One of the most effective marketing channels for any business is email marketing. It is also true that many businesses still struggle to achieve success with B2B email marketing campaigns. Struggle no more with these 10 tips on B2B email marketing that will change how you approach email from this point forward.
This article will provide you with a B2B email marketing crash course. From comparisons between B2B and B2C email marketing—involving distinctions in their similarities and differences to important statistics and tips to help you make the best of your B2B email marketing opportunities, the information will help you get started on the path to mastering the craft.
10 Tips to Increase B2B Email Marketing Success
Many B2B companies fail at email marketing because instead of using it as a nurturing tool to draw in customers, they use it as a prospecting tool, becoming spammy.
To succeed at making your newsletter a tool for building your business, you need to know practical tips you can employ to get your business over the line with customers.
#1 – Ask for Permission to Engage
Before adding customers and prospects to your B2B email marketing newsletter, build goodwill for your future plans by first obtaining their permission. To do so, have email signup forms on key pages of your website.
Effective B2B marketing is tied to the perception of value, and your newsletters and other emails should provide value that will engage your customer with content and relevant information.
#2 – Create Customer-Focused and Relevant Email Content
Email newsletters should focus more on customers and their interests than your company. Identify problems being experienced by prospects and provide ideas that solve them through valuable content.
Inform them of industry happenings and developments through your email content. Explore using case studies to inform your clients about leveraging new technologies to their advantage.
#3 – Choose the Appropriate B2B Email Marketing Tools
If you’re on a budget, platforms such as Constant Contact are affordable and designed with essential capabilities. For automated trigger emails and other advanced-level capabilities, Mailchimp, Moosend, ActiveCampaign, and other lead-generation software of that caliber should be enough to get the job done.
#4 – Relevant Calls-to-Action
Although email newsletters are for educating business clients and prospects, they also allow you to place a relevant call to action. Hence, the reader immediately takes action if the content appeals to them.
The chosen call-to-action messaging is crucial in determining whether the user will click through to the landing page. A good call to action often complements the email subject line of a B2B email, enticing the readers to click on it while enriching the customer experience.
#5 – Headlines and Email Subject Lines
The subject lines of marketing emails have so much undeniable power that it’s suicide to ignore or treat them as an afterthought. A subject line is a vital part of the marketing email, so work on making your subject line effective, as the impact on the email, in general, will be significant.
The success of your email is largely dependent on how good your email subject lines are, as they directly affect click-through rates. Getting the subject line right is one of the most important parts of a sales pitch. The content inside the email won't be read if the subject line fails to grab their attention.
#6 – Audience Segmentation Helps
This technique breaks large audiences into subgroups so each can receive tailored emails. The intention here is to build stronger personalized relationships to convert more leads.
Several parameters are used in segmenting audiences, including age, gender, education, and previous work experience. In B2B, the parameters here will relate to businesses, not individuals. Some might be industry, role, company size, or type of products they offer.
#7 – Have a Strategy Ready
Before launching any email marketing campaign, you must have a detailed and solid B2B marketing strategy to deliver multiple email campaigns without stumbling for content or tactics.
Use these five steps to strengthen your B2B email marketing plan
- Determine the purpose of your email campaign or campaigns
- Identify or determine your potential buyer or audience
- Set goals that are realistic and measurable
- Determine the frequency with which your marketing emails will go out
- Create a timeline or calendar to keep you on track
#8 – Complement Efforts with Other Marketing
Employ other marketing techniques to complement B2B email marketing to solidify or improve the results of your efforts. Things you can do include.
- Create landing pages for specific products or services – (landing page building)
- Educating your prospective B2B clients through a blog post or webinar – (content marketing)
- Establishing your business as an authority by working on valuable whitepapers – (content marketing)
- Optimizing your website with engaging content for search engines to readily pick up – (search engine optimization)
- Pushing out social media messages that align with the campaign – (social media marketing)
- Review paid advertising opportunities that might align or coincide with your campaign – (paid advertising)
Helpful Related Content
- 6 Landing Page Metrics that Matter
- Landing Page Best Practices in 2022 Complete with Stunning Examples
- Essential Elements of Good Content Marketing
- Email Marketing vs Social Media – The Best Bang for Your Buck in 2023
#9 – Measure Your B2B Email Marketing Success
Keeping track of current and past success within your B2B email marketing efforts is important to identify actionable marketing strategies that could improve future results.
