Although email has been around longer than social media, instant messages, and even websites, it’s still one of the most effective, affordable ways to get and retain customers. One reason why is that it’s easy to demonstrate its worth in terms of dollars spent and conversions, or money spent versus money earned. Below, we’ll outline some of the email strategies and tactics that successful B2B marketers are using to retain customers, get new customers, and increase engagement.
B2B Email By the Numbers
Chances are, you’re probably using some form of email marketing now, but you may not know exactly how effective it can be. Here are some numbers that demonstrate this point:
- 89% of marketers list email as their main channel for lead generation
- Email marketing delivers an impressive ROI – $44 for every dollar spent
- Email is 40x more effective at acquiring customers than both Facebook and Twitter
While these numbers do a good job of demonstrating the effectiveness of email marketing, it’s important to realize that there are some best practices to keep in mind, which we’ll detail below.
Select An Email Service Provider
If you don’t already have an Email Service Provider (ESP), you’ll need to line one up. Picking the right ESP will allow you to manage an email marketing campaign by providing formats, templates, and the ability to create custom designs. Here are some of the most popular ESPs you can choose from:
- MailChimp – This dedicated email marketing platform is highly responsive and allows for automation, personalization, and features advanced analytics. If you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers, you can send 12,000 emails a month for free. If you have more subscribers, there are upgrades based on the number of subscribers on your list.
- Constant Contact This is an affordable platform that allows for some automation. It also comes with free coaching and online education that allows you to get the most out of the platform.
- Pardot This full-service platform allows for automation, A/B testing, and many other applications. With packages ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 a month, it’s one of the more expensive options, but for large companies with many subscribers, it can be a great option.
- HubSpot In addition to robust email marketing capabilities, this full-service platform offers a host of other features. Its email applications include lead generation tools, personalization and automation, integrated analytics, content management, and more.
Make Your List Clean and Current
Before you can send out an email, you need to have a list. But it’s even more important to make sure that your list is clean. Here are some of the reasons why you need to keep your list clean and up to date:
- Email lists naturally degrade by about 22% each year. Abandoned domains, staff turnover, and uninterested or disengaged recipients all can have a negative impact on your list, so make sure it’s current.
- An unscrubbed email list will increase the likelihood that your email will end up in a spam filter.
- The more you send to old, obsolete addresses, the higher your bounce rate will be.
- If you continue to email disengaged recipients, you’ll likely see an increase in unsubscriptions and complaints.
Personalize Your Emails
If you treat your recipients as nothing but faceless names, you probably won’t get much of a response. It’s important to put some effort into showing that you know something about them. If you learn something about them, include those personal details in your email marketing with mail merge. Even when dozens, hundreds, or thousands of emails go out, you can keep updating your list with personal details that will be included for individual recipients.
It’s important to note that personalization can be as simple as using a recipient’s name, company name, location, or a couple of other easily found details. Below are some of the most effective ways to personalize your emails for effectiveness:
- Email list segmentation
- Individualized email messaging
- Behavior-triggered emails
- Responsive email design
- Social media integration
- Individualized landing pages
Segment Your List
The more detail you can put into your segmented email list, the more effective it will likely be to bear fruit. In addition to job title and industry, here are some of the most common pillars of effective email segmentation:
- AIO (activities, interest, opinion)
- Benefits sought
- Purchase usage
- Buyer stage
- Life cycle stage
Always Analyze the Metrics
Let’s say you’ve sent out an email and got the results you were looking for. That’s great, but do you know why it worked? Whether a campaign worked or failed, you need to analyze the results so you can repeat what worked or stop what didn’t. The easiest way to do this is to set up key performance indicators (KPIs) that carry numerical values that can be measured after every send. Some of the most common KPIs include:
- Delivery rate
- Open rate
- Click-through rate
- Landing page hits
- Landing page conversion rate
- Unsubscribe rate
- Response rate
- Bounce rate
- Leads generated
- Leads qualified
- Leads converted
By analyzing these and other metrics, you can gain valuable insights into the reasons behind the results. For example, if your open rate was high, but your leads generated and click-through rates were low, then the copy or formatting needs work. If the delivery rate was high, but the open rate was low, then it’s likely that your subject line wasn’t right. Make sure to set up a clear reporting system and put your learnings into action before you send out the next email.
Testing Can Make the Difference
One thing that can be helpful is running a 10% test. If you’re testing a subject line, for example, before sending an email to your entire list, send 5% of your list one subject line, and 5% another. Check your open rates, then use your results to send to the other 90%. And make sure to only test one variable at a time, such as subject line or copy. That way, you’ll know why your email worked or didn’t.
Make Sure It’s Mobile Friendly
Your targets are just as likely to open an email on their mobile phone as they are on a PC. Google found that 50% of B2B searches were made on mobile, so your email must be formatted to be mobile-friendly.
Be Patient – It Takes Time
Perhaps the biggest difference between B2C and B2B email marketing is the length of the buying cycle. With B2C, for example, you may get an email promoting a smokeless fire pit and decide that you want to get it right then and there. The buying cycle for the vast majority of B2B offerings usually takes much longer because of the cost involved and the number of decision-makers involved in the purchasing process. This means that your email marketing needs to be planned in waves that reflect their journey to purchase.