Note from Kristy DelMuto, VP of Strategic Marketing at LLR Partners:
LLR has partnered with DemandLab for three years now to develop our GrowthBits content and distribute it effectively. For us, the goal of GrowthBits has always been to codify why and how growth happens, and to share those actionable insights with a broad audience of business leaders to help them accelerate growth.
DemandLab helps us ensure that the emails we send are easy to digest and clearly demonstrate value and relevance to our audience of busy executives. Here’s a glimpse into some of our email best practices that you can also use to effectively deliver content.
As a marketing channel, email is only as effective as the content that fills it.
Email is your most important marketing channel. Have you optimized your email marketing strategy?
With more digital marketing options getting added to the mix every day, it’s hard to know where to focus your marketing efforts. Should you invest in voice search? Chatbots? AI?
Sometimes in our quest to stay ahead of the curve, we overlook the basics—and nothing is more basic than email. Despite being a decades-old technology, it’s still the most highly rated marketing channel for B2B businesses, with nearly three-quarters of marketers reporting that email delivered “good” or “excellent” ROI according to a 2018 report from Econsultancy.
But the channel is only as effective as the content that fills it, and every time you send a poorly crafted email, you run the risk of undermining your brand and depleting your pipeline.
At DemandLab, we have written, designed, tested and measured the performance of thousands of emails for our B2B clients such as LLR Partners, including autoresponders, nurtures, drip campaigns, newsletters and more. Getting people to open, read and act on an email is a fine art, but following these best practices will help you optimize some of the most impactful email elements. (And if you really want to dig in, we worked with LLR to create a handy Email Success Checklist that you can download to help you craft more effective emails.)
Getting people to OPEN your email
There are three key elements that predict whether recipients will open an email or delete it unread:
Subject lines: Everything about the subject line should be carefully considered. It’s worth spending time to brainstorm and refine the perfect line. Keep the length of the subject line to no more than 50-65 characters, and be aware of formats that tend to perform well, such as creating a sense of urgency (“3 Days Left Until…”), asking a question (“Is Your Tech Stack Out of Control?”), or identifying the ideal recipient (“When Sales and Finance Leaders Work Together: The New Tango & Cash?“). Word order matters, too: try to put the most important words towards the front of the subject line to grab the reader’s attention.
Preheader text: Also called preview text, the preheader is the summary text that appears in the space after the subject line. If you don’t write preheader content, that space will fill with default text, such as, “This email was sent with HTML only…” which isn’t very enticing or informative. Instead, make the most of that precious real estate by writing a preheader that creates some intrigue, provides additional information, or clearly states who will benefit from it. For example: “If you’re a CFO tasked with improving cash flow, this webinar will…”
“From” name: This is perhaps the most overlooked email element, but it’s also the most critical. According to research from Litmus, more people decide to open an email based on the “from” name than the subject line or preheader text. Using “noreply@” or “info@” or “sales@” doesn’t inspire confidence or communicate anything about the person or company sending the message. At a minimum, the “from” name should include your company name, and ideally it will identify the relevant business area, team or individual team member (“LLR Partners Fintech Team” or “Ryan from LLR Partners”). We are in the process of enabling this capability at LLR.
Every time you send a poorly crafted email, you run the risk of undermining your brand and depleting your pipeline.
Getting people to read your email
Once you’ve convinced someone to open the email, you need to get them to actually read it. To achieve that aim, make sure you get the three “B’s” right—banner, body copy and bullets.
Banner: Every email should include a banner or headline that echoes the subject line and is short and to the point. The purpose of the banner is to sum up the email contents or to create a sense of intrigue and entice people to read on.
Body copy: The body of the email needs to be short and simple. Too much copy tires the eye and confuses the brain, so plan to communicate the message in approximately 125 words or less. A single block of text is hard to read, so break the copy into paragraphs of 250 characters or so (around 40 words).
If you find it difficult to stay within the ideal word count, you may be overloading the email with too much information. Unless it’s a newsletter, an email should focus on a single idea or topic.
Keep the sentence construction and vocabulary as simple as possible. Even if your audience consists of well-educated professionals, the copy should be easy enough for a student in grade 10 to understand. Writing assistants such as Grammarly are helpful in testing the readability of your copy, or you can plug it into a free readability checker such as Readability Formulas. (This article, for example, has an average readability score of grade 10.)
Bullets: Bullets break up the text and help readers skim and understand it more easily. Studies show that an odd number of bullets is more appealing than an even number, and that using more than five bullets become more difficult for readers to process, so groups of three or five bullets are ideal. Keep them to a uniform length and use parallel construction so that each bullet starts with the same part of speech or verb tense to make it even easier to absorb the information.
Your goals may differ, but the way to achieve them is always the same: include a clear, prominent call to action.
Getting people to act on your email
Ultimately, every email is sent in order to prompt a desired action. In LLR’s case, the goal is often to encourage executives to engage with content that can help them accelerate growth, including GrowthBits and the annual Growth Guide eBook. At other times, they email investment bankers with the goal of keeping them informed on LLR’s investment theses and scheduling a catch-up phone call. If your organization sells a product or service, your goals may be connected to a different kind of action—to sign up, learn more, register, subscribe, upgrade or buy now.
Your goals may differ, but the way to achieve them is always the same: include a clear, prominent call to action (CTA). Yet many marketers still forget to include a CTA, or they include one that isn’t prominent or clear enough.
To maximize the chances that someone will take action, ensure your CTA follows these best practices:
- It starts with an action verb, such as “save your seat” or “get the report.”
- It clearly describes what someone will get or where they will go when they click. (“Download the case study” rather than “Click here”)
- The button uses a high-contrast color and prominent placement to attract attention
- The button text is in a larger font size and a high-contrast color
- More than one prompt is included in the email (a CTA button and a text link, for example)
While including multiple CTAs that promote the same action is recommended, including different CTAs (“Get the report” and “Book a demo,” for example) is not. Squeezing competing CTAs into a single email creates confusion and will reduce engagement.
Here’s the bottom line.
For most businesses, email an indispensable and highly cost-effective marketing channel, but it’s often overlooked and under-optimized. Ensuring that the most critical email elements reflect best practices will help you improve your engagement levels and accelerate your pipeline.
For a complete list of email best practices that you can use to optimize your emails, download the Email Success Checklist, a free email optimization tool from LLR Partners and DemandLab.