B2C marketing depends on making emotional connections with consumers. In fact, consumer purchases, it has been said, are 80% emotional and only 20% logical.
B2B marketing, on the other hand, is usually based on reason and logic. And getting that sale often involves interacting with multiple decision-makers on the other end. But there are several email strategies that B2B marketers are “borrowing” from B2C businesses, because they are proving to be highly effective.
Social media and blogs, for example, have gained a stronger role in B2B marketing in recent years. In an effort to compete on these platforms, marketers may be tempted to reduce their focus on email marketing. This is a big mistake, and here’s why:
Salesforce gathered the following stats (and 22 more) on B2B email marketing from marketing pros:
- For every $1 spent on email marketing, there is an average return of $44.25 in revenue. (Experian)
- 77% of consumers prefer email marketing communication (provided they have given permission to receive those emails). (ExactTarget)
- 72% of B2B purchasers will share meaningful content via email. (Earnest Agency)
If a business can get more engagement through email marketing, that translates to more leads, and more leads hopefully lead to more conversions. And, best of all, it is generally a cost-effective marketing tactic.
The following tips will help you create a successful B2B email marketing strategy.
1. Set Your Objectives
You should not develop a campaign (let alone a strategy) until you determine what you want to achieve. Do you want to educate prospects? Develop or maintain relationships? Capture leads? Increase brand awareness? Unless you have these firmly defined, you cannot create effective content for each segment of your target audience.
At the end of a campaign, it is important to use data and analytics tools to determine the campaign’s success and effectiveness against your objectives.
2. Consider an Email Service Provider (ESP)
Technology is a wonderful thing, and its impact on email marketing campaigns is significant. If you get the right ESP, your job will become so much easier. Some of the most popular providers include MailChimp, Constant Contact, ExactTarget, Pardot, and Hubspot.
Most of these services have features and elements in common but also uniquenesses that should be researched. Be sure to evaluate the potential services to make sure the one you choose is right for you. Do you want automation, segmentation, personalization, advanced analytics, etc?
And once an ESP has been selected, there should be one or more people on your marketing team in charge of learning how to use its applications and tools for the greatest benefit. There is a learning curve here, and someone has to become the in-house expert.
3. Building Your List
The most common way to build an email marketing list is through opt-in activities for your readers and followers on your website, blog, and social media posts.
As your list builds, it should be segmented into where members are in their buying journey. For example, customers who have purchased before, those who have demonstrated some interest and with whom you have already had conversation, and those who are new to you and your brand.
As you acquire email addresses and other information about your contacts, it is your responsibility to safeguard this information. Use email addresses wisely, and never share or distribute contact information with any third parties. This activity is one of the easiest ways to damage your brand. Angry recipients will spread the word, so just don’t risk it.
4. Content Creation
Once your lists have been segmented, it is time to craft the content that will be best for each of those segments. This requires a lot of thought about your objectives and the types of messages that will engage each group. Of course, you want to educate; you want to come across as an expert in your niche, and you want to offer value. Occasionally, you may want to entertain or inspire a bit. But the overall goal is to pique enough interest that you get a response to your call to action.
Subject lines are particularly important, if you expect to get opens. They need to engage and/or intrigue. The challenge for B2B marketers is that their products/services are not always as “exciting” as consumer-based products, and it takes some creativity to craft content that will generate enthusiasm.
Many businesses contract out content creation. They use freelancers or writing services (such as Trust My Paper) that have copywriting departments with creatives and journalists who know how to turn topics and information into compelling pieces.
It may seem counterintuitive, but email content should not always be about you or the value/products/services you can “bring to the table.” Sometimes related news, events, etc. can show that you are a thoughtful business – one that keeps abreast of trends and happenings within the communities of your prospects’ or customers’ niches. This is the kind of outreach that builds business relationships, even though they won’t necessarily result in an immediate sale.
5. Using RSS-to-Email – It’s a Winner
This is an easy concept and just as easy to implement, especially if you are using a good email service provider. Your work involves getting contacts to opt-in to a subscription to your blog.
Each time you craft a blog post, it is then automatically sent out to those subscribers via email. You can even designate which segments of those subscribers receive which articles you write.
You can also include a call-to-action in your posts (such as asking readers questions, to respond to a survey, or to follow a link for more detailed information about the subject, e.g., an e-book, a white paper, etc.), which will further the conversation. And as long as the conversation continues, the chances of prospects turning into customers increase.
6. Nurturing Through Emails
B2B email marketing can become a strong channel for lead generation and nurturing, especially as social media becomes saturated with a lot of B2B brands trying to capture the attention of their audiences.
But it is taking on a different “flavor.” They are no longer just promotional or transactional. They need to become more conversational. Companies need to tell their stories, personalize, and segment their audiences for their campaigns.
One thing that B2B companies can do through emails is to focus on their expertise and the value that they bring to prospects. They can promote free trials, downloads, white papers, etc. providing immediate value and thus continuing the conversation.
These are specific campaigns designed to get those “fence sitters” to take some action. They have shown some interest but need some extra “help” to make a decision.
You will want to devise a series of emails that will be sent out on a scheduled basis without becoming overwhelming. You can use blog posts or other types of content that you believe will be of interest – enough interest to keep those prospects opening them. Again, you will need to have very compelling content to maintain this interest. And as long as they are still opening them, you still have a prospect.
B2B email marketing can be amazingly effective. But it takes a clear strategy with defined objectives, segmentation of your audience, use of the great tools that are available, and the creation of exceptional and creatively written content.
B2B businesses that create strong email campaigns will be able to remain competitive.
About the AuthorMore Content by Marie Fincher