B2B Email Marketing Best Practices

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b2b email marketing best practices to improve your roi

In B2B, we know email marketing works. Who can argue with an ROI of $36 from every $1 invested? Not us, that’s for sure. 

As B2B content marketing experts, we’ve worked with clients across industries to develop email campaigns, target the right audience, and optimize each element—from the language used to the images chosen. 

But for B2Bs without a full-service marketing and PR agency behind them, knowing what kind of B2B email marketing they need and how to execute them can be a conundrum. How do you make sure you’re using the channel in its most effective capacity? And what are the most crucial elements of a successful email marketing campaign? 

While there are many answers to those questions, let’s start by defining the two most popular kinds of email campaigns and talk about best practices for B2B email marketing.

Most Popular Types of B2B Email Marketing Campaigns

Drip Campaigns

Email drip campaigns are a series of messages sent at a regular interval—established by the marketer—to develop a brand’s relationship with its prospects. These days, drip campaigns can go beyond email—including SMS messages, direct mail, and social media. Unless a prospect unsubscribes, the drip campaign plays itself out to the end—regardless of consumer interaction, like clicks and purchases. 

Nurture Campaigns

Alternatively, nurture campaigns are a series of messages based on the prospect’s behavior. Rather than following a schedule like drip campaigns, nurture campaigns are sent via triggers, such as link clicked, form submitted, video watched, event registered for, and more. 

Five B2B Email Marketing Strategies

1. Write short and snappy subject lines. 

Subject lines are the first thing your recipient sees. Keep it short and snappy to get them intrigued enough to open. According to HubSpot, “The most effective email subject lines engage curiosity, include promotion offers, and are personalized to each recipient’s interests.” Another effective marketing tactic is highlighting facts and figures pertinent to your audience. 

But with 77% of marketers using email to reach their audience, the environment is competitive. Subject lines are the best way to help your message stand out amongst the rest. Consider the possibility for your subject line to create a sense of urgency or FOMO in your recipient. “Check out our sale!” isn’t nearly as urgent as “Only 24 hours left!” Additionally, it’s proven that those kinds of subject lines increase open rates by up to 56%

Brevity also helps, as most emails are opened on a mobile device nowadays, and the shorter headlines can be read in full on the smaller screen. Keeping your subject line under seven words (or under 30 characters) is a good rule of thumb. (PS: iPhone users won’t see your subject line past 32 characters anyway, so really keep this one in mind!) 

Related read: 11 Email Marketing Strategies That Guarantee a 50% Click-to-Open Rate

2. Define your segments—and actually know who they are. 

As with any digital campaign, it is imperative to know your audience. In email marketing, we can take this a step further by segmenting an audience into various categories: types of products purchased, declared interests, industry, job seniority, etc. In fact, subscriber segmentation was the most effective email marketing strategy—and message personalization followed as a close second.

Knowing your audience is no joke. ​​According to research, 83% of email recipients are more likely to open a personalized email than a generic one. So defining your segments and truly knowing who they are and what they want to get in their inbox is a surefire way to win at B2B email marketing.  

3. Automate! 

The third most effective strategy in email marketing is automation. Automation is crucial for both drip and nurture campaigns. It can help set and obtain measurable goals, improve message targeting, and increase customer satisfaction. With versatile AI options for small and large businesses, there is no reason not to take advantage of the power of automation. 

Automation can even help you become more personal with your email marketing by optimizing content with mapped customer behaviors. Investing in AI has effects much larger than the success of email marketing campaigns. It reduces time spent and errors introduced in many manual tasks, freeing up employees to focus on more creative tasks that require a human. But even if you ignore the larger picture, AI in email marketing is a game changer and should be used by every business running an email marketing campaign. 

Related read: 21 Common Questions About Email Marketing Answered

4. Check yourself before you wreck yourself. 

The key to most great things is testing. A great digital marketing campaign is no different; this goes for any kind of marketing. How are you supposed to know what works if you don’t test anything at all? Brands can expect up to a 28% higher ROI when split and spam testing emails before committing. 

While you are bound to find success once in a while by flying by the seat of your pants, testing your email content can help you understand what the best subject line is, whether your target audience likes emojis or not, and even what images drive more conversions! 

5. Respect your consumer’s privacy.

One of the biggest trends in recent years has been consumers’ emphasis on their privacy. They want personalization balanced with security. They don’t want to hand out their personal information—like email addresses and phone numbers—if they think a company will abuse them. 

In recent software updates, Apple’s iOS 15 can allow users to block email marketers from seeing specific data, including open rates. While this can seem disappointing, it’s an opportunity to pivot. By prioritizing more telling metrics—like click-through rates, web traffic, and even unsubscribes, marketers can still get a clear idea of what is happening in campaigns without invading their audience’s privacy. 

There’s a lot to learn to master the art of B2B email marketing. So if you’d rather concentrate on running your business, reach out. We’re happy to take your B2B marketing and PR efforts to the next level.

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