Conversion killer: How cruddy B2B email marketing copy can doom your strategy

Your email strategy was flawless. Or so you thought.

You developed solid customer personas. You created compelling content that perfectly aligned with your audience’s stage in the buying journey. You tailored your messaging to your readers’ specific interests and needs.

But post-campaign, your reporting revealed that things went terribly wrong.

Your open rate was pitiful.

Your click-through rate was abysmal.

And your click-to-open rate left a lot to be desired.

So, what was the problem?

If your strategy was truly top-notch, your lackluster results indicate that weak copy was to blame.

Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to strengthen your writing and help you craft B2B email marketing copy that your readers find irresistible.

1. Keep your copy short

Subscribers will spend an average of 11.1 seconds reading your email.

That’s right. The message you spent hours creating? Your customers and prospects will glance at it for one-sixth of a minute.

With that in mind, it’s crucial to keep your email copy short. How short? Here are some suggestions:

  • Subject lines: Return Path data found that subject lines between 61 and 70 characters earn the highest read rate. With so few characters to spare, you need to concentrate on the business goals of your readers. Resist the urge to talk about your company and its products or services.
  • Headlines: People are most captivated by the first three words and the last three words in a title, according to Kissmetrics usability research. So, the ideal headline length is—you guessed it—six words. Try combining several of the following winning headline elements in as few words as possible: a number, a relevant keyword, a promise, an action-oriented verb, and a question.
  • Sentences: PR and communications expert Ann Wylie, citing an American Press Institute study, says that readers comprehend 100% of the information in a sentence with fewer than eight words. That number plummets to under 10% when a sentence swells to 43 words. A sweet spot is around 20. Do your readers a favor: Make your sentences easier to understand by shortening them.
  • Paragraphs: Readers find lengthy paragraphs intimidating. Online readers even go so far as to skip large paragraphs of text entirely. When it comes to emails and other web-related reading materials, “Keep paragraphs short,” advises the Yahoo! Style Guide. “Two to three sentences is often enough.”
  • CTAs: HubSpot suggests that a CTA should be no longer than five words. In most cases, though, three should be plenty. “Sign me up,” “Download the report,” and “Visit our site” are concise and easy to understand. If you want to add “now” to create a greater sense of urgency, that’s fine, too.

All told, your emails should be between 50 and 125 words long. Anything shorter or longer than that, and you risk declining response rates.

2. Make your content easily digestible

Reducing the length of your copy is one way to make your content easy to digest. But it isn’t the only way.

As readers skim your email—because they certainly don’t read it from start to finish—you need to do something to keep their attention from drifting and their eyes glued to the screen.

Bolding key words and phrases and incorporating bulleted lists into your email can help.

The primary point of your message can often be summarized by a handful of words. Emphasize that portion of your copy by bolding the text. That way, even readers who just scan your email will get the gist.

Bullet points, similarly, encourage skimming. And since most of your subscribers aren’t reading your entire message anyway, why not deliver your content to them in the small chunks they desire?

Instead of writing one long sentence containing a series of three items separated by commas, split each item into an individual line and precede it with a bullet.

Not only will condensing this sentence into smaller, consumable nuggets appeal to your readers’ inclination to scan your copy, it’ll highlight important components of your message that you expressly want to convey.

3. Stay on topic

Every email you write should have a singular focus. Your readers should be expected to take one—and only one—action at a time.

You may want to offer subscribers a chance to download a new e-book your company created. You may want to promote an upcoming webinar hosted by one of your executives. You may want to announce a new service your organization provides. But avoid doing it all in the same email.

That’s too much information for one reader to process in a single communication. Remember, you only have 11.1 seconds, on average, to get your message across. Don’t complicate matters.

Prioritize your key initiatives. Write one email with one specific topic in mind.

Between your company website, social media channels, landing pages, and future emails, you’ll have plenty of other opportunities to share important messages with your customers and prospects. Don’t overwhelm your readers with everything at once.

With these three tips, you’re well on your way to creating world-class B2B email marketing copy that captivates customers and achieves desirable business outcomes. But if you’re still not feeling confident in your capabilities, visit our Creative & Content Development page to learn more about how we do it. Or, just get in touch.

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