Email Content Best Practices for Sales

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Email Content Best Practices for Sales

Email Content Best Practices for Sales Emails

How to write your most successful sales sequence

The cold email is your first interaction with good-fit leads you’ve worked hard to find. With all that potential, and inbound momentum in some cases, you need this interaction to solidify a positive relationship with your leads and a game plan informed by competitive knowledge and specialized domain expertise.

You’ll notice a theme in this guide: focus on value as perceived by the contact, not ourselves. This means, we’re turning around our arguments and questions, not speaking from our perspective, but from our contact’s perspective. This is hard. Let’s figure it out!

We’re going to focus on deliver-ability, above all, so your own email content gets to the inbox, not the spam folder, and content for conversion, with the best tips in the industry.

Why learn to write better emails?

“If you would persuade, appeal to interest, not to reason.”

– Ben Franklin

Let’s start with a go-to checklist for evaluating sales emails.

Hierarchy of content criteria checklist

  • Will this email deliver? / Don’t get spam blocked / soft-bounced »
    – Eliminate bullet points, and bolded or italicized text
    – Don’t use “spam” words like Cost, Payment, Friend, etc.
    – NO Attachments in step 1 email, no images
    – Less than 2 links (or none at all – as links drive up bounce rates)
  • The opening line »
    – No selfish openers – “Hi, my name is … I work for … I want to …” > stop talking all about me, me, me. Talk about the problem that keeps this contact up at night.
    – Bring up a specific problem the contact wants solved.
    – Or, explain important context for how you discovered them and why that matters to their goals – “Came across your website while researching / auditing…”
  • Get specific » no general problems or statements
    – Turn general statements like “better,” “faster,” into specific outcomes (better sales = repeatable process, or better fit leads, or more context on your target accounts, or analytics suggesting changes to your ICP…
    – Put metrics on WHATEVER you can quantify
    – The more specific your statement or impact, the more convincing and valuable this information becomes.
  • Focus » have ONE thing to learn from this email… and that’s it.
    – Contacts have 0 attention span, just like us. Asking a perfect stranger to read an essay about your agenda and value is unfair. Let the contact learn ONE important thing about you per email. And, rank what you choose to teach about yourself and company by its importance to your contact.
  • CTA’s
    – Directly ask for a call – always. Also, suggesting a specific date for your call helps make a decision to call easier.
    – Directly ask for your desired outcome – click this link
  • Overall Sequence Length
    – 33% of responses come from email 5-8
    – Sending less than 5 emails in a sequence is a waste of good leads
    – Persistence pays off when you’re consistently adding value to your contacts.

Common Issues

  • “My email’s long, because I have so much to say!”
    Communicating all your thoughts and values in one email ensures that no one will read any of them. To help your contact understand your value, write the one thing you want them to focus on from this email. And, that’s it! Leave the rest of your value for your follow ups.
    • If the statements outlined in your bullet point list are all super compelling, pick the ONE most persuasive bullet point (the one that keeps your contacts up at night)  in your list and include that in your first email, only.
    • Dedicate one follow up email to each additional bullet point.
    • If you have multiple case studies, dedicate each email to one case study, and one ASPECT of that case study, especially with a small, actionable tip to pique interest.
  • Tips for condensing lengthy content

For Example, see the difference between these two emails:

With Bullet Points Subject Line: Intro – {{sender_first_name}} to {{first_name}} Without Bullet Points Subject Line: MyCompany <> {{company}}

Hi {{first_name}}, I’m reaching out because I took a look at {{company}}’s website and think we could help you out. We’ve transformed ThatLargeCo.’s business and I think we could add similar value here. MyCompany’s a business service that solves problems. By switching, ThatLargeCo.’s now: gained X%+ cost savings speed has run up to 800% faster And have everything all in one place It’d be valuable to understand {{company}}’s unique goals and see how we can be of value. Would you have some time for a conversation this week? Best, {{sender_first_name}} Hi {{first_name}}, Reaching out in regards to {{company}}’s Google Adwords use. We helped ThatLargeCo. increase their success by 800%, with this specific feature we built around a specific aspect of your daily workflow. To put this into perspective, here’s the technical reason why this worked, and additional metrics (and a reduced cost by Y%). Are you available for a call this coming {{now_weekday->plus_1}}? Looking forward to connecting with you, {{sender_first_name}}    

Note: We’re giving a lot more context around that most important bullet/selling point we have instead of lazily listing out the metrics (which are super impressive, but are just numbers without a story).

