March 14, 2022 Content Chat Recap: How To Improve Your Email Marketing And Business Emails

A #ContentChat header image featuring an array of flowers with a box overlay. The box contains text that says today's topic is how to improve your email marketing and business email success, with guest Anne Janzer.

Email marketing is an incredibly powerful and cost-effective channel for marketers, generating up to $42 for every $1 spent and playing a crucial role in building your community relationships. However, you’ll need a better content strategy than “Open Now <First Name>! Your Opportunity Awaits.” to drive recipient engagement and unlock meaningful results from your email marketing.

In this #ContentChat recap, we’re joined by Anne Janzer, writing and marketing book author, to discuss how to improve your email marketing and business emails. In the below chat recap, you’ll learn:

  • Common email marketing mistakes
  • Ways to avoid making those common mistakes
  • How to improve your email subject lines and body content

If you’re looking for more advice to improve your emails, grab a copy of Anne’s book 33 Ways Not to Screw Up Your Business Emails, and check out this past #ContentChat recap on email marketing hacks that drive results.

Q1: We’ve all made or seen a mistake with email marketing or business emails. What is an example that you can share?

Email marketing mistakes are common—especially broken links.

A1a
Marketing emails: broken links are the biggies. Apologize and fix it. People are remarkably forgiving when you acknowledge mistakes.

Research shows that a mistake can make you more likable. The Pratfall Effect.#ContentChat

— Anne Janzer (@AnneJanzer) March 14, 2022

Raise your hand if you’ve had your name misspelled in an email or misspelled your recipient’s name…

A1: I’ve sent out emails to people I know and have worked with for a good long while, with a typo in their name. It’s always horrifyingly embarrassing! Doubly-so, because strangers constantly misspell my name, which annoys the heck out of me.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 14, 2022

Ah that’s always so embarrassing! Particularly when you know what their correct name is but you end up failing to correct the autocorrect version 🤷‍♀️#ContentChat

— Masooma | Content Writer (@inkandcopy) March 14, 2022

A1: I’ve received emails with my name spelled as “Julia” WAY too many times!! Does the name “Julie” just not exist to some people? 😅 ~Julie #ContentChat

— Nimble (@Nimble) March 14, 2022

A1
Wrong spelling
My name is Amna but I received emails with name Anna or Amnah#contentchat

— Amna Aslam (@amnaaslam20) March 14, 2022

Or if the personalization settings failed so your email was addressed to <First-Name>.

A1 The ever-popular auto-fill fail, where the personalization ends up being addressed to <First-Name> instead of my actual name. #contentchat

— Martin Lieberman (@martinlieberman) March 14, 2022

A1 Oh yes, “Firstname,” I know how you feel! #ContentChat

— Anne Janzer (@AnneJanzer) March 14, 2022

Many of us have received an email template without the full content.

A1 I have received a few emails where the sender forgot to fill in parts of the template they were using…and a couple addressed to the wrong name…
-Alyx#ContentChat

— Charlie & Alyx – Charlie Appel Agency (@ColfaxInsurance) March 14, 2022

I received an email yesterday and all it was was the template. They forgot the content! #contentchat pic.twitter.com/XR74DysgSx

— Martin Lieberman (@martinlieberman) March 14, 2022

Or emails not meant for us.

A1b
Business emails: Someone sent an off-color joke to a friend at work. It was accidentally corrected to a company-wide email address. Ouch! #ContentChat

— Anne Janzer (@AnneJanzer) March 14, 2022

I’ve received influencer outreach emails with someone else’s name and website in them…it really doesn’t make you feel special! ;p #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 14, 2022

Same! I normally just laugh and delete them at that point
If you can’t do the research to make sure you have the right person, then I don’t trust you’re going to take a partnership seriously
-Alyx#ContentChat

— Charlie & Alyx – Charlie Appel Agency (@ColfaxInsurance) March 14, 2022

Image-only emails often get caught in spam filters.