The best email marketing software provides you with access to reports for tracking key metrics for measuring the success of your email campaign.
#10 – Ask for Feedback
A great way to find out if your e-newsletter is a success and nurture a closer relationship with your B2B clients is to ask for feedback regularly. Doing so will enable you to understand better what’s working or isn't working, giving you insight on what to fine-tune and improve upon.
KPIs for Measuring B2B Email Marketing Success
Not every B2B email marketing campaign generates results. However, how do you know what is paying dividends and what is not? Clearly defined KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are essential for identifying the activities that produce results and those that stutter or fail altogether.
Here are some important KPIs your company should track for any email marketing initiative.
The number of people who received an email without having a delivery issue such as hard bounce, soft bounce, or reported SPAM. This is calculated by:
Number of emails delivered / Total emails sent
Email Open Rate
The number of people who opened an email at least once determines the email open rate. Multiple opens by a single person contribute to the overall rate, so some email providers will also count unique opens. The open rate is calculated by:
Number of emails opened / Total emails sent that did not bounce
When you publish an online ad, Click-through-Rate (CTR) measures the percentage of users that click on the ad. A similar scenario applies to measuring a CTA within an email. Here’s how it’s measured:
Number of users that clicked the CTA / Number of times the CTA was shown
Cost-per-Action (CPA), also referred to as cost-per-conversion, helps measure the effectiveness of email marketing campaigns by measuring the cost of acquiring customers through specific actions decided on before the start of the campaign. It is measured by:
Total Spend / Number of Conversions
Cost-per-Click (CPC) shows the number of visitors that came to your website due to an online advertising campaign. This is usually not a metric measured for email campaigns but can be calculated if needed. It is measured by:
Total Cost of Clicks / Total Number of Clicks
Customer Acquisition Cost
A business cannot make money without acquiring customers. The Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) will give you an idea of the expenditure involved in acquiring a single customer.
To calculate this, divide your total marketing expenses by the number of new consumers generated over a specific time period, typically 1-month or 1-year. A low number here is an indicator of success.
Cost of Sales & Marketing / Number of New Customers Acquired
Customer Lifetime Value
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) – an important B2B marketing KPI – evaluates the profit brought to the business by each customer. The formula for calculating CLV is:
Customer Value x Average Customer Lifespan
Lead-to-Close Conversion Ratio a.k.a Close Ratio
Lead-to-Close Conversion Ratio (CVR) is the percentage of leads that become customers. CVR is measured by:
Number of Sales / Number of Leads
Marketing Influenced Customers
This shows the percentage of leads that became customers through marketing. It is calculated by:
Customers that Interacted with Marketing / Total New Сustomers
Marketing Originated Customers
Marketing-originated Customers are the percentage of customers generated over a specific period through marketing efforts. It is calculated by:
Marketing Leads / Total New Customers
The higher this percentage is, the better.
Return on Investment
Return on Investment (ROI) compares the money spent on marketing and the amount you gain. It is calculated by:
(Final Value (company revenue, profit, etc.) – Investment Cost) / Investment Cost
This refers to the percentage of website visitors that have turned into actual leads. The formula for calculating this is:
Number of Website Sessions / Number of Leads
Email Marketing Terms
Also known as ‘hard bounce’ or ‘soft bounce,’ this refers to emails getting returned to the server as undelivered or undeliverable. An email classified as a hard bounce means the mailing address is non-existent, while soft bounce emails indicate a temporary failure, such as an inbox being full or a relay error. Most email software will reattempt to deliver on a soft bounce.
Click-through rates refer to prospects clicking a link within an email. Click-through is one of the prime determinants of success, as open rates can be misconstrued based on the email client preview window.
As the name indicates, this refers to the number of email messages that have reached the recipient’s inbox folder or have been accepted for delivery by a receiving mail server. High delivery rates indicate a clean email list.
This refers to delivered emails viewed in a preview pane or email client. This shows the importance of getting the right content into the email early, as preview windows can give a false sense of open-rate success.
This is the number of opened emails divided by the number of delivered emails.
Refers to links clicked by a single user. Subsequent clicks on the same link by the same user are not included in the total.
Also known as ‘opt-out,' this is the percentage of delivered emails that resulted in a prospect taking an action that removes them from the mailing list.
