Part 2: What B2B Email Marketers Can Learn From B2C Email Marketers

In my last post, I outlined some things B2C email marketers might be able to learn from B2B email marketers as they develop their 2011 plans. Of course, there are plenty of things that B2B email marketers can learn from all the B2C email out there.  I’ve outlined three tactics I recommend below; let me know if there are any others you would add to this list by using the comments function below.

Don’t Hide the Email Subscribe
While many B2C companies have sign up forms for their email programs featured prominently on their home page, this isn’t often the case with B2B companies. A prominent sign-up form for email on the home page may not be realistic, but a link in the footer of the home page to learn more about and sign up for newsletters or other regular email communications is needed.

Good B2C marketers also promote sign up for their email communications during the online purchase process, in transactional emails, and on social networking sites. B2B email marketers also need to take advantage of their various touch points with potential customers (i.e., blogs, forms for downloading a white paper, hosted pages for viewing a video, etc.) and provide the opportunity to stay engaged with your brand through email sign-up.  Email is a great way to nurture leads before passing them to the sales team, but if you make it difficult for people to sign up, you are missing a huge opportunity.

Show Some Personality
Often, it seems that the tone of B2C emails is more light-hearted and the messaging shows a brand’s personality. Just because you are promoting a B2B product, doesn’t mean you always have to strike a formal tone and send messaging that has the same content and design.  At the end of the day, the recipient on the other end of your message is still a person. And, most people like to have fun. If you can add some personality (and of course, personalization) to your messages, you can stand out in their corporate inbox (which is where many recipients of B2B email messages are reading your emails).

This may not work for every company or brand, but that’s the beauty of email marketing: you can quickly test it out! What happens when you change the tone of your message, include some new graphics, or add some variation to your content? You might just be surprised at how this can help work your leads down the sales funnel more quickly.

Integrate Social Media with Email
B2C email marketers are embracing social media and finding creative ways to make their email messages more social.  While the social media strategy of many B2B companies may not be as developed as B2C companies, your email audience is a great place to start leveraging social media. One of the easiest tactics is to encourage sharing of email content and using your email messages to promote participation with your social media properties. For example, if email subscribers choose to opt out, provide opportunities to stay in touch with your brand via your social media sites.

Your corporate blog content, as well as content from Tweets or LinkedIn discussions related to your industry or area of expertise, can be easily repurposed for your email communications.  In addition, your company’s LinkedIn page, Facebook page, and blog page can be used to promote lead-generation content (which should always request email opt-in) or your email newsletter sign up.

In the end, a good email program, regardless of the target audience, is about understanding your audience and giving your subscribers what they want, when they want it.  And every now and then, it’s about embracing new tactics and testing them out to see if you can make them work for your brand – even when those tactics come from marketers not necessarily just like you.

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