Another good/bad one is an email that’s just an image, and then it gets caught in a filter so when you open it, nothing displays. #contentchat

— Martin Lieberman (@martinlieberman) March 14, 2022

And typos are all-too-common (and avoidable!).

A typo in an email headline: “Your Invited” instead of “You’re Invited.” Though it was avoidable, I felt bad for the person who made it. We’re all human, after all. #ContentChat

— Classy Writing (@Classy_Writing) March 14, 2022

I’ve only recently started newsletter-ing the last quarter of last year and am 23 editions in (it’s a weekly letter).

So not very many mistakes to share except to keep my 👀 open and proofread the letter number — I ended up naming two letter as 22 🤦‍♀️#ContentChat

— Masooma | Content Writer (@inkandcopy) March 14, 2022

A1. Typos and minor grammar errors have occasionally made it into marketing emails, but it’s become rare (thanks @grammarly!). Luckily good process has helped pretty much avoid errors like wrong links and selecting wrong segments. #ContentChat

— Tod Cordill (@todcordill) March 14, 2022

Emails often throw too many CTAs at the reader.

A1: No clear CTA.

Do they want you to view a blog post, buy something, sign up for an offer? You have no idea.

Stick to 1 CTA per email.#ContentChat

— Sweepsify (@Sweepsify_) March 14, 2022

Great one. 1 CTA, not 5! Even in non-marketing emails—what do you want the recipient to do? #ContentChat

— Anne Janzer (@AnneJanzer) March 14, 2022

And if you don’t have an objective and a next step, you should really not be sending the email. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 14, 2022

I agree – 1 CTA per email for automated drip marketing emails. Multiple CTAs might be appropriate for newsletters, but…

Someone I work with changed her newsletter to have one link to a landing page rather than to individual content pages and click rate doubled! #ContentChat

— Tod Cordill (@todcordill) March 14, 2022

And it’s easy to forget to update your email banner.

A1. I have sent one with the wrong banner oops…as in email banner! The body of the email said one thing the banner said something else! #ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) March 14, 2022

Remember: mistakes happen and self-compassion is essential.

A1c
We all make #email mistakes — even after writing a book about them! 😬
Last, I sent an email with the number 11,440 instead of 1,144.

Self-compassion is always important!#ContentChat

— Anne Janzer (@AnneJanzer) March 14, 2022

If you make a mistake you can share an apology email. But don’t use this as a tricky way to increase your opens (your recipients can tell if you’re not being authentic).

And let’s be honest—when you receive that “oops” email correction, you always read it, even if the initial email didn’t merit an open. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 14, 2022

A1 Yes, you may get better open rates on an apology! Best not to abuse that. #ContentChat

— Anne Janzer (@AnneJanzer) March 14, 2022

On a few occasions I’ve felt a mistake was on purpose. Same with typos from automated emails that look like they are from a real person.

These are not email marketing tactics I’d ever use, though. #ContentChat

— Tod Cordill (@todcordill) March 14, 2022

One of the worst things is sending an apology email when there wasn’t even a mistake made, but you know it’ll make the person want to open it anyway. #contentchat

— Martin Lieberman (@martinlieberman) March 14, 2022

Yeah, I have been seeing fake apology emails as of late.

/dislike#ContentChat pic.twitter.com/APm64ozicA

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 14, 2022

Ooh, that’s just manipulative! I would hit “Spam” on that one. #ContentChat

— Anne Janzer (@AnneJanzer) March 14, 2022

Q2: How can content marketers improve their email subject lines?

In marketing emails, Anne says that the subject line is all about getting people to open and click. Business email subject lines, however, aim to help people open, respond, and retrieve.

A2a Differentiate “marketing emails” from your other business emails to individuals or teams.

