B2B email marketing represents, by far, the greatest opportunity for B2B marketers to create a pipeline of valuable, qualified leads for their sales teams.
Don’t let anyone tell you that email marketing is dead, because it’s far from it. In fact, over 80% of professionals say that optimizing email marketing campaigns drive business and retention.
Do you know how many people use email globally? 2.6 BILLION.
Yes, with a “B.”
With a market that large, there is no excuse to not take advantage.
While email definitely lends itself to being used for spam, B2B marketers have a unique advantage when it comes to email marketing:
We are selling a product that they not only want, but they also need them in order to be successful at their jobs.
We aren’t selling viagra or pitching ourselves as Nigerian princes, we are offering them a solution to some business problem that they are having.
Here are 10 tips that you can use today in order to optimize email marketing campaigns.
B2B Email Marketing Campaign Preparations
“Now the general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand. Thus do many calculations lead to victory, and few calculations to defeat. How much more no calculation at all. It is by attention to this point that I can foresee who is likely to win or lose.”
These immortal words were written by Sun Tzu, in his historical work The Art of War.
According to Sun Tzu, preparation is often the defining factor between winning and losing a battle.
Many B2B marketers, perhaps more so those that are part of small startups, like to shoot from the hip. We get an idea, we want to run with it… now.
While you aren’t going into a battle per se, in order to optimize email marketing campaigns you will need to prepare as though you are.
1. Plan Your Goals, Metrics, and KPIs
A campaign without a plan is doomed to fail. Furthermore, without measuring your campaign, you’ll have no way to know if it provided any real value.
When optimizing an email marketing campaign, it’s important to identify what you consider “success” to be.
Are you looking to generate more sales-ready leads? Create buzz around a launch? Increase engagement with existing prospects?
All of these must be taken into account when planning your campaign.
Most importantly, goals must be concrete, measurable, and attainable.
2. Get Buy-In From All Stakeholders
B2B marketers can sometimes feel like they are “shoot first, ask questions later” kind of people.
This is generally a really bad idea, in any sized organization.
Why? Because things inevitably go wrong, it’s pretty much a rule of nature.
If you go rogue and start an email campaign without running it by other stakeholders, particularly those that are your senior, you risk taking all the blame if and when something doesn’t go as planned.
As a general rule, honesty is the best policy.
You may be 100% convinced that this will be an exceptionally successful campaign, and you may be right.
However, there will likely be a time during the campaign where you will need to get input or help from other stakeholders and surprising them with the news that you are knee deep in an email marketing campaign they were unaware of will not make them happy.
3. When Should You Pull the Plug?
Just like setting goals, you also need to establish criteria for when it may be necessary to cancel the campaign.
Such criteria could be based on clear indications that your audience is not relevant – such as extremely low open rates.
Or, if your message is wrong, as indicated by low click or response rates.
It’s important to establish exactly what your triggers for stopping the campaign are prior to launch.
4. Do Your Research
Research is a critical aspect of optimizing an email marketing campaign. Without it, you are essentially going to be throwing stuff against the wall and seeing what sticks.
In particular, you will need to conduct extensive research into your audience – it is based on this research that you will create your content, as well.
There are several kinds of research you will have to do while planning your B2B email marketing campaign:
- Personas: Who is it that you will be targeting, including their job title, company size etc
- Interests/Needs: What challenges are your target prospects facing and how are you planning to fix them
- Background: A successful B2B email marketing campaign will require you to create context within your emails. In order to do so, you will need to research the background of your prospects and make sure to reference it within your emails – we will get into this further on in this post.
In order to create relevancy in your email content, you need to have some basic background on your targets – we will get into this further on in the post.
Have The Right Tools
As marketers, we love having the latest and greatest tools that are in the market. But, it’s really more of quality rather than quantity.
While B2B marketing tools are an essential component of any B2B email marketing campaign, it is important to choose the right tools to meet your goals.
There are 4 must-have tools for B2B marketers to conduct and measure a successful email marketing campaign:
5. Marketing Automation
There is no tool that is more important to a B2B marketer than marketing automation, period.
The advent of marketing automation tools completely revolutionized B2B marketing and gave B2B marketers unbridled power, visibility, and flexibility the likes of which they never had before.
