The Article in 60 Seconds
Email remains a powerhouse strategy for B2B tech companies like your company. How do you best utilize email in the age of text, app notifications, and social media?
The same technologies that drive the latest mobile and desktop advances can be applied to your email efforts including:
- The Power of Plain Text
- Sometimes, simplicity cuts through all of the clutter and puts your message front and center. Plain text can bypass tools designed to block email. Plain text can disarm end user when they click to open.
- Reading your name, my friend, is still powerful and meaningful. A well-timed personalization draws your readers in. But beware, use personalization in your emails like a trained chef uses seasoning — just the right amount to enhance the experience.
- Don’t avoid automation because of the upfront time investment. Automation can touch, inform, and move your audience deeper in your process.
- We live in a video world. YouTube reaches more 18- to 49-year-olds than any single cable network. Video is attractive, highly shared, easily consumable, and preferred.
Don’t remain tethered to your email techniques because they are easy, familiar, or quick to implement.
Think About This
Some variation of email marketing has been in existence since the 90s.
By the end of 2019, more than. 246 billion emails will be sent per day. Of those, 130 billion will be business emails.
As a whole, 53% of emails are opened on a mobile device. The B2B space has a higher desktop open rate than the average.
We are using the words plain and simple to distinguish between two types of emails. Plain text is a technological term referring to an email stripped of all code. You are just sending text. A simple text email is one that has few or no images, little code, no inter-actability, and only simple hyperlinks. A simple text email LOOKS like a text only email but may have more style or be built on a template.
Incorporate plain text into your email strategy in two ways:
- Adding plain text to display when email browsers don’t display HTML; and
- Strictly using plain text emails for particular marketing emails
How many emails, even B2B, do you receive that look similar:
Colorful images, bold calls-to-action, and well-thought design merge together in an HTML email. This technique makes up the core component of most email marketing strategies in both B2B and B2C worlds. But, what would your readers see if their email browser didn’t load images? If you don’t add ALT text to images and create a plain text version, they might see nothing at all.
That’s pretty scary.
But it’s all too common.
Research from Litmus reveals that 43% of Gmail users have auto-loading images turned off.That means that a wide swath of your readers don’t see anything or have any context for your use of images. It’s also one of the main reasons the leading email testing company does not recommend sending image-only emails.
Add ALT Text to Every Image
Adding image ALT text and a “plain text version” should be easy no matter what platform you use. For example, in HubSpot, your team can add ALT text to any image in any public-facing atmosphere.
- Adding alternative text to photos is first and foremost a principle of web accessibility. Visually impaired users using screen readers will be read an alt attribute to better understand an on-page image. String together a few words, including a key word, that will communicate what the image is but not overwhelm.
- Alt tags will be displayed in place of an image if an image file cannot be loaded.
- Alt tags provide better image context/descriptions to search engine crawlers, helping them to index an image properly.
Additionally, there is also the option to customize a “plain text version.” Many companies skip this step, but it is essential for making sure all email recipients can actually receive the email content itself — with or without images. So, be sure to take the time to write out content that overlays an image, and follow standard email best practices, such as using bulleted lists and keeping the content short.
Create a Plain Text Version of Every Email You Send
Most, if not all, email platforms provide a setting that allows you to send a text-only email to your recipients that have selected to not receive images or whose firewall or virus protection software pushes some emails into junk folders. Simply put: plain text emails have a higher deliverability rate.
Creating a plain text version actually works on two levels. First, for those who have self-selected to not receive HTML emails will still get your emails. Secondly, if your HTML version is properly coded with no broken links and you’ve provided a plain text version as well, the deliverability of the HTML should equal that of a plain text email. Let this become second nature for every email created.
Use Simple Text Emails for Key Applications
According to a survey conducted by Databox, 62% of marketers send a hybrid of both simple text and HTML emails. So how can you determine when to use each to get the biggest ROI? If you create a simple text email, still take the extra time to create a plain text version for those that manually block certain emails.
Deploy Simple Text Emails For:
- Cold outreach prospecting and sales emails: Simple text emails allow you to take a personalized, human approach to your sales prospecting and nurturing. Although the emails may feel “boring,” individuals like receiving emails that feel as though they are from a human, rather than a company. Use plain text or simple text to accomplish these cold approaches.
- Networking follow-ups: When heading to or returning from a conference, B2B tech companies often have a list of contacts that they can contact. Simple text emails are great for this purpose because they help you stand out. If you’re given the email list from the trade show, so have all of your competitors. And most will take the easy way out with a non-personalized, generic email. A text-based email allows your message to be short, sweet, and above all else, personalized! (Not to mention, according to research from Hubspot, consumers actually prefer text-based emails.)
- Client-facing emails: A letter from the CEO, important software updates, and other important communications should not be in a distracting email format.
Ever receive an email that was personalized…impersonally? You know the email I’m talking about — the one that has the wrong name, spelling, abbreviation, or lack of proper nouns; the one that clearly wasn’t written just for you.
As a marketer, you know that your efforts are only as good as your data, which might lead you to avoid tactics like personalization. As a matter-of-fact, one survey noted that nearly two-thirds of marketers find personalization a difficult tactic to implement successfully.
Part of the problem is that your data isn’t created by you. For example, Joe Smith downloads an e-book, and instead of typing out “Joe Smith” he just types “j” for his first name. When using personalization tokens in a mass email send, “Dear j” certainly doesn’t seem personalized.
Although the perfect execution of personalization might be intimidating, the tactic is essential — and B2B tech companies should find a way to sneak one or two personalization tokens into every email — even if it is just your first name — my friend. (So, how clean is our data?)
To use personalization effectively, we recommend doing a data clean up. This might mean hiring an intern to go through every contact in your system to make sure information is accurate. At least, perform a spot-check.
Pro tip: Avoid over-personalizing every single email. Personalization opens you up for errors.
If you still haven’t begun to automate some of your company’s emails you are working too hard (and definitely not getting enough ROI). Email automation has the power to:
- Decreased Costs
- Elimination of Busy Work
- Stronger Sales-Marketing Relationships
- Fewer Cold Calls
- Improved Reporting
- Increased Revenue
While email automation does have a larger front-end time investment (which may be why we see B2B tech companies avoiding the strategy), it saves you time in the long run.
If you want to learn more about incorporating a successful email automation strategy, you can find our complete guide for marketing automation for B2B tech companies here.
Sales emails in particular often come across impersonal even when personalized, which might explain why today’s email marketers experiment with both plain text and HTML emails to get clicks and replies. But, one video marketing trend we don’t see enough B2B technology companies capitalizing on is using video in sales emails.
Now you may be thinking “my sales team isn’t comfortable in front of the camera” or even “I’m not comfortable in front of the camera.” But, the beauty of using video in your sales emails is that your recipients crave authenticity. They don’t want a hokey, scripted video that anyone could have received. Nope! They want something as casual and friendly as starting a conversation with the person behind you at the coffee shop.
Free tools like Wistia Soapbox and Vidyard GoVideo make personalized email marketing possible, and the ROI is unparalleled:
- Tradeshift, the leading global supplier collaboration platform, saw a tenfold increase in click-through rate and 231% more page views during a holiday email marketing campaign that used personalized video.
- Act-On, a marketing automation platform, found that the use of personalized videos to resulted in an average of two times higher engagement and 62% more time on page.
The First Thing to Do After Reading this Article
Which technique jumped out most to you? Schedule a meeting with those who send emails from your company to strategize a way to experiment with that technique in the next 60 days.