Email marketing can be a powerful tool if used intelligently to catch people at the right moment with the right message. Today, customers in both B2B and B2C environments expect to receive marketing messages that are timely, clear, well targeted, and relevant to their needs and requirements. But achieving that is not necessarily easy.
In addition to today’s high expectations, there are subtle differences between B2B and B2C email campaigns, which if not considered, can jeopardize potential sales and leads. So how can you make your B2B email marketing efforts more effective?
Know the difference between B2B and B2C
There are many differences between B2B and B2C email marketing campaigns, so it’s important to view them as very different environments. These differences make it more difficult to access reader interest, click through, and action.
If you are emailing to a B2B audience, it is imperative to clearly understand who your target audience is, what their pain points are, then tailor a considered message that resolves common concerns at every stage. Also consider the following:
- You are messaging busy people. Your readership likely gets hundreds of emails a day, and they don’t have much reading time. I know I’ve already sent a lot of unread messages to the bin today; you probably have too. Relevancy is important if you want to stand out.
- Your target may or may not be in control of the company’s budget. If you want to encourage action with B2B targets, consider that they may need managerial permission—or work on targeting managers.
- You need solid incentives to address pain points. In other words, why should people open your email? Will the information advance them in their day-to-day work? If you don’t spell out the value of your message, it may not be read. You can’t just rely on natural interest as you would with B2C.
Know the importance of tailored content
Put yourself in the mind of your targets. They’re likely busy professionals who want quick access to messages that benefit them and their work. They don’t have the time or incentive to read irrelevant communications.
Tailoring your content and activity ensures you reach the right people and provide them with the most relevant messages. There are several ways to do this:
- Resolve a range of pain points; split your mailing list into segments.
- Provide a pain point resolution in your subject header. There is a lot of conflicting information on what to include or omit in a subject header. When it comes to B2B, the clearer you can make your subject line (without triggering spam filters), the better. A subject line is the only part of your campaign with a guaranteed read, so be sure it is strong, intriguing, and useful.
- Remember you are writing to a B2B audience and reflect that in the tone of your message.
- Take care that your message is not too long. Think of this way: if you were receiving the message, would you open or read it?
Know how your clients act
Understanding your B2B buyers’ purchasing cycle is necessary to determine the most effective content to reach them. Email marketing is a scalable, measurable method of marketing communication, and if viewed as a contributing lead nurturing factor and not as a stand-alone solution, it can be incredibly powerful.
If you align your email strategy with your sales cycle, you can better target (map) your content, and reach your audience with the most relevant message at the right time in the cycle. If you are addressing a range of pain points, segment your lists and send different, relevant targeted content to each group to get the best response.
Know how to optimize
Effective marketing emails are well optimized. There are numerous stages to ensure yours are as effective as possible:
Tracking—Before you begin, you first need to know how you will track and monitor your campaign. You will need to monitor metrics such as delivery rate, open rate, and click-through rate (a number you are looking to improve). Many email marketing service providers will provide user analytics and measurement tools.
Design—Next, make sure that your design is good. No matter your budget, it’s wise to consider how your messages will look. They should be clear and on brand (likely similar to your landing page), and they should ensure information and CTA’s are quickly accessible. Plus, in a world where many people view email on mobile devices and tablets, the design needs to be responsive and compatible on all these devices.
Review—To ensure that what you’re doing is having a positive impact, continually review your analytics and regularly update your mailing list. No matter how effective or well targeted the copy is, if your list is out of date you won’t see positive results. High bounce and unsubscribe rates are indicators that your mailing list may not be as up to date as it could be. Other factors to watch and test include the time of day you send emails and the nature of the copy you include.
Test—Once your email is ready, be sure to test it before sending. Similar to proofreading, this stage ensures no errors are made, your email is professional, and it will reach the right people. Things to check include:
- Compatibility across common email readers such as Google Mail, Apple Mail, and Outlook. Set up test accounts with those readers to view the email as it will appear in default to others.
- Make sure that your links work and go to the right places; this includes your unsubscribe link in the footer. Images should also be checked across readers.
- Ensure that your email message does not contain words that make it seem like spam — otherwise it will just go into junk folders.
As a starting point, you can use any messages you have already sent out as test cases. Learn from them and review your metrics to adapt.
Know what to do next
So you’ve sent your email? The work doesn’t stop there. If you have a well-optimized email, you will need well-optimized landing pages that match. Think beyond your emails themselves — view them as one part of your overall marketing strategy.
If your design, content, and targeting is working and causes someone to click through on your email, where do they go? Successful emails should direct people towards a purpose-built landing page designed to promote a relevant “next step” call to action that will convert them into leads and sales. Tips to achieve this include:
- Ensure landing pages are clear and contain readable copy and relevant information. (You will likely want different landing pages for different email segments as your targeted messages will change for each audience.)
- Make your call to action clear (and clickable!). All too often, as a reader, I have to really hunt for what I want. If you don’t include a clear next step, your target won’t click through to that end goal.
- Mirror your landing page design and headline copy to that of your email, linking between the two. This makes your call to action clear and relevant.
There are many ways to enhance email marketing campaigns. Your own strategy will likely change dependent on your business and your audience’s unique pain points. Much of the process will be ongoing as there is no quick overnight fix for effectiveness; however, as long as you continue to review and adapt your approach, you can take measures towards enhancing email as part of your overall marketing strategy.