7 June 2013 - 12:38The Hidden Gem of B2B: E-mail Marketing
It’s no secret that content is the holy grail of B2B marketing. But for many B2Bs, it’s a challenge to produce great quality and engrossing content that resonates with their audience. And to top it off, we live in a world filled with voluminous clutter where content and information abounds. Every effort that goes in to breaking through the clutter is just more clutter. No matter how good and powerful the content is, consumers rarely would pause to note its origin. With media channels becoming increasingly blurred, good content requires more than the simple assemblage of information, now more than ever. According to a new content ROI study by the CMO Council and Net line, “B2B annually spend 25 percent of their marketing budgets on content creation and yet it is poorly rated in value and performance by the B2B buyers”. That being said, content marketing can only take you so far. What is the point of posting content when it fails to reach the target audience? We need to look beyond the rhetoric of content and go back to the basics of marketing – which is really about reaching the right customer with the right message at the right time using the channel that customers prefer. As we do all things B2B, we keep revisiting this rule of thumb quite frequently.
This brings us to the main topic, why e-mail marketing is imperative for B2B? Unlike B2C, B2B faces the unique challenge of reaching the niche target audience on a micro-level. Putting it in perspective, the most used mode of business communication today is e-mail. And, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that e-mail has made it possible to identify and target prime customers and engage with them in a much more personalized manner. According to the research conducted by BtoB online – 2012 Email Marketing: A Legacy Channel continues to deliver, “e-mail marketing is considered the workhorse of B2B marketing. Social media may be all the rage… But e-mail remains the bedrock of customer communications, transactional messages and lead generation, despite being virtually a legacy channel”. Furthermore, E-mail as the distribution channel can also be synergized with other digital media platforms such as social media and mobile to maximize ROI.
Now that we have covered the “right channel”, let us revisit the other key components in the mix – right content, right time, and right audience. In order to get the most out of the e-mail marketing efforts, segmentation and targeted messaging is the key. Here’s another reality check, the e-mail database is made up of contacts, who are at various stages in the sales funnel. This implies that the contacts are at different points in their sales cycle and they require different types of information and communication, depending upon different purchase behavior patterns. In other words, segmenting the e-mail database into separate variables, such as – demographics, industry type, customer, leads and so forth, can help in building an accurate representation of the target audience and may also boost the deliverability rate of the overall e-mail campaign. Then comes the targeted messaging, the word “relevance” is over-used by marketing professionals, bloggers and like. But it is rightly so and backed by proof, according to Hub Spot’s own research, they found that timely, pithy and relevant lead nurturing emails generate an 8% click-through-rate compared to general e-mail sends, which generate just a 3% click-through rate. This signifies that targeted e-mails result in more clicks, which means recipients engage with the content within the segmented e-mail and drive conversation around it more than its non-segmented, non-targeted counterpart. Thus, relevance should dictate the e-mail campaign and not the other way round.
Aside from highly targeting niche audience in a split second, one of the ways in which e-mail marketing adds value in the B2B space is through the realm of measurement. There are numerous metrics available to measure the effectiveness and relevance of the e-mail campaign. For instance- click-to-deliver rates, open rates, bounce back rates, unsubscribe rates, subscriber-retention rates, social sharing rates to actual conversion rates of the overall e-mail campaign. The best practice in e-mail marketing involves not only tracking e-mail engagement activity but also comparing it with previous e-mail campaigns in order to optimize future e-mail campaigns.
In the end, it is important to remember that effective e-mail campaigns cannot just happen by fluke, they require attention to detail, careful planning and setting up of tracking mechanisms to measure success.
Takeaway note: Start building your existing and prospective customers e-mail list, and be sure your emails are content relevant!
Written by Vidushi Bhardwaj
Vidushi Bhardwaj is the Content Marketing Strategist at Grant Marketing. She possess a strong background in content marketing and integrated marketing communications. Passionate about innovation in the digital marketing and social media space has driven her to the marketing world. You can connect with her by sharing your thoughts on her blog.