3 Keys to Effective B2B Email Marketing
Guest post by Charlotte Hicks Crockett, Managing Editor of B2B Writing Success
“Welcome! You’ve got mail!”
It’s been a long time since we first heard AOL’s signature greeting. And while getting an email is much less of a novelty today, it remains a powerful tool for B2B marketers.
In fact, according to a study by McKinsey & Company, email has 40 times the effectiveness of social media platforms Facebook and Twitter.
The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) reported the average Return on Investment (ROI) from email marketing is a whopping 3800%!
Email may be an older technology, but it’s certainly not dead. Thanks to automated email marketing systems with robust segmentation capabilities and much better spam filters so only legitimate emails get delivered, B2B email marketing is still highly effective.
Plus, there are a few features unique to email that make it a preferred medium for B2B marketers.
First, email is owned media — unlike LinkedIn, Facebook, and even Google. You own your email list, always.
While government regulations may change and impact how you send email, there isn’t the risk that your asset will disappear overnight.
Certainly, engagement on social media is beneficial, but it’s like having a group of friends you only see at someone else’s party — unless you have their email address, phone number, or physical address, you can’t control when you talk with them.
With your own email list, you have the guest list available anytime.
Second, email is an integral part of the workday for most employees — 61% say email is “very important” according to Pew Research. McKinsey & Company estimates that employees spend an average of 13 hours a week reading emails. (Probably more when their meetings get boring.)
And while social media use at work may be frowned on, no one questions someone working in their email inbox, especially if the email is from a company they do business with.
Third, emails can be easily forwarded to others in the company who are involved in the buying decision. And an email that’s forwarded from a colleague is not only read but carefully considered.
It’s clear that an email list can be a very valuable asset, but it must be properly utilized to achieve the maximum benefit. Let’s look at three important questions you need to ask to get the most out of your B2B email marketing.
1. Have you clearly defined the goal of your email?
Every communication you have with a prospect or client either builds the relationship — or breaks it down...
Many companies have a misconception that email is “free” since you don’t have to pay for printing and postage, but in reality, it’s not. Poor emailing practices can be very expensive.
Sending broadcast emails without consideration of their purpose can result in your emails being ignored, marked as spam, or even cost you a potential client.
Never send an email unless it has a purpose and will build the relationship with your prospect or client.
Will the email help them move to the next step in the buying process? And most importantly, what specifically is that next step?
Know what your goal is for each email, and make sure your message is focused on that purpose.
2. Is Your Email Interesting and Helpful?
B2B buyers aren’t stodgy, boring people whose biggest excitement is calculating pi out a few hundred digits, so stop treating them that way.
Make your emails interesting and (gasp) even fun. Sure, you may need to communicate specifications or product features — but your email doesn’t have to be dry and boring.
One of the ways you can make the information more interesting is to tell a story. Is there an interesting backstory in the development or production of your product?
Why does the product have a particular feature? How is that feature helping other customers?
Your emails could also include commentary on what’s happening in the industry, a summary, and link to relevant articles or videos, or a helpful tip they can implement in their business.
When you establish a pattern of sending relevant, interesting emails, your open rates will stay strong and your messages will get read.
3. Are You Segmenting Your List?
One of the biggest benefits of email automation is the ability to segment your email list. Not only can it significantly reduce the number of people who mark the email as spam or unsubscribe, it also allows you to send a message that is much more targeted to the person receiving it.
The most obvious segmentation is between prospects and clients.
Your current clients will need different information than your prospects. Each group will have unique questions they need answered. Clients will need more data about how to use or get value from your product or service, where prospects will need more information to make the buying decision.
Where is your prospect in the buying cycle?
Your emails are most valuable when they specifically target the prospect’s questions and interest where they are in the buying process. Are they in the awareness, evaluation, or conversion stage?
What do they need right now to move to the next step? Match your information to their needs and you’ll get much better results from your emails.
Who will read your email?
An email you send to someone in Operations should have a different message from one sent to a CFO. While they both are involved in evaluating the product, the CFO is concerned about the financial impact of the purchase — not the technical specifications.
Segment your list and send an email message that specifically answers the questions those recipients may have, and you’ll get better results.
In fact, a survey by the DMA reports that 77% of the ROI from emails comes from segmented, targeted, and triggered campaigns as opposed to broadcast emails.
Another benefit of B2B email marketing is how well it works as part of a multichannel media campaign. You can easily integrate your email marketing with social media, paid ads, and your website to boost the results of each.
Email is a tool that has been around for over 25 years. It’s a mature medium that is stable with readily available automation tools. But best of all… it gets results!
Charlotte Hicks Crockett is the Managing Editor of B2B Writing Success, which helps copywriters of all experience levels tap into the huge opportunity of the B2B market. Members have full access to a constantly expanding library of articles, how-to videos, and live training sessions from top B2B copywriting experts to help them in any type of B2B copywriting project from blog posts to email marketing to white papers.