What is B2B Email Marketing?

B2B email marketing according to the latest research

B2B stands for Business to Business. Because I’ve worked in B2B my entire career, I didn’t realize that there are B2C (Business to Consumer) marketers who haven’t heard the term. Sometimes when I attend events, I’ll blurt it out like second nature and it results in a furrowed brow and a, “what’s B2B stand for again?” Ah, the anti-jargonist went ahead and jargoned. Drats!

According to iContact, customers who receive email newsletters spend 82% more when they buy from the company. So if you’re in B2B, and you’re a publisher, you have no excuse not to send regular emails to your subscriber list. You have expensive products, and you have lots of content. Email marketing is a prime place to share content and promote products.

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At Mequoda, we recommend sending emails at least five days a week. If you think that’s too much, research shows that subscribers stay subscribed longer to daily emails, than to infrequent emails. When subscribers expect your email (and if it’s good), they stay on your list and make reading your email newsletter part of their daily habit.

B2B Email Marketing Best Practices

Encourage sharing.

I have to wonder if these numbers are higher or lower in B2C marketing, but according to Earnest Agency, 72% of B2B buyers are most likely to share useful content via email. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from testing, testing, testing in social media, it’s that if you tell people to share your content, they’re more likely to do it. For example, one of our publishing clients had regularly been getting about 10 likes and 1-2 shares on their social media posts. One day they decided to add “SHARE this hugely comprehensive post with everyone you know,” and it resulted in 55 shares, and 44 likes. So if you want people to forward your emails to their colleagues, make it a dedicated, bolded call to action.

Email according to work schedules.

Most business professionals work Monday through Friday, so these are the best days to send emails. B2C marketers send emails more often on the weekends with great results, but B2B marketers see higher rates of “spam” complaints on those days. Who wants to work on the weekend, right?

According to Experian, emails sent on Mondays have the highest ROI, but Get Response says Tuesdays have the highest open and click-through rates (Experian said Friday has the highest click-through rates). Pardot’s online survey  found Tuesday to work well specifically for B2B also. According to Marketing Sherpa, Sunday is the worst day to send B2B emails, according to 55% of the B2B email marketers they surveyed. What’s funny is that in B2C marketing, Wednesday is a middle-of-the-road day to send, but B2B marketers from Marketing Sherpa’s Email Benchmark Study report Wednesday as their best days. Confused? Great! Test and find out for yourself!

Send during work hours.

In terms of timing, you’re more likely to get a higher open rate during the work hours of 9-5 although some B2B publishers send early in the morning to make sure their email is in their reader’s inbox first thing when they get into the office. KISSmetrics says early morning (say, 6am) is best for click rates. MailerMailer says 10am. MailChimp says 2-5pm. Again, test and find out! The one time they can agree on, is to avoid sending at noon. 

Test long and short copy, but don’t forget your calls to action.

Long direct mail-like copy works well for Spotlight emails. In general, the more expensive your product, the longer the copy should be. People don’t read every word of a 2,000 word landing page or promotional email, but they’ll skim and find the answers to all of their questions. Providing those answers helps the purchase decision along. But no matter how long or short your copy, don’t hide your call to actions at the end, place it above the fold, and in the middle too.

Send spotlight emails (promotional emails) regularly.

Come up with a routine for promotional emails. Nobody buys a $3,000 event ticket after the first time you send them an email, but if you write a weekly series of 12, like we do at Mequoda, within 12 weeks many will have gotten enough information to convert into buyers. According to Experian, for every $1 spent, $44.25 is the average return on email marketing investment in B2B. If you’re shy about your email promotion, you won’t be once you start doing it more. Just come up with a schedule your subscribers can get used to.

Get your calls to action right.

The key here is testing to find out what people click on. Add on some very specific UTM codes to your links to find out which copy works best. According to B2B email marketing agency Admitter, when “more info” is tested against text like “try me now” or “buy now,” the “more info” text wins 90% of the time.

Create a problem and fix it.

In your B2B email marketing copy, pinpoint your reader’s biggest problem. You may have several types of unique buyers, and so in that case, create a document that identifies your most common buyer personas. Communicate these personas to your marketing team so they can target each one individually according to their pain points. Use your magazine, product, event, or service as their solution. Keep in mind too, that in B2B marketing, there may be many levels to purchase approval, and you’ll need to convince each layer, especially on pricey products.

Employ automation.

If you can make things easier on yourself, do it. Many B2B businesses will set up an autoresponder series for new susbcribers that introduce readers to the content gradually. In fact, some may not even send a newsletter for a few days, while they’re warming up. Instead, they might get a series of helpful how-to’s, tips or tricks to help them do their jobs better. It’s sort of like a meet and greet.

Use segmentation when it makes sense. 

Segmentation is used when you only want to send emails to a certain portion of your subscribers. For example, if you send out a promotion for your magazine or newsletter every Wednesday, why would you send that promotion to your current magazine or newsletter subscribers? In this case, you’d have a segmentation for non-buyers. You can create segmentations like these for all of your products so that you’re never bothering your buyers with unnecessary emails.

The great thing about B2B email marketing is that it’s fairly common sense. People are more likely to open emails during their work days, not their work lunches. They want to find out “more info” they don’t want to “buy now” without finding out more about the product. However, that could be in part to publishers rarely writing long salesletters for their emails. In that case, will “buy now” be sufficient? Test, test, test!

What would you like to add? Leave a comment and let us know your additions.

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