The direct nature of email marketing makes it ideal for nurturing, converting, and reactivating leads. Yet many brands struggle to make the most of the channel.
A 2022 Mailchimp study found that marketing emails have an average open rate of 21% and an average click-through rate of 2.6%.
Plagued with poor performance, many brands fail to see how email marketing can contribute meaningfully to sales. They rarely think about the impact of the messaging they’re using.
More effective messaging can make emails stand out in crowded inboxes and compel further action. It’s a leading factor in boosting KPIs and driving more revenue.
In this article, we’ll provide 10 ways to improve your email messaging, increase email messaging resonance with your audience, and promote revenue growth.
Over 300 billion emails are sent every day and the average business email account receives almost 100 emails daily, according to research by Radicati. That number grows by roughly 4% each year.
Users are fatigued and it’s more challenging than ever to grab their attention.
Yet, businesses continue to use email as a core part of multi-channel campaigns because there is no viable replacement. It’s a unique way to reach your target audience.
The statistics don’t properly represent the opportunities that email marketing presents. When done right, it’s critical in engaging and reactivating your target audience. Finding ways to improve deliverability, open rate, and click-through rate can deliver an outsized revenue boost.
The messaging you use in emails is a key driver in overcoming the channel’s challenges. Knowing how to leverage it to suit the medium is one of the best ways to grow marketing revenue.
Messaging is a flexible lever. It can be used in countless ways to make emails more attention-grabbing, resonant, and compelling. It’s central in two of the most important aspects of an email: subject lines and calls-to-action (CTAs).
These are 10 of the best ways to make the messaging in your emails more effective. All of them can result in your campaigns generating more revenue.
Knowing what you want to achieve is an essential first step in any email campaign. Outlining your key objectives provides the framework your messaging will be built around. An email designed to reactivate lapsed users will read differently to one aiming to build affinity with a top-of-funnel audience.
Understanding your objectives also informs what KPIs are most important. Reactivation emails should focus on click-through rate. Newsletters are more concerned with engagement metrics like open rates and click rates.
With a complete understanding of what you want to achieve and how you’ll measure success, you’re more likely to stay on track and learn from your attempts.
Resonance makes messaging capable of bridging reach and reaction. Non-resonant messaging is easy to ignore. Resonant messaging is memorable and compelling.
It has five main components: clarity, a benefit-focus, an engaging quality, comprehensiveness, and expertise. Consider the messaging used in this email by Fiverr:
It’s clearly written, leaving no room for misunderstanding. It leads with the benefit—”make them listen.” It’s engaging, with a time-sensitive 25% promotion creating a sense of urgency.
Bullet-points explaining what the course covers make it comprehensive. It demonstrates expertise through association with a successful podcast host .
Fiverr’s messaging adheres to the rules of resonance. The result is an email that grabs the reader’s attention and compels further action.
Email marketing involves other channels. To receive an email from a brand, a user must first have visited their website. This makes it critical to uphold your pre-established brand narrative.
Messaging that is cohesive with your wider brand narrative creates a consistent experience. It makes your brand more authentic and memorable.
It can also drive cross-channel engagement. People are more likely to engage with emails from familiar brands. You breed familiarity by being consistent across marketing touchpoints.
Canva’s weekly “Design Challenge” campaign is a great example of perpetuating a brand narrative in email marketing. The campaign aligns with their community-focus and playful tone. It reinforces the narrative established on their website and social channels.
The challenge being built around the concept of sharing also organically broadens the campaign’s reach.
There’s no way to know how well messaging will serve your objectives or resonate with your audience without testing. Message testing should be central to email campaign deployment just as A/B testing is an integral part of ad campaign rollouts.
Qualitative panel-based tests provide the most value. Other types, like A/B testing and preference testing, can only tell you which out of a set of messaging options is best. They don’t explain why that’s the case, or how to improve them.
The output of qualitative testing is non-binary. It provides the opportunity to get in-depth insights that are unavailable elsewhere. With solutions like Wynter’s B2B message testing platform, you can tailor your panel so that the respondents align with your target audience. The test can also be customized so you get answers to your most important questions.
The results of qualitative message testing are granular. They deliver the right information to inform edits that make messaging more clear, brand-aligned, and resonant.
People read emails like they read web pages. Understanding the quirks of web reading behavior reveals implications that should be factored into writing email messaging.
Nielsen found in an eye-tracking study that users spend 57% of their time on a web page viewing above-the-fold content. The attention they pay to content below-the-fold drops off significantly. They scan—rather than read word-by-word—using an “F-pattern” when reading to discern key information in headings and reach the section they’re interested in.
There are two main actionable lessons from this research.
The first is that the messaging you lead with disproportionately important. It should focus on capturing attention quickly. The second is that emails should be written for scannability. Use prominent headings and format the most critical information to stand out.
The above example from the SEO SaaS brand Ahrefs showcases medium-appropriate messaging. It is composed for convenience. Readers can choose between watching a short video embedded directly into the email or continuing below-the-fold to read the text version.
It’s also highly scannable. The information is split into sections based on what part of the product it discusses. Each point is introduced by a bolded heading that explains the key takeaway.
Keeping user behavior in mind while crafting email content increases your chances of holding your audience’s attention.
Sophisticated mailing lists are made up of diverse audiences. Each audience has distinct interests, preferences, and requirements. Hence why Mailchimp found that segmented email campaigns perform better in all main KPIs.
In their study, segmented campaigns featured open rates 14% higher, click-through rates 101% higher, and unsubscribe rates 9% lower than non-segmented campaigns.
