A Beginner’s Guide to B2B Email Marketing
Email marketing is widely known as one of the most cost-effective digital marketing outreach measures around. It has been widely utilized by businesses since the inception of the internet and has grown into a multi-billion dollar market. In 2020, the email marketing industry was valued at $7.5 billion and is expected to hit upwards of $17.5 billion by 2027.
It’s a versatile channel too. Not only do businesses rely on email marketing to connect with loyal customers, they can use emails to reach fellow business owners, decision-makers, or other marketers.
B2B email marketing can be a great way to connect with thought leaders and professionals in any industry, and provide an effective channel for selling B2B products. It can be surprisingly easy to reach prospective business leaders and make lasting connections. Even if email marketing isn’t your primary mode of lead generation, you can employ it as a supplemental way to reach new prospects.
For businesses who may have been on the fence about launching a B2B email marketing campaign, let’s clear some things up.
What is B2B Email Marketing?
B2B email marketing is a form of direct email marketing, but instead of reaching out to users you are exclusively emailing business owners or decision-makers at an organization.
Business-to-business marketing usually involves companies who sell products or services to other companies, as opposed to selling items straight to consumers.
This type of marketing is a powerful way to make businesses more familiar with your brand, while ultimately trying to convert them into paid customers.
For those of you who have tried B2C email marketing and have struggled, B2B marketing is an entirely different animal.
B2C can feel like you’re taking a shot in the dark trying to reach prospective consumers. Unless your targeting efforts are spot on, and you’re reaching consumers from a past retargeting campaign, it can be increasingly difficult to win conversions in this way.
With B2B email marketing, you are reaching out to decision-makers and people tasked with making the best decisions for their organization. If you have a product offering that is perfect for a particular business, they will be much more likely to open your message.
Of course, many B2B products are high-ticket items. You’re not selling t-shirts or homemade neck beads, you’re selling enterprise level software or expensive warehouse equipment. No offense to those t-shirt sellers or bead makers out there, but those items come at a significantly lower price point.
In order to sell those high-ticket items, your leads will need more nurturing than usual. Rarely can you close a B2B deal from just one email. It will take a well-structured campaign to turn these prospects into buyers.
But even though the products come at a higher cost, a B2B email campaign can have higher open rates than many B2C campaigns.
Granted you may have to contact the B2B prospect multiple times, especially since many decisions have to go through multiple levels of leadership, but by targeting a pain point you are increasing your chances for a response.
You must also think about a B2B email marketing strategy from a holistic level. It’s not about the first email you send someone, it’s about establishing a successful sales pipeline that will expand and grow.
Once your B2B email marketing campaigns begin to gain traction, you will find they are a convenient way to communicate with your business customers throughout your relationship. Emails can be used to introduce new products while also connecting with readers on a more conversational level. Emails that are fairly casual in tone and not overly sales-centric will perform best, and they will keep your business customers coming back for more.
Benefits of B2B Email Marketing
The benefits of B2B email marketing are practically endless. Even though it may take longer between first contact and purchase, the customer loyalty from B2B clients is off the charts. Once a business decision-maker finds a vendor they like and trust, they will hold onto that vendor with all of their might.
Finding ways to save money while still getting value is key for any business. B2B email marketing is one of these channels that can help you come out ahead with minimal expenditure.
The biggest expense is usually the acquisition of prospects, or leads. For some organizations, this can involve building retargeting audiences by running ad campaigns. Others may choose to manually collect email addresses of decision-makers among their target clients.
Once you get past the acquisition phase, a B2B email marketing campaign’s costs begin to drop precipitously. The only major cost beyond this phase is usually on the content marketing side, depending on how much fresh content is needed for a particular email campaign.
As you start segmenting your email lists, you can personalize campaigns accordingly. B2B cold emails shouldn’t sound impersonal. You’ll get a much higher open rate if your emails sound genuine and attentive to the reader’s needs.
It starts with the subject line. An effective B2B email subject line should address both the company as well as the individual. The average B2B email open rates are around 15.1% internet wide, and the majority of these emails succeed by speaking directly to specific consumers.
Business decision-makers are busy, they get hundreds of solicited emails a day. Keep your emails short, get to the point quickly, and craft a personalized subject line to make a connection with someone even faster.
Analytics are the backbone of all of your digital marketing efforts. With B2B email marketing, there are a few critical key performance indicators (KPIs) to be mindful of.
How many people are clicking on the links in your emails? Clickthrough Rate (CTR) answers this question. It’s a fairly basic yet hugely important metric tracked by all email marketers to measure the success of a campaign.
CTR calculates the total clicks divided by the amount of sent emails, multiplied by 100 to give you a percentage. This can be used to understand how readers are reacting to your email content. Are they reading the content and clicking a link to your website? Or are they reading and simply trashing the message right away? These are the things B2B email marketers must know.
How many people open your emails? Open rate can help you determine which campaign messaging is working, and which messaging isn’t working.
What’s considered a good open rate may differ from one industry to the next. For some organizations the average B2B email open rates may hit the 30 percent benchmark, while for others it may only be around 10-15%. It really comes down to the style of campaign you’re running and the decision-makers you’re targeting.
Finding the best open rates requires testing a variety of elements in your campaigns. This may include subject lines, structure of email content, use of offers or other promotions, and send times. That last element is one that many new email marketers forget to test, but one that can make or break your campaign.