You do not want spam complaints as a statistic when you send email campaigns. Too many of these, and you might not be able to send emails any longer.
B2B Email Marketing Statistics
In today's economy, email is the most cost-effective method to get information about your business and products to your audiences. It is also one of the most successful marketing channels available to businesses.
Worldwide Email Use
Statista said the number of registered email users worldwide in 2018 was 3.8 billion. By 2024, this number is predicted to jump to 4.48 billion. That is over 50% of the world's population of 7.9 billion people. (Statista, 2021)
A Radicati Group 2018 report stated that the United States had 1.75 email accounts per user. Radicati Group also revealed that more than 293 billion emails were sent and received across all devices at the end of 2019, and this is expected to increase to over 376 billion by 2025.
These factors combined indicate that email is a powerful and effective channel to leverage for business growth.
Whether at home, at work, or on the go, the average email user checks their personal accounts about 20 times a day; with 99% of buyers, consumers, and customers checking their email accounts every day.
Email Use in the USA by Demographics
The percentage of internet users who also use email is high across all age brackets at an average of 89.45% and specifically within the age groups where most businesses focus their lead generation activities (25-44 at 93.6% and 45-64 at 90.1%). (Statista, 2020)
When you break that down across gender for persons 15 years and older, females at 91.1% best, males at 89.4% for email use. And further, by ethnicity, Asian Americans come out on top with 92.1% using email, while American Indians or Alaskan Natives bottom the chart with 83.5% email use. (Statista, 2020)
Email Client Market Share
According to Litmus, Gmail (36.5% market share) and Apple’s Phone (33% market share) were the two most dominant email clients in 2021. Following those and rounding out the top five was Apple Mail with 10%, Outlook with 5.9%, and Yahoo Mail with 2.7%. (Statista, 2021)
Content distribution and marketing
A late 2017 report by the Content Marketing Institute indicates that 77% of B2B companies and agencies made email marketing newsletters an integral part of their marketing plans – with 40% of B2B marketers revealing that email newsletters were critical to the success of their marketing.
In fact, for 93% of B2B marketers, email is an important channel for content distribution – with 79% of B2B agencies and companies attesting to the success of email as a channel for content distribution. (Content Marketing Institute, 2017)
B2B Email Marketing Benchmark Averages
As per the Content Marketing Institute, experts use five top metrics to measure email marketing success. These metrics are delivery rate (36%), bounce rate (40%), conversion rate (67%), open rate (78%), and click-through rate (91%). (Content Marketing Institute, 2020)
Averages and targets for your B2B email marketing benchmarks
- Delivery rate: 80% (this is the average, but you want to achieve 90% or better)
- Open rate: 20%. (this varies depending on your industry, best to aim for 25% or higher)
- Click-through rate: 1%-1.5% (this also varies by industry but aim for 2% and increase A/B testing to improve)
- Unsubscribe rate: 0.1%-0.2% (keep this target as low as possible by delivering quality and relevant content and not over-sending)
- Bounce rate: 2% (again, this will vary and might go as high as 5%. If you are higher than 5%, you need to clean your list)
- Spam complaint rate: < 0.02% (anything higher than 1 for every 5000 emails sent could be problematic)
- If you're looking for more in-depth email deliverability testing stats by email service providers, check out Email Tool Tester.
In 2019, the estimated expenditure for email advertising in the United States stood at $350 million – with an expected potential return of $44 on every $1 spent on B2B email marketing. This figure represents an ROI of 4400%. (Statista, 2020)
40% of B2B email marketers said email newsletters are the most critical source to the content marketing success of their B2B email marketing strategy. (Content Marketing Institute, 2020)
93% of business-to-business marketers use email as one of their content distribution routes. (Content Marketing Institute, 2020)
About 79% of B2B marketing companies and agencies report that email is their most successful channel for distributing their content. (Content Marketing Institute, 2020)
43% of small businesses have 500 or fewer email subscribers. (AWeber, 2020)
42% of small businesses with over 500 subscribers have effective or very effective B2B email marketing strategies. (AWeber, 2020)
B2B vs B2C Email Marketing
Business to Business (B2B) Email Marketing
In B2B email marketing, instead of targeting individual buyers with email marketing campaigns, the marketer reaches out to businesses with email marketing campaigns.