  • How to increase your chances of scheduling your first call
    What’s the easiest path to getting what you want? Ask for it. Directly guiding your lead toward the ideal next step shepherds them to success faster than stepping around the fact that you want to work together and discuss how this may work on a call. Here are some ways to ask for a call.
  • Great Calls to Action
    Good phrases to use for scheduling a Call / Demo

    “Are you available for a call {{now_weekday->plus_1}} or {{now_weekday->plus_2}}?”
    Mentioning a specific time or date makes it easier for your contact to commit to a call time. The creative energy it takes to look at a calendar and generate times can become a blocker for scheduling a call.

    “Can you touch base on a call this week?”
    The same principle applies, where limiting the creative energy needed to commit to a call makes it easier.

    “How does this coming {{now_weekday->plus_1}} look for you, {{first_name}}?”
    Another example of picking a specific day or time, and bringing the contact’s attention to the question with their name. 

Direct Requests for ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ or simple answers that don’t require much thought for your Contacts to respond and start a conversation.

  • A tip for these questions is to ask a leading question that brings the contact’s issue to the forefront so they’re compelled to solve it. Putting your contact in this mindset helps increase the urgency to solve this problem.
  • Asking this type of question on a cold call also gives you the chance to subtly brag about your company’s ability to solve this problem, based on your industry knowledge / intel on the specific contact’s problem.
  • “Are you currently using a video solution at {{company}}?”
  • “How much time do you / your team members (of a certain title) take to do X?”
  • When and How to Share Links
    We’re complete strangers to our cold leads. Without establishing trust and adding value, contacts have no motivation to read what you share with them. Tease contacts into clicking content sharing links, by adding some value with insights from within the linked resources, like below.
    • Ex. »
      “Hi – on top of saving teams 10hrs / week on prospecting, we have customer success managers that share effective strategies and insights with you.

      Here’s an article one of our CSMs wrote on how to collect phone numbers by sending emails on common OOO holidays…link…”

Writer’s Block & How to Beat It

Starting to write your sales email is the toughest part about creating a sequence. Here’s a process for starting to write with more impact.

  • What keeps your contacts up at night?
    • What is their pain/fear?
    • What pain makes your buyer need your product NOW?
  • What will get them that promotion?
    • What is their hope?
  • What events will cause them to lose their job?

Now, where do you win?

  • Based on what your buyer does and their pains and goals – what stats do you have that relate to that? Tell the stories related to those.
  • Challenge your buyer, teach them something, because you know what they do so well.

First, answer these questions and make a bullet point list to answer each. At the end of the exercise, you’ll have content to copy and paste into your emails. Then, add an action item.

  1. Personas: List the personas you Target
  2. Before: What are the problems these personas are having before they start to work with you?
    Ex. » No transparency into sales process and activities
  3. Negative Consequences: What are the consequences of these problems?
    Ex. » Missed opportunities
  4. After: What are the benefits these personas get after starting to work with you?
    Ex. » Easy and proactive reporting on sales process and activities / lack of activity
  5. Positive Business Outcomes: What are the positive business outcomes of these benefits from working with you?
    Ex. » More, and higher deal sizes, being won due to new transparency into the sales process
  6. Required Capabilities: What are the necessary features / tools / specs that need to be met to achieve these outcomes?
    Ex. » Clean data, easy to use reporting built into your workflow, integrations with specific tools to collect data
  7. Metrics: What are the metrics associated with these outcomes?
    Ex. » $ revenue per customer, % conversion rate, # increase touches / account / rep
  8. How we do it: What are the features and qualities that enable these capabilities? (Group related capabilities together underneath each feature / quality umbrella
    Ex. » Feature: Predictive Insights: Using your email success metrics, we suggest which titles and industries are your best fit. Easy A/B testing in sequences: Learn what content gets the highest Reply and Interested rates to improve messaging and success rates.
  9. Proof: What are some use cases / case studies you can use to prove this value:
    Ex. » CustomerCo. closed 2X more deals in the first 3 months using Apollo to quickly , and increased reply rates
  10. Discovery Questions: What questions would you or your reps ask to position yourself for success?
    Ex. » What I’m understanding is that you need to be able to customize your current reports to get a better idea of how your reps are doing at a glance, is that correct?

