8 Little-Known Factors That Could Affect Your B2B Email Marketing Campaigns

TargetingMantra
10 min readSep 8, 2015

What makes email marketing successful?

The answer is a mix of things, from practicing the right strategy to measuring your metrics right. Most importantly, it is sending the right email newsletters.

What makes a great email newsletter then? This is what we will be discussing.

In our earlier post, we have discussed experts tips on #1 email marketing tip you must follow and which email metrics to measure. Today, we will focus on the essentials of an email newsletter for B2B with tips from experts.

Apart from a compelling subject line, a CTA and the perfect footer, what else needs to be addressed?

Based on what worked for them, what did not and what they feel should be given emphasis, here are the essentials of an email newsletter from our experts-

#1 Understanding Personalized & Segmented Newsletter

While sending out email newsletters, what is the most difficult task? Pleasing all user segments and their tastes.

Casey Stevens

Addressing this challenge, Casey Stevens, Email Marketing Strategist at Kiss Automation, suggests using email as a sales tool (while not sounding salesy), you need to get your personalization and segmentation right.

I’m not referring to having the person’s name peppered throughout the email. Rather, the personalization and segmentation of the content of the email.

Focussing on how many businesses still send the same email newsletter to thousands of email subscribers without checking its relevance, Casey also suggest the adoption of automation tools.

For example, email content can be personalized based on past purchases, items website visitors have viewed or added to the cart but not purchased, or based on what content people have clicked on in the past.

Adding on to this, Steve Gibson, Director at JotForm, shares his recent experiment and results:

Steve Gibson

The key is to personalize communications as much as possible. I think of it as having three tiers.

1) Generic, all-purpose newsletter

2) Segmented newsletter, based upon customer type or category

3) Targeted newsletter- this includes information specific to each customer

Recently we upgraded our prices and needed to let everyone know. We used #2, a segmented newsletter letting all users in a certain segment know how the update affected them specifically.”

Here is an example of one of the targeted email they sent out to specific segments. They were directed to their Premium customers giving them the option to upgrade by the deadline. It became one of their biggest single day of sign ups ever.

In spite of the success, they also saw a glitch. i.e. “Our system worked, but some people were confused and wrote back requesting specific information regarding their accounts.

What was the improvement Steve could’ve done?

He could’ve targeted each message for each business including information about their specific plan, timeline, payment dates, and other information that’s only relevant to them.

For an in-depth understanding of this, read our “Breaking Up The 9 Kinds of Behavioral Targeted Segmentation Emails”.

#2 Dilemma of Sending the ‘Right’ Content

You know the basics- the content has to be informative. It can be a tip, how-to, news, or a report. Yet you are struggling with sending the right content.

To tackle this dilemma faced by a lot of email marketers, Lauren Eubanks, Marketing Operations Analyst at TechnologyAdvice, has shared how they came up with the right content. They provided a variety of content that appealed to the different interests of their audience and then directed them down a related content path.

Lauren Eubanks

We recently ran a test not knowing the ‘knowledge level of one of our audiences’ — were they just learning about a topic or did they already know the basics and want to see intermediate or advanced level content?

To address this, we included articles that correlated to each level of the content funnel. Then, based on their engagement, we funneled them into the appropriate bucket in order to send them content that corresponded to where they were in the buyer journey.

Here is an example of one such email. They sent out an email “Here’s How to Pinpoint Your IT Challenges” containing five articles from five separate categories.

Then based on which article a contact engaged with, they were sent down a related content path. If a contact engages with the Helpdesk Software article, then they will start receiving content focused around Helpdesk Software (as opposed to the four other category offerings in the newsletter), and vice versa.

What results did they see from this process? It allowed them to see a boost in engagement across the board and created valuable conversations for their sales team.

That said, all is not well on this front for some companies.

Holly Wolf

Holly Wolf, CMO at Conestoga Bank disclosed that they had to discontinue their B2B newsletter because the readership wasn’t there. But why?

We couldn’t measure the print response and the email open rate was very low. It’s also difficult to write an in-depth article about a topic and keep it to 300 words. Attention spans are short.

What did they do then? They decided to take a minimalistic approach- “Breaking it down into several emails with short tidbits was a better way to communicate with our audience.”

Here is an example of how they did it:

#3 The Battle of HTML & Text-only Email Campaign

For some email type, a text-only may work. But, when it comes to a newsletter, HTML newsletter with an increased visual imagery is a better option.

Christopher Martin

One of our experts, Christopher Martin, Digital Marketing Manager at FlexMR, shares how he had to overhaul their HTML designs from text-based content to more visual imagery. Why?

During a review of the process, we realized that our emails were benchmarking significantly below the industry average open rate. We knew we needed to do something about this, so overhauled the design.”

This is how they did it-

By integrating links into adverts, infographics and branded images we were able to increase our click through rate by over 200%.”

There is always another side to a story, and this is no different. According to Pete Williams, Founder of Infiniti Telecommunications, it is sending plain ‘text’ email that’s spinning their metric.

