11 B2B Email Marketing Best Practices in 2021
If you believe that sending emails has become a relic of the past, think once again. Email continues to be a go-to marketing channel for most B2B brands, with up to 81% using it within the last 12 months.
But here’s the thing.
You just can’t slap together a B2B newsletter and expect to have massive success. Nah, you need to understand the fundamentals and follow the right formula - one that has been proven time and time again to achieve results.
To get your email campaign firing on all cylinders, this post has compiled a list of B2B email marketing best practices. Buckle up!
Table of contents
- What is B2B email marketing?
- Differences between B2B and B2C email marketing
- 11 B2B email marketing best practices
- The bottom line
What is B2B email marketing?
B2B email marketing (or business-to-business email marketing) refers to the practice of sending emails to businesses or professionals, instead of individual customers or consumers.
B2B is all about sending the right emails to key decision-makers of a business with a longer lead nurturing stage than B2C email marketing. Unlike B2C email marketing, where you send emails that match customers’ emotions and wants and motivate them to implement the impulsive action, B2B email marketing often has a longer wait cycle.
The ultimate goal in B2B email marketing is to remain at the top of the customer’s mind when they’re ready to make the purchase action. The tone is different from B2C email marketing, as the message needs to be more logic- and emotion-oriented. The sales pitch in b2B email would be data-oriented and highlight the ROI (Return on Investment) for the customers when making the right choice.
Differences between B2B and B2C email marketing
We’ve mentioned a few differences that set B2B email marketing apart from B2C email marketing. In this part, we’ll explore the core differences by classifying them into 5 major categories.
Although the end customer is a real person, the audience for B2B would be narrower. This means a B2B marketer has a better understanding of their prospect’s pain points.
At the end of the day, it eventually boils down to what would be the ROI they make. B2B customers are thus more interested in receiving case studies, customer testimonials, or white papers. Data in the form of charts, graphs, or reports are always present in a B2B marketing email.
B2B customers are often not affected by how your products/ services make them feel but are more interested in learning the true value of your offerings. They want to understand what they will gain from working with you.
4. Customer journey
While the overall customer journey is similar for both types, the difference lies in the time spent at each stage. B2B customers spend the most time on the lead nurturing stage while the sales and after-sales are comparatively smaller.
5. The overall cost of conversion
The longer path taken to convert a prospect means increased marketing cost. On the other hand, the average order value for B2B is actually much higher than that of B2C, so ROI for B2B email marketing is still high at the end of the day.
11 B2B email marketing best practices
1. Maintain a clean list
Before doing anything else with B2B email marketing, you need to build an email list. You need the names and addresses of individuals who would benefit from whatever it is you are offering.
But building your list is just the first step. Equally important is keeping that list clean.
So, why should you clean your email list? Below are several common reasons:
Email lists naturally degrade by around 22% annually, due to abandoned domains, staff turnover, uninterested and disengaged recipients. If you are not regularly scrubbing and verifying it, that will eventually catch up to you.
An unscrubbed email list increases the likelihood you will end up sending to a spam trap.
If you continue sending to old, obsolete addresses, you will see a much higher bounce rate.
If you continue emailing disengaged recipients, you will likely see an uptick in unsubscriptions and complaints.
These above things directly impact your sender score, which is essentially your reputation as an email sender. The higher your sender score is, the higher chance your emails will make it through spam filters and other impediments to reaching someone’s inbox.
Therefore, in order to clean your email list and avoid spam traps, you should:
Regularly update your email list. Send re-engagement emails to anyone that hasn’t engaged with you for more than 6 months. Then, remove all disengaged contacts to filter out potential spam traps.
Avoid list contamination. Remember to check the spelling of your audience’s emails to prevent invalid email addresses and potential spam traps from contaminating your own list. Additionally, use email validation in your sign-up forms in order to prevent typos, as well as email checker tools to verify the email addresses’ legitimacy.
Note: You can determine how long a subscriber’s disengagement with your campaigns deems them an inactive contact. If they even don’t open your re-engagement email, it’s probably a sign to scrub them off your email list.
Perhaps counterintuitively, we often expect much higher levels of personalization even when we rely more and more on digital channels and tools. Treat your subscribers like nothing but a faceless name, and you won’t get much of a response. They want to be recognized as individuals and see that you have put some effort into learning about them.
Email is ideal for this.
Collect personal details while building your email list, and you can automatically include them in your B2B email marketing campaign. It can be as simple as adding a recipient’s name, company name, location, and several other easily found details. Bonus tips if you can dig deeper and include more than just the basics. The more you can personalize, the more your message will resonate. You can even leverage audience targeting (i.e., using data to segment subscribers by demographics or interests) to look for the ideal person to contact.
Read our following topics to know how to personalize your B2B email marketing:
The easiest and fastest way to dip your toe in the personalization pool is to segment your list. If you are sending the exact same message - even if it is personalized to some degree - you are doing it wrong.
Your email list should be segmented into smaller groups that share a common trait, such as geographics, demographics, psychographics, and behavior.
That way, you’re able to write a template for each segment, and you are already personalizing before adding in a single individual detail. You can build a message around that shared characteristic or benefit or pain point.
The payoff? This:
- Open rates 31% higher than non-segmented email marketing campaigns, with CTR (click-through rates) 100.95% higher, and unsubs 9.37% lower
- The average customer order value of $42 compared to only $28 for non-segmented campaigns.
