How to write a marketing email that really works

We know that email prospecting works.

Our own recent research showed that 59% of marketers believe email to be twice as effective at generating leads than other channels, such as PPC and paid social media. In the B2B sector, 77% of buyers say that they prefer to be contacted over email – more than double any other channel. 

So why is it so difficult to get it right? We all know how easy it is for an email to pass seamlessly from inbox to trash without so much as a glance beyond the headline - and in fact this is probably why most emails fall flat. I’ve deleted far more than I’ve opened, and I’m betting that you have too. So, what are the magic ingredients that stop us in our tracks and draw us in? 

At Sopro we’ve spent the past eight years perfecting the art of writing effective emails – and identifying the right time to send them. There’s no magic formula – experience, skilled writers and adaptability have played a key part in our success – but we’ve created a list of five pointers that will help you increase your chances of catching the attention of your recipients.

  1. Keep it real

We’re all getting really good at seeing through mass emails. An obviously salesy message spotted cluttering up our inbox will have me reaching for that delete button before you can say “Quick question, Ryan?”. That’s why tip number one is to write your email in the way you’d write to someone you know. This is a completely different art to writing a sales brochure, a blog, or any other copy you may be used to as a marketer. The person you are emailing needs to feel that you’re talking directly to them in a natural manner. It should be short and to the point. The result may not be as slick or detailed as you’re used to – but if it comes across as one human talking to another, you’re on the right track. Oh, and don’t open with a question. It’s just annoying.

  1. Be personal – but not too personal

The next point is a natural extension of the first. Think about who you are talking to and put yourself in their shoes. Yes, you need to show that you know their name. And how to spell it. It’s common sense to avoid “sir/madam” – which is just lazy – and also “hello”, which comes across as awkward and unnatural. You should also put in a normal sounding greeting. “Hi Ryan” is just fine.

On the other hand – and contrary to everything you have probably learned about personalisation – you can go too far. Adding someone’s name or company name to the subject line actually has a detrimental effect on open rates. Looking at it from the recipient’s point of view that’s not hard to understand – coming from a friend or colleague that would feel weird rather than friendly – so avoid it in your email marketing. In fact, using the prospecting company’s name is more likely to get opened by the reader. 

  1. Remember it’s a two-way street

Your email may well be the 154th that your potential customer has received that day, so if you are asking them to give up more of their time for you, let them know why it’s worth their while. You’ve researched your database carefully and you KNOW that your product or service will make their life easier or better in some way. So tell them, clearly, concisely, and truthfully, why you think they should talk to you. 

You need to find the right place between an off-putting hard sell on the one hand and baffling small talk on the other. Most people are won over by honesty, so don’t be shy of explaining what it is you’re selling and how it will help them. We recommend that the entire email is around 100-160 words, so keep “concise” in mind at all times. 

  1. The ten-year-old test

            A long, rambling email with impenetrable language is destined for the bin. We don’t test our emails on ten-year-olds very often, but the principle is sound. It’s not a question of dumbing down, just using language that is easy to absorb when someone is short of time. As I’ve mentioned previously, long words and overtly sesquipedalian linguistic tendencies are unlikely to be assimilated in a manner conducive to a highly performant prospecting campaign. Keep it short and keep it clear.

  1. Signing off with style

End your email with a clear call to action – whether that’s an invitation to arrange a call or to download a paper. Then sign off with a full email signature. As well as a link to your website, give them enough information so that they can look you up on LinkedIn or book a date in your diary easily.