In recent years, we’ve seen a surge of interest towards influencer marketing, social media and short-form video content in the marketing sphere – with email marketing looking rather tired and outdated by comparison. So, just like the fax before it, is it time to consign email to the scrapheap and open a TikTok account? Sam Martin-Ross is Founder and Director of digital marketing agency, Digital Uncut tells SMEToday readers it might not.
A study from the Content Marketing Institute found 87% of B2B marketers reported email as their best performing free organic distribution channel due to the ease and speed of creation, and the ability to precisely target audience segments. Far from being outdated, email marketing isn’t going away anytime soon.
Below, we explore why email marketing is far from dead as a valuable part of your B2B strategy, as well as some of the best practices around creating truly effective B2B email communications.
According to HubSpot, 93% of B2B marketers use email to distribute their content, and with 4 billion daily email users worldwide, it’s easy to see why. When it comes to your B2B marketing strategy, it’s hard to deny email’s place as the preferred means of business communications, and you can all but guarantee that your target buyers use email, and use it often. As any good marketer knows, meeting your customer where they are is key, and 86% of professionals give priority to email connection.
Despite this extensive user base, effective B2B email marketing should amount to more than simply the electronic equivalent of aimless cold calling. Generic, untargeted email communications that neither build rapport or offer relevant content are unlikely to convert recipients into paying customers, and if egregious enough, might very well mean your emails become relegated to the spam folder, or the recipient may unsubscribe entirely.
Before you click “send” on your email marketing campaigns, ensure you have really taken the time to understand you B2B buyer personas. Do your campaigns properly address the types of business you are looking to target, their position in the market and typical pain points that your product or service can solve? Have you personalised your various campaigns for different segments of your audience? If not, you’re unlikely to see a return on your campaigns.
Designing drip campaigns
Unlike B2C with its impulse buys, the B2B space is notorious for its long sales cycles that may span many months. A well-crafted drip campaign can therefore be invaluable in keeping your customers engaged no matter where they are within the cycle, allowing you to nurture prospects through the sales funnel.
Drip campaigns are essentially an automated sequence of emails, typically performed using email marketing software, that are triggered by specific actions or events around a customer. Not only do they save you time by eliminating the need to manually send follow-up emails, but they gradually warm a prospect up through a drip feed of communications, making them more likely to take conversion-related actions.
Perhaps one of the strongest benefits of email marketing lies in its ability to deliver a consistently strong return on investment year after year, with 64% of B2B marketers citing their email strategy as central to meeting their business goals.
Many B2B companies lack extensive marketing departments or budgets, and there is a pressure to get the most bang for their buck with every part of their marketing strategy. Email marketing offers exactly this. It’s cheap, cost effective, and the barriers for entry are relatively low. According to data gathered by the Direct Marketing Association, in the UK alone, email has an average return on investment of 42:1, meaning companies can, on average, anticipate a return of £42 for every £1 spent on their email marketing.
While email marketing offers a means to send personalised, useful, and most importantly, cost-effective communications to your potential customers, all this is somewhat useless unless you have a good email list.
If you want to see your B2B email campaigns generating results, you will need to invest time into building your email lists organically. When it comes to this, bigger isn’t always better, and growing your list doesn’t mean indiscriminately collecting as many email addresses as possible. Ultimately, as with any marketing activity, you want to end up with quality, qualified leads who are interested in buying what you are selling, not simply inactive subscribers who are not engaged with your communications.
Using the correct data and analytics, which is usually offered through email marketing software, is important for regularly pruning your lists and ensuring you are reaching people and businesses that want to engage.
While it may seem tempting, do not buy B2B email marketing lists. Not only will this endlessly annoy your customers, but it can land you in legal hot water, especially if data privacy requirements like GDPR are being ignored. Instead, get creative with building your lists through optimising subscriber forms, incentivising sign-ups, and using social media. As the saying goes, “social is for discovery, email is for conversions”, so if you’re already using social media, turning your followers into email subscribers is a great way to get them on your list.
Paid Ad Potential
As well as getting creative with social media, email marketing offers huge potential for integrating paid ad strategies to further boost the effectiveness of your email campaigns.
Leveraging account-based targeting options on LinkedIn or RollWorks, for example, allow you to simultaneously target companies with ads both before and after your email campaigns. When executed correctly, you can use paid ads to build your company’s brand awareness, building consideration with your intended audience. This makes them more likely to open and engage with your emails, as they’re now familiar with your brand, and have even potentially visited your website already as a result of your ads.
B2B marketers have long relied on email for generating reliable, cost-effective results, and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon. Crafting relevant and engaging campaigns is key, and by taking the time to organically build your email lists and create email content that is targeted and personalised, you can reap the rewards of email campaigns that drive conversions.
Sam Martin-Ross is Founder and Director of digital marketing agency, Digital Uncut.