Pete Williams

Something that we’ve tested numerous times across a number of our various business divisions to great success, is plain text emails. Forget the typical HTML and pretty designs. Every time we’ve tested a plain text email which looks like it was written person-to-person, it out pulls the typically preached HTML design on EVERY metric.

Pete’s Advice: Scrape the HTML newsletter, and break it up into 3 or 4 text based emails that look like an account manager cares and sends something directly.

This is how Pete’s team made it work with their auto responder emails. Here is a shot of their emails with a typical response they got-

Here is another list of the other responses they got from it.

#4 Should You Send Video Content?

When our attention spans are as short as 8 seconds, is sending a video content in your email newsletter a good idea?

Lindsay Boyajian

According to Lindsay Boyajian, Marketing Manager at Augment, it is a great idea.

“Yes, a good subject line and a strong call to actions are essential, but for us video content is the most effective component of a strong newsletter. Videos lead to higher click rates and to better engagement. Users who watch our videos are more likely to reach out to our team for a product demo.”

This email was sent out at the end of July to their users. They included a customer video at the top of the announcement and received a strong positive feedback.

Beth Bridges

Beth Bridges, VP of Digital Identity at J- I.T Outsource, also vouches for video content saying that although they did share tech tips in their monthly newsletter, their clients loved seeing more of the pictures from their quarterly client appreciation parties.

By far, the highest clicked links are to the videos we create from pictures taken at the event. Clients like to know what we’re doing for them, but they love to hear about themselves. Our last newsletter with a link to such a video had a 46.3% open rate and a click rate of 8.1%, nearly all of it on that video link.

#5 How Will You Add Perceived Credibility?

If you think just adding your blog post, some links, industry news, product/services outlines etc. in your newsletter is enough then you are misguided.

David B. Wright, President & CMO at W3 Group Marketing, vouches for testimonials. He emphasizes that client testimonials are worth their weight in gold, yet they are often overlooked in B2B newsletters.

David B Wright

How does David suggest you leverage this?

Include a different testimonial in each newsletter, perhaps a different service for each newsletter, that will resonate with your prospects and showcase your services as well.”

Video testimonials are the best and have the highest perceived credibility.

Though most email systems can’t send a large video, you can include an image with a Play button superimposed on it, then link that image to where the video is on your site, YouTube or elsewhere.

Make sure you include some sort of call to action at the end of the video, so the viewer is more likely to take the action you want.”

This is an example of a testimonial with a photo in the newsletters from one of his healthcare clients.

#6 Sometimes, It’s Best To Ask!

Ask and you shall receive. We are talking about referrals. According to David J. Bradley, Managing Director at Primal Digital Marketing, you should simply ask for a referral. He cautions that you should, however, be strategic about this.

David J Bradley

Near the end of the email is a fine location, as it will catch attention as the final ‘Call-to-Action’.”

Before you delve into that, David further suggests that you need to first define exactly what an ideal client would be. To make it clear, specific and concise, ask yourself-

– What solutions are they seeking?

– What criteria makes up the best-fit referral?

He further adds, “Professionals are always looking to help others by suggesting excellent companies to work with. So, do not fear to suggest that your reader refers you to someone else. You are simply reminding them of something that they likely want to do anyhow.

Here is an example from Conestoga Bank-

#7 How Essential is the Sent Time?

According to Rhys Wynne, Lead Developer at WP Email Capture, time is an important element for a B2B newsletter, i.e. the time of sending your newsletter. He recommends sending during those work hours when the workloads are fairly light.

Rhys Wynne

How exactly?

B2B newsletters convert best during work hours. Sending during evenings and weekends mean your marketing message will be buried at the bottom of an inbox, and probably quickly deleted.

For example, straight after the lunch or mid-morning for European markets (usually after a couple of hours of work).”

To time accordingly, refer your analytics to know when your newsletter is opened, and interacted with most.

#8 The Final Task Before Starting a Newsletter

Reeling back to the most important part, Jim Tabaczynski, President at The JTP Group, emphasizes that timing is everything and you need to ask yourself three questions before you start your newsletter-

Jim Tabaczynski

1. Do we have enough content and do we have the right kind of content? Plan out the next six issues by identifying topics. If you can’t fill out the first six issues, then you should consider making your newsletter quarterly or consider some other vehicle.

2. Are you adequately staffed to complete it? Hunting down stories and researching them can be more time consuming than actually producing the finished product. So unless you have extra hands on the deck, you will end up postponing your newsletter.

3. Are you committed? Do you have the time, the people and the funds to pull this off? A newsletter is a commitment — plain and simple. And for it to be effective, it has to be regular.

Conclusion:

Remember that you need to provide value in your newsletter because what matters in the end is what benefit your newsletter delivers to your customer.

The keys to the success of B2B email marketing campaigns are many but if you can implement these tips in your email campaign, you are halfway there to achieving success. After all, well begun is half done.

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Tags: B2B email marketing, B2B email newsletters, email marketing campaigns, email marketing tips, Expert tips

Originally published at www.targetingmantra.com on August 31, 2015.

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