7 Tips For Outstanding B2B Email Marketing
Written by Mark Vogel
September 12, 2018
According to the Data and Marketing Association, email marketing continues to provide the highest return-on-investment for all direct marketing channels. Most marketers probably associate email marketing with business-to-consumer messaging. But if you are a business-to-business marketer, then you need to ensure that email marketing is part of your strategy. Here are some tips to help ensure that your email marketing stands out and produces a healthy ROI.
Create a Content Development Strategy
93% of B2B marketers use email marketing to deliver their content marketing strategy (according to a 2017 survey by Marketing Profs.) But when my clients share some of the challenges they face with implementing their email marketing strategy, they tell me that developing robust content on a regular basis is often the biggest challenge.
Successful B2B email marketing is reliant on a steady stream of content that is aligned to your target audiences’ needs and “personas.” Your company’s senior management must commit the resources necessary to develop relevant content in a timely fashion. That means there must be a clear, top-to-bottom commitment to a content development strategy. If you lack the internal resources, then outsource this strategy to a qualified firm or individual. Content marketing is an ongoing process, not just a one-off campaign.
Define the personas of your target audiences. Identify the key sources of content. Engage savvy writers and designers to make that content engaging. “Content” is more than the words in an email – it includes videos, infographics, case studies, photography, testimonials, ROI calculators, webinars, and much more.
Acquire Quality Leads
Perform an audit of your current sources of leads. I find that organizations often have buckets of leads in various places – different sales teams with different lists, website visitors’ sign-up info that isn’t placed into an outbound marketing campaign, customer service folks who retain data that could be used for cross-selling / up-selling, and so on.
According to HubSpot, email lists degrade 22.5% each year, so your company must have a clear and robust lead acquisition strategy in place.
The Content Development Strategy above can be leveraged not just for the outbound messaging itself, but as a tool to build your opt-in email list. Create a free e-book or whitepaper and deliver it with a “gated offer.” That’s a custom landing page where visitors must provide their email address to access valuable content.
Depending on your audience, pay-per-click ads can drive traffic to your opt-in page. Running PPC campaigns through programs such as Google Ads are relatively easy. However, to ensure that you are receiving quality traffic (not just quantity), it might be best to outsource this activity to a certified pro, who will create and constantly monitor the campaigns.
And don’t forget LinkedIn Ads – they can be highly filtered based on your target audiences’ titles, location, company name and so on. Drive traffic through all social media outlets, and ensure all members of your sales team are sharing that content with their B2B social media contacts.
Encourage your current recipients to help grow your list by including social sharing icons and a “Send To a Friend” button in each message.
I have one word for list rentals: NO! The reasons why you should never rent email marketing lists are too numerous to get into in this blog. Just remember the one word regarding list rentals: NO!
Be overt when capturing leads on your website. Too many sites bury their sign-up forms on the “Contact Us” page. Place the form on every page, preferably “above the fold.” Don’t ask for too much info up front – just the basics. Promise that their data is secure and that you never share or rent your lists, and that they can easily unsubscribe at any time. “Pop-up sign-up forms” can work well in certain cases but be certain your webmaster understands Google’s rules regarding “intrusive interstitials.”
If you acquire leads outside the US, you must follow the privacy laws in those other countries – especially the new “General Data Protection Regulation” that took effect in May 2018 in the European Union. Click HERE to read my blog on GDPR. 5 Simple Steps for Aligning with GDPR
Segment As Much As Possible
According to a 2016 MailChimp study, segmented email marketing lists will yield greater ROI for your campaigns: 14.52% higher open rates, 58.21% higher click-through rates, and 10.07% lower unsubscribe rates. The greater the level of detail you can acquire for each email record, the more you can segment the list. You need to understand your audiences’ demographics, pain points, job roles. Acquiring details for your email lists can be daunting, but the effort will pay off.
Design for Your Audience
The content of your email marketing message must appeal to the demographics of each segmented audience. If you are reaching a C-level audience, then a brief, to-the-point message that looks as if it’s coming straight from a fellow exec’s Outlook account may be in order. Send “From” a real person’s name and email address – not just “info@” or the dreaded “donotreply@”.
If your recipients are influenced by relevant images – the latest generation of machinery, videos of their competitors’ facilities, a high-profile construction project, and so on – then use more image-heavy e-newsletters to drive engagement. Use dynamic content to deliver messages that are automatically generated to be relevant and optimized based on your subscribers’ data, buying history and behavior.
Don’t forget to design messages that are mobile-friendly! More than half of your audience might first open the email on their smartphone. Hence, be sure the message will adapt its design based on the device your recipient is using.
B2B buyers want to know if you understand their problem, and you are the right solution to ease their pain. Position yourself as a thought leader. Share trends, benchmarks, and case studies. Show them what their competitors are up to. Answer questions they may be asking, such as, how do various solutions work to solve my problem? What are the ROI scenarios or total cost of ownership? What are the pitfalls of the wrong decision?
The only way to know if your email marketing messages are returning the best results possible is to test – and to do so repeatedly on an ongoing basis. Testing isn’t a once-and-done activity. Continue testing new designs, offers, subject lines, timing, frequency, and calls-to-action.
For more details on performing A/B Split Testing of your email marketing campaigns, go here: https://www.nxtbookmedia.com/blog/the-email-savant-series-simplifying-ab-split-testing/
B2B purchases are not spur-of-the-moment, impulse buys. Sales cycles can be long, often involving an average of seven decision-makers. Continue to deliver relevant messaging that helps solve a problem.
In the context of your messaging, tell, don’t sell! Great content works better than great offers. Nurture them through the sales pipeline by explaining how you can help ease their pain.
Mark Vogel is president of Vogel Marketing Solutions LLC and serves as a lead email consultant for Nxtbook Media. He has more than 35 years of experience in the marketing world and has been actively engaged in email campaigns for more than 20 years. His email marketing clients include Fortune 500 companies, e-commerce retailers, non-profits, local businesses, and more. He can be reached at Mark@VogelMarketing.net.