Creating data-driven audience personas to segment your mailing list unlocks these email marketing performance improvements. By extension, it’s central to maximizing ROI.
Tools like AtData can simplify the segmentation process. You can upload your mailing list and in a few steps have effectively clustered audience groups. Segmentation can be done based on what stage of the buying journey users are at, their level of seniority, prior engagement levels, and more.
With segments established, tweak messaging to suit unique audience personas. This allows you to deliver emails that are far more relevant to the recipients, boosting engagement.
A study by New Yes Lifecycle Marketing saw 50% higher open rates for emails with personalized subject lines. Hubspot found that personalized CTAs performed 202% better than basic ones. It’s clear that personalization is a hugely influential factor in effective email messaging.
There are many ways to apply personalization in emails. The simplest involve dynamic fields auto-filled using CRM or mailing list data. More complicated applications can involve using user data, such as abandoned cart contents, to generate relevant discounts or promotions.
Given the quantity of emails the average inbox receives, the potential impact of personalization on resonance can’t be ignored. Taking advantage of at least the simplest personalization techniques is critical if you’re seeking higher ROI from your campaigns.
Combined with segmentation and persona-based message testing, it can result in highly converting emails that are laser-targeted at unique needs and preferences.
We know that less than a quarter of emails are opened. Anything that can improve the chances of your email being one of them is a priority. A SuperOffice study found that 33% of recipients opened an email because of the subject line.
This makes subject lines second only to sender name at influencing open rate. Since you can’t change your sender name without misrepresenting your brand, subject lines are the most important factor under your control.
Yesware performed several studies that provide insights into subject line best practice. In an analysis of 115 million emails, they found that subject lines including a number resulted in higher open rates and reply rates. In a separate study analyzing 262,518 emails, their data showed that subject lines containing 1-5 words got the highest open rates.
You can see this data being applied by the most successful SaaS brands by scanning your inbox. The subject lines that stand out are invariably short, often use numbers, and are typically emotive or intriguing.
Modern email clients display the opening line of the email as a preview alongside the subject line in the inbox view. This makes the first few sentences (or the customized preview text) another important factor for open rates.
The principles that make good subject lines are also applicable here. Sentences should be short, simple, and declarative. If there is a central purpose to the email, it should be introduced quickly and concisely. Numbers should be used where possible.
Also consider how the email preview will combine with the subject line. If possible, make the message preview a natural follow up from the topic of the subject line.
Each of the above examples shows how the preview text can be valuable in engaging audiences from the inbox view, even on a mobile screen.
Upwork creates a sense of urgency in their subject line and uses the preview text to explain the action to be taken. Taskworld uses the preview text to double-down on the benefit they sell in the subject line. Crayon’s preview text provides further context to what’s on offer in the subject line.
Most emails are sent with the purpose of driving a subsequent action. How well they perform in converting readers to take that action depends on the effectiveness of the CTA.
The same best practices that apply to CTAs on mediums including social feeds and web pages can be followed to maximize click-through rate in emails.
A study from metadata.io examined the effect of changing the CTA text on LinkedIn ads and recorded differences in performance across four options:
Formatting also makes a difference. Campaign Monitor found that CTA buttons drive click-through rates up to 28% higher than text links.
After spending time and effort ensuring high deliverability, open rates, and read rates, nailing your CTA is the last step to creating email campaigns that drive revenue.
The 10 tips above can result in messaging that drives more revenue, but they’re reliant on a campaign strategy that is capable of generating revenue in the first place. Here are four effective email marketing strategies that combine well with resonant messaging.
Promotional offer emails range from seasonal discounts to free trial codes. They are productive at engaging leads in the consideration phase of the buying journey who can be converted with a push.
Use a strong subject line focused on the value on offer to drive high open rates. Follow up with messaging that is to-the-point. Clearly state the discount amount and use urgency triggers like a countdown clock where appropriate.
Reactivation, or “win-back,” campaigns are targeted at previously converted customers who have lapsed. A study from Martech found that these emails are effective at reigniting engagement. 45% of people who received a win-back email opened a subsequent message.
Reactivation emails can capture your mailing lists’s interest again, especially when paired with persuasive messaging. When combined with promotions or discounts, they can also directly drive revenue.
A study by Reply found that up-sells and cross-sells contribute up to 20% of total revenue for SaaS brands. These techniques can be applied in email campaigns to increase the revenue newly acquired customers generate.
Upselling a longer billing cycle can front-load revenue generation. Cross-selling other features can increase average customer value. Highlight the key benefit for subscribers when you up-sell or cross-sell. Just avoid being pushy—you don’t want to turn off a customer you worked hard to acquire.
Although not direct revenue generators, newsletter campaigns can build user engagement. Delivering a regular newsletter containing valuable content that resonates with your audience breeds brand familiarity and affinity. Successful newsletter campaigns nurture leads that aren’t ready to convert, keeping them engaged and interested.
They also position you as a thought-leader and build good faith. When newsletter readers enter a buying cycle, your brand will be top-of-mind.
Email has been a central part of marketing since its invention, with good reason. It is unique and pervasive. Don’t let the statistics get you down—there is an antidote to low email marketing KPI performance. Messaging is an effective lever for improving open rate, click-through rate, and revenue generation.
Apply the 10 messaging tips above in your next email campaign and see how they impact its efficacy.
Out now: Watch our free B2B messaging course and learn all the techniques (from basic to advanced) to create messaging that resonates with your target customers.