In marketing emails, the subject line is all about getting people to OPEN and then CLICK. All of the usual #marketing tactics apply: urgency, benefits, curiosity#ContentChat

— Anne Janzer (@AnneJanzer) March 14, 2022

A2b
In other emails, the subject helps people OPEN, RESPOND, and RETRIEVE (because we put things aside for later)

This might be harder than crafting a great marketing subject line!#ContentChat

— Anne Janzer (@AnneJanzer) March 14, 2022

Keep subject lines short, clear, and simple.

A3. Two things that have worked for me:

• Keep it short, clear, and simple (not clever or ultra-creative attempts)

• Use power words in your subject line. Example: mistakes, insider, secret. #ContentChat

— Masooma | Content Writer (@inkandcopy) March 14, 2022

Avoid clickbait tactics.

A2: Avoid the sales-y clickbait, it cheapens the email and chases readers away! Concise emails with emojis usually capture the reader’s attention first ~Julie #ContentChat

— Nimble (@Nimble) March 14, 2022

Agreed.

Similarly, don’t neg me, bro! I am so tired of getting those negative clickbait subject lines that tell me “Your approach to [whatever we sell] sucks.” That’s an instant delete for me.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 14, 2022

A2 Great point—and the click-baity subjects might catch the attention of the Spam filters… #ContentChat

— Anne Janzer (@AnneJanzer) March 14, 2022

Erika recommends you write your subject line after you write your email. That way, you can craft a subject line that accurately communicates the “what’s in it for me” for your reader.

A2a: Start by writing a placeholder subject line before you write your email. Then, after the email copy is final, go back and refine the subject line to have WIIFM (what’s in it for me) that reflects the content. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 14, 2022

Try a few different approaches and test which resonate best with your subscribers.

A2b: Also, try a few different approaches—like posing a question, leading with the offer, etc.—and A/B test them against each other to learn what works for your email audience segments. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 14, 2022

A2 Look at the emails that they open
What were the subject lines? Did the rest of the email answer the question the subject line promised it would?
-Alyx#ContentChat

— Charlie & Alyx – Charlie Appel Agency (@ColfaxInsurance) March 14, 2022

I do this often. Helps me better understand what topics and subject lines resonate with my audience 🙂 #ContentChat

— Masooma | Content Writer (@inkandcopy) March 14, 2022

Q3: What are common ways that marketers can enhance the body of their emails?

Help your reader skim your email. Break up text with line breaks, use subheads and bold text, spotlight links with a different color than your text, and use bullet points to list items out.

A3: Serve the skimming reader—in ALL your emails, not just marketing ones.

✽ Avoid the “Wall of Words” — Break text up with line breaks

✽ Add subheads for multiple points

✽ Don’t pile too many things into one email!#ContentChat

— Anne Janzer (@AnneJanzer) March 14, 2022

Yes to all of these!

I’d add that if you have multiple things people need to do in response, use bullets for each item. Needs to be done in sequence? Use numbered bullets, please and thank you! #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 14, 2022

A3 People are usually impressed (and gratified) by someone who puts the effort into adding clear subheads to a non-marketing #email. #ContentChat

— Anne Janzer (@AnneJanzer) March 14, 2022

A3. A simple yet effective tip to improve email body copy: make it easy to read & digest.

Some ways to do so:

• Use short sentences and paragraph
• Format quotes + use diff colors for links
• Bold text to highlight key takeaways #ContentChat

— Masooma | Content Writer (@inkandcopy) March 14, 2022

Bullets for the win! Such a simple thing to do, such a benefit for the reader. #ContentChat

— Anne Janzer (@AnneJanzer) March 14, 2022

A3: Use text formatting.

Even with plain text emails, you can use spacing, vary the lengths of paragraphs and sentences to make
the text more exciting to read.#ContentChat

— Sweepsify (@Sweepsify_) March 14, 2022

Keep your emails short and concise.

