7 Ways to Improve Your Sales Email Conversion Rates

A sales email is an anomaly. In an ideal world, marketing processes would qualify the leads and hand them over to your client services, account managers, or sales reps. And at the opportune moment, they would deliver the right pitch, and you would have a targeted, nurtured client in your books.

This approach assumes that email marketing delivers consistently profound results and leaves nothing but closing for the sales team. Every other post on the HubSpot and Mailchimp blogs will have you believe that email marketing works like a charm. Yes, it does. But there is still an entire sales lifecycle for the lead to go through. And that is where the rubber meets the tarmac.

While every email isn’t made equal, and it isn’t easy to measure (or even define) email conversions (or even email opens post iOS 15) across the board, there is some aggregate data that shows average email conversion rates over the past few years:

email conversion rates

Source: Barilliance

Let’s dissect that number for a moment. 98 out of 100 emails you send today, tomorrow, or day after will not generate any direct revenue. If you are an agency, consultancy firm, or startup in the B2B space, one or two conversions might cover your operating costs, but I’d call this a really, really low threshold to be satisfied with.

So how do you go about improving the conversion rates of your sales emails?

Key Takeaways:

  • Every email is comprised of stages just like your sales funnel. Know them and identify where your emails are lacking.
  • Know your leads and personalize all your emails to make them relevant and useful.
  • Automation is the way to go if you want to scale up efficiencies in email engagement.

1. Understand What Affects Email Conversions

The figures from Barilliance, Mailchimp, and other studies show that conversion rate across industries remains abysmal, even with advances in automation software, targeting methods, designs, and delivery methods. This can only mean there is a combination of factors keeping your email conversion rates low.

The usual suspects are:

  • Mail delivery: You emailed your leads on time. However, the emails were either never delivered or went to spam. The carrier is seldom to blame. You either have a faulty database or your proxy address (or server) triggers junk filters.
  • Subject lines: You tried all the tricks in the book with your subject lines and header text, yet your email open rates refuse to budge.
  • Cold leads: Some of your leads download a content asset and pass your micro-conversion test, but they never again open your emails, let alone book a demo or appointment.
  • Brand identity: Some of your leads (rightly) think your cheerful, everyday tap-on-the-shoulder email is spam. Or they don’t know you well enough for that. Are you being too enthusiastic?
  • Bad fit: Many leads show themselves out of your funnel by unsubscribing themselves. They’re not haters — they’re just not a good fit.

These five situations match up with five critical factors that affect email conversion:

  • Delivery Rate
  • Open Rate
  • Post-Click Engagement
  • Spam Flagging
  • Unsubscription Rate

The issues we described may look diverse and unrelated, but they often focus on sales emails’ inherent problems. While you can see the problems in your email lifecycle, you can’t map them to specific processes in your sales lifecycle that you can hold accountable.

2. Know Your Leads

The better you know them, the more personalized you can make your sales emails.

That process starts with proper list building. You may choose to segment your leads by the following criteria, based on the data you have on them:

  • Industry
  • Company size (market share or revenue)
  • Location
  • Channel/campaign through which the lead was acquired
  • Budget
  • Urgency of need
  • Length/complexity of usual sales cycle
  • Customization required

Based on the weight you assign to these factors, calibrate your lead scores and estimate the customer lifetime value (CLTV) of these leads. Group them into high, middle, and low-value customers accordingly and chalk out your lead nurturing approach for each group. Now you’re ready to prioritize and customize your emails!

3. Personalize Whatever You Can

Start with the “from” address. Many of your leads would like to hear from the CEO to know they’re important. Others would be intimated. Choose a (real) person’s name or your brand name wisely.

Also pay close attention to the subject line – emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened than non-personalized ones. Be professional and cut to the chase where required; insert humor or intrigue where you think that works better. 

email subject line personalization

Source: Campaign Monitor

Personalization doesn’t just involve addressing the lead by name. Your opening statement and first few sentences should prove to them that you have done the homework. Industry trends that affect them, company-specific updates, or common objections are good points to start the conversation.

