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As the account-based marketing (ABM) phenomenon gathers steam, sales and marketing professionals need to add the human touch to their communications. After all, ABM is all about communicating with individual prospects or accounts as a market. Last time, I wrote about how to craft outbound calls for ABM. Now, let’s move on to emails.

Because executives are deluged with emails that clamor for their attention, communicating via email marketing to large groups is no longer as effective as it was in the past. To cut through the clutter and get attention, emails must be personal and relevant. These emails must feel like they are written by one person to another. There’s no need for fancy designs and images that involve HTML code because plain text is as personal as it gets.

Clearly, it could be challenging to write personal emails to everyone with whom you’d like to do business, so you have to prioritize your efforts. Most companies implement ABM using an account tiering system such as the following:

  • Tier oneis good accounts that you believe you’d have no trouble landing. For these, you need the least customization. Perhaps write your email that addresses an industry and a persona that represents someone’s position within an organization.
  • Tier twois the next step up. It’ll take a little more effort to bring them into the fold. You can use the email for Tier One prospects and customize the opening and closing. Also, try to mention the company’s name.
  • Tier three includes your dream accounts, often they have household names, such as Nokia, GE or SAP. Onboarding one of them could alter the trajectory of your business. For these, do some in-depth research and create a personal email.

The tiers allow you to move along a scale from minimal customization to complete personalization depending on the size of the fish you’re trying to catch.

Your ABM Email Structure

If the executive doesn’t open your email, nothing is going to happen. So it’s critical to craft a subject line that gets attention, arouses curiosity and makes the recipient want to open it. For example:

  • This is what you needed last week
  • Your news release got me thinking
  • Don’t suffer through another outage

Each of these subject lines is brief. They are designed to intrigue the reader and be personal. The last one emphasizes the benefit — avoiding downtime.

With a snappy subject line, you’re over the first hurdle. The email is open. Now you have a few seconds to capture the executive’s attention. To do this, remember one thing — it’s all about your reader. Make the opening personal. Then bring up the problem your company solves. By doing so, you open the wound that you’re about to heal. You stir up emotions which motivate people to take action.

Here’s an example:

Dear Jim:

I read about your recent system outage at Southwest. I’m sure it was stressful to be under pressure to solve the problem while passengers were stranded.

Now you have Jim thinking about the all-nighter he pulled last week and how painful it was to have the limelight on him as Southwest scrambled to get back into action. It’s time to let him know he doesn’t have to go through that experience again. While doing so, demonstrate your empathy, that you’ve done your research on the company, and that you have some insights that can help him.

Southwest’s press release noted the cause of the downtime was a failed network router. Without an integrated IT infrastructure monitoring solution, that’s tough to find. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Now it’s time to introduce your solution enthusiastically.

So I’m excited to let you know about our solution that monitors your whole IT environment. It can help you prevent downtime and if Murphy’s Law hits, get your business back up and running rapidly.

This solution will likely get the attention of a busy CIO who has just been through a nightmare scenario. Now you want him to take action, so tell him exactly what you want him to do.

Can we schedule a 15-minute call so I can show you how it works?

Of course, sign off with a personal signature and all your contact information.

Your Follow-Up

Even with a carefully crafted subject line, it may not hit your executive’s hot-button, and they may not open it. Just in case, you need a plan B. A simple solution is to send it again with a new subject line. If that doesn’t work, you may have to approach the email differently. Perhaps start with a subject line such as “How Delta Airlines avoids downtime” and include a case study. After all, no one wants their competitor to get ahead.

In summary, successful ABM emails start with determining your account tiers, so you know where you need to be on the spectrum of customization to personalization. Then, structure your email so it’s personal and focuses on how you can help the executive solve a problem. Make sure you include a call to action. And if at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again … just make sure you change your approach to your follow-up attempts.