Email makes up an important part of b2b marketing. In a 2016 Salesforce survey conducted among 4000 marketers, 80% of respondents agreed that “email is core to their business”. However, b2b customers, particularly tech buyers, can be very particular, meaning that unless you “dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s” before you send out your emails, they may not attract open rates as high as you may hope for. For instance, 47% of participants in a study reported that they read emails based solely on the subject line. This means that if you don’t work on a perfect subject line, your emails may end up in the spam folder.
A high open rate however, is attainable. The benchmark email open rate is 20.81% across all industries. However, it is not unusual to find marketers reporting open rates that are way higher than this average. From a lead-generation standpoint, the higher the open rate, the more leads you will generate. which begs the question: what will make your prospects want to open your emails?
Why Your Emails Have a Low Open Rate
To answer the question we have posed above, let’s first look at some reasons that may lead to low open rates:
- Very long emails. A lot of readers want to get the general idea of an email at first glance.
- Too many value propositions. This ends up confusing the reader. It’s better to stick to one key idea and let the reader discover more value when they are lower in the purchase funnel.
- Not clear what the value is to the customer. People open emails to find solutions to their problems. Emails that speak about your achievements as opposed to how your product will help are not viewed as valuable by your prospects.
- Emails that seem impersonal. Templates are good, but if they look impersonal, they will deter subscribers. People want to feel as though you took time to write them an email and that they are not part of a huge mailing list.
It is this last point that we are concerned with. Emails that are personalized have been shown to increase open rates by 22.2%. As well, emails with a recipient’s name have a higher open rate than those without. Personalizing the subject line also increases open rates.
2 Key Components that Will Improve Your Email Open Rates
While a personalized b2b email template is important, your open rates will not improve until you have the following:
A Clean Database
One of the main components of any successful lead generation campaign is working with a clean database. According to veteran marketer Ellen Valentine, inaccurate data is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for marketers. In an effort to amass leads, marketers are focused on blasting out emails to as many people as possible to fill the top of the funnel, that they forget to clean up their data base. She recommends getting rid of any unresponsive emails from your data base.
Only then can you realize an impressive email open rate and a positive ROI from your marketing campaigns.
Understand Your Audience
Emails that don’t address your audience’s needs will either be deleted or lead to unsubscribes. In order to write for your audience, you have to know what they want. Of all b2b audiences, tech audiences such as IT practitioners are the hardest to convince as they tend to be highly technical and have very unique needs. As such, note the following:
Your SaaS product needs to offer a solution that ensures business continuity. Any indication that there will be interruption in business is never welcome. IT departments tend to influence decisions surrounding software adoption and will advise company executives of the same. Your email should highlight benefits such as:
- Show how your solution will improve their workflow and simplify their day to day activities.
- How they can transition without downtime. While it is important for customers to take advantage of software to get ahead, falling behind is a worse outcome.
- How your solution will lead to reduced errors and mistakes.
- Improvement in speed and timeliness
- Cost-saving aspect
- Increased agility. That is, how they can do more with less.
- Compatibility with other systems.
- Scalability of solutions.
On the other hand, company executives have wider concerns and every decision they make should benefit the entire business. Your email should show how implementing your solution can help them drive wider business objectives. For instance,
- Methodologies for improved management
- Attaining inter-departmental alignment
- Cost-cutting technologies
- Strategies for attaining high revenue and beating the competition
While writing to IT professionals and company executives, keep things literal, use technical language and offer practical scenarios. Avoid trying to sound clever or trying to “water down things”.
After you are sure your data base is clean and that you understand your audience and what they are looking for, you can create an email template.
How Do You Write a Good B2B Email?
A good b2b email should have the following features:
A Compelling Subject Line
The subject of your email is what people first see, so it should be exciting. Spend as much time as possible creating different subject lines and testing them out. Compelling in this case means:
- Will pique the readers’ interest. This should come easy if you done your homework before creating your persona. What do they want? Is your subject line personalized to address this want?
Avoid salesy, spammy-sounding or untrue assertions.
- Keep it short. Research shows that the best marketers use an average of 43.83 characters in their subject line. The reason they do this is because email clients do not accommodate longer subject lines.
- Include some numbers in the subject line. Example: “3 ways to improve business efficiency with solution XX”
- Craft the subject line like an action point. For instance, use words like “accelerate”, “improve”, “Try out”, etcetera.
- Sound consultative rather than pitchy
- Avoid spammy language or words that make an offer be judged upfront as being too good-to-true. For instance, “double your revenue overnight”, “100% email open rates effortlessly”.
- Address a problem. Example: “Take the pain out of lead generation with lead gen forms” or, “Cloud solutions for secure and efficient virtualization”
An Attractive Offer
In all likelihood, members of your target audience are receiving emails from your competitors. What’s more, every email they receive most likely promises great things. So how can you stand out?
First, you need to show them your past successes. Include examples of other companies that you have helped to achieve success.
Second, make your offer sound realistic. Clients read industry reports and therefore they know performance benchmarks for their industry. Any claim that deviates too far from what is normal may end up sounding unbelievable. This is not to say that you shouldn’t play up your strengths; if you have achieved the unachievable, by all means use that to your advantage, but phrase it in a way that sounds believable.
Third, use statistics to back up everything you say. Numbers are measurable, hence trustworthy. Case studies will also go a long way to winning you new leads. This is because case studies convince the lead that they are not risking everything by investing in your services.
Fourth, don’t give everything away in your email. Create some mystery around your offer in order to encourage your audience to click back to your website. For instance:
“According to a recent survey conducted by our company, small and medium sized companies are turning to the cloud storage to cut costs, scale, improve service levels and enhance collaboration. But majority are facing challenges down the road, raising security concerns. All this can change with the right monitoring tools. Download our latest research to learn how to enjoy the benefits of outsourced cloud services while protecting your data”.
This email raises concerns about security and tells the reader that there is a tool they can use to solve their security problems. This piques the reader’s interest to want to download the research mentioned in the email.
Give It a Personal Feel
When drafting emails, bear in mind that you are talking to people. While it is important to maintain a professional tone, it’s just as equally important to avoid language that sounds stilted. Nevertheless, don’t sound overhyped, as if you are trying to sound “fun” as this may be off-putting to professional crowds. Keep the tone conversational, without leaning too much to one side.
Include a Call-To-Action
After your recipients view your offer, you want them to respond by clicking on your call to action. You can have one or multiple CTAs depending on the length of your email. Place one CTA above the fold, so that it is visible and clickable without having to scroll. Make your CTAs visible by contrasting them with the background.
Improving email click through rates for the SaaS industry takes work. Once you develop your templates following the tips discussed above, conduct A/B testing to find the one that has the highest open rates. Above all, always keep the customer in mind when creating emails. You can never go wrong as long as you understand your customer and are writing emails that are sensitive to their needs.