With the proliferation of digital content today comes the (seemingly inevitable) software “solutions” that can (supposedly) automate the writing of business-to-business (B2B) communications. While this automation movement is still in its early stages, marketing experts know that B2B writing is complicated: it involves skill, clarity, and creativity. At the same time, the task of producing a compelling B2B email should not involve rocket science either.
Here are my 10 tips that anyone can use to create better B2B emails:
- Make it easy to read – and take action: While B2B email is still predominantly accessed on desktop/laptop computers, mobile devices are prone to take over soon – if they haven’t already. As such, use one-finger navigation with plain backgrounds, larger fonts, streamlined (e.g. shorter) content, and easy-to-see and use call-to-action (CTA) buttons.
- Don’t assume you’re known: Don’t presume your audience has a knowledge of your company, products or industry, even if you are sending repeated emails to those who you think “know you.” Too many marketers assume their targets know their brands, product names, industry jargon, or acronyms. (Personal favorite: emails from associations that fail to describe what their acronym letters stand for!)
- Offer help: Send content that recognizes and addresses target audiences’ interests, needs and pain points. Use your own in-house experts to convey knowledge or guidance to help your targets do their jobs better. Point prospects to insightful or “how-to” articles, blogs, videos, etc. For existing customers, provide tips and tricks, and highlight lesser-used features they might have overlooked.
- Be personable: People (still) buy from people – even, and perhaps especially in B2B. Use a conversational tone and write as if you were talking to a friend (think Facebook) or colleague (think LinkedIn). Your photo, bio or byline, or those of your people within your company, can add to the human factor. However, in a B2B setting, don’t be overly personable – shortcuts (“ur”) or creative words (“kewl”) are not considered professional.
- Get to the point: The Radicati Group estimates that business end users send and receive an estimated 122 emails per day. That’s on top of the messages they receive through social media, phone calls, and snail mail. Keep this in mind when crafting your email: “My target will read or send 122 other emails today. Am I respecting this person’s time by making my point clear, and getting right to it?”
- Use an interesting subject line: Don’t forget the subject line. After all, this may be the only part of the email that is even read. This is your proverbial interest catcher. Keep it short, and place the most important words first. Be clear and specific, but make it motivating, attention grabbing or thought-provoking.
- Be creative: With all the emails people receive, something – anything! – different is bound to gather attention. And even in B2B, don’t be afraid to think “out of the box” or use a sense of humor. Add some personality to content that reflects the interests of the recipients.
- Be clear on who the email is from. Include a signature (either personal or a company one) with contact information. Many readers often look for this at the end, even if such info is included in the body of the email. This also reminds them that you’re a (real) person, and shows your role in your organization. Also, don’t add too much content to your signature – one CTA is OK; any more than that, you’re just hoping something sticks.
- Be clear on what’s next: Tell the reader what the next step will be, and let them initiate it. Instead of “click here,” write “get the top 10 proven solutions here…” or “register now...” Make these CTAs easily accessible with larger font and attention-getting color.
- Have it reviewed (before sending): Everyone needs an editor; have another person look it over before sending. She or he might inevitably see a grammar or spelling mistake you didn’t, or, even better, ask about an important aspect you might have forgotten or left off. Too many mistakes – or even one – might put your message in the “unprofessional” category by the reader.
You don’t have to be a genius to write an interesting B2B email, but it does take business smarts. If you follow the tips above you will definitely be bringing your A game to the task.
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