If you’re searching for a platform to send automated emails to segmented email lists, AVADA Email Marketing Automation is your wingman. The platform gives you all the necessary features to facilitate this essential quest. You can get AVADA Email Automation Marketing on the Shopify App store completely free of charge right now!
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4. Nail the subject line
33% of recipients open an email based on, well, its subject line. Obviously, it is the bread and butter of any successful email campaign.
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I guess you get the idea of the most descriptive and convincing email subject line. So, the whole point is to make it relevant, catchy, and letting your subscribers know what to expect from that email.
Think of your subject lines as a movie trailer: if you can’t hook your audience with a 2-minute clip, the mission has failed. Spend as much time coming up with an enticing subject line as you do on the emails themselves.
Below are the main B2B email marketing best practices on how to craft a strong subject line:
- Keep it straight-to-the-point
- Avoid spam words
- Use emojis (but don’t go over the top)
- Create a sense of urgency
- Limit punctuation
- Do tell recipients what’s inside
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5. Keep a conversational tone
A common mistake we realize a lot of B2B brands making is speaking to leads with a dry, rigid, and hyper-formalistic tone in their email copy.
And we get it.
They want to sound competent and smart and let leads know they are professional. Being perceived like this is important, but you don’t need to sound stale to do so.
As a matter of fact, the best emails we get are from brands that don’t take themselves too seriously. So, a better approach is to keep a conversational tone when you create a dialogue with your reader while keeping your email interactions fun and engaging.
Below is a great example from Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting firm with expertise in digital, analytics, engineering, and cyber. They work with businesses, government, and even military organizations, but still, keep the tone of this email light and personable.
Starting it off with “Let’s get to know each other” is an excellent way to break the ice with new leads and opens the door for rapport building.
6. Keep it short
No one spends time reading lengthy emails from strangers. Ramble on, and you will squander the opportunity given to you when someone clicks and opens.
Keep your messaging short.
But how short?
One recent study revealed that emails with between 50-125 words had the highest response rate. Another found that those with about 20 lines of text - or roughly 200 words - generated the highest click-through rate.
So, as a general rule, you should aim for 200 words or less.
7. Get visual
You might not instantly associate your email with visual content, but actually, you should. The data on this is obvious: emails with images and videos often perform better than those without them.
Constant Contact carried out a study that analyzed more than 2.1 million emails, and they found that CTRs were highest for brands with 1-3 images.
As you can see, the CTR is crazy high for these emails, and they significantly outperformed those that used a higher number of images.
Actually, once it hits 4 images, the CTR basically levels out, indicating that B2B email subscribers will respond to visuals but only up to a particular point. Again, you desire to hit the sweet spot and make your emails eye-catching but not bombard readers with excessive visual stimuli.
8. Use CTA
Every email you send to your audience should have a strong, compelling, and easy call-to-action button.
So, how to create a CTA button? Here are several considerations for you:
- Your CTA button has 3 key elements: the action you want your readers to take, the words used, and the design of the CTA button.
- Express the CTA button clearly, so it answers the question: “What’s in it for me?”
- The place of the CTA button matters, in order to ensure that it is visible so that the recipient doesn’t have to scroll too far to find it.
- Your email content really matters and should lead to a natural CTA button.
- If using images for CTAs, make sure that alt-tags and other ways of expressing the CTA are obvious even when email clients use image blocking.
- Recipients tend to click on logos and images, so make sure these are linkable, or recipients are liable to think that your email is broken.
9. Send follow-ups
Effective B2B email marketing campaigns can’t be imagined without regular follow-ups. Statistics show that 24% of sales emails are opened, and only 20% of leads are followed up. In fact, an email marketing campaign with just 1 follow-up mail can convert 22% more prospects.
In most scenarios, you send follow-up emails right after your first interaction. A good follow-up email does not simply say, “Hey, we’re just following up.” It should add more value with every subsequent message.
So, keep them coming. Add more value. And follow up.
AVADA Marketing Automation has already mastered the art act. Its pre-done automation emails series can follow up recipients at any touchpoint. With the platform, you can easily reach, engage, as well as convert them into your customers and raving fans. Amazingly, the app is free to get started!
10. Mind the timing
To hit the mark with your own B2B email marketing campaign, pick the proper timing.
Many experts believe that Tuesday and Thursday mornings are ideal for shooting messages. And it stands true: who wants to open an email on Friday evening when everyone is having rest or even Monday morning when your coffee is cooling down?
But no pushing. These are simply the ideas to give you a head start. The real game is in identifying the best time for your own B2B customers, and for this, you had better analyze your data.
11. Track your results
Monitor your campaign results regularly - weekly, monthly, quarterly - to see what is working and what isn’t right away, then adjust email campaigns accordingly. You will probably need to take a completely different course in your B2B email marketing strategy, but at least you’ll learn from your mistakes.
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The bottom line
Email marketing may be old, but it is not over the hill. It’s still leading the charge.
However, because of all of the variables that affect your campaign’s success (or failure), it’s essential to understand best practices and rigorously follow them. Of course, you may want to tweak your campaign and make adjustments over time, but following best practices will help you reach a baseline level of success.
We hope our guide or these 11 B2B email marketing best practices has helped you a lot. Share with us if you have other effective methods to leverage B2B email marketing campaigns!
If you find this post useful, share it with your colleagues, friends, and other people. And don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns about email marketing. We’re always willing to help you with that!