Having the right message for the right buyer persona is like having the right golf clubs.

How to Use Content Across Your Entire Sequence

Your company creates a lot of value for your customers, so it can be overwhelming to know how to speak to all these values in one email. Some brief advice – don’t share these values ALL in one email. Break them up across many emails in your sequence. Here are easy approaches to writing concise and effective sales email content.

And, remember, don’t mention all of your value in the first email. Our goal is to use the above Value Framework guide to expose (1) what values we offer and (2) what value is most important to each separate persona, so we can mention this most important information in our first touchpoint / email, and use the rest of our values to support our proposal to schedule a call.

  • Case study breakdown
    • Construct a separate email (Sequence Step) for every metric in the case study
    • Break down the problem the client had and the solution you created for them
  • Prove expertise
    • Communicate what you know about specific technologies, industries, titles, verticals, etc.
    • Describe what’s unique about your level of service
  • What it’s like working with you
    • Aspects of your service or brand that add value for your customers
    • Webinars
    • Your Support & Success resources and/or service levels
    • What’s enticing/easy about your Process
  • Share content
    • Give them up to three clear and concise reasons why they should open your link
    • Example: “In this document, we outline how delivering a customized video that mentions your target company’s name directly increases conversion by 30% along with other pro tips about what’s worked best for companies like yours.”
    • Mention the science behind the outcomes you’re describing with concrete percentages and actionable insights
    • Optional: include an image that links to video content only in later Steps in your Sequence (videos or images in initial outreach emails may be caught by SPAM filters)
  • Diagnosis / consulting / doctoring
    • Diagnose the most common and well-recognized issue your Contacts are facing

Strong Subject Lines

  • idea for {{company}}
  • YOUR CO.” <> {{company}}
  • how competitive is {{company}}’s sales team?
  • 10x {{company}}’s traction in 10 minutes
  • Question about employee loyalty at {{company}}

Strategies to keep in mind when writing subject lines:

  • Fear of loss
  • Offer value
  • Intentionally lowercase
  • Start a genuine discussion
  • Familiarity with company / concerns

Pro tip: We’ve noticed that the {{company}} snippet is in a lot of these successful subject lines. Could be good to work with that.

Words that Increase email opens:

  • Emails with “alert” in the subject line were opened 61.8% more than those without that word.
  • Emails with “Free” in the subject line were opened 10% more than those without that word.
  • Emails with “tomorrow” in the subject line were opened 10% more than those without that word.
    New, Sales, Video, Daily, Weekly…

Take away: the idea of scarcity or exclusivity is helpful, as well as personalization relevance

Words that Decrease email opens:

  • Emails with “you” in the subject line were opened 5% less than those without that word.
  • Emails with “quick” in the subject line were opened 17% less than those without that word.
  • Emails with “meeting” in the subject line were opened 17% less than those without that word.
  • Emails with “newsletter” in the subject line were opened 18.7% less than those without that word.
  • Monthly…

Take away: communicating over-commitment of time and undervaluing your own messages’ worth can devalue the subject line and message

Length: Subject lines with 3 or more words are opened 15% less than those with 1-2.

Personalized subject lines are 22.2% more likely to be opened, same for urgent subject lines and subject lines that make you seem exclusive.

Pro tip: These are all strong, hard won tips, but nothing beats your own testing. So, write A/B templates and TEST EVERYTHING.

Evaluating the Success of Your Emails

Industry average email rates:

  • Open is 21.8-28.8%
  • Reply is 7-17%%
  • Click through is 1-3.3%
  • Interested is 1% on average

Delivering 80% of your emails to an inbox is a global average deliverability rate (meaning 20% bounce is a global average).

  • Open Rate: 35-55% (or higher! 🙂
  • Reply Rate: 1/2 open = 15-23%
  • Interested Rate: 3-4% conversion to meetings
  • Bounce rate: 10-18% is OK – try not to go above 18% » content, reputation, industry you’re emailing, as well as quality of emails affect bounce rate. So, there are many factors you can affect to increase successful deliveries.
  • Here’s a guide to avoid spam blockers you will find helpful if you have difficulty with spam blocking or bounces. 

For more information or assistance with email marketing get in touch.

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