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What to Include & Avoid in Sales Emails

What to Include & Avoid in Sales Emails

Erika Desmond

By Erika Desmond on Jan 19, 2018

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

While there are many ways to reach out to current and potential customers, email remains the primary communication method for most B2B interactions. A well-crafted sales outreach email is one of the most important marketing tools your business can use to promote its products and services.

The Sales Email Deliverability Problem and How to Solve It

Most businesses use email marketing as part of their relationship building process with prospects and customers. It’s inexpensive, easily scaled, and often successful. Unfortunately, when you click the ‘send’ button within your email service provider of choice, there’s no guarantee that your email will actually reach your entire subscriber list.

DMA Insight's benchmarks peg general email deliverability statistics at 98%, which means that of the 74 trillion emails sent per year, 1.48 trillion are not received. Other studies claim that email deliverability is closer to 75.9%, so the 2% mentioned of undelivered emails is a conservative number.

Of the emails that do reach the customer, only an estimated 37% of emails are opened, according to a study by Hubspot. A majority of these emails include attachments, which begs the question— how often are attachments opened?

According to Brandon Bruce, Chief Operating Officer of Cirrus Insight, approximately five billion email attachments are sent out every day, but senders have had no way of knowing whether the recipient opened or viewed their attachments”.

For those that spend hours crafting email marketing campaigns, this can seem a bit defeating. While open rate and click through metrics can help with qualifying people that are genuinely interested in your products and services, it is a shame to think that some of your email subscribers don’t ever receive your intended messaging.

For the businesses investing time and money into email marketing campaigns, the cost to create content needs to line up with the resulting ROI. The bottom line? Businesses need to maximize email deliverability, open rate, and actions taken on every email sent.

Why People Aren't Opening Your Emails

Assuming it’s not an email deliverability issue, here are two reasons why prospects aren’t opening your sales emails:

  • They’re annoying. Maybe you send too many emails, or maybe you’ve annoyed the customer by tricking them into thinking it’s an urgent life-or-death matter. Either way, if you’ve frustrated your recipient one too many times, you can be sure that the rest of your emails are directed straight to spam.
  • You used a spam-trigger word. So maybe your sales email isn't annoying, but you’re using the type of language that automatically gets marked as spam—demonstrating that there’s something wrong with your technique. One reason why your email hasn’t reached your target audience’s inbox is that the spam filter intercepted it. Hubspot shares a list of spam trigger words that you can avoid.

And a few more reasons to consider:

  • Your recipient is not your target audience. Perhaps it’s a complete misfit regarding the target market for what you’re selling, or perhaps they just aren’t the right decision maker.
  • You sent the email at the wrong time. It’s fair to assume that an email delivered at 3 am probably won’t go over well.
  • You didn't personalize it. Dale Carnegie of How to Win Friends and Influence People reminds us that there’s no sweeter sound (or word, in this case) to a person than their name—so use it!
  • It was too long. Keep it short and sweet whenever possible to match a general decline in attention.

What to Avoid in Your Sales Emails

By now, you should be starting to get an idea of what can make or break your sales email efforts. Let’s focus now on what to avoid completely:

  • Giving irrelevant information. Time is the most important commodity in the attention economy, so if your email is TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) or if you’re going around in circles with what you’re trying to communicate, then the prospect will likely think you're unprofessional and will subsequently mark your email as spam.
  • Long content. In most cases, if your content is too long, people won’t even bother with reading it. According to DocSend, the ‘magic length’ for longer content is 2-5 pages. That said, you’re writing an email—not a blog post. Consider your audience and marketing medium when it comes to content creation.
  • Disguising links. If you including links or attachments, it’s best to be upfront about what it’s leading to. As a general best practice for both email marketing and online content creation in general, use anchor text that describes the underlying link. Furthermore, according to UXMovement, “Using the word “click” on your links takes the user’s attention away from your interface and on to their mouse. Instead of focusing on the interface and its content, “click here” diverts their attention to the user and their mouse”.

How to Get More People to Open Your Sales Emails

Now that you know what to avoid when it comes to crafting the perfect sales email, let’s take a look at what you might want to include:

Create Content that People Appreciate (and that Demonstrates Your Company’s Ability to Solve Prospects’ Problems)

In a study of over 34 million data points, it was found that case studies outperform all other types of content. Case studies have an 83% completion rate, which means that of everyone who views the content, the majority read it all the way through!

This data makes logical sense, as case studies allow customers to see how a company was able to solve a relevant problem and gives them the opportunity to assess whether that solution fits with their financials, timing, and other constraints. Case studies work because potential customers get to see that the solution you're offering works.

Do your Homework on the Prospect to Improve Personalization

There’s nothing worse to a customer than getting a general/not personalized sales email. This usually happens when a salesperson does not vet or qualify their prospects in a way that’s obvious enough for the customer to pick up on.

Personalization is extremely important, as it not only increases your email open rates but also increases leads, sales, conversion rates, and makes sales cycles shorter. One way to personalize is to offer relevant information. If you've met in person or have something in common, point that out to show that you have a personal (or human) connection.

Unfortunately, most people are wise to (and apprehensive of) the standard email personalization tactic that involves using merge tags and a person’s first name. A study by Sunil Wattal, from the Management Information System department of Fox School of Business, found that 95% of people responded negatively to emails that begin with their first names.

Pique your Audience’s Interest and/or Curiosity

Humans are naturally curious. There are several ways to tickle your audience’s fancy when it comes to email marketing ,but one of the best tactics is the open loop—also known as the curiosity gap.

In essence, you tease an email open by being purposefully vague, encouraging people to open an email to satisfy their curiosity. In this way, “Quick question…” can be an effective way to improve your email open rate, though the key is delivering something great in the email body to keep this metric consistent!

What to Include & Avoid in Sales Emails

Although there are several ways to send sales documents, email is a preferred communication method.

Despite the overwhelming amount of emails sent each year, very few translate into leads and conversions. Research, personalization, testing, and creating the type of content people want to read are all tactics for improving the ROI on your efforts.

Whenever possible, track the most important email marketing metrics (open rate, click through rate, and email deliverability). Additionally, using a tool like Cirrus Insight’s new Attach attachment tracking feature can help you close the gap with regards to how people are interacting with the content you attach to your sales emails—case studies, presentations, proposals, and even contracts.

What is your advice for what to include and avoid in sales emails? Bonus points if you have statistics to back them up! Tweet us at @CirrusInsight, and we’ll share our favorite tips!

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