Email Messaging: How your peers craft emails for conversion


“No one wakes up in the morning and says, ‘I sure hope I get a lot of great email marketing messages today.’” This was one of  Dr. Flint McGlaughlin’s more clever quips at our recent B2B Summit.

And it hits close to home, because we all know how hard it is to get attention in those crowded inboxes, where your recipients are quickly sorting through messages mostly focused on deleting and unsubscribing, not diligently reading every word of your marketing messages.

This Wednesday at 4 p.m., Flint, our managing director, will share some of our discoveries about increasing response to email marketing promotions and campaigns in our next free Web clinic – Email Messaging: How overcoming 3 common errors increased clickthrough 104%.

But first, we wanted to hear your peers’ top tips for increasing the effectiveness of email messaging. Here are a few of our favorite responses …


Compelling, simple and educational

Three factors to consider for your email marketing:

Compelling, funny subject lines. Yelp and Brazen Careerist do a particularly great job of this. Yelp goes for humor or fun references, for example: “Your heartbreaking work of staggering genius.”

Brazen Careerist tempts you by telling you they have information that you want, for example “Here’s one simple way to get ahead at work.” Then they follow through and actually deliver that information.

KISS – keep it simple, stupid. I love clean, minimalistic email creative. I hate when there are too many images or messages competing for my attention.

Deliver educational content. Don’t just promote your products or services. Deliver interesting facts, perspectives or case studies that your target audience would be interested in knowing.

– Shreya Oswal, marketing associate, LinkedIn


From headlines to offers

Headlines – On average, 70% of people trash emails based upon the headline alone. … How often does one stand out from the crowd? Answer: rarely. It’s pivotal to avoid all language associated with sales and marketing and to implement new, catchy subjects.

Personalization – Unfortunately, this depends on the level of your data, but it really is key to getting people to open the mail. If it isn’t directly associated with my work or personal interests, I will not read the email.

It amazes me how many people don’t even target marketing based on location. I get so many emails about “events in Singapore,” “money off in New York” – I live in the UK! Don’t waste my time.

And to be honest, if your data doesn’t have the level of detail required, you really need to hire somebody in to tidy up your database and get you the information you need. I labeled this as “personalization” but it directly links with “targeted marketing.”

Colour – The simplest way to catch my attention is to make something boldly stand out from the normal sea of black and grey.

Offers – In the current financial state, the easiest way to get someone interested is to offer money off, free gifts, etc. – an incentive to fork out money for your product or event.

Above all else though, I come back to my earlier point – create a new language, no marketing or sales pitches/terminology, none of the usual “catchphrases.” Do something completely radical and different with your approach – it’s the easiest way to stand out amongst the mass of trash emails that we receive every day.

– Sophie Danby, global operations manager, Ovum


5 factors for effective email messaging

My suggestions for email messaging:

Personalize – This does not mean just using mail merge to say “Hi [Name].” The selection of recipients has to be done in such a way that the message is relevant to the person’s business or personal interests.

Also, the message should be composed in a person-to-person tone. It’s an email, not a bulletin board. I would also strongly advise signing off as a person and not as “The XYZ Team.”

Frequency – Depending upon the nature of the message, there is always an ideal frequency of sending-out the mails, beyond which you are spamming your recipients with “too many of those.” Even if people subscribe to your newsletter (permitting you to send them emails), you don’t want to annoy them with overloads of anything. A monthly newsletter is ideal and is sure to be read by most recipients.

Timing – Remember how you waited for the right time to ask your dad to sign your bad grade-sheets as a kid (or ask him to buy you a PlayStation – whatever suits you)? Send the emails at a time when your recipients are expected to be in the mood to read them so as to maximize your chances of best responses. I tend to trash more mail on Monday mornings as compared to a Wednesday evening, for instance.

Engagement – Even though automated responses are instant, most people expect someone human to reply to them, and they would be willing to wait a few hours for that “real” response from you. Email is not a one-time or one-way message. It is a conversation. So start engaging with people and have someone responding to email personally.

Content – Apart from the obvious personalization of the content, you need to assure that the mail is elegantly designed and formatted in a way that is pleasant to read. (I believe most people hate Comic Sans, rainbow colors or 30px of type.)

Another very important thing to keep in mind is that the message should be clear with “Images OFF” so that you don’t miss on that tiny audience of people who have images blocked while viewing your mail.

Also, ensure proper hyperlinking and anchor-linking to make things convenient for your audience. (Even copy-pasting URLs is a pain for most people, trust me.)

Lastly, your signature should give them a clear idea of who they have been conversing with because not everyone is adventurous enough to love talking to ghosts.

Nivesh Jain, social media executive, Invensis Technologies

Related Resources:

Email Messaging: How overcoming 3 common errors increased clickthrough 104% — Wednesday, November 9th, 4:00-5:00 p.m. EDT

Email Marketing Optimization: Email messaging 101

Ten Numbers Every Email Marketer Should Commit to Memory

Crafting an Engaging Email Message — Web clinic replay

Email Marketing Toolkit

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