As a B2B email marketer, are you feeling left out when it comes to tips and tricks for effective email? A company aimed at other businesses, but all you can find are basic tips for getting to the inbox? Don’t people know you have more hurdles in the B2B world? Many email optimization posts don’t address the nuances of marketing to a B2B audience. And while it’s true some practices directly carry over, there are identified differences in how to engage your audience.
Validity works hard to engage and find solutions for both the B2B and B2C crowds. In this post, I’ll cover several recommendations and suggestions specific to the B2B crowd.
How many times have you read a post and skimmed past the section where it strongly suggests that you avoid list rental or purchase? While it is ideal to build your own list, this isn’t always a realistic option for B2B marketers. For a whole slew of ways to build your own list, check out our eBook, 50+ Ways to Grow Your Email List. And if that doesn’t do the trick for you, here are some more things to consider when it comes to your audience:
Protect Your Direct Subscribers and Current Customers
Avoid renting or purchasing lists as these types of lists are intrinsically risky, regardless of how careful you are with your selection and list hygiene practices. If you use dedicated IP addresses, consider shifting rented/purchased list segments to their own sending IP address. While we rarely recommend this tactic for B2C clients, you may want to use a shared IP address for your lead generation efforts to those rented or purchased lists. Once subscribers favorably engage with messages, you can shift them to dedicated or higher-performing shared IP addresses.
Keep it Clean and Mean
1. Be proactive and ask your vendor if they have case studies and testimonials from other clients in your vertical or B2B space. Also, be sure the company you use has diligent list hygiene practices, so your list is free of unknown users and bounces. You may also want to ask whether they factor in subscriber activity or if this is something they can do for your brand.
2. Keep diligent list hygiene practices so your list is free of unknown users and bounces, as these can take a toll on your reputation, and in turn, delivery rates. Consider adopting a verification solution, such as Validity’s BriteVerify, to ensure that the addresses you’re sending to are valid, and not spam traps or fat-fingered.
Keep an Eye on Placement Metrics
It’s important to keep track of your inbox placement vs. spam rates and the factors that impact this. Items to keep tabs on include the percentage of messages that land in the inbox versus the spam folder, complaint rates, negative SRD (Sender Reputation Data) feedback, spam traps, unknown users, and other factors that can be seen in the Return Path Platform. This can help you identify problematic segments and problematic list rental/purchase vendors if you’ve used them.
Lay the groundwork early on with subscribers new to your list, whether they opted in or come in via purchased or rented lists. This can help drive engagement and reduce negative behavior like complaints.
Who, What, and Why
If you rent or purchase a list, your email could come across as spammy, as the subscriber isn’t expecting it. That’s why it’s important to make sure subscribers sign up for your mail on their own. And once they’re in, it’s imperative to quickly and effectively communicate who you are and your goals. Make sure you also speak to the benefits of working with your brand in a succinct and easily digestible way. This information should come across with a quick skim. Test your content by giving someone outside of your team five to seven seconds to skim your message and ask what they picked up. If they didn’t notice or digest the key information, rework your messaging.
The Value of Your Brand
Many B2B marketers rely heavily on the personal email approach. This can make outreach efforts seem more customized, but the letter format often limits the use of the brand name and logo. Even if you use a letter format, I recommend including a brand logo. Creating brand recognition is incredibly valuable and can help impact immediate or future engagement and sales. This can give your message extra pull for recipients who already recognize your brand or can spark future interest if they spot your logo at a tradeshow or event. For example, you know the message below is from Twitter before you even make it to the first paragraph!
Check Your Tone
B2B marketers are in a unique spot when it comes to tone. On one hand, you want to challenge incumbents or call into question their current practices. On the other, you can’t insult your audience or the careful decisions they have made. I recommend a tone that acknowledges their workload and choices, and provides information and data that supports the need for change. This can help ensure your messaging doesn’t annoy them before they have time to process the benefits of working with you.
Let Others Sing Your Praises
Testimonials can be very beneficial to B2B marketers. Oftentimes, the sale, implementation, and roll-out process can be cumbersome. Sometimes, customers stick with the status quo because the pain of staying is perceived to be less than the pain of switching. By featuring testimonials and case studies, you can show your recipients the transition is worth investigating and pursuing.
Let the Numbers Talk
As mentioned above, recipients can be more receptive to change if they can see how it would benefit them rather than being told. Within some of your lead generation emails, let the data speak for itself, allowing subscribers to build the case on their own.
Keep it Interesting
Help your emails stand out in the inbox by making them interesting. Use what you know about your audience to craft content that resonates with them. Check out our 2019 Email Hero Award recipients for examples of the best of the best.
The start of the relationship is key, but so is the end. Dissatisfied recipients can be your worst enemy when it comes to deliverability and inbox placement, and this rings true in both the B2B and B2C worlds. Do your brand a favor and think through the end of the subscriber lifecycle.
Provide an Easy Exit
I know this may be difficult to hear, but it’s important to make it easy for subscribers to get off your list. Therefore, your unsubscribe link should be easy to find and even easier to act upon. We recommend a one click subscribe to make it easiest, rather than linking to somewhere where the subscriber will have to do more work. If subscribers want off your list, they’ll find a way to do it, by marking you as spam, for example, which can result in a high number of complaints.
While B2B and B2C marketing tactics have overlap, it’s beneficial to your email program to recognize the differences and act on them. Use the advice listed to acquire an audience, establish a brand and effectively communicate.