In B2B email marketing, you engage sales prospects through their work email and educate them about your products – converting them into marketing qualified leads (MQLs) for the benefit of the sales team.
Business to Consumer (B2C) Email Marketing
B2C email marketing is online marketing in which businesses sell directly to consumers by targeting them with their email marketing campaigns. With this type, the sale is made to individuals instead of selling goods to fellow businesses or corporations, as with B2B email marketing.
B2B and B2C Email Marketing Similarities
The B2B and B2C email marketing models share the following similarities.
Aligned Marketing Message and Structure
B2B and B2C need consistency in addition to well-aligned email messages – both essential for communicating offline and online – because potential customers are more likely to move along and settle with the next logical competitor when a business’s messages do not align.
Credibility and Trust
For both groups to make a sale, they need to establish authenticity and credibility, aside from building trust between the business and the target business or individual customer.
B2B and B2C email marketing both place the customer at the center of all marketing efforts based on the understanding that the more a customer is given priority and buys into the company, the greater the chances of loyalty toward the business – resulting in goodwill within the target audience as well as robust pricing that helps sustain and grow the business.
For both marketing methods, securing the customer’s loyalty is the Holy Grail – hence the need to place prospective customers center stage and assign them and their needs priority status.
The sale does not end with the initial purchase in both sales models because long after that, they need to continue as there is the need for customer retention and repeat sales.
The end game of both sales models is for the buyer’s problems to be solved by the seller’s service. To achieve success in that sense, the buyer needs to define the buyer’s journey, personas, and customer profiles. With a refined sales strategy built on these, success will be achieved.
Multiple Channels Required
Multiple contact points are required across different channels in both models.
Sales from B2B and B2C email marketing models require the delivery of personalized experiences to engage, nurture, convert, and make sales.
Both of these sales models have real people involved at all times.
Well-defined Email Strategies
B2B and B2C email marketing sales models depend on having a clearly defined strategy. This is crucial for effectively resolving issues, measuring performance, and mitigating risk.
B2B and B2C Email Marketing Differences
The B2B and B2C email marketing models differ in the following ways.
B2B sales take more time to close as buyers take time to make assessments before purchasing. As a result, buyers and vendors have a stronger relationship.
Here also, the relationships are ongoing and require constant communication between parties. This comes with a high risk, however, as even the simplest bad experience is likely to ruin the relationship with the customer forever – ensuring they never return to make further purchases in the future.
On the other hand, the B2C relationship management cycle is shorter, with a lesser need for customer success team interventions regarding all sold products. Also, with these types of customers, there’s less loyalty as they may only make additional purchases depending on their wants.
Cost of Acquisition
In B2B sales, the customer acquisition cost is high – with higher returns justifying the campaign costs. Also, this cost can eventually be justified when there’s repeat business with the same customer over a longer term.
On the other hand, with B2C sales, customer acquisition costs are on the lower end – with some customer purchases being the result of a desire to try a new product, impulse buying, and referrals via word of mouth, etc. – with a correlation between the lower cost of acquisition and the smaller sales cycle.
For B2B buyers, educational content fits the bill perfectly. Expectations require accurate data, facts, statistics, and sometimes product demos and whitepapers to vet the product being pitched.
B2C buyers, on the other hand, have expectations for content based on lifestyle and pain points. The seller must provide fun, relatable, lifestyle content to win them over.
A great example is Apple, which sells by appealing to buyers' emotions and pain points with aspirational products. In contrast, through its newsletters, a brand like Mattermark provides businesses and companies with data-driven insights that interested companies use in prospecting.
Direct Sales Online
B2C buyers usually make direct purchases from websites – a norm that rarely occurs in a B2B purchase cycle – with software products being the exception. B2B buyers can purchase software and subscription from websites like Amazon Web Services or SaaS products like Slack. It is important to note that buyers will likely need demos and pitches from salespeople to inform their purchase decisions, even in a software purchase scenario.
Some reasons are that even if the purchase occurs online, the time spent before a sale is to qualify that the product will do what is needed for the organization. We don't typically see this level of due diligence in B2C products, as the typical consumer knows what the product does before it is purchased or does their own research.
There can be exceptions, however, with the B2C insurance industry being an example. Here, customers can directly purchase insurance from the websites of service providers with the expectation that they get to speak to sales representatives before making the purchase.
