Email marketing continues to be a fantastic way to drive B2B marketing leads. However, it’s important to think about the types of emails you send, who you email to, and how often you send content to their inbox.
In the first post in our four-part series on email marketing, we take a look at best practices for using B2B email marketing to drive leads.
Let’s take a quick look at the numbers:
40% of B2B marketers say email marketing is a tactic that is critical to their success. (Source)
For every $ 1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $ 42. (Source)
73% of successful content marketers promote subscribers, audiences, or leads. (Source)
Conversions are important for B2B
As a B2B marketer, it’s important to look at the entire sales funnel, from the top of the funnel to the center of the funnel to the bottom of the funnel cords. For many prospects, the buying process can take weeks or even months from start to finish. For inbound lead generation in particular, email marketing is an excellent way to continuously build trust and connect with a potential customer to really guide them to a decision.
The biggest mistake we see in email marketing relates to the sales pitch. Unless a prospect has specifically asked for advice or a demo, they are often unwilling to speak to a seller. They need more information and education before they get there. This is where care comes into play – exchanging helpful information to accompany you on your sales path.
Nursing is about being a resource to guide them through the process, rather than having a greedy seller searching their pockets for their wallet.
Know your target audience + set goals
Not all B2B email marketing lists are created equal. The first step in planning your email marketing strategy is to understand your target audience (or email list) and set goals.
- Is your list filled with existing customers that you want to sell or update?
- Is your list filled with contacts from companies that your company would like to work with?
- Is your list just prospects who have downloaded content from your website?
- Is your list filled with prospects who have gone cold (they stopped responding or never responded after getting in touch)?
- Is your list filled with prospects who are or are not familiar with your brand?
- Or is your list a mix of prospects, customers, and cold leads? (Think of segmentation if that’s the case.)
The more detail or segmentation you can add to your list, the better at outlining your goals. However, if you are just getting started with B2B email marketing and lead nurturing, you may need to start broader and then drill down as soon as you get started.
It is important to remember that analysis paralysis is a thing. While you should be thinking about your list and goals, don’t spend so much time strategizing that you can’t execute your strategy.
Customize messaging to suit your needs
This tip may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how often B2B email marketers forget about this element. Email marketing and maintenance is not about getting your message across and what’s important to your business. As mentioned earlier, it’s all about connecting and building trust. All successful email campaigns focus on what the recipient wants to learn or what resonates with them.
When creating your email drip campaigns, focus on the vulnerabilities for your audience. Is it a big hurdle for you to get a management buy-in? Then share blog posts with statistics or case studies that support their recommendation to buy your software or services. Is switching provider a risky move that could endanger your work? Soothe your fears with documented use cases, customer testimonials, and whitepapers that walk the process from start to finish.
All messages should address the recipient’s needs directly and position your brand as helpful. If done correctly, they will forget that you are marketing to them and consider you a resource in their buyer’s journey.
Optimize for broadcast times + intervals
When using email marketing to nurture leads for your brand, the important thing to remember is that someone’s emails are considered valuable and are not readily distributed. Regardless of whether you have the option to email them or whether they have signed up on your website, it is important to respect that. Don’t start emailing them daily when they share their email address with you.
Plan the appropriate time to send an email based on the attributes of your audience and the frequency with which they would like to receive email from you. For many B2B email maintenance campaigns, sending 3 maintenance emails is ideal. If your prospect wasn’t engaged at all after the third email, they may not be interested at all.
Make sure you are sending emails at the right time too. 2pm Saturday may work for a consumer brand looking to sell a gaming membership to a Gen Z audience. For many professional B2B brands that sell products and services, the typical Monday through Friday work week makes the most sense for reaching audiences. We think Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays have the best open rates between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. If your email marketing service allows you to send the email according to the recipient’s time zone, use this feature!
The intervals between emails can vary depending on the cost of your product or service, your target audience, and the length of the sales cycle typical for your industry. For HR software priced at $ 150,000 and a 3 month implementation period, the sales cycle is likely to be anywhere from 3 to 6 months due to the investment of time, resources, and money. In an example like this, the emails might be sent every three weeks to help potential customers gather the information and resources to determine which software to try.
Finding the right balance between sending times and intervals can be tricky, but looking at email metrics can help fine-tune. What leads us to …
Review all metrics
The variety and depth of metrics available may vary depending on the email marketing service or platform. The most important thing is to review the metrics available to you and incorporate your insights into future emails. Have you noticed that even though you sent an email at 8 a.m., the majority of your audience didn’t open or click on the email until 11 a.m.? Adjust your next shipment to be closer to 11 a.m. – when they may be more available or likely to check email.
Using a more robust EMS built into your CRM, you may be able to extract data on who actually opened your email, what they clicked, how long they spent on your website, or whether they downloaded your content offering . These types of metrics are great for creating targeted nurturing campaigns that you can use to further customize the content.
Don’t just click send or blindly plan your next email, always consult the data to get an insight into your audience.
Author: Jeremy Durant
Jeremy is the business principal of Bop Design, a B2B marketing and web design and development company based in San Diego, CA. Jeremy builds relationships with B2B companies and entrepreneurs in need of a marketing and branding strategy, helping them develop their unique value proposition and ideal customers. Show complete profile >