A3: Again, keep it short and concise! It’s important to inject some personality in there as well to really make the read worthwhile for your audience! ~Julie #ContentChat

— Nimble (@Nimble) March 14, 2022

Do not present all your information in an image file (it may not load). For all rich media content, enable your subscriber to view it in a new window.

A3: Make sure you don’t put your most important email content—let alone all of the content—in an image file.

Also, if you have beautiful rich media content, give the reader an option to view it in a new window versus only making it available as an embed. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 14, 2022

Focus on the reader experience. How do they prefer to consume content? What value are they seeking from an email newsletter?

A3 Don’t try to too much in one email- have one purpose and stick to it
Break up the text with headers, images, etc
Keep your audience’s experience in mind and look at what other emails have performed well- what did they look like?
-Alyx#ContentChat

— Charlie & Alyx – Charlie Appel Agency (@ColfaxInsurance) March 14, 2022

Agreed. Remember that many people read on a mobile device, when they’re on the go, so an endless scroll doesn’t work in your favor. #contentchat

— Martin Lieberman (@martinlieberman) March 14, 2022

And always ensure that your subject line accurately conveys your email’s content.

A3 There must be a relevance between subject line and body.
It should be short,clear and easy to read.#contentchat

— Amna Aslam (@amnaaslam20) March 14, 2022

Q4: Are emojis appropriate in business emails? How can they be used effectively, and what should marketers remember about using emojis in email?

Emojis can influence the tone of your email, but remember that not everyone interprets emojis the same way. It’s best to use emojis sparingly in emails, and don’t rely on emojis alone.

A4a
Emojis offer useful clues about tone in emails

Caveat one: Don’t rely on emojis alone. The words have to work, too. (Don’t put a smiley face on a cruel remark.)

🤔 Not everyone interprets emojis the same way.#ContentChat

— Anne Janzer (@AnneJanzer) March 14, 2022

A4: Yes. I’ve had some success with them in headlines. Just one per headline, though — not a bunch at once. 🙂 #ContentChat

— Classy Writing (@Classy_Writing) March 14, 2022

A4:

Emojis are allowed as long as they are used sparingly and within context.#ContentChat

— Sweepsify (@Sweepsify_) March 14, 2022

A4 I think the statement ‘less is more’ applies nicely to emojis in this instance
Don’t use a ton of them or it just looks messy
Make sure that they add something to the email. Don’t have them just to have them
-Alyx#ContentChat

— Charlie & Alyx – Charlie Appel Agency (@ColfaxInsurance) March 14, 2022

Different industries or companies will vary in acceptance of emojis.

A4: While I like emojis in Instagram comments and texts from friends, they usually feel too casual in business emails, outside of the occasional 😀.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 14, 2022

A4: I think they can be depending on the industry and subject of the email. Emojis keep things fun and light-hearted and are also more alluring than plain text ~Julie #ContentChat

— Nimble (@Nimble) March 14, 2022

A4
It depends upon industry.
I have written emails for a tech company and I was not allowed to use emojis as it seems casual.
But I was allowed to use emojis for lifestyle brands.#contentchat

— Amna Aslam (@amnaaslam20) March 14, 2022

Test your subject lines to see whether your subscribers respond well to emojis.

A4: Test your subject lines to see if your subscribers respond well to emojis. @JoePulizzi tested his ‘The Random Newsletter’ and the top-performing editions did not have emojis in the subject line. Read more (and subscribe if you haven’t): https://t.co/iAB0iX02gt #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) March 14, 2022

Testing has showed me that that using emojis in marketing email subject lines can increase open rates.

I also use emojis in business emails. I do it because I try not to be too serious. It’s a personal branding thing. But I have no data that says it’s a good idea. #ContentChat

— Tod Cordill (@todcordill) March 14, 2022

I have found this too Tod! I work in B2B where any kind of emotion is a no-no, but keeping the tone light, throw in an emoji has shown me better results to ppl clicking on my CTA! #ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) March 14, 2022

My own emails do well with one single, on-point emoji in the subject line. It can convey a fun or playful tone. #contentchat

— Anne Janzer (@AnneJanzer) March 14, 2022

I’ve recently seen other references to one, and only one, emoji in the subject line. I’ve never tested one vs several emojis, but I have seen many emojis provide no lift.

