Time to Cut the Foreplay

Time to Cut the Foreplay

B2B Marketers today are seeking to cultivate meaningful relationships with our audience. We do this by understanding personas, paying attention to digital body language, and interacting with a series of touches online and via email.
We’ve abandoned the ‘wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am’ approach to marketing relationships and are starting to learn the discipline of patience. And for the most part, it’s working.

However, we have fallen into a pattern of verbosity in our messaging that we think tantalizes and delights our readers as they build to the climax of understanding – that coveted call-to-action. In reality, all of this foreplay is just for us, and our reader would rather that we just get to the point so they can move on.

Have you ever gotten an email with a subject line that caught your attention, a headline that made you want to know more, and then an entire first paragraph of playful leading questions, what-ifs or teasing anecdotes?

Did you read it? Did it help you build up to that ‘ah ha!’ moment of realization about what you were being offered? Or did your eyes just skip all of that while you searched for the bold text or button that got you to the point faster?

I call all of that fluff at the beginning ‘messaging foreplay.’ And we marketers love it. We love it because we think you love it and because it makes us feel creative – like we are trying harder – because you’re worth it. You, our precious reader with whom we are trying to cultivate a meaningful relationship, are worth more than a ‘wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am’ interaction that just gets to the point.

To skip the foreplay would be…inelegant…and crude. And no good marketer wants to be that. So we go through the motions of what’s essentially the same moves every. single. time:

  1. catch your eye with a subject line
  2. grab your attention with a header
  3. tease you with an opening paragraph that goes on too long
  4. finally get the the point
  5. give you a button to finish things off and hope at the end of it we both get what we want

We have all the best intentions. And often times the foreplay we offer up isn’t bad. Take the sample above – those are some interesting nuggets of info – but it’s just not necessary and in most cases, probably not even read.

Marketers it’s time to realize that all of this foreplay and creativity may just be for us. There is just as much – if not more – skill in being able to tactfully get to the point and help your reader arrive at the conclusion (what you want them to do) faster.

So cut the foreplay and get to the point. Give people just enough to get there and if you really can’t abandon your teasing creativity in your messaging, put it at the end for those who choose to give you a bit more attention after they arrive at the end goal.


A note about the above ‘foreplay’ sample above: This is an excerpt from an email promoting a webinar that was actually quite fascinating. I chose it because the paragraph itself contains interesting information and ultimately, I did register for the webinar. However, I didn’t read that paragraph until I was perusing my saved files for samples for this article. I skipped right past it and on to the main CTA. I registered, and went on with my day.

The irony of this particular sample is that the topic of this webinar, presented by Emma Email Marketing, was “The Sixth Sense of Marketing: How Our Primal Brain Rules When and Why We Click.” In their webinar, they cited research from Nielsen Norman Group that stated that 80% of people are only scanning your email. By their own admission, messaging foreplay is superfluous.

I do suggest you check out this webinar replay on MarketingProfs if you have the time – there are some interesting tidbits about email engagement psychology.

Originally posted on LinkedIn – Dec 12, 2014