Spam complaints can harm the reputation and delivery of your email marketing campaigns. The average email spam complaint rate across the B2B space is very high at 2%. So, how can you create emails that overcome this issue?

Mike Maynard and Hannah Wehrly  discuss best practices for producing effective emails, from ensuring content matches the subject line to adjusting email design based on the content. They also share their thoughts on how they believe the use of AI will impact personalisation.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

About Napier

Napier is a PR-lead, full service marketing agency that specialises in the B2B technology sector. We work closely with our clients to build campaigns, focusing on achieving results that have a significant positive impact on their businesses and which, above all, ensure maximum return on their investment.

About Mike Maynard

Mike is the Managing Director/CEO of Napier, a PR and marketing agency for B2B technology companies. A self-confessed geek who loves talking about technology, he believes that combining the measurement, accountability and innovation that he learnt as an engineer with a passion for communicating ensures Napier delivers great campaigns and tangible return on investment.

About Hannah Wehrly

Hannah is the Head of Business Development and Marketing at Napier and leads on pitching, proposal writing, lead nurturing, email marketing, social media and content creation. Hannah joined the Napier team back in 2017 as a Marketing Specialist after completing her degree in Marketing and Communications, and her role focuses on developing new relationships with potential clients.

Time Stamps

[00:41.7] – Mike and Hannah discuss some insights from recent Salesforce and Acton webinars.

[06:13.8] – Mike discusses the importance of making sure email copy is engaging.

[07:07.1] – The importance of brand and consistency.

[09:12.1] – Mike and Hannah discuss mass personalisation with AI.

[12:31.7] – Mike and Hannah share their insightful tip of the week.


“Sometimes the subject line oversells the content and people think they’re opening an email about one thing and actually it’s not quite as good.” Mike Maynard, Managing Director at Napier.

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Want more? Check out Napier’s other podcast – Marketing B2B Technology:

Transcript: Marketing Automation Moment Episode 13 – Producing Emails for Maximum Impact

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Hannah Kelly

Hannah: Welcome to the Marketing Automation Moment Podcast. I’m Hannah Kelly.

Mike: And I’m Mike Maynard. This is Napier’s podcast to tell you about the latest news from the world of marketing automation.

Hannah: Welcome to the Marketing Automation Moment. Today we discuss email deliverability,

Mike: the use of AI in mass personalization

Hannah: and things to think about when designing emails. Hi, Mike, and welcome back to another episode of Marketing Automation Moment and a happy new year. Yeah, happy New

Mike: Year. And it’s been a while. And there’s certainly a lot of interesting things to talk about, I think,

Hannah: Oh, absolutely, I’m really excited to delve in. So we’re gonna look at a few different things. And I want to kick off with an interesting webinar that I saw from Salesforce. And I think the really interesting thing about this is that Salesforce actually marketed themselves a little bit differently. So the webinar itself actually focused on how to accelerate your top of funnel with sales. And it really focuses on talking about how buyers are finding purchasing difficult the experiences offer fallen short of where they want to be. And then it really focuses in on the sales side. So how can platforms like Salesforce, really help push that buyers journey, and help them have a better experience? I mean, marketing automation is often so focused on the marketing side, for me, it was really refreshing to see sales take the forefront of that webinar. Yeah,

Mike: I mean, I think, you know, if you look at Salesforce, obviously, their main business is sales. And that’s where they’ve grown from, and they’ve then acquired Pardo to build out the marketing automation. I mean, to me, it’s kind of interesting. You know, Salesforce is obviously the dominant supplier in the marketing, you’ve got to guess if two thirds of sales teams are overwhelmed by the sales tools they’ve got, a lot of those are probably using Salesforce. So maybe there’s, you know, a few problems with their system as well as trying to present the solution. Oh,

Hannah: absolutely. I think that’s a really good point, Mike, maybe they’re actually looking at ways to reinforce why they’re the best option. Yeah.

Mike: And to be fair, I mean, I think, taking this data that sales teams are struggling with the tools, and then trying to do something better, you know, really is a good idea. I have to say, though, at the moment, it’s interesting, because, you know, a large number of systems are very similar to Salesforce. So to try and define Salesforce as a tech centric platform that they call it, they’re trying to make it a rep centric platform. It’s great. They’re trying to do that. But it does feel a little bit like marketing and positioning rather than necessarily a huge change in the way they’re approaching things. I mean, Salesforce still is the de facto way that CRMs are built.

