When it comes to Business to Business or B2B email marketing, things are completely different from a Business to Consumer (B2C) strategy. Though your emails are read by real people who are running real businesses, taking the same route as B2C when trying to reach a B2B audience won’t deliver desired outcomes. The most significant difference between a B2B and B2C relationship is how you approach and connect with the respective audiences. If you are trying to reach out to an audience as a B2C company, you would focus on connecting with them on a personal and emotional level. However, in a B2B setup, you can only connect with other businesses on the basis of pure logic.
Before we jump into the tips and best practices related to B2B email marketing, it is important to understand why you, as a B2B marketer or business owner, needs a practical B2 email marketing strategy.
The need for a viable B2B email marketing plan
Website visits are unpredictable and transitory. While the ultimate goal of any B2B marketer is to land prospects on their website, users don’t always necessarily engage with the content there. Email newsletters are a good excuse to reach out to their potential customers and the people who have shown interest in your company. It provides you with multiple and regular opportunities to build a positive relationship with them.
Now let’s talk numbers. According to a survey by eMarketer a median of 122% return on investment was achieved by US Marketers using email marketing. For social media advertising, the ROI was 28% while the same was 35% for paid search advertisements . Also, for every $1 spent on an email campaign, marketers can expect a return on investment (ROI) of $44 .
A report published by Content Marketing Institute found that 77% business to business organizations and agencies use email marketing and newsletters as a crucial part of their content marketing strategy . 79% of B2B marketing agencies and companies reported email to be their most successful channel for content distribution .
Moreover, a 2017 benchmark study by Content Marketing Institute found the following :
- 85% of the respondents reported the use of email marketing strategy for generating leads
- 78% utilize email for nurturing leads
- 74% respondents use email marketing for customer retention and
- 84% of the respondents use email marketing for sales
These numbers clearly indicate that creating a bulletproof email marketing campaign should be one of your top priorities. Now that you understand how important email marketing is, here are some tips you can include in your B2B email marketing strategy.
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Tips for a successful B2B email marketing strategy
1. Authenticate your email
45% of emails sent out every day are spam. The 45% equates to over 14.5 billion spam mails sent internationally every single day . No digital marketer or business owner likes ending up in spam. Ending up in the spam folder can, obviously, diminish your total no. of email opens, and in turn, the number of people landing on your website are also drastically reduced. Especially as a B2B marketer, it does not look professional, rather gives a negative impression, if being a business your mails end up in spam.
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) constantly work towards reducing spam by checking the source of the email and seeing if it is valid. Email authentication, also known as domain authentication or domain validation, is the process of rightly identifying the origin of the email so that ISPs can better route your emails. This is a good way of preventing phishing and spoofing scams.
Email authentication enables your email marketing tool to send mails on your behalf but as your domain. For example: MailChimp removes the default authentication information like ‘on behalf of mcsv.net’ or ‘via mcsv.net’ that can be seen by recipients next to your campaign’s ‘From’ name. Though this is one of the email marketing tips that isn’t compulsory or required, acting on this tip will definitely be beneficial.
2. Don’t sell, educate
Any B2B email marketing strategy works best if the focus is on creating, designing and sending content that aims to educate and not sell. Rather than pushing an offer than entices the recipients to purchase or try your product, tell them about how your product solves their problem. You can compel them to purchase your product once they click on the link in your email and land on your website.
It is best to follow the 80/20 rule of thumb in email marketing as well, which implies that 80% of your content needs to be helpful and educate the recipient while the rest 20% can talk about your business and the services you provide.
3. Focus on the subject line
Subject line is the first single line of text of your email address any recipient reads and decides if they want to click on your email or not. B2B marketers don’t get more than a few seconds to make the recipients curious about what they’ll find inside. This is why your email’s subject line has to be attractive, catchy and compelling. One B2B email marketing tip for getting better CTRs is to add an emoji in your B2B email subject lines as it makes your emails stand out.
Adestra looked at over 3 billion emails over 4 industries and found that good subject lines drive 90% higher open rates . Subject lines that had words like ‘profit’, ‘money’ and ‘revenue’ performed the best while the lowest performing subject lines had words like ‘reminder’, ‘percent off’, ‘free’ and ‘help’.
4. Give your B2B email audience something valuable
A golden rule to follow while trying to sell is: Give to get. If you want to sell something to someone, make sure you provide them with something valuable, something they can use that will probably be helpful in their business and ultimately increase their confidence and trust in your offerings. Some B2B email marketing best practices are sharing professional articles, top-10 lists, whitepapers, free assessments, eBooks, how-to guides and industry statistics.
Another thing to remember is to always choose quality over quantity. There are only a few people in the world who like reading big blocks of text and lengthy articles, especially in B2B. It does not matter how short your B2B newsletter is if your message is effective enough to persuade your audience to click on the link you’ve mentioned inside. Therefore, try to make your message as comprehensive and readable as possible. Use appropriate bullet points, headings and subheadings along with the right fonts. You can also highlight the most important information or offers in the email.
5. Craft your message for the Decision Making Unit
When you are targeting B2B companies with email marketing, the final purchasing decision is usually not made by one individual employee but by a group of persons having the authority to call the shots, called the Decision Making Unit or DMU. This DMU carefully analyzes the pros and cons, the cost and other aspects of the product at question and then collectively comes at a decision of whether or not to invest in the product for the organization.
