B2B Email Marketing — Tips and Tricks to Ensure Effectiveness

b2b-emailAccording to research by Demand Metric, email is the most favored marketing channel for businesses (despite the increase in social media). Many articles and reports validate that this is true, but effectiveness is often a challenge for B2Bs.

Part of the problem is that B2B marketing teams are often extremely lean, and therefore struggle to build a strategic, data-driven approach to email marketing (and thus may claim “email doesn’t work”). This post contains industry nuggets that help validate email’s value as a channel as well as provide tips and best practices to ensure you get the most out of it.

The Case for Email Marketing

MarketingProfs posted an article in July 2013 called The Most Effective B2B Lead Generation Methods, which highlighted insights from a small research study with B2Bs (that have marketing budgets under $500K). It highlights top lead gen tactics, citing email (along with websites and tradeshows) as the most effective lead generation method.

According to Demand Metric’s research, email is still the most favored marketing channel for businesses, i.e. “even with the growing popularity of social media, email remains at the top of the heap”. Their B2B Email Marketing Effectiveness Benchmark Report shows that 91% use email to some degree but that only 28% claim email marketing or lead generation efforts are becoming more effective. This research may help make the case for higher investments in email to ensure its optimized and giving a return on investment.

Another reason to consider heavier and/or smarter investments in Email Marketing is its effectiveness in increasing engagement among existing prospects and customers. According to MarketingSherpa’s 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, 57% of marketers say email newsletters are their most effective tool for lead nurturing.

Improving Email Effectiveness

Ok, so Email Marketing works and can help drive business. But what can you do or what insights do you need to understand, to improve effectiveness and ROI?  Here are some nuggets to help.

Knowing Your Email Recipient

The article Using Personas for Email Marketing from Smart Insights shares that targeting emails by persona increases clickthrough rates 16%. Hence a reason to consider higher investments in the strategic aspect of Email Marketing, which usually means understanding customers and prospects in a deeply meaningful way, and investing wisely in your data infrastructure. Buyer “personas” are a strategic approach to address the receiver’s motivation; this combined with an understanding of their “personality”, i.e. their temperament and the triggers they respond to, can be very powerful in improving effectiveness.


Once you’re ready to execute an email campaign, things can get complicated. An initial concern of marketers is whether the email will make it to the inbox of those they want to reach. The article Email Deliverability: 8 Tactics Help You Overcome Rising B2B Challenges addresses nuances unique to B2B deliverability such as longer sales cycles, complex scoring and high employee turnover

Quality vs. Quantity

As you plan your budgets and strategies for email’s role in the marketing mix, ensure that your conversations are focused on quality and measurement above all else. A common mistake (particularly for fast-paced marketing departments) is to initially focus on creative elements, frequency and the task of “getting out there early and often”, with effectiveness considered later. This should be reversed.

This is a great article from ClickZ that looks at measuring revenue per email (RPE) to help ensure that you are being smart about the email you send — Email Marketing Successes with Revenue-Per-Email Measurement.

Open Rates

Some marketers rely heavily on their Open metric as an indicator of success or failure, and make reactive adjustments if those rates are too low or declining. The point of the article Email Open Rates- Truth, Lies and What to Do About Them from MarketingProfs, is to broaden your definition of “success” by carefully diagnosing what’s really going on and to ensure you have insights into multiple areas, especially actual engagement (vs. the process).

Copywriting and Conversion

When the rubber meets the road and it’s time to develop copy for your email campaigns, great writing is another critical element that can drive effectiveness. While not directly focused on B2B, the article Which Email Keywords Get the Highest Open and Click-Through Rates? from CrazyEgg offers some good tips.

Writing compelling copy for email campaigns is hard work even for seasoned writers. In addition there are multiple devils in the details that will influence campaign success, such as list segmentation, content and calls-to-action, and automation. This article from Social Media Today, How to Build an Email Campaign that Converts, offers practical advice and great tips.

The point is: When it comes to B2B Email Marketing, a) be strategic and smart; b) invest properly; c) test, learn, and measure.

Image Credit: Sean MacEntee via photopin cc

By : Lydia Vogtner

Lydia Vogtner is an independent B2B marketing and communications consultant specializing in brand, messaging and content strategy.

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