Hannah: I mean, you’ve really opened my eyes then like, because I feel like I’ve just fallen for that facade there. Because I’ve looked at being like, Oh, look at how great they are. But having just here, you explain it like that. That’s absolutely what they’re doing. They’re just marketing themselves in a different way. And it’ll be interesting to see how many marketers like me get fooled into it. Yeah,

Mike: I mean, I think buying Salesforce is not a simple or, you know, low involvement decision. So I think people once they start digging in and they start seeing what Salesforce are doing. And don’t get me wrong, they are trying to make it easier for the reps, but so is everybody else. So I think it’s great positioning, maybe not necessarily trying to do anything that’s totally opposite to what the other CRMs are doing.

Hannah: Absolutely. Now, I want to move on, because we are a bit webinar tastic, this podcast episode, and that is because I’ve also came across a really great webinar actually from axon. And it was really interesting, because they were focusing on different things that lead to email failure. So how can marketers improve their email in? I mean, there wasn’t anything shocking, there wasn’t anything like, wow, I didn’t know this already. But they really have gone back to basics of how we can look to improve. So I mean, they broke it down into key areas, copy versus design. So again, not surprising, but they did provide some different tips on what ways they could improve. Did you come across it at all? Yeah,

Mike: and I saw it as well, I thought it was an interesting way they approached it, and particularly when they’re looking at this problem that I think a lot of us have, where we create campaigns, and we don’t quite do what we expect. So sometimes nobody opens them, sometimes you get a high open rate, but low click through or low conversion, and that’s what they they looked at. And to me, it’s really interesting because traditionally, you know high opens and low click through rate and conversion says that the body of emails poor, so people see the subject line, they think it’s good. The body of the email is poor and act on gave some great suggestions to look at, you know, reducing the read time remembering things like subheadings and then being creative with your design, making it an interesting design and a very high contrast design. So it’s a Easy to see what you need to do. But I think also people need to think about their subject line as well in that situation, because sometimes the subject line over sells that content. And people think the roping email about one thing, and actually, it’s not quite as good. So I think there’s lots of factors that are involved. I mean, the the only way really, you know, you can understand this is by testing. So, it’s important not to think about this, after you have the disappointing results, but to start considering the problems before you run a campaign, so you can test different approaches.

Hannah: Oh, absolutely. I love an AB test. And I think also Apple made a really good point where don’t just think above the fold. So relating back to what you’re saying, like, make sure the content that you’re delivering is engaging throughout, because at the end of the day, you don’t want people to just look above the fold, you want them to read your full email. And I think sometimes as well like changing the small things, so your call to actions, if all they are is click here or find out more, what benefit is that providing the reader you know, small things like this can make such a difference as well, when AB testing is such a great way to make those small differences, but actually see such a great difference in the results.

Mike: Yeah, you’ve picked out some great points there. I love those ideas. And I think you know, a lot of people, they look at the email, they focus a lot on the subject and the headline and the image. But actually make sure the copy is great. That’s really important. You know, when people are reading emails, they’re actually trying to get through their email inbox as quickly as possible. So keeping the email short, and making it worth reading is really the important thing. Oh,

Hannah: absolutely. And I mean, we speak from experience here, Mike, you know, one of our main lead generation tactics is actually on AP news, which is our monthly newsletter. And I think we’re about on our fourth design or the newsletter, but we have seen such a difference in the results that I think another message to get across is keep your emails fresh. So if you’ve had designed for a year, you know, it’s working well, but maybe results are starting to dwindle. Look at how things you can change. Remember that you should be consistently improving what you have a

Mike: great point, Hannah. And I think it’s important to keep it fresh, but also keep it familiar. So be consistent with brand. And maybe this is something that we could also talk about because a lot of people are still talking about AI there’s a lot of excitement around AI, particularly around things like offering mass personalization of emails, AI personalising all emails, and I think brand has a real impact on how effective AI can be in that situation.

Hannah: That’s an interesting point. Mike, do you have an example? Yeah. So

Mike: I mean, I was actually interviewing on our sister podcast marketing B2B technology, the CEO of Brandwatch. And he was talking about how people are using AI to generate content. And it’s drifting away from brand. And the example he gave, which I thought was brilliant was Tesla, mainly because I’ve just got a new Tesla. So I’m very excited about that. But he talks about Tesla and Tesla, and then their messaging, they talk about performance, they talk about safety, they talk about fun, they actually don’t talk about luxury. But if you start trying to get chat GPT, or any other AI to write emails, it tends to drift towards luxury, because Tesla is a somewhat premium car in terms of cost. And so it tends to start measuring luxury, which is very much off brand. In fact, we had a discussion about this, internally, I ran a little test. And I think of the five emails that it generated. Two were completely off brand. Two were okay. And one was basically illegal, it focused entirely on speed, which is not the thing you can do, certainly in the UK. So I think AI personalised emails is going to be interesting, but I definitely think there’s going to be a space for some sort of control on the brand. You can see AI going crazy and potentially writing in cockney, to someone from East London, when they’re trying to sell a Rolls Royce. You can see Vinnie Jones receiving a company style email about Rolls Royce, that probably isn’t on brand.

