Live from DMA Annual: Text B-to-B E-mail Messages Making a Comeback

Orlando, FL—Not long ago, HTML e-mail marketing messages stood out from the crowd in business recipients’ e-mailboxes. But text e-mail marketing messages are making a comeback, said Jeff Moriarty, director of sales and marketing for b-to-b list firm DM2 (formerly Cahners Business Lists), during a weekend session at the Direct Marketing Association’s Annual Conference here.

Moriarty said that although his company estimates that 85%-90% of b-to-b e-mail marketing messages are HTML, “we’re seeing text coming back into play more. This is being led by the people who led us to HTML in the first place, IT people, because of the speed with which recipients can read them.” So whereas in the past, HTML messages stood out in prospects’ e-mailboxes, with the majority of e-mail marketing messages now as HTML, text e-mails may actually stand out. .

And HTML is a lot more costly to send. “You can’t overlook the fact that there are internal resources you need with HTML, such as hosting and tracking,” Moriarty said, “and in this economy in which many companies have fewer people doing more, text is easier to manage.”

Moriarty also emphasized the need for b-to-b marketers to scrutinize how they compose the subject lines of their messages. “You have maybe 12 seconds or so to catch someone’s eye,” he said, “so you should ask yourself what causes you to open or delete e-mails when you receive them.” To grab attention, Moriarty suggested that marketers include the offer and benefits in the subject line: “If you have something to say, put it in the subject line.”

Among other noteworthy tips, Moriarty suggests that marketers limit the text in the subject line to no more than 50 characters and avoid “free,” “I,” and “$” in the subject line to avoid being filtered by spam filters. Other tips he gave during the session:

* Don’t underline words, or prospects will think they can click through on them.

* Mention the offer with the URL in the beginning and the end of the e-mail.

* Have a link strategy: “If you get people to click through,” Moriarty said, “make sure the URL landing site displays the offer. We’ve seen where marketers will do all the right things, but then the link goes to the home page, leaving the prospects to wonder, ‘Where’s the info?’”

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