How to Increase Email Click Through Rate by Almost 4x Even if Open Rates Stay Flat (or Go Down)

I manage the content and email marketing for a company in the B2B tech space. They sell a high-ticket product that includes annual paid renewals. To make it even more complicated, the final sale is done over the phone. And once the sale is closed, the business works closely with the customer for the lifetime of the relationship.

At first these details seem like they have nothing to do with content and email marketing but actually the opposite is true.

The way I think through the marketing impacts the quality (as well as the quantity) of those business relationships. It’s not just about getting more sales or even about LTV. It’s also about how happy the business and customers feel about working together every day.

Simply put, this is about as far from selling toothpaste as you can get.

What does toothpaste have to do with anything?

In traditional marketing, you get someone’s attention, agitate the problem and sell your solution. *cue the gif of a dancing toothbrush* 

If the customer buys a second tube of toothpaste or the companion toothbrush, great. If not, just go get a new customer.

Email and Content Marketing for Businesses that Have a Long Sales Cycle and Work Closely with Customers

For this B2B tech business, building relationships is the only viable marketing strategy. Why? If the company promises to stand by their customer for the duration, then the best way to show that is to be a great support system long before they become a customer.

And in my world, that means having great emails that lead to helpful content that leads to a discovery call. 

Since the funnel starts with email, I pay close attention to the open and click through rates.

The open rates tell me if people are responding to the subject lines, ie: Am I saying the right things to get attention? 

The click through rates tell me if people are interested enough in the general ideas we’re presenting to read an article about it.

Now here’s what’s interesting:

Over the last month, open rates have gone down or stayed flat. This would normally be a signal that it’s time to spruce up the subject lines. But then I noticed something interesting…

The click through rate had consistently gone up by almost 400%.

This means that fewer people are clicking on the emails, but the people that do click are the RIGHT people.

And that was the eureka moment.

Nothing feels better than when you realize you’ve finally narrowed in on the right prospects and are writing to people who care about what you’re offering.

7 Tips for How to Zero in on Your Ideal Prospects Through Email

I can’t speak for all businesses but I can share a few tips from marketing in B2B tech.

  1. People love “how to” email subject lines. That’s even more true for busy professionals who sell physical products and deal with the complexity of getting from A to B as quickly as possible.
  2. The more tangible you can make the subject lines the better. “How to manage your inventory” is boring but for the right audience it converts better than a subject line that says, “Look here!”
  3. Keep the body copy short. Assume the reader is glancing at their email before heading into their first morning meeting. Even if your product is boring, send the most interesting email the person reads all day and make it short.
  4. Include two links in the body copy. Make sure the first one is “above the scroll” on people’s mobile devices. They’re probably reading email on their phone, so get the first link into the first sentence if possible but make sure the sentence is also valuable. “Click here” doesn’t count as a first sentence.
  5. All links must go to the same destination. Don’t split people’s attention by sending the first link to the blog and the second link to the opt-in page. The secret is to get attention and hold it long enough to get one action… you decide what that action is.
  6. Use an engaging tone of voice. Depending on your industry, the emails are likely dry as toast, overly promotional, or both. Find a voice that feels real to you but is slightly different from what your prospects are used to seeing. You don’t have to go over the top. A bit of wit or warmth will go a long way.
  7. Track your stats. If you’re just starting your email+content strategy, the data will look random (or even discouraging) at first. Some emails will convert, some won’t. But keep with it. Eventually a pattern will emerge. You’ll see topics that people enjoy, subject line patterns that work, and who are your most engaged readers. From there, it’s all about refining and making incremental improvements.
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