Are you concerned your marketing email isn’t getting read?
According to followupmachine.com, the average adult receives a staggering 147 emails a day.
Think about if you actually read and responded to all of them. You would be highly informed, highly connected, and you wouldn’t get a damn thing done.
So you become a super scanner, creating systems to filter through the junk and find the meaningful mail that matters most to you, like mail from family, friends, and…ahem…email marketers.
Don’t you love marketing emails? Of course you don’t—and you’re an email marketer! In a sea of personal mail, a marketing email looks like a piece of trash, like six pack plastic rings that disgust you as they drift by because you know they’ll eventually choke a seagull. With this level of cynicism, how can your email stand out, get opened, and convert?
There is hope. In fact, I recently received a marketing email from a company I never heard of, for a service I didn’t need and for a problem I didn’t know I had. Yet it got my attention and kept it all the way to conversion.
Four sales tactics for marketing email
Being that I’m so cynical about marketing emails and kind of couldn’t believe I’d buy from one, I had to evaluate why it was so successful. What I found was that the company expertly used four universal sales tactics to craft a concise yet highly effective email. The sales tactics in the email included:
- An attention grabber
- A problem and solution
- An objection silencer
- A non-pushy offer
In this post, I’ll share the email with you and explain how each tactic was used appropriately to give you inspiration for crafting your next marketing email.
The marketing email worth studying
At first glance, this email isn’t very impressive. The design is fairly minimal and the text and page elements together aren’t particularly attractive. In fact, some of it looks downright off-center.
But upon closer inspection, part of this is by design. This screenshot was captured in desktop, but the mobile view of the email looks more structured and tightly aligned.
Even though it’s not pretty, the center-aligned text actually looked different than the standard left-aligned email. Which was a good way to trick my mind out of thinking, “same old marketing email.”
But honestly, I would’ve never even opened this thing if its subject line hadn’t grabbed me.
An attention grabber—the entry to engagement
If you’ve now read the email, you can see it’s from a web hosting service called HostMetro, who I’d never heard of. I have a couple of websites, and the host to one of those sites is Bluehost.
Bluehost is a solid web hosting service, but that’s never mattered much to me. A web host is kind of like a referee. You don’t pay much attention to it until it starts screwing up.
Honestly, I hadn’t thought much about my web hosting service until this email dropped in my inbox with the subject line “Bluehost Raising your Renewal Rates.”
The subject line stopped me in my inbox skimming and quest to delete all unworthy messages. How?
- It was timely. The importance of this factor can’t be overstated, because there’s only about a three-week window during the year in which hosting services would consider me a target prospect: when my hosting service subscription is set to expire. In fact, I was aware of this, because I had received a few subscription reminders from Bluehost already. So, the timeliness was huge because I was already slightly engaged in this idea of resubscribing.
- It offered new knowledge. I hadn’t considered my rates being raised. HostMetro knows that customers don’t give subscriptions much thought and often set services to auto-renew. So they gave me a new thought that caught my attention.
- It appealed to my fear. Few things perk us up like our most primal instincts. HostMetro’s email was targeted to a sole prospect: the cost-conscious one. I don’t like getting overcharged, which meant I would need to investigate this further. (Got me.)
A problem and solution
The subject line alerted me to the problem, but I still didn’t understand what the true problem was. Like a good email marketer, HostMetro wasted no time telling me.
In fact, notice that they don’t even offer a greeting. I’m so used to seeing a welcoming sentence, or a “Hey Carson,” that I often ignore it. Yet here, they skip the pleasantries and immediately help me understand my problem. Just what I wanted.
The problem presented (my rates going up 600%) actually made me do what I should’ve done weeks ago: check out my auto-renew rate from Bluehost. Which was easy to do, because Bluehost had sent me a renewal reminder just five days before, with the new price in the email. Sure enough, I was going from $3.95/mo to $10.99/mo.
It’s worth reiterating the timeliness of the HostMetro email. They were capitalizing on their competitive knowledge of when my rates would go up, the only time they’d have a chance of swooping in to grab my business.
It’s also worth noting the conversational way in which they presented the problem. The “Pretty similar, right?” and “Don’t believe us?” lines do a great job of engaging me so I’d keep following along. All in all, this was a concise and effective presentation of the problem and solution.
An objection silencer
I was sold on the problem and HostMetro’s ability to solve it. But like any good sales presentation, this email would need to anticipate and handle objections.
So HostMetro addresses two of the biggest concerns a web hosting customer has about switching: contracts and transferring files.
No matter how great your offer is, you’re still up against the human tendency of inertia. I liked HostMetro’s offer, but figured switching might be more painful than the extra cost. So I’d do nothing.
HostMetro overcame my inertia by giving me the impression that their service was easy to acquire. The response to objections here gave me the feeling that not only could HostMetro solve my problem, but could do it easily and with little effort on my part.
A non-pushy offer
Following engagement, problem solving, and handling objections, it was time for HostMetro to make an offer. The offer begins with a discount, but then continues into a surprisingly unaggressive close.
Typically, a best practice for marketing emails is to create a sense of urgency. This can be done with an expiring offer (creating fear of loss) and a “don’t wait, get started now” approach with the copy leading into the call to action.
Yet, following the discounted offer, HostMetro eases off. The best sentence of the email for me was this: “Not quite ready? That’s fine. Your code never expires, and you can cancel anytime.”
At this point, I released any of my remaining defenses to switch. HostMetro wasn’t desperate for my business, and I wouldn’t lose anything if I waited. Perfect.
The brilliance of this is that HostMetro didn’t need to create urgency. My problem was already urgent; I had to make a choice about my web hosting subscription in the next 30 days anyway. Why would HostMetro be pushy when they didn’t have to be?
Then they close with a quick list of benefits and a “sign up” button. Simple, clean, concise; it was an offer I felt like I couldn’t refuse.
What we learned
A good marketing email can convert the most cynical of email readers, even email marketers themselves! It’s wise to employ tried-and-true sales tactics, yet have copy that’s clever enough to not come across as salesy.
As email marketers, we must grab readers’ attention, present the problem quickly and solve it, counter any objections, and present a compelling but non-pushy offer. If the email is timely and meets people at their point of need, you’ll have an excellent chance of converting even the most cynical of readers.