B-to-B Insights: Entering the Inbox
To increase email frequency, add one more email to your weekly or monthly schedule. Then keep a close eye on your opt-out rate. If it stays the same, you can safely increase your email frequency to the new level. If it spikes, cut back to the old frequency.
One reason for opt-outs other than frequency is the quality of your emails. When you send useful content, your subscribers will thank you by remaining loyal subscribers and opening, reading, and responding to your emails. On the other hand, if all you send are sales pitches, they will unsubscribe—and even those who don't will stop opening and reading.
A good rule of thumb is that at least 50 percent of your email messages should be content. If the ratio of content to sales falls below 50 percent, your opt-out rate will increase and your open rates will decrease.
Finessing Email Copy
What about the content and copy of your email messages? Here are a few tips: Begin with an engaging headline or lead-in sentence. You need to get a terrific benefit right up front.
For instance, Orleans Coffee Exchange provides coffee by mail. They sent an email to past customers who once subscribed to their coffee service but had dropped off the list. The headline: "You Still Drink Coffee, Right?" It struck a chord because, of course, in almost every instance, the recipient still drank coffee. The open rate was 52.3 percent and the click-through rate was 34.6 percent. Dozens of old accounts were reactivated.
- In the first paragraph, deliver a mini-version of your complete message. Readers should know who you are, what you are selling, and why they should be interested.
- Within the first couple of paragraphs, state the offer and provide a link to a landing page or another immediate response mechanism.
- After the first paragraph, present expanded copy covering features, benefits, proof and other relevant information.
- The offer and response mechanism should be repeated in the close of the email. But they should almost always appear at the very beginning, too.
- Take it easy on the ALL CAPS. Words in all caps give the impression you are shouting.
- Use wide margins. Limit yourself to about 60 characters width per line.
- The tone should be helpful, friendly, informative and educa- tional—not promotional or hard-sell. Information is gold on the Internet.
- Be concise. Readers are quickly sorting through a bunch of messages and aren't disposed to stick with you for a long time.
- Regardless of length, get the important points across quickly.
An effective way to organize your email copy is to use the motivating sequence, a formula for persuasive writing that works in all media. The motivating sequence is 1) get attention, 2) state the problem your prospect has, 3) position your product as the solution to that problem, 4) offer proof that your product is indeed a superior solution, and 5) ask for action.
Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter who has written copy for more than 100 clients including IBM, AT&T, Praxair, Intuit, Forbes, and Ingersoll-Rand. McGraw-Hill calls Bob “America’s top copywriter” and he is the author of 90 books, including “The Copywriter's Handbook.” Find him online at www.bly.com or call (973) 263-0562.