Fresh E-Mail Approaches for Spring

Have you gotten into a business-to-business (B2B) email rut? Time to take a fresh approach to keep your readers’ attention and view rates high across your campaigns.

Here are some of the best approaches we’ve seen lately:

  • Press releases. We’ve received a flood of press releases lately announcing healthcare conferences and events. Though these seem to be genuine press releases, they also act as general announcements to the public. They’re not the boring, text-based messages we received only a few months ago. They’re now nicely designed and contain color photos. Think about throwing a press-release format into your email campaign and see what happens. Besides generating sales, maybe you’ll get some good press!

  • Actionable email templates. A lot of companies use contemporary photos as banners on the top of their email to attract attention. Better, though, are email messages with a toolbar across the top. One events company we know uses a toolbar with buttons for “Request a Brochure” and “Recommend a Colleague.”

    Think about what you want your reader to do, and create the call to action up top, where it’s immediately visible. A toolbar header for your email allows you to highlight supporting information yet keep it secondary. That way, you’ll keep the main message uncluttered.

  • Interactive quizzes. People love quizzes, especially when they’re relevant to their lives. Think how many appear in women’s magazines. In B2B, the key is to keep the quiz short. Create three to four questions, max. Then, pay off the answers with copy about how your product relates to the readers’ issues. We’ve seen this approach produce great response rates for clients.
  • Graphs. A graph can telegraph a message more cogently than a paragraph. Business people are accustomed to viewing numerical data in pie charts, bar graphs, and so on. One company uses simple pie charts to show the high percentage of senior management who attend their conferences.
  • Top 10 lists. We’ve seen this approach work consistently well in a number of different email campaigns. The promise is the reader will be able to breeze through the list quickly and become informed instantly. You can identify the top 10 reasons to buy or the top 10 issues of interest to the reader.
  • Interview formats. We’ve talked about this approach before, but it bears mentioning again. Looking for an alternative to that standard email format? People enjoy reading interviews of well-known people. This is also a good way to break up long copy. Be sure to include a picture of your interview subject and add a compelling caption. The eye naturally goes to photo captions first. They’re short, easy to read, and add context to the photo.
  • Q&A formats. For an interesting change of pace, write an email in a question-and-answer format. The key is to write the questions in a natural, conversational mode. Make it sound as if someone from your target market actually wrote it.
  • Forwarded notes. This is an easy way to recycle an existing email ad or letter. Just add a forwarding note to the effect of, “Wasn’t sure you had a chance to receive this note, so I thought I’d resend it to make sure you didn’t miss out on…”

Keep a list of possible email formats on hand as a toolkit. To come up with new formats, take a look at features in popular magazines. New York Magazine’s “Best Bets” feature could lend itself to a great email approach. Ladies’ Home Journal’s “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” might be another good jumping off point. “Can This Enterprise Be Saved?” is one possible adaptation.

Shake loose the winter doldrums for a great creative spring. If you’ve see anything novel or interesting lately in the B2B email space, share it with Karen.

Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.

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