10 Email Pitfalls and 10 Email Power Words – B2B Marketing and Sales Tip #132

I saw something recently that said it was ok to use the word free in an email subject line? So I went looking for other information to support that. We all know that spam filters love the word free. I’m guessing we can thank the B2C marketers for that…

I ran across a MarketingProfs newsletter article, , titled Email Marketing – Top 10 Language Pitfalls and Top 10 Power Words. Although some of these are obvious, I thought it was worth passing on as it can’t hurt to be reminded of what we should and should not say when writing our email copy.

Here’s the Top Ten Language Pitfalls in Email Marketing Messages:

10. Typos and misspellings due to poor editing
Wow. With spell check, this really happens? Surely every email automation vendor out there offers spell check, right? Slow down and take the time to make sure your spelling and grammar are correct. You don’t want to say from when you mean form.

9. Subject lines in ALL CAPS

All caps in email is equivalent to shouting. You would never shout at your customers or prospects in person, would you?

8. Use of punctuation marks and numbers within the subject line
When I find myself needing punctuation in a subject line, I instantly think it’s too long and I’m trying to say too much. I think Eloqua says best practice is 6 words or less in a subject line.

7. ALL CAPS within the message body
Remember, no need to shout. Use other creative means such as color, different font, or buttons/banners/backgrounds for emphasis if there is an explanation, offer, or condition not to be missed.

I agree again on the shouting. I tend to bold important phrases or link them to our call to action.

6. Excessive or unnecessary Power Word repetition; especially of power word #1
See below.

Hint – power word #1 is FREE

5. Copy written in passive rather than active voice
We need to get to the point quickly in email. Front-load sentences and paragraphs with action verbs and eye-catching benefits.

Don’t forget people also read emails in a preview pane. Make sure you are getting their attention immediately. I try to include a call-to-action link in the first 2 lines too.

4. False or inflated sense of urgency
The very nature of email implies expediency, immediacy. Your audience is already in a mindset to quickly access and process email messages. Nudge, don’t shove.
In our B2B communications, what is really all that urgent anyway?

3. Vague calls-to-action
“Click here” or “visit our Web site” are too general; they don’t reinforce the subject of your message or your offer. Nor do they instill confidence in where a responder will land. Be specific, such as “download your free white paper” or “see the movie preview” instead.

This is also why I use key messages as links. It stands out and reinforces my offer.

2. Exaggerated Modifiers

Like “Amazing,” “Revolutionary,” “Great,” “All New,” (when just “new” would suffice) and even “Special” and “Important,” especially when used in the subject line, can land your email in the junk folder. Hype is a hallmark of spam and is unnecessary when your messages are targeted and relevant.

Fluff. That’s what these words are. Everyone looks past them so I think you’re wasting your time and valuable real estate if you’re opening with these words.

And the number-one pitfall:

1. Including the word “spam” in your message (such as “this is not spam”)
The very existence of written justification that your email is ethical calls its legitimacy into question. I can’t think of a more self-defeating proposition than stating your message is NOT what you fear it will be.

Really? Surely this is a B2C thing, right?

Top Ten Power Words

Here are the top ten power words for your email advertising and communications:

10. New – Appeals to our basic human curiosity to seek novelty.
9. Save – We all love a bargain.
8. Safety – Connotes reliability; appeals to basic human needs.
7. Proven – Justifies your claim, removes fear of the unknown.
6. Love – An all-time favorite.
5. Guarantee – If you have one, state it. It iron-clads your offer.
4. Immediate (Now, or Instant) – Instant gratification is the expectation online. If it can’t be found, completed, or received almost immediately, you’re offer is in the wrong channel.
3. Results – Provides rationalization for instant conversion.
2. You – Remember WIIFM? Your audience wants to hear about what’s in it for them, not you. Articulate your benefits in personal, conversational terms.
And the number one Power Word:
1. Free – Surprised? Probably not. Because this is the time-honored, most potent motivator in direct response, be particularly vigilant of overuse. Just a dash’ll do. Strive to optimize placement, and test if necessary. So Free is back in. And not just back in but listed as the #1 Power Word.
Are you using it? Have any metrics to prove it’s ok and working?

***These great tips were contributed by Karen Talavera, president and founder, of Synchronicity Marketing

Showing 2 comments
  • nicole

    I try to include a call-to-action link in the first 2 lines too.thank for the marketing and bussiness tips.

  • Amy Hawthorne

    Hi Nicole,

    You are absolutely right! With so many people viewing emails in the preview panes, it’s important that we get straight to the point.