Best Practice Toolkits
Targeting, segmentation, nurturing and more...
According to a March 2011 study by research firm Econsultancy, “Email continues to be a vital component of the marketing mix and the vast majority of companies (72%) rate email as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ in terms of ROI.” However, with B2B email marketing today requires a firm knowledge of email design best practices, an eye towards email deliverability, and a flair for developing engaging content targeted with specific audiences in mind.
To get started with B2B email marketing you should determine how you will send, track responses, and keep up with unsubscribers. Most people will need to choose an email service provider (ESP) or marketing automation vendor. The choice will depend on budget, requirements and the number of contacts in your database (don’t forget to consider database growth). Email service providers offer a solid solution for basic, mass volume email campaigns. Marketing automation vendors such as Eloqua offer a broader set of features for targeted, 1 to 1 communications--making it easy to personalize, automate, effectively engage sales and report on your email campaigns--ultimately make them more effective.
|Email Service Providers||Marketing Automation|
|Batch and blast (priced on email send volume)||Target recipients based on interests, behavior, and stage in the sales cycle|
|Web forms and landing pages—generally require IT support||Templated or custom forms & landing pages, no coding/IT|
|Reports on opens and click-throughs||Report on opens/clicks, movement through to sales and revenue generated|
|Limited automation||Templated/Customized single & multi-touch lead nurturing campaigns|
|Limited/No integration with CRM||One click integration with CRM and sales force automation tools|
|No sales tools||Tools to enable marketing and sales alignment|
Building Your List
B2B email marketing is NOT spamming--it usually starts with website visitors voluntarily opting in to be added to a database of marketable names. A big part of B2B email marketing boils down to building traffic on websites/blogs/social outposts and making it frictionless for a visitor to provide their email address and to check the “opt-in” box. Keep your opt-in forms short and simple and make sure they link to a privacy statement. Make the site visitor feel confident about giving their name by explicitly stating that you will not send them unsolicited emails or sell their name to another organization. It pays to remember that Europe and Canada have a much stricter view of opt-in than the US, and the penalties can be quite severe.
Targeting Your Audience
Now that you have your database, and a growing list of opt-in subscribers, you’ll need to monitor communication volume and ensure that the messages you do send are targeted and relevant. This is how you’ll increase conversion rates, and decrease opt-outs. Most ESPs allow marketing to select audience on demographic data alone – things like geography and job title often become the criteria for targeting. Email marketing automation tools help marketers build relevancy by providing simple to use filters that group individuals based on their past behavior. Using demographic or profile data, as well as digital body language can increase open and click-through rates more than 4X over demographics alone.
Best practices for email design are evolving rapidly as many prospects in the B2B and B2C worlds adopt mobile devices. You just can’t assume that most of your audience is receiving your messages at desktop computers so you have to design using very basic HTML elements that easily adapt to widely diverse email clients that may or may not show the images in your design.
Tips for designing effective emails
- Keep CSS styles simple and inline
- Use tables if you have to, not CSS divs
- Most modern email clients offer a preview of new messages. Designers should try to use the top 150 pixels of any email to showcase the call for action
Tips for designing for mobile devices
- Make sure your main messages are in text not images
- The first line of your email should be a plain text offer with a link to a landing page that works equally well for web and mobile browsers
- Keep html fluid and flexible—use a grid system
- Always include ALT text for images, and keep the ALT text short
Making sure emails actually reach their recipients without being flagged by spam filters is the art of email deliverability. Email deliverability is a big topic, with many specific design requirements--check out this Email Deliverability Best Practice Toolkit. It pays to implement email deliverability best practices because they will boost the overall marketing effectiveness rate of your email. Marketers should also ask about the deliverability ratings of their ESP or marketing automation vendor.
Email Marketing Analytics & Closed Loop Reporting
With the detailed analytics built into most email marketing systems, marketers can thoroughly test new email campaigns before sending them to a larger list. The most common metrics that marketers look at are open rates, click through rates, unsubscribe and bounce rates. It’s also interesting to look at the open to click ratio (or "effectiveness") of your email, which helps you to understand how compelling your content is for the folks who opened it. With these basic metrics in hand, you can evaluate different subject lines and design options. In addition you can understand how your efforts compare with well-established email marketing benchmarks.
Good email marketing doesn’t start and end with marketing, though. Consider the sales team, and how they’ll react and respond to the activity your efforts generate. Effectively communicating and enabling sales with tools and insight about the messages and offers that are driving engagement can help them to decrease the length of a sales cycle and increase their chances of winning. Marketing and sales can no longer work in separate silos when revenue is the shared end goal.
That is why reporting on basic email metrics is just the beginning. Today’s marketers need to understand how their efforts have paid off in terms of generating quality activity for sales, and ultimately creating revenue for their company. For large ticket items in the B2B marketing space marketers must track multiple email touches to a number of individuals over many months to a single sale. More information on how to take advantage of revenue performance management can be found here.
Get everything you need to know about email deliverability and privacy, all in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee. Try it and see!
Learn how to use email as a teaser to advance your B2B email marketing and lead generation strategy in this video from the online marketing experts at Eloqua
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Since the advent of email marketing in the mid-1990s, companies have embraced the misconception that email is virtually “free” as a marketing medium.
I spoke with Jim Ducharme, editor of The Email Guide, who said email comes off as formal, especially among younger generations. “Email carries a lot of baggage with it because we didn’t think out of the mailbox for a change,” Duchmare wrote on his blog.