Guest post by Lesley Vos.
2021 is the year of digital transformation for B2B marketing. To keep pace with a rapidly changing business environment, marketers will need to constantly adapt to the latest conditions and adjust strategies for customer service, lead generation, and sales growth.
Since 2017 (actually, since well before that), when the survey from DemandWave reported email marketing to be the #1 channel for lead generation in the B2B niche, the situation has remained consistent for years.
The annual B2B Content Marketing report from CMI in 2020 pointed out the following:
- 81% of B2B marketers use email newsletters as a top form of their content marketing endeavors.
- 87% of B2B marketers call email their #1 organic distribution channel.
- 90% say email engagement is the top metric for them to track content performance.
With this in mind, you might consider improving your email writing skills to create better connections with prospects. As a marketing professional, you already know how to write sales emails that get responses. However, even the most experienced pros aren’t immune to mistakes.
Here are five of the most common mistakes most marketers make when writing B2B sales email copy. Avoid these and you’ll reach more targets with more compelling marketing messages.
1) Lack of personalization
One of the biggest problems with cold sales emails is that they are, well, cold. They’ve got a bad reputation for being too generic, boring, salesy, and tone-deaf. And it’s especially true if you use cookie-cutter email templates for communicating with every prospect.
How to avoid this mistake:
- Say no to email templates. Even if you set them up in Gmail or any other email marketing tool, make sure to customize them for better personalization.
- Always call a recipient by name. It’s your chance to win their favor and satisfy a human psychological need for recognition. The worst approach is a simple “Hello” or “Hey there.” Never skip the first name, but ensure you spell it right. Other than “Dear sir or madam” perhaps, there’s nothing more frustrating than this:
- Try sending emails from a personal email at the company. Sending emails from a return address of John@yourbusiness.com is better than firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com (or worst of all, firstname.lastname@example.org — okay, I never will!). Also, think of a relevant, professional signature. But make sure to use the same name in your email and email address: It’s awkward to get a message from email@example.com saying, “Best, Mike,” don’t you agree?
2) Lack of professional tone
Your sales email copy is about a business offer, so your tone of voice needs to be professional. Though you might want to sound conversational and friendly, it’s best not to cross the line. Keep your writing style formal.
- No GIFs or smileys (Unless it’s your brand’s typical characteristic, and the audience understands and welcomes it.)
- Be careful with jokes (Often, what’s funny when spoken doesn’t look like this when written. Humor or sarcasm can get lost in interpretation and hurt your business reputation.)
- Avoid words with a negative context (“unfortunately,” “wrong,” “problem,” etc.)
- Say no to modifiers of adverbs, a la “very,” “deeply,” “extremely,” “really,” etc.
- Be careful with exclamation points!!! They make your messaging adolescent and emotional.
3) Lack of readability
Given that an average user gets around 143 emails daily, you have to try hard to make them open and read yours from start to finish. Personalized and engaging subject lines can influence open rates, but what about the email body itself?
No one will read long blocks of text, unclear and hard to digest. For your sales emails to look compelling, do the following:
- Avoid sending too much information in one email. Your message must have a purpose and only one thesis statement for clients to understand what you want from them exactly.
- Don’t write long sentences with complicated, opaque language. Avoid professional slang, acronyms (unless expected by the audience), and jargon when communicating your message.
- For better readability, structure emails with short paragraphs. The best writing practices suggest making your email no longer than five paragraphs: this gives the impression to a recipient that it won’t take a long time to read and understand what’s in it for them. Three short paragraphs is better yet.
- Please use standard fonts and formatting. Avoid colors other than black; fonts like Arial, Times New Roman, and Colibri are the best ones to use; no bold or italic, and no CAPS LOCK — all these are common email etiquette rules to follow to make your message professional and easy-to-read at the same time.
- Add a clear call to action (CTA) to your cold emails. This will clearly encourage the recipient to take the desired action.
4) Poor grammar and punctuation
We’re all human, and it’s oaky to miss one or two minor typos typos in an email body—a recipient will understand and forgive you (once!) But there’s a big difference between a typo or missing comma and a message full of errors. They don’t go unnoticed, and your reader will judge you by them.
Recipients may think you are not professional and intelligent enough or aren’t worth their trust. Indeed, why do business with a person who doesn’t even care to review an email before sending it? This (real!) example is a bit extreme, but makes the point:
Avoid writing anything remotely close to this. And beyond that:
- Use spell-checkers. True, they won’t check grammar, and won’t notice all the typos (“your” and “you’re” are both okay for them), but it’s a place to start.
- Read an email a few times before sending it. Ensure you’ve avoided at least the most common grammar and punctuation mistakes.
- Follow the basic rules of punctuation in business emails: Use terminal punctuation (ensure that every line ends with a punctuation mark) and don’t over-use commas (they can break the message rhythm if placed where they don’t belong).
5) Lack of attention to attachments
Sales emails often include links or attachments. If you need to share a link in your email, hyperlinking (rather than copy-pasting the URL into the email body) is more professional. However, be sure to link to the full, original URL. Using a URL shortener risks your message being flagged as spam and makes your recipients less likely to trust those links.
Make sure you send all the attachments in common and popular formats. PDFs are better than Docx files, and Google Drive files are safer yet.
Writing solid B2B sales email copy can both help generate leads and move them through the sales funnel. Email marketing is still the most effective channel for building loyalty and trust.
Even highly experienced marketers can miss or forget something, so make sure you don’t ignore basic writing rules when crafting your sales copy:
- Pay attention to subject lines and overall personalization of your email.
- Write in a professional tone of voice, format your email for better readability, and remember to add a call to action.
- Do your best to avoid common grammar and punctuation mistakes in emails: Proofread and edit each copy before sending it to a prospect.
Want to learn more? Feel free to check the guides on SEO and marketing strategies to consider this year.
Lesley Vos is a text author, blogging at Bid 4 Papers and specializing in content creation and self-criticism. In love with words, coffee, and foxes. In the hope of mastering the art of proofreading before she hits “send.”