Email marketing is still an effective tool to reach your ideal customers. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 87% of B2B email marketers claim that email is their go-to solution for free organic channel distribution.
B2B email marketing is all about building trust, from beginning to end. Because B2B decision makers take their time with the purchasing decision, your email marketing strategy needs to guide them toward an educated decision. Below we discuss the main differences between B2B and B2C email marketing, best practices, and several tactics you can use to convert your prospects into customers.
What is B2B Email Marketing, and How is it Different from B2C Email Marketing?
B2B, shorthand for business-to-business, is an email marketing strategy that involves targeted, strategic email campaigns to businesses, instead of single customers. Although there are many overlapping principles between B2B and B2C email marketing, there are also critical differences between the two. Your B2B email marketing effectiveness depends on your ability to utilise these differences to your advantage.
Buyer’s Motivation and Purchasing Behavior
B2B stakeholders will make buying decisions with the primary goal of improving return on investment, or ROI. As a result, they will require clear value propositions. The B2C market is typically more simple and has different motivations for B2B buyers.
B2B email marketing must educate the prospect on a solution that addresses their pain points and needs. Unlike B2C email campaigns which might aim to drive purchase, B2B email marketing should focus on building trust and education.
Multiple Decision Makers
The decision-making process in B2B is more complex since multiple stakeholders are involved. B2B decision-making involves professionals from diverse industries and levels of seniority, as opposed to B2C, which typically involves a single decision-maker or a family.
B2B email marketing campaigns need to address multiple pain points across different industries. In addition to communicating messages at the right time to the right people, B2B email marketing campaigns must cater to diverse levels of decision-making involvement.
Different Buying Cycle Length
Business customers will take a more thoughtful approach toward buying decisions. They will perform more detail-oriented research and vendor analysis. In fact, these decisions impact their business in larger ways, so careful thought is justified.
From the demand generation perspective, the email process will need to harness many CRM workflows, which involves nurturing the audiences strategically and emailing at the right time.
Timing and Frequency
Timing is a critical factor in maximizing your click rates and open rates. Although there is much research on optimal email times, there is not a universal time that satisfies all customers. However, studies do show that weekday emails perform weekend emails by a large margin. Based on a HubSpot study of 20 million emails, it confirmed that 11 am is your best bet in sending an email and it is opened.
Frequency is another factor in this equation. Much like timing, your email marketing campaign frequency must be consistent. B2B emails require much more patience and discipline than B2C emails. You need to gain trust with the customer, which is why emailing with a purpose is key. Regular email updates on the latest offer make sense for B2C buyers who are waiting for a sale. This method does not translate to B2B. Instead, B2B emails should go out only when there is a clear strategic purpose.
B2B Email Marketing Best Practices
Now that you understand the crucial differences between B2B and B2C email marketing, you must apply the fundamental principles of email marketing to grow revenue. Here are a few of the best email marketing best practices to incorporate into your campaigns.
Optimise Deliverability First
Email deliverability is the first thing you should optimise in B2B email marketing. Not just the successful delivery of your email but rather, the successful view of your email.
Technically, you want your spf, dkim and dmarc are be all set up. There are also tools online which “warm” up your account before you start email campaigns. Run these to improve your email impression deliverability.
Clearly Define Your Goals and Ideal Outcomes
You and your team need to outline what you would like to achieve with your B2B email marketing campaigns. Before you send out any type of email, narrow down your objectives, which addresses:
- What stage of the customer lifecycle is this email relevant to?
- What is the business impact of sending this email?
- How does this email fit into the overall email campaign and strategy?
Curate Strong, Targeted Lists
Reaching the ideal audience is critical in your B2B email marketing strategy. Often, In B2B marketing, you are working with a mixed list of personal and business emails. Run data enrichment to improve your list quality. Have dedicated strategies for sorting through personal emails and ensure the team is aligned on processes.
You also want to build out dedicated audience segments. Tying back to your clear objectives, your email marketing campaigns need to hit the right audiences at the right time with the right messaging.
Treat Subject Lines Like an Ad Headline
The subject line is the first thing they see so make sure it’s worded like an ad. What is the purpose of an ad? To get them to click through. The same principle applies here. When crafting these subject lines, the marketing team should talk through what messages, keywords, and language will drive a click from your audience. The subject line should also cater to your audience’s goals.
Deliver Value and a Call-to-Action
As mentioned before, B2C email communications cater toward emotions, while B2B email campaigns are geared toward trust, information, and revenue. As you build out the content for these campaigns, show how you can provide value to the prospect upfront. Here is some practical and effective content you can include:
- Knowledge sharing content
- Interactive emails that encourage a reply
- Statistics, data and industry trends.
It is also crucial to guide the reader toward a decision through a call to action. Every great B2B email marketing campaign will instruct the prospect to take an action, click through to the website, sign up for a demo, or book a meeting.
How to Build Email Nurtures into Your B2B Email Marketing Campaign
Lead nurturing is critical with B2B email marketing. Because the buying cycle is longer and decision-makers will take more time, you must nurture and guide the prospect toward an educated buying choice. Below are some tips and strategies on B2B email nurtures and how to leverage email nurturing to capture your audience.
Create Content that Directly Solves Customer Issues
Your B2B email marketing campaign is not about you, it is about the customer. Start by initiating discussions with the marketing and support teams about the biggest problems that your target market faces. Build your messaging around how your product or service addresses those problems. Your prospects want to know how you will make your life better, so tell them.
It doesn’t always have to be a sales email. Every industry faces multiple micro problems, and you can use your email campaigns to help solve some of these problems.
Be Aware of Behavioural Indicators
You should have strategic B2B email marketing campaigns targeted toward different stages in the buying process. Throughout each stage, you need to communicate the right messaging for that stage. You cannot nurture a prospect toward a positive buying decision without building trust and moving them through the stages.
Toward the beginning stages, focus on providing information without expecting anything in return. As you progress through the cycle and your relationship with the audience strengthens, you can begin sending them more personalized information about how your solution fits within their budget and long-term plan.
Personalise Messages According to Demographics
Effective email campaigns understand the person’s role in the company and how they fit into the decision-making process. Is the person just there to gather information? Do they have a direct influence on the final decision-maker? Or is the person the main decision-maker? Understand where your audience fits into the buying committee is important for segment email campaigns.
Company size is also a great indicator of how complex the buying cycle is and what type of budgets you could be working with. Highlighting relevant case studies in your email campaigns are by-products of company size.
There is also a good chance that your customer base may fall into different industries. Value-added industry insights will tell a story about the problems your prospects face. You can convey the benefits of your product, but you will separate yourself from the competition by showing how that helps the customer within their industry.
Final Wrap Up
B2B email marketing is built on two principles: building trust and providing value. While these two strategies are dependent on each other, your goal should be to develop a relationship with the prospect.
The B2B buying process is different. It is a longer cycle, prospects have complex buying processes and are made up of diverse buying committees. By gearing your messaging toward specific segments and needs, you can consistently surpass your sales targets.
Here is a quick recap of how you can maximize your B2B email marketing strategy:
- Outline your goals and desired outcomes from your email marketing campaigns
- Build strong, segmented lists of your different types of customers, stages of the buying process, and decision-makers
- Entice your prospects with a solid subject line
- End with a valuable call to action