The day and time you choose to send your email can have a dramatic impact on engagement. Sending an email at 2am on Saturday won’t have as great of an impact as sending one at 2pm on Tuesday.
In 2019, 293.6 billion emails were sent each day. In other words, people get a ton of emails in their inbox and they will miss yours. That’s why timing is so important.
If you can pinpoint the best send times based on regional time zones and engagement metrics, your open rate will vastly improve.
Having a go-to cold email template for your B2B email marketing strategy is useful too, because then you can focus more on send times and other factors aside from the actual email content.
We all want quick results from our digital marketing efforts. B2B email marketing might be the closest thing to instant gratification.
People are on their email accounts a lot (and by “a lot” we mean all day). If you launch a campaign in the morning, you will undoubtedly see results by the afternoon. Whether positive or negative, you’ll have quick insights that you can use to your advantage.
It’s obviously a bigger advantage to have an extensive B2B email marketing list. This will provide better opportunities for reaching more people. However, you can still get relatively quick results from a smaller list, just based on the fact that we check our emails with OCD level meticulousness.
B2B Email Marketing Best Practices
Crafting that perfect B2B email campaign isn’t rocket science, especially when you have some of these best practices down.
Create an effective subject
It starts with your subject line, literally and figuratively. It’s the first thing people see when a new email comes in, so think of it as your best chance to impress.
The key is personalization. Even if you are using a cold email template, make sure the subject line is unique and addresses the individual by name. This is especially important if you are targeting different personas. Don’t treat any two people the same.
It’s also a must to include some flavor in your email subject line, just be careful here. You can add a touch of humor when appropriate, but always be professional about it.
Lead with value. If your service will cut down on a company’s marketing costs, say this in the subject line.
Make the email personal
In addition to the subject line, your entire email should have a personal touch. Not only should you address the person by name, but also make sure you’re sounding conversational. It’s okay to adopt a style that’s similar to emailing a close friend, while keeping the content of the email professional.
Something like this will do,
“Hi [name], me and the team at [company name] have been working on something pretty cool and we thought you should be the first to know. This new service is geared towards lessening the time it takes you to perform daily tasks. It gives you more of your precious time back while keeping you and your team productive. It’s a win-win!”
Use images to grab attention
Images can also be effective. Sprinkling in some high-quality images of people using your product or service will help the recipient picture themselves using it.
It’s also a good idea to incorporate banners and logos to give your emails a true sense of branding. In other words, they make your organization appear more legit.
Provide value to the customers
All of our marketing efforts should come from a place of value. In email marketing, you want readers to feel like they are getting amazing value for free. This will keep them coming back for more.
Email campaigns should include access to free guides, free downloads, and other free things. The word ‘free’ goes a long way.
In fact, there shouldn’t be a heavy push to sell anything until you’ve advertised some freebies in your email campaigns. Free, value-driven content is the best way to nurture leads and build a successful sales pipeline from your emails.
Make the content easy to share
Whether you are sharing a whitepaper, a blog post, or a YouTube video, encourage your list to share it with their friends and followers. This is especially great for B2B, since they will be inclined to share content with supervisors, managers, as well as co-workers.
Include calls to action
Each email must have a goal. Just like any other marketing endeavor, there needs to be an objective.
This doesn’t mean that you have to take readers directly to a product landing page, but you should have a clear path for them from the moment they open your email. You might use one email to show readers a helpful video (“top productivity hacks for your office”), then use follow-up emails to pitch them your workplace productivity app.
Create multiple touchpoints
Email is a vehicle towards engagement with your brand. Send users to your brand’s social accounts, certain blog posts and pages on your site, podcast interviews with your founder, and just about anything else that gets them moving around your ecosystem.
Encourage people to like, share, and follow you across social media, leave reviews in the right places, and sing your brand’s praises to anyone who will listen.
Keep the email short and simple
Long, bloviated emails aren’t fun to read. Keep yours short and to the point.
Think about it from your perspective. How many emails do you get on a daily basis? Write your next B2B email campaign in a way that would make you want to open it.
Creating B2B Email Marketing Strategy
Strategize your B2B email marketing campaign before launch by performing the necessary upfront research on your email list.
B2B emails can be more complex than B2C emails, so this extra effort will pay dividends. Understanding a certain niche or sector will also help you gain a reputation as being the go-to specialist in that area. Businesses would much rather work with a specialist in their niche over a generalist.
Your B2B email strategy also starts with a fast loading, modern website. This is ultimately where you funnel your traffic so you need to be sure that your site is delivering the best possible experience.
Acquiring the right emails is more difficult in a B2B campaign, because there could be multiple decision-makers at a given organization.
Once the emails have been assembled and you launch your new campaign, it’s all about the testing.
Running a Successful B2B Email Marketing Campaign
The key to running a successful B2B email marketing campaign is having the necessary patience to test and try new things.
Experiment with different subject lines, email content, and calls to action based on your main KPIs and other tracking metrics. Open rates and click through rates will provide a clear signal as to the success or failure of your campaign.
Understanding what’s not working in a campaign is nearly as important as knowing what’s working, so don’t be afraid to try different things in your emails and possibly fail at them.
As long as you stay true to the B2B email best practices and have a bit of patience, your campaigns will eventually thrive. Since email marketing is relatively cost effective, there’s no reason not to give it a chance. It can become an effective channel of communication with your customers while helping your brand grow to new heights.
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