4. Emphasize the A in FAB Analysis 

Every sales training program worth its salt includes the Features, Advantages, Benefits template. Emphasizing the benefits to your lead shouldn’t be hard if you’ve done your homework correctly. But consider for a moment that they’ve also done theirs. So, with your sales email, also try to focus on the advantages – the unique edge that your product, service, or team can deliver to the client.

You can discuss features in detail during a call or in-person meeting. This ensures that your emails aren’t boring your leads with technical details and instead highlight the differential value of your offerings.

5. Be Authentic and Relevant

Have you received that email from the Nigerian prince or Libyan princess who is apparently stuck at a remote airport and desperately needs your help to get out of the country? If you have, you understand that email spam is a real issue. 

You can never over-state or over-prove your credibility or your brand’s authority. A case study that’s relevant to the lead you’re emailing works best. Awards, licenses, certifications, testimonials, and other social proof take second place. Make use of your email signature to provide verifiable contact details and information about your identity, company profile, and capabilities.

6. Give Them a CTA They Can’t Refuse

If your marketing team has pinpointed the position of the prospect along the customer journey or sales funnel, and if your lead scoring system is exceptionally accurate, you’d have a pretty good idea of what the lead is looking for at this point in time. However, that is seldom the case.

Template offers that everyone else in your industry offers are rarely valuable. For instance, some ad agencies bundle media spots along with their proposal on a creative. However, industry insiders know your agency gets a commission on those spots anyway, so you’re better off pitching your USP or putting freebies off until you’ve discovered the lead’s inherent needs, objections, and constraints.

Instead, a more fruitful strategy would be to add a CTA in your email that attempts to “micro-convert” them towards a demo or a call. Based on your data on the lead, what would be the apt CTA that will inspire them to click? (Remember: standard CTAs work better on landing pages than in emails, because with emails, it’s you who’ve approached them, not the other way round.)

If you don’t have enough information on the lead, a “15-minute free consultation” is a great way to build rapport early in the sales lifecycle.

email call to action

Source: Sales Hacker

Pro Tip: Provide a free solution to a burning issue your lead is currently facing. This frames the conversation into an expert being hired to solve a problem instead of one where an agency is pitching for business or a company is selling a product.

7. Perfect Your Timing and Follow-Ups with Automation

Your lead nurturing and conversion process likely has dozens of touchpoints. While drip campaigns that educate or preserve mindshare in your audience are the mainstay of marketing emails, sales automation is more focused towards conversions. Even when you’re simply informing, you’re convincing the reader to consume your content, sign up for a freebie, or renew your services. Here’s where automation can help.

email automation work flows

Source: Kinsta

Use your automation workflow – and platform – to perfect your follow-ups. Even if it’s something as simple as confirming a subscription or a time for a meeting, a quick follow-up shows your prospect you really want their business and you’re serious about your customer relationships. The longer you stay top-of-the-mind, the more engagement you get.

Automation also helps you get your timing right. You can schedule your emails to maximize your open and click-through rates, taking into account studies that have found the best times for your industry.

Unclog Your Sales Funnel

Taken by themselves, the approaches we discussed here might sound incremental. But when you take an integrated approach and implement all of them together, they have the potential to turn up the flow through your sales pipeline.

Remember, there is always a person behind a purchase-decision, so make sure all your sales emails are geared towards “conversion” as opposed to “sales” – there’s a subtle difference there. Plus, B2B leads have a long shelf life, because people tend to stay in the same industry. So don’t be disheartened if your leads don’t respond – just re-score them, re-qualify them, and focus on the next conversion.

We can help you analyze and optimize your sales emails with industry best practices, proven sales processes, and in-depth A/B testing. Let’s discuss how to perfect your email strategy to convert more leads!

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