then, is to prove their value to the prospect. Yes, you have a solution, but why should they go with your solution?

Email marketing gives your B2B business the opportunity to quickly and concisely communicate your differentiators in a way that directly speaks to a prospect. However, its strength is also its weakness: you need to successfully describe your business, mention how it benefits the prospect, and include an engaging call to action within a few short but interesting lines.

In addition to these essential snippets, you also need to focus on relationship building by providing value to your prospects. Consider what you like to see in an email, and try to integrate that into your own email marketing strategy. It can be tempting to write a novel trying to explain why your business is the best option, but prospects simply don’t have the time to read all of that. You want to get to the point without sacrificing your original voice—it’s admittedly tough to blend these concepts, but doing so is essential to successful email marketing.

Building a Buyer Persona

Before you think about writing an email, you first need to create comprehensive buyer personas. This will help you better identify your audience so you know exactly who you are writing copy to and why. There are many different ways you can create a buyer persona, but we recommend focusing on:

    • The target industry
    • Their role in the company (decision maker or influencer)
    • The size of the company
    • Their title
    • Their challenges
  • Their ideal solutions

Buyer personas for a cybersecurity solutions company we’re calling Technical Haven might look like this:

IndustryRoleSizeTitleChallengeSolution
HealthcareInfluencer10-50IT ManagerNeeds to meet strict HIPAA standards, but doesn’t have a large enough the team to be proactiveRisk assessment to identify gaps in security plan
FinanceDecision Maker100-200CEOTired of lengthy and inefficient backups to store dataMove to the cloud

This segmented chart of your ideal targets will help you to create more accurate and engaging copy that they will actually want to read and respond to. It’s an essential first step that cannot be skipped.

The Anatomy of a Successful Email

While there’s no one definite strategy for a success email, based on our experience, we’ve created a guide on drafting innovative and engaging email copy. But take note: every email you draft and send will be different based on your audience and purpose, but they all follow the same principles. With each email, you need to put your needs aside and ask yourself: what does my prospect want to read?

Subject Line

Emails are won and lost with the subject line. According to research, 33% of emails are opened—and 69% reported as spam—based on the subject line alone.

A compelling subject line doesn’t say so much that it allows for objections (such as to rhetorical questions), but it doesn’t say too little that the reader is confused as to why they received it. Moreover, a strong subject line clearly shows that the email is about your prospect; it should generate intrigue, fear of missing out, urgency, or a mix of all three.

Let’s take a look at an example; Technical Haven might send an email to their healthcare persona with the subject line, “Staying ahead of cybersecurity risks.” Subject lines don’t have to be complicated, but they do need to be calculated.

Preview Text

Preview text is an often overlooked part of the email creation process. It’s typically the first line of the email (about 30 characters) and is only seen when a user opens their inbox on their phone. While you might envision your prospect opening your email on their laptop, most people read emails on their phones, so you want to be conscious of how strong your preview text (and, thus, your first sentence) is.

Preview text should support the subject line and set up the rest of the email. It also needs to be intriguing and stress the prospect’s pain point.

Consider our subject line example; good preview text might then be, “HIPAA compliance earns…” This leaves the reader wondering what they might be missing in terms of HIPAA compliance.

Call to Action

A strong call to action makes it easy for your prospect to say yes. It should be a single, simple action and shouldn’t ask for much: a reply to the email, a quick phone call, a form to fill out. Specifically, you need to clarify what you’re asking your reader to do and reduce any possible friction they could experience in completing the task. A successful tactic like prompting yes or no answers in calls to action, such as, “How does next Thursday at 3 PM work for you?” works well. In this case, the prospect only needs to write a few words to take the next step. And if that date and time doesn’t work, you’ve still opened up the opportunity to suggest times that would work.

Body Copy

Every line of the email copy needs to entice the prospect to read the next sentence. To do this successfully, you need to make sure that the email is about the prospect, not your business. In other words, provide your prospects with clear value and benefits—always focus on helping them.

Keep these other email copy best practices in mind:

    • Include no more than 5-7 sentences in the body. Be mindful of the time you’re taking from prospects—so be persuasive, get to the point, and lose the fluff.
    • Use bullet points to explain multiple benefits so you don’t overwhelm readers with blocks of text.
    • Write how your prospects speak. You want to connect with them, not alienate them.
    • Directly address the prospect—use more “you” than “I” or “we.”
  • Personalize emails with their specific pain points and challenges.

Let’s review an example of compelling body copy from Technical Haven:

Hi {{FIRST_NAME}},

HIPAA compliance earns your organization a certain level of protection against data breaches. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that your patients’ data is completely secure.

Risk assessments are a critical part of a proactive cybersecurity strategy. Beyond the security aspect, performing ongoing risk assessments can save you thousands of dollars in penalties and recovery costs if a breach does occur.

I’d love to schedule some time to learn more about how {{COMPANY}} stays ahead of IT risk. How does next Thursday at 3 PM work for you?

Best,

Joe

Technical Haven

——

This email is focused on success for three key reasons:

    • It illuminates the problem and quickly suggests a solution.
    • Instead of focusing on the features, it discusses the benefits.
  • It includes a call to action that is easy to respond to.

And all of that is accomplished in only seven sentences—short and to the point.

Technical Tips

Part of a successful and innovative B2B email marketing campaign is ensuring your campaign doesn’t run into any technical trouble. Let’s review some tips to keep your technical game on point.

Segment Your Lists

Building relationships with your prospects takes time—you want to treat them as individuals, not anonymous recipients. To ensure this personalization happens, you should segment your contact lists to be as specific as possible based on your buyer personas. You could segment by job title, industry type, or even company. It doesn’t matter how, as long as the lists are specific enough to foster the idea that you are having a personal conversation with the recipient.

Include a Way to Opt Out

It’s not just a best practice—it’s the law. You must include a clear and easy-to-find opt out feature in your emails for prospects to remove themselves from communications. If not, you risk being marked as spam in addition to being blacklisted. It’s not worth ruining your reputation over this, so be sure to add one.

Types of B2B Email Campaigns

Email marketing can be used for any number of goals, but in the B2B space, you’ll most likely send emails as part of one of these types of campaigns:

  • Cold. Akin to the cold call, these emails are sent to prospects you have never interacted with before.
  • Re-engagement. This campaign centers on past prospects who may not have purchased from you or past clients who may have left.
  • Event. These emails promote a specific event, such as a conference or webinar.
  • Newsletter. Newsletters are a great way to communicate internal news and promote original, engaging content.

Final Thoughts: Personalize, Personalize, Personalize

Email copywriting is both an art and a science: it takes precision and practice just as much as it demands the ability to spin words into persuasion. The best practices discussed above are a great place to begin, but you may find over time that your prospects prefer a differently worded email. Experimentation and testing is a part of any innovative and successful email marketing campaign—use it to your advantage.

If you walk away from this blog learning nothing else, it should be this: email copy needs to be personal. Prospects don’t have time for you, but they do have time for themselves. Focus on the benefits of your business, not the features, and demonstrate how you can provide value. This authenticity will build trust with your prospects—and they’ll soon see you as an expert who is genuinely seeking to solve their problems.

Contact us today for more information on writing innovative B2B email copy.

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