If you are still in search of a marketing automation tool for your B2B marketing, there are 6 things you should be looking for:
- Flexibility in creating smart email cadences and flows
- In-depth analytics of email and other activity
- Lead scoring
- Campaign-level analytics and management
- A/B testing
For a marketing automation tool that balances both reasonable pricing as well as powerful functionality, AWeber is a great choice.
6. Lead Research Tools
As mentioned earlier, research of your prospects is a pre-requisite for any optimized B2B email marketing campaign. As such, it’s pretty much impossible to do the research needed completely manually – you’ll need some tools to help.
Lead research tools are used in order to, first and foremost, find the leads you will need for your campaign.
There are a variety of tools out there. Some are actual databases with confirmed contact information, others scrape the web looking for contact information, while others can identify other people within a company and understand the naming convention used for emails and guess the person’s email address.
Access to databases, such as data.com, can be extremely pricey. Additionally, if a person’s contact information is in one of these databases it is entirely likely that you are not the only person to have come across it.
They are probably already getting inundated with emails from other marketers.
For an inexpensive tool that will enable you to find lead information, check out Hunter.io.
7. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a must-have tool for all B2B marketers.
And not just to optimize email marketing campaigns, but for all B2B marketing activities.
From a B2B email marketing perspective, Google Analytics is useful to track traffic and engagement resulting from your email campaigns.
For easier tracking, include UTM links in your emails.
A UTM (or Urchin Tracking Module) is a set of indicators you can add to your links that will tell Google Analytics certain things about the source of that traffic, including:
- Source – Such as Google or Facebook
- Medium – Such as CPC, Banner, Email
- Name – As defined by you
- Term – Keyword, if you are doing an AdWords campaign
- Content – Such as eBook or White Paper
The easiest way to create a UTM is to use Google’s UTM generator.
It’s free, easy, and extremely useful!
For B2B marketers, Customer Relations Management platforms, or CRM for short, are the crucial second piece of any marketing automation tool.
While many B2B marketers might think CRMs are mainly for sales – and they are – they still play an important role in B2B email marketing campaigns.
Prospect information is usually uploaded into your CRM, that information is then pulled into your marketing automation tool. For example, using mail merges and dynamic content to create contextual emails en masse.
By far, the most popular CRM is Salesforce.
Having been involved in email marketing for the better part of a decade, I’ve had the opportunity to conduct both successful and unsuccessful campaigns.
The following 2 tips helped me carry out, by far, the most effective email campaign I have ever done.
These 2 tips helped me increase sales qualified leads by 132%.
9. Create Context
When sending large-scale email campaigns to thousands of people, you can run the risk of emails seeming spammy.
That’s because, if you send the exact same email to each person, you will inevitably either send the most bland email ever, or send someone an email that’s not relevant to them at all.
In order to mitigate this risk, you can create context within your email messaging.
An example would be if your marketing a solution for web design – you could find companies within your target market that have poorly designed sites.
Once you’ve compiled a list of sites, set out to find the relevant people at each company to connect with.
Here’s the important part:
Along with contact information, include the company’s URL and 1-3 things that are wrong with the site. This should be inputted into unique fields within your spreadsheet.
This spreadsheet will then be uploaded as a CSV into your CRM/Marketing Automation platform.
With this information included in each prospect’s record, you can then create emails with mail merge tags that will pull in the unique information for each prospect.
The email could then look something like this:
I noticed that your company’s website, www.acme.com, has not been updated for some time.
After a quick scan, I found the following issues:
- Dead links
- Unresponsive to mobile
- Slow load speed
I wanted to bring this to your attention because I think our company, Best Website Builders, could help make your site something to be proud of.
If you are interested in learning more, let me know a day and time that works best for us to speak.
In this email, the information in italics is being pulled from the CRM and/or marketing automation platform. Therefore, the recipient knows that this email was custom made just for them.
10. Always A/B Test
Don’t wait until your campaign is over to see if it’s working. The single best way to make sure a B2B email marketing campaign is optimized is to A/B test.
A/B testing could be performed on several aspects of your campaign, include:
- Subject lines
- Design (vs. Plain Text)
- Body Copy
- Calls to Action