Writing emails to a C-level audience
Buying in the B2B space now involves an average of 6.8 people, according to Harvard Business Review. It’s likely that at least one member of this group will sit in the C-suite. So why not go direct to them?
Just like any other audience, your emails will need to strike a chord with the priorities and interests of your reader. We’ve dug through our own campaign results to show you what that means when you’re writing to the top of the business hierarchy.
How to write emails to the C-Suite
Do your homework
The higher up the business you go, the more visible people become. Members of the C-suite are usually thought leaders in their industry, so you should be able to find interviews, articles and keynote speeches from them. LinkedIn is an easy place to start, but at this level, it’s more likely that trade publications, and even national newspapers, will better represent their ideas and opinions. This is invaluable for understanding how to catch their attention. Have they spoken about a particular challenge for the sector? Address it in your copy, with a reference to how you can help.
It’s worth remembering that busy executives probably don’t manage their own inbox. This means that a comment about a sports team that you both support, or a school that you both went to is not the best way to grab initial interest. Your personalisation should focus on the business, rather than their personal life. Go beyond the overall sector they operate in, to understand their specific circumstances. Not every business within a sector faces the same combination of challenges and opportunities. How many employees they have, the sort of clients they have, and even where their office is can all inform the exact challenges that you are best placed to help them with.
Say what you want
The average C-level executive receives 100 emails per day. While that’s a bit lower than the average across all office workers, it’s still a large pool that you need to stand out in. The most effective way to do this is with subject lines which are direct.
Overtly “sales-y” language is ineffective at the best of times, and it definitely won’t wash with the C-suite. Research by The LinkedIn Talent team has revealed that the most common first jobs of CEOs were Sales and Business Development, so they know every trick in the book!
The metrics that matter
The biggest difference between the CMO and the marketing manager is which statistics they care about. A marketing manager will look at a granular level, reporting on every campaign and its degree of success. A CMO will be interested in the bigger picture. The ROI of marketing activities is important to them, but the results of a single split test are not. The overall cost to acquire a new customer matters, not the average open rate of a month’s worth of campaigns.
If you’re just starting to reach out to the C-suite, it can be a struggle to tell which aspect of your offering to focus on. Consider that the C-suite is where the relationship between departments is most on show. Marketing has an unfortunate reputation of being the department that spends the most, without directly bringing anything to the bottom line. Metrics which help to dispel this myth are going to be the most valuable and interesting to your CMO reader.
The occupants of the C-suite can sometimes have a mystique around them, with fancy titles and private offices. But this doesn’t mean they aren’t human! Harnessing emotions like curiosity and excitement is still an effective technique for grabbing their attention.
When it’s done well, humour can help you deliver your message. A light-hearted subject line or sign-off can make your content more memorable, as well as triggering positive emotions. However, make sure that you’re offering valuable insight or content too. Humour needs to function as the hook, not the whole reason for the email.
Bringing it all together
Writing good emails to a member of the C-suite is not objectively different to addressing anybody else. It is simply a matter of finding the right combination of tone and key points to earn attention. Split tests and experiments are still valid as you find the way to make this work for your audience.