Don’t email prospects, start a conversation with them

email marketing advice for startups

Email marketing is still the most effective way to communicate to your audience. With the rise in social media and other marketing technologies, people are starting to see email marketing as a tool of the past. Well this simply is not true. Campaign monitor puts the ROI on email marketing at 3800% with a $38 return on every $1 spent. With an ROI like this, it is impossible to ignore email marketing, and understanding how it can be utilised within your business is imperative.

Text vs HTML

Experienced email marketers will know the age old debate of which is most effective between using beautiful HTML designs and plain text emails. My opinion is that it really depends on two factors; what is the purpose of the email campaign and what is the content of the email.

General research shows that if you are trying to raise awareness for a product or service then HTML tends to work better. If you are trying to get direct actionable responses, like a sign up to an event, then text works better.

It took me a while to accept the fact that text can work better than HTML in certain circumstances. Being a marketer by profession I always held the opinion of making something look beautiful will increase its engagement potential. But now, from experience, I actually think text emails have a very important place in marketing campaigns, especially in a B2B company.

Driving action

In many email campaigns, perhaps all of them at some point, we want people to take action. Whether this be signing up to an event, purchasing a product or contacting us, we usually want to see some tangible results from email campaigns.

Text really does drive these tangible results. The reason being that you create focused email copy with a strong Call To Action (CTA). If you have run an effective email campaign, you can be reasonably certain that the person already knows about what you want them to take action on. If this is the case and they are interested in your offering, they just need a little push to get them to take action. Another HTML email, although it might look beautiful and professional, is just a distraction from what you are trying to get the person to do.

Starting conversations

The reason why I wanted to write this blog post was to talk about this point. Perhaps it can be applied to HTML emails also, but a huge benefit I see with sending plain text emails is that they have a much more personal feel to them, almost like they were sent from an actual individual. This in itself can have a HUGE impact on the effectiveness of the email campaign. If someone thinks that a person crafted this email just for them and it is on a topic that they are interested in, there is a higher possibility that they are going to interact with that email in some way.

Now the interaction from the recipient might not always be taking the action you want them to take. It might be something that I believe is even more powerful - replying to your email. Why is this more powerful than doing what you wanted them to do? Because you have now started a conversation. This conversation could lead anywhere. You might get a sale from it or it might fizzle out into nothing. But the mere fact that they have started a conversation with you means that they are not only going to remember your brand, but the individual that the email was sent from.

Sales and marketing harmony

In any environment where there is a sales and marketing team, there is always talk about how you can align the two teams more. There is often a perception of a battle between the two departments for the crown of who is most important. The reality is that they are both as important as each other. Without marketing there would be no sales and without sales there is no point in marketing.

In these organisations where marketing and sales teams are working together towards the bottom line of selling more, this conversational approach to email marketing can have a huge impact. Usually the sales team will have far more leads then they can contact in any given week, having to prioritise opportunities based on previous interactions. This means that there is still a lot of leads that the marketing team will have to keep warm or nurture until they are ready to purchase.

By using a personalised text message and sending it from the sales representative of that group of leads, you will not only drive actions but can also create conversations between the sales rep and the prospect. The person might get back to them saying a number of things but no matter what they say, merely responding to the person shows that they are committed to learning more and potentially interested in purchasing the product. Unless of course it is a leave me alone response, but that’s fine as we now know not to bother those people anymore.

If marketing is able to provide a steady stream of responses to the sales team then this harmonisation is going to have a huge impact on your bottom line.

Taking a conversational email approach in your business

There are two major factors you have to consider when developing a conversational email campaign; is the information you are sending relevant to the recipients, and are you creating a human tone in the email copy.


Basic email marketing practice and even general marketing practice is to understand your audience and their interests. Once you know this, you can then segment your audience and send them relevant information. There are many email marketing applications on the market that are able to segment your audience by interest, location and many other differentiators. This allows you to send incredibly targeted messages to groups of individuals, which by itself will increase the effectiveness of your campaigns.

It is vital that you are sending useful information when using a conversational email approach, otherwise you run the risk of making your sales team look like they don’t know their customers.

Human tone

In marketing we are programmed to reduce the total number of words we use in any marketing copy. This is because people don’t have time to read long articles or emails. It is still important to craft a succinct message, but by taking this approach you can often dehumanise the tone of the email as this is not always how people talk. It was the advertising guru David Ogilvy who said to write in a language that your audience uses every day. If we want to create a conversation between the recipient and the sales person then we should write in a conversational manner. Phrases like, I thought you might be interested, or, I just wanted to get in touch, can help to create this tone.

Conversations lead to the bottom line

The bottom line in most businesses is to make sales and in order to sell to an individual you must first build a relationship. Especially if you are selling high value products and services, as people don’t want to buy something from someone they don’t know or trust. Engaging them in a conversation can have a huge impact on building a relationship, getting you a step closer to gaining their trust. This type of email marketing can lead to increased number of conversations and in turn more sales.

#emailmarketing #emailmarketingadviceforstartups

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