So, in order to convince any business to believe in your B2B products and services, it is crucial for you to craft your message for the entire Decision Making Unit instead of addressing your B2B emails to the Chief Executing Officer.
The DMU can consist of, say for example, anyone from the General Manager to a company’s Digital Marketing Head to a Digital Marketing Associate. All of these designations have different levels of priorities and concerns. As B2B email marketer, your goal should be to create an email from the perspective of each individual who can be a part of the DMU. This can be done by addressing the pressure or pain points that might concern the executive you are targeting.
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6. Always Include a Call To Action (CTA)
Call to action or CTA is one of the most crucial components that have to be included in any B2B email newsletter. Studies suggest that including a CTA In your emails increases the chances of click-throughs 28% . A CTA, that has a button or hyperlink text that redirects a user to your brand’s website, grabs the attention of your subscribers and motivates them to take action. Some common examples of CTAs are like ‘Contact Us’, ‘More Info’ and ‘Buy Now’.
The question is where exactly to add a CTA? An A/B testing experiment was conducted by Marketing Experiments to understand what is the best place to add a CTA. The study found that emails containing a CTA ‘below the fold’ performed 20% better than emails that had CTA ‘above the fold’ . Below the fold means that the subscribers will be able to see your CTA after scrolling through the whole content.
7. Make the most of opt-in forms
In order to create great reach, email marketing campaigns need a B2B email list of sufficient and accurate email addresses (basically, a relevant email database you can shootout your mails at). It is important to remember that this is a continuous, rather never ending process that requires B2B email marketers to create opportunities to invite prospects to give their email addresses to them. Search for any angles where you can touch your customers.
Website inquiry forms, downloads, explicit newsletter sign ups and click throughs from affiliate sites are good touch points where you can ask users to hand their email addresses to you. Instead of hiding your opt-in forms in sub-category pages like ‘Services’ or ‘Contact Us’ or at the bottom of your page, make it as easy as possible for users to find them. Of course, asking for their implicit consent to send you emails and promotional content is crucial.
8. Track important KPIs
Just like any digital marketing activity, it is imperative to track, measure and analyze the success or failure of the B2B mails you have sent out. Looking at important key performance indicators (KPIs) will help you understand how well your email content is performing, and if not, it will help you identify and implement actionable insights to enhance your future results. If you are using an email campaign management system for your B2B email marketing strategy, it will give you access to reports that’ll ultimately help you keep an eye on key metrics. According to another Content Marketing Institute research , email marketers usually look at the 5 top metrics:
- Click-through Rate (CTR): 91%
- Open Rate: 78%
- Conversion Rate: 67%
- Bounce Rate: 40%
- Delivery Rate: 36%
9. Create a budget and stick to it
Proper allocation of budget is necessary when creating an end-to-end B2B email marketing strategy. According to the DMA, about 82% of marketers tentatively spend anything between 0% and 20% of their entire marketing budgets on email. If you are looking for an easy-to-use digital marketing template that can help you plan your bullet-proof strategy, we have created one for you that can be downloaded for free. You can use this template for planning your entire B2B digital marketing budget which will also be inclusive of your email marketing strategy.
Digital Marketing Budget Template
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 eMarketer (2016) “Email Marketing Benchmarks 2016: Relevancy, Frequency, Deliverability and Mobility” [Online] Available from: https://www.emarketer.com/Report/Email-Marketing-Benchmarks-2016-Relevancy-Frequency-Deliverability-Mobility/2001860 [Accessed February 2021]
 Campaign Monitor (2016) “Year in Review” [Online] Available from: https://www.campaignmonitor.com/company/annual-report/2016/ [Accessed February 2021]
  CMI (2017) “2017 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America” [Online] Available from: https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/2017_B2B_Research_FINAL.pdf [Accessed February 2021]
 CMI (2018) “2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America” [Online] Available from: https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/2018-b2b-research-final.pdf [Accessed February 2021]
 Spam Laws “Spam Statistics and Facts” [Online] Available from: https://www.spamlaws.com/spam-stats.html [Accessed February 2021]
 Upland Software (2015) “2015 Subject Line Analysis Report” [Online] Available from: https://uplandsoftware.com/adestra/resources/report/2015-subject-line-analysis-report/ [Accessed February 2021]
 Campaign Monitor (2019) “Why You Should Use Buttons in Your Email Marketing Campaigns” [Online] Available from: https://www.campaignmonitor.com/blog/email-marketing/2019/05/buttons-email-marketing-campaigns/ [Accessed February 2021]
 Marketing Experiments (2012) “5 Common Call-to-action Errors” [Online] Available from: https://marketingexperiments.com/copywriting/call-to-action-errors [Accessed February 2021]
 CMI (2017) “B2C Content Marketing 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends – North America” [Online] Available from: https://contentmarketinginstitute.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/2017_B2C_Research_Final-rev-10-26-16.pdf [Accessed February 2021]
 DMA & Dot Digital (2019) “Marketer Email Tracker 2019” [Online] Available from: https://dma.org.uk/uploads/misc/marketers-email-tracker-2019.pdf [Accessed February 2021]