Hannah: I love this perspective. Mike, I think you’ve raised some really key issues there. And it’s interested in I mean, we’ve just put out a blog on our predictions for 2024. And one of them focused on math personalization with AI. And it’s interesting, because brand is so vital. But also, it’s almost a warning to marketers in a sense, because it’s absolutely use AI to help you. But you’ve really still need that human touch, you need to be checking this AI content, you need to be making sure that what AI is delivering is actually communicating your message. And we’re linking it back to your Tesla story. That’s such a good example because you wouldn’t think of it in that sense. But, you know, a key message of Tesla isn’t luxury. So making sure you’re checking that content, I think is such a key point.

Mike: Yeah, I think you’ve summarised it really well and I love that. One of the other things related to email Probably perhaps not quite as exciting as AI is the new rules for bulk email senders that have been implemented by Google and Yahoo. I mean, you obviously manage our marketing automation platform. So have you seen the impact? Or can you explain maybe what the rules are? And then tell us what the impact you’ve seen us?

Hannah: Yes. So I saw this as well. And I’d be interested to get your thoughts as well, Mike, because I haven’t seen a big impact at the moment. But there’s going to be three key areas that basically they’re going to stamp down on if you like. So that’s the authentication of outgoing emails, reported spam rates, and then also the ability to easily unsubscribe from email lists. So for example, emails need to have a really clear button, you know, they’re typically in the footer that allow you to unsubscribe straight away. Now, obviously, the interesting thing is, is that we typically send to perhaps a lot of business emails. So we typically go into Outlook, we don’t really send to a lot of Gmail or Yahoo direct emails. So I haven’t seen an impact as yet. But do you think that will change as the year goes through?

Mike: Well, I do think there’s one factor you need to bear in mind. And that is that some people have a Gmail account or a Yahoo account that they use for, you know, the kind of marketing emails that you get. So rather than use their business account, if they sign up for a newsletter, they’ll use a Gmail or Yahoo address. So I think maybe in some spaces, there’s more use of Gmail and Yahoo. So I think it will have an impact. But I think very quickly, marketers will cottoned on to what’s happening. I mean, to be honest, my biggest shock was that they said, the average spam complaint rate across the B2B space was 2%, which is incredibly high, much higher, certainly than we see. Or our clients seen, it makes me feel that there’s an awful lot of email being sent with very, very poor targeting is far more concerning than people not having a very clear opt out button on email.

Hannah: I mean, that’s a really good point, Mike, because if it’s poor targeting, then the effort you’re putting into the emails anyway, it’s not going to count. Absolutely.

Mike: So, you know, I think people will actually move and make changes to meet these regulations, because they’re very well defined. But, you know, marketer sout there think how well you’re actually targeting people when you send email. Because if you’re seeing spam complaint rates of 2%, or even 1%, that’s a real problem. And you should be doing something very urgently to try and fix it, and make sure you’re sending content that people actually want to see.

Hannah: Brilliant point, Mike. And I think that actually segues quite nicely into our insightful Tip of the Week, because this week, I would like to talk about designing your email for its purpose. So you know, today we’ve spoken a lot about making sure that the content within your email is good. But I also think that the design of your email for its purpose is important. So for example, when I send an email perhaps to a prospect, I’m personalising it, I want to make it seem that it’s come from me and not a marketing automation system. I perhaps do a more blank canvas, no Napier logo, we’ve been speaking. But if I’m saying that our Napier news newsletter, I want to make sure this is engaged in I wanted to have colour and wanted to have images. And I think it’s really important that marketers need to understand there’s different ways that email should be sent. And the design can sometimes be as important as the base of the content.

Mike: Absolutely agree. And I think you know what you’re saying, if you’ve got one simple message, you don’t need a complex HTML template. So send an email that is or looks like plain text. And people can get straight to the content and read it and focus your effort on the copy. But a newsletter is very different. A newsletter is really trying to let people select the stories that they’re interested in from a whole list of different news items. And so I think you’re absolutely right, their design is super important, and also making it very easy to scan. So when you say more engaging with more images. I think that’s important because not only does it make it more interesting, but it actually makes it easier to scan for the content that’s relevant to you. Absolutely.

Hannah: I think that was beautifully summarised Mike. So thank you so much for joining me of another episode of the mountain automation moment.

Mike: Thanks very much, Hannah.

Hannah: Thanks for listening to the marketing automation moment podcast.

Mike: Don’t forget to subscribe in your favourite podcast application, and we’ll see you next time.