Part 1: What B2C Email Marketers Can Learn from B2B Email Marketers

Not surprisingly, I’ve noticed that much of the advice and recommendations over the past three months have been focused on B2C email marketers as they geared up for the holiday season. As a former B2B online marketer, this has gotten me thinking. Is there anything a B2C email marketer could learn from a B2B email marketer as they put their email plans in place for 2011? So, I’ve decided to outline a few things that B2C email marketers could consider in the new year. In my next post, I’ll review how B2B email marketers can take advantage of some B2C email marketing tactics.

Images: Less Can Be More
It still surprises me how image heavy many B2C emails continue to be. With the increased use of mobile devices and the default in most email clients to have images turned OFF, B2C email marketers could look to their B2B brethren for some inspiration. The goal is not to remove all images, but to ensure the key top portion of your email message (the preview pane) includes key calls to action in text. A nice mix of text and images can help support the main message of the email so the message can be opened, read, and clicked even with images off.

Optimize All Message Types
B2B marketers need to generate a great deal of content (videos, white papers, webinars, how-to guides, etc.) to work their potential customer through the sales cycle. B2B email marketers craft and optimize all different types of emails to support this content and to drive conversions.

While a great deal of time is often spent by B2C marketers developing visually appealing (see above) marketing messages, it is easy to forget the importance of other types of messages (i.e., welcome messages, shipping notifications, forgotten password reminders, etc.) that subscribers receive as part of your email program. Don’t neglect these supporting (often triggered or transactional) messages. Ensure they portray your brand appropriately and get creative when considering how they can help conversions and promote the benefits of your email program.

Consider the Buying Cycle
Unlike B2C, B2B sales cycles are much longer. You can’t simply drive your subscriber to a web site to get something at 20% off or take advantage of free shipping. You truly have to understand where your buyer is in the sales cycle and what cues might indicate it is time for the next step in the process.

While many B2C marketers send shopping cart reminders or upsell emails after purchase, more of this data driven activity could be done. Does a customer only purchase from you at a certain time of year? Send a timely offer to encourage conversion again. Did a customer just make a purchase? Consider pausing your discount emails for a certain amount of time and add up-sell or cross-sell suggestions to the transactional messages. Paying more attention to your subscribers’ buying behavior can help ensure they are getting the right message at the right time and help increase conversion.

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