Lead Pool Size
Another differentiator in the B2B versus B2C sales space is lead pool size. While B2C sales drive mass target consumption within a single campaign, their B2B counterparts try to reach a narrower target.
Let’s apply this to music-related software: Ableton and Spotify. Whiles Spotify targets millions of music lovers globally by carefully curating content uniquely to reach its numbers, Ableton only provides music recording software for music recording professionals.
When the lead pools are compared, Spotify has a larger lead pool than Ableton.
Price points in B2B marketing are driven up and down by vendor competition. In the case of B2C products, however, there are manufacture prices below which products cannot be sold – making it impossible to gain an advantage over competitors by under-cutting a competitor's price.
Aside from this, the higher price points of B2B services are one of the reasons customers spend time evaluating products and services before making a decision.
On the contrary, business Customer price points straddle both extremes of the spectrum, from very high to very low. While people have been known to buy lower-priced products almost as soon as they become available, they tend to require more input when purchasing higher-ticket products.
This is why consumers can easily find the right running shoes without requiring second opinions or needing to read user manuals and product specifications when purchasing smartphones or even motor vehicles.
The skills an individual needs to close more deals are influenced by the sales policies of the organization they represent. The learning and success curve of B2C salespeople is relatively short, even with limited years of experience in the field.
In sharp contrast, B2B salespeople must know the products they are selling inside and out and are expected to provide target clients with in-depth information on demand regarding the product.
This result is for B2B sales, professionals typically need years of practice to help create the right sales techniques to achieve the needed results.
The sales process between B2B and B2C clientele differs in this manner.
B2B buyers need a lot more nurturing than their counterparts in the B2C buying space. Multiple contact points are required during the nurturing process to build trust. The decisions made by B2B buyers are driven by rationale and strategy.
This is why they will consider a product only when it is guaranteed to help generate revenue, cut costs, or create efficiency for their brand. Aside from these, they also consider its overall value and importance in achieving a specific online business objective.
B2C purchases, on the other hand, are driven by emotional attachment, financial consideration, and personal gratification. To influence the purchasing decision of such buyers, you have to create content that is lifestyle-based.
In B2C email marketing, buyers focus on identifying challenges and whether the product meets their needs.
B2C sales can take the following paths:
- Directly purchasing from apps and websites (ex. Amazon, McDonald's, Netflix)
- Multiple touchpoints, such as phone calls, social media, website, etc. are required (ex. insurance sales, college admissions)
- Physical interaction and trials required (ex. automobile purchases, high-end electronics)
When it comes to email marketing influencing sales, the desired audience accounts for the most remarkable difference between a B2B and a B2C.
While a person making a B2B purchase might be the same as the one making a B2C purchase, it is their motivations and behavior in certain scenarios that will set them apart; because while a person may seem rational while making a B2B purchase, present them with a personal or B2C purchase and you’ll find them to be illogical in their decision making.
It is important as a vendor to identify the personal and professional attributes of the targeted audience – based on the nature of the product you’re attempting to sell them.
For example, as a vendor, you can use the target audience’s professions as identifiable attributes in relation to B2B sales. Based on that, you can pitch your products or services to finance heads, high-level executives, IT heads, managers, and other executive roles that fit the audience’s persona or professional profile.
With B2C sales, on the other hand, the buyer persona will depend on interests and the audience’s affinity. Assuming, for example, that they are looking to travel, what are their sensitivities and likes? Will they be sensitive to demographics such as age, gender, and location? Or are they price-sensitive? And concerning luxury products, do they like them?
Whether for personal or professional reasons, buyers will be on the lookout for ways to get the best deals from salespeople. This is where strong negotiation skills come in as a key factor.
When dealing with executives at any level, the go-to methods are short and punchy sales strategies backed by value propositions. Immediate or short-term benefits, discounts, and social validation – among others – resonate better with B2C buyers.
B2B Email Marketing Wrap-up
B2B email marketing is evolving rapidly, and to stay relevant, it is important to adopt techniques that improve your efforts. Whether B2B or B2C, you must assess your marketing strategies and constantly improve. The best advice anyone can provide is to take small steps and measure each to ensure your steps are in the direction you want to go.
You can never get too comfortable with marketing when it comes to what you have to do. But you only want to push the pedal down when you know what you've got is a winning formula.