B2B Email Marketing Tricks of the Trade

After sharing email best practices for small- and medium-sized businesses, I thought the underrepresented B2B email community deserved a spotlight on it.

B2B (business to business) email marketing doesn’t get nearly the attention as big consumer email programs but it is often where the most innovation is taking place. In a two-part series, I will look at eight ways to make a real impact on the bottom line. After all, that’s what exceptional B2B email programs are all about.

  1. Email subscribers spend more than your other customers. Well, they should. After you leverage email and marketing automation, you hopefully are touching your customers more frequently and in a more strategic fashion. We have helped most of our clients not just get more incremental revenue from email subscribers but measure that. Most CMOs and CFOs really like the measuring part.
  2. Ensure your creative doesn’t suck – $1 million lift. Most B2B email programs typically have a lot to be desired when it comes to creative. In fact, even smart business-to-business email campaigns I see fail on the creative. They are often long direct mail lookalikes that place the call to action at the email’s bottom – the part that no one will read. B2B email creative isn’t like B2C. In B2B, the goal isn’t to sell the widget via email but to keep the relationship moving forward, stay top of mind, and differentiate your product or service.

    One of my agency’s clients will see over one million in additional sales by optimizing templates that we made. These weren’t just front-end tweaks to make it look cute. Changes were driven by better coding as well as data-driven decision making and testing.

    I like how Cisco WebEx trial conversion series (with a sample below) highlights different features over the course of several emails or so rather than try to cram all of them in one email. This email is clean yet provides a nice tip, some actionable items, as well as pricing and buying info. The casual note at the end (“BTW, have you downloaded the ‘Getting Started Guide?'”) makes it seem less like an automated message and more like a personalized and (more importantly) helpful tip.


  3. Why the landing page is as important (maybe more). Ah, the landing page. Quite often it should be viewed as the no man’s land of digital marketing. Many digital agencies let their rookie designer cut their teeth on their brand’s dime. However, this approach can often make or break your email campaign and sometimes your B2B email program.

    Landing pages are wonderful vehicles when designed appropriately. They should be the continuation of the email’s purpose and should offer value in exchange for a more specific relationship/sales opportunity. For example, tease the brand new and exclusive white paper in the email and give it away on a well-designed and user friendly landing page where more profile data might be acquired or even better a sales call might be arranged.

  4. Use segmentation and personalization. One head of marketing recently told me she considers her email program a precision marketing platform and that is what B2B email marketing is when properly executed. Dynamic campaigns that customize the content based on a user’s profile dynamically sent from a local sales rep (with the headshot varying based on each subscriber’s profile) help bridge the gap of what I often hear many B2B campaigns complain of – being cold, too corporate, and bland.

In part 2, I will discuss why remarketing works, the list matters, and how to use email for reducing costs among other tips.

This column was originally published on December 27, 2012. 

Email Message image on home page via Shutterstock.

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