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65% of B2B Buyers Concur Emails Shape Their View of a Company’s Brand

  |  September 26, 2013   |  Comments

With email hogging the majority of the communication we have with people, it's easy to see why so many B2B buyers shape their opinions of a company's brand based on email communications.

Over 294 billion emails are sent every day, which dwarfs the supposed 400 million tweets and the 2 million blog posts published each day. With email hogging the majority of the communication we have with people, it's easy to see why so many B2B buyers shape their opinions of a company's brand based on email communications.

So lets take a step back and look at a few key items in your emails which can help you ensure your emails are building a stronger brand, and not hurting your other marketing efforts.

The data: Out of the 400 B2B buyers surveyed for this report, 15 percent were marketers and 85 percent were not. They came from a wide range of companies (small-to-medium businesses, to enterprise-level), and all had a minimum of a bachelors degree. And 65 percent of them agreed: email shapes their view of a company.

Who do your emails come from?

The sender of your email is just as important as any other aspect of your email. Many companies use a generic sender, such as marketing@yourcompany.com, but this isn't always the most effective method. If you consider that people like to work with people, and that one-to-one marketing is the most effective technique, why wouldn't you have your emails come from a specific person? With a single person sending your emails, you gain the following advantages:

  1. You become a customer company. You show you care about people, and prove this by dedicating a person to building customer relationships.
  2. You increase open rates. Consumers can disqualify an email in 1/20 of a second. This disqualification is a combination of your subject line and your sender, meaning that you can increase open rates just by sending emails from a person.

How are your emails written?

HTML was created to make emails look pretty. It became novel after Hotmail created the first HTML email service in 1996 for consumers. Many businesses starting out in the late 90s and early 2000s used HTML to prove their validity, much like you would do with a letterhead in the past. Today, HTML is used by everyone, which has created the opposite effect in the current email sending space. Consider who creates HTML emails compared to who receives them. Usually, HTML is created by a designer and then sent as a mass email. For that reason, it is illogical to create an HTML email to have it sent from a single person. If you are trying to develop a relationship with a person, consider dropping the HTML in exchange for Rich Text for the following reasons:

  1. One-to-one relationship. By having an email appear to be handwritten by the person sending it, you will be able to maintain the "honest" feel of your email.
  2. Increase engagement rates. I've taught this technique for years and companies who have adopted Rich Text over full HTML emails have seen engagement rates increase by double-digit numbers.
  3. Build an honest brand. You're not fooling anyone with an HTML email sent from a single person. People know HTML wasn't written for a single email, so just be honest. They will get it.

Words for Shakespeare

To me, the most poignant line from William Shakespeare is, "To thine own self be true". I can't express this enough when you are sending emails. Speak to your customers in your own personal tone. Keep it consistent, just as you do with any other advertisement or messaging. If you are true to yourself in your emails, you'll see the following advantages:

  1. Empower your company to have its own personality. Your emails are your number one communication method. Empower your company to showcase their personality and be themselves. This will do more for your corporate image than any PR article, ad, data sheet, or any other single method.
  2. Make it much easier to write your emails. When you're writing to friends, it takes the pressure out of your communications. Writing from the heart will take the stress out of trying to craft the “perfect” email.

What are you asking of people?

No email is complete without a call to action (CTA), and the way that you ask for this action is key. When trying to get people to take an action, you need to make sure you are asking the correct way. Consider these short tips to help keep your calls to action personable and ensure that you're not negatively affecting your brand.

  1. Keep your call to action helpful. Jay Baer said, “Helping is the new selling” — and he is correct. Don't data-dump, but send people to places where they can read more if they choose. Be helpful!
  2. Keep your CTA high on the page. This is something so many people miss. If you are being helpful, just use your subject line to give a clue, then put the helpful link higher up in your email. If you want to give context, do that below the link. This will ensure that you are focused on the customer, and not you.

If you can grasp email as your most valuable branding tool, you might start to look at emails the way your customers do. Remember it's the number one touch point you have with them, and should be considered your most important branding vehicle, because that's how your customers view them.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mathew Sweezey

Mathew is the head of thought leadership for B2B marketing at Pardot, a Salesforce.com Company. A consummate writer, he has been featured in numerous publications such as Marketing Automation Times, DemandGen Report, Marketing Sherpa, ZDNet, and is the author of Marketing Automation for Dummies (published by Wiley February 2014). As a speaker Mathew speaks around the world at events such as Conversion Conference, Dreamforce, SugarCon, and to companies including Microsoft, Investec, NetJets, and Restaurants.com, to name a few.

Follow @msweezey.

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