10 Ways to Improve Your Sales Email Conversion Rates

A sales email is an anomaly. 

In an ideal world, marketing would qualify leads and hand them over to the client services, account managers, or sales reps. Then, at the most opportune moment, they would deliver the right pitch and you’d have a targeted, nurtured client in your books.

But this approach assumes that email marketing delivers consistently profound results and leaves nothing but closing for the sales team. Blog posts on sites like HubSpot and Mailchimp blogs will have you believe that email marketing works like a charm. 

They’re not wrong. It can (when done right) yield consistent new leads and opportunities for your business. But it’s also just the beginning — there is still an entire sales lifecycle for the lead to go through. And that is where the rubber meets the tarmac.

In the sections that follow, we’ll discuss 10 actionable ways for you to level up your sales email conversions with a targeted, efficient, and intentional approach.

Quick Takeaways

  • Every email consists 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.

The Current State of Sales Email Conversions

Not every email is created equal, and results certainly vary across industries and depending on a range of other factors. But there is some aggregate data showing average email conversion rates over the past few years:

Average email conversion rates between 2016-2021 hover around 1.5%.

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’re 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? Let’s look at 10 tactics that can help.

10 Ways to Improve Sales Email Conversion Rates

Understand what affects email conversions

Industry research shows 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: The emails were either never delivered or went to spam. In these cases, 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 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.
  • 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, and unsubscription rate. Know and stay aware of these inherent sales email problems to eliminate avoidable issues give your emails a fighting chance.

Know your leads

You’ve got to know the types of organizations entering your pipeline and tailor your emails to those audiences. Building complete ideal customer profiles (ICP) and buyer personas is the best place to start.

Then, you can segment your lists according to relevant attributes such as:

  • 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 potential 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!

Personalize whatever you can

Personalization is a must-have for today’s B2B buyer. It shows that you care about earning their business and have the right knowledge and experience to solve their problem. Industry research shows that most buyers chose their current vendors over other competitors because they showed specific knowledge of their needs.

When it comes to your sales emails, start with the “from” address. Some of your leads may want to hear from your CEO to know they’re important. Others would be intimated. Choose a (real) person’s name or your brand name wisely and according to your audience.

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. 

Screenshot showing how email subject line personalization is done in an email software platform.

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. Relevant industry trends, company-specific updates, or common objections are all good starting points.

Emphasize the A in FAB Analysis 

Every sales training program worth its salt includes the Features, Advantages, Benefits (FAB) 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 have also done theirs. Today’s B2B buyers are more informed than ever, and they’ve completed 57-70% of their research before they ever connect with potential providers.

So, with your sales emails, also try to focus on advantages — the unique edge that only 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.

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.

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 match what everyone else in your industry offers are rarely valuable. For instance, some ad agencies bundle media spots along with their proposal on a creative. 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 needs, objections, and constraints.

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 is approaching the potential customer, not the other way round.

If you don’t have enough information on the lead, using a CTA for a free 15-minute free consult (or something similar) is a great way to build rapport early in the sales lifecycle.

Sample sales email CTA asking the recipient to schedule a demo.

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.

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.

Applications for sales email automation in the sales process.

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.

Include great content

Content marketing is a key part of every digital marketing strategy, and its value carries over to the sales process. As mentioned before, today’s B2B buyer is self-informed, and they engage with multiple pieces of content before ever reaching out to a potential vendor let alone making an actual purchase.

Content in your emails can be a way to put yourself in the driver’s seat when it comes to the content your potential buyers consume. You can tailor the content you include in your emails by customer segment, funnel stage, and more.

Blogs, whitepapers, ebooks, infographics, videos — these types of content and more can show your expertise, build trust, and deliver value for your buyers before they ever make a purchase.

Include personalized video

Personalized sales prospecting videos are an emerging best practice in the sales world. This year, sales and customer interactions ranked as the #3 distribution channel for video (higher than YouTube!) as more companies adopt video as a method for effective lead follow up.

In 2022, sales and customer interactions ranked as the #3 distribution channel for video.

Image Source: Vidyard

Video can be placed at multiple phases of the sales process (i.e. as a welcome tactic, follow-up to a discovery call, lead nurturing tactic further down the funnel, etc.). Best practices for using video in sales emails include:

  • Automate when you can (use templates and complement with personalized content)
  • Choose the right spot in your sales process (then test and adjust as needed)
  • Use quality equipment (this isn’t difficult as today a smartphone can take HD video)
  • Block out time (don’t let video be a time sucker – block out time and record in batches)

While it’s still early for video prospecting, the early verdict on this strategy is overwhelmingly positive — including videos in emails has shown to increase meetings booked by a whopping 500%.

Make emails visual

Sales emails aren’t marketing emails, so when we say get visual we don’t mean you have to do a full-frills design or have a graphic designer lay out your message. B2B buyers often want you to get straight to the point. Visuals, however, can powerfully support that point when they’re used strategically.

For example, if you’re sharing a compelling statistic, a chart or graph can call it out or drive it home. An image accompanying a client success story can make it feel personal. The point: don’t include visuals in sales emails to make them pretty — use them to show results.

Get Your Sales Funnel Flowing

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

Remember: There is always a real person behind a purchase decision, so make sure all your sales emails are geared toward “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. Schedule a meeting with us to discuss how to perfect your email strategy and convert more leads!