So, you came up with the perfect email campaign for a targeted list. You created an irresistible Creating Offerssubject line, snappy content, and a dynamic call to action (CTA).

Your eyes lit up when you saw the glorious open rates. Then, your heart fell when you saw the dreadful click-through results.

I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this. The culprit is the offer.

But there is one thing we marketers don’t do … quit.

When something isn’t going right, we look at the data and find out where it all went wrong. Then we dust ourselves off and make our emails better than before.

A recent survey by Act-On and Ascend2 asked marketing leaders how they were driving email marketing success. And, look what the clear winner for the most effective strategy is…

…a meaningful call-to-action offer.

Making the Offer

We should never get tired of hearing this—the most important thing is to provide value to your audience. A relevant offer doesn’t feel pushy or sales-y; if it’s truly relevant, then it’s useful – and welcome.

Naturally the content you use for the offer should resonate with your audience, but it also needs to be aligned with their stage in the buying cycle.

There are many names for these stages, but we’re fans of the A.C.T. (Awareness, Consideration, Transaction) model.

Sending a live demo to a list of new leads that have never heard of your company would fall flat, as that is content suited to someone deeper in the cycle. But helping them get to know you through engaging content is a win-win.

  • Awareness (identify a new possibility or outline a problem)
    • Blog
    • eBook
    • Infographic
    • Webinar
  • Consideration (help solve the problem and provide in-depth education)
    • Case study
    • Comparison white paper
    • Expert guide
    • Video
  • Transaction (Confirm the decision and aid the purchasing process)
    • Demo
    • Implementation guide
    • Pricing bundles/options
    • Trial download

Testing the Offer

Rather than shooting off emails to your entire list, test with small batches to see how people respond. Then if your results are not The ABCs of A/B Testingaligned with the forecast, you can make a change before sending to your entire audience

You’re probably using A/B testing for subject lines, email design, and call-to-action text already, and you can use it for offers as well. Experiment with different offers in your emails and see which are most effective.

With those results in hand, the next time you try an email campaign, you’ll have an arsenal of insight to shape your content.

Improving the Offer

Once you learn what isn’t working, it doesn’t mean that you failed. Now you can focus your energy on making the offer even better.

Here are two examples of offers that missed and how we turned things around.

SLA Template vs. Sales and Marketing Alignment Template

Every company’s lead generation efforts can benefit greatly when the sales and marketing team is on the same page. So we created a tool that had a Service Level Agreement (SLA) and lead scoring model all in one place.

We thought it would be a big hit on our website and we had future plans for email campaigns with the SLA template as the main offer. While a decent number of landing page visits were happening for our new release, the download numbers weren’t great.

We decided a name change was in order.

The name may seem like a small thing. But just like an email subject line or the title of a novel or film, you have to grab their attention right then with a title, or you will lose them.

It’s all too easy to think that everyone speaks the lingo of your industry, but sometimes that isn’t the case. We’re in the business of B2B marketing, and we work with marketers inside our client companies, but the fact that they’re marketers doesn’t mean that they’re as conversant with esoteric marketing terms and acronyms as we are. An SLA can be a really useful tool for sales and marketing teams, but a technical name used in an offer can get lost in translation with a glance. Also, “SLA Template” doesn’t speak to the lead scoring benefit at all, so it under-promises the benefit.

Enter the Sales and Marketing Alignment Template. It makes sense and it’s broader, so that it encompasses both the SLA and the lead scoring model. It also skips any insider jargon, so it’s more easily understandable by a wider audience, more quickly.

We’re still in the very early stages of this big revision, but you can bet we’ll be monitoring and comparing the results as they roll in.

Since we changed the offer’s title only two weeks ago, we have already seen positive changes with the landing page visits, which are up 13%.

landing page visits

Marketing Automation Scorecard vs. Marketing Strategy Calendar/Demand Map

The scorecard is an older tool of ours, but it’s a goodie. It helps marketers evaluate their marketing automation systems, so they can learn what they’re doing well and where they can improve based on their score.

We thought it would be the perfect offer for an email list of marketing automation users. It seemed like a no-brainer.

But as the campaign was in motion, the results weren’t good, with a 1.15% CTR.

It’s not the scorecard’s fault. It’s just not the right offer for this audience.

Luckily, we had our list divided into smaller batches, so we could improve the offer for the remaining emails. We paused our marketing automation programs, swapped out the offer, and began again.

But we didn’t just bring in a pinch hitter; we brought in our most popular tool, the one that always hits home runs: The Marketing Strategy Calendar.

However, we didn’t stop there.

To find the most enticing option for this audience, we knew A/B testing the offers was a must. So we decided to test our second most popular offer, The Demand Map.

During our first round of emails with the offer testing, encouraging results are showing:


When an offer isn’t working, feel free to switch it. Just because you thought it was right for that audience and for that stage in the buying cycle, doesn’t mean that it is truly the best option.

And: There’s nothing wrong with recycling an offer that has proven itself as a crowd pleaser.

As marketers, it’s easy to get caught up in click-through results, the unending search for quality leads, or the fear that we will lose our client or customer because we didn’t do enough.

We absolutely have the power to change our mindset. Think of each email as a magnificent opportunity to present an offer that will guide them where you hope they will go.

Share with us…what offer strategies have worked for you?