Anne, your screen reader comment was good advice. Thanks for that. 🙂 #ContentChat

— Tod Cordill (@todcordill) March 14, 2022

Q5: What safety nets can marketers use to reduce their chances of making mistakes with their emails?

Fill in the recipient’s email address last. That way you won’t accidentally send an unfinished email.

A5a
Safety net #1:

Don’t fill in the recipient’s email address until you’re happy with the email.

This protects you from accidental sends, and spurs you to read through one more time.#ContentChat

— Anne Janzer (@AnneJanzer) March 14, 2022

Enable delay send on Outlook or Gmail so you can unsend a message.

A5b
Safety net 2: Set the clock back by 30 seconds. ⏱

Outlook and Google Mail both let you extend the amount of time to “Undo” sending.

I set mine to 30 seconds in Google and it has saved me many times!#ContentChat

— Anne Janzer (@AnneJanzer) March 14, 2022

Send yourself an email first to review it. It also helps to have a colleague read it from a fresh perspective.

A5c
Safety net 3:
Send it to yourself first.

If tone is critical, get a trusted friend to read it and let you know how it lands.

(I know two writers who are “diplomacy buddies” for each other.)
#ContentChat

— Anne Janzer (@AnneJanzer) March 14, 2022

A5 Designate a fresh-eye proofer who has not been involved in the email creation process, so they can review the message as a “customer” and will more likely notice any mistakes/typos. #contentchat

— Martin Lieberman (@martinlieberman) March 14, 2022

A5. Get your final email copies proof-read by multiple people – and at least one non-marketer #ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) March 14, 2022

Use tools like Grammarly to spot grammatical errors.

A5a: I recommend adding the @Grammarly plugin to your web browser to help you “see” typos in email copy you’ve gone blind to. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 14, 2022

A5: Using tools for grammatical errors and having a revision process to check for flow and tone ~Julie #ContentChat

— Nimble (@Nimble) March 14, 2022

This is very helpful especially between UK and US English emails! #ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) March 14, 2022

Test every link and double-check your recipient name.

A5b: For any business email, before you hit “send”:
1) Compare the name in the email to your body copy
2) Test every link
3) Imagine the email will be forwarded to whomever it is about/involves and edit accordingly#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 14, 2022

Q6: AMA time with @AnneJanzer: What are your questions about improving your emails?

What goes into a successful B2B email newsletter? Per Anne, always provide value. Provide content that helps your subscriber overcome their challenges and work smarter, including how-to articles, checklists, guides, and more.

A6: @AnneJanzer @SFerika

What do you think are the elements of a successful B2B newsletter email?#ContentChat

— Sweepsify (@Sweepsify_) March 14, 2022

Always. Add. Value.
The subscriber is paying for the newsletter with their email address and attention. So think of it like a product with value. The actual elements vary with the audience. #ContentChat

— Anne Janzer (@AnneJanzer) March 14, 2022

A6. Its valuable when we get an opportunity to creep into their inboxes, so be useful! and please do not sell-sell-sell! #ContentChat

— Shruti Deshpande (@shruti12d) March 14, 2022

Interested in learning more from Anne? Check out her website to see all of her books, including 33 Ways Not To Screw Up Your Business Emails, Writing To Be Understood, And The Writer’s Process.

Anne, where can folks find out more about your book? #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) March 14, 2022

Check out my website: https://t.co/CcjbJVvMaT. And the book (and audiobook) is on Amazon and everywhere else you read or listen. And, like a good email, it’s short!

— Anne Janzer (@AnneJanzer) March 14, 2022

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