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10 Email Marketing Best Practices for B2B Businesses

September 27, 2012

Existing customers and warm leads are the lifeblood of any business.  Email Marketing is an extremely flexible and cost efficient way to communicate with your audience.  You can acutely target your message in order to maximize deliverability and improve communication.  Staying in touch with them is critical to the growth of your business.

Standing out with an email marketing campaign, in the midst of hundreds of emails we all receive each week takes a lot of work and expertise. The keys to success include:

  • Providing value with every email
  • Finding the right frequency and content that allows you to create “anticipation” which leads to a good open rate
  • Growing your list with contacts that want to hear from you

If you follow the email marketing best practices you will produce an effective email marketing campaign.

1. Have A Plan

Before you begin, you need to know:

  • Why you are sending out the emails
  • Who is on the list (existing customers, warm leads, website visitors, trade show visitors etc.)
  • What are they expecting to get from you (offers and deals, information, new products etc.)
  • What results you would like to see (lead generation, sell products, sign people up to an event etc.)

Readers are far more likely to consistently open your emails if you give them what they are expecting to receive.

2. Who Is It From?

It is vital that the recipient knows the person or company sending out the email.  If they don’t, they will most likely delete it without even reading the subject line.  Make sure the ‘from’ name is familiar to them.

3. Subject Line

The next most important thing is the subject line.  This determines if the recipient will open and read the email.  Don’t try to be clever.  Tell them what the email is about and how they will benefit from reading it.  For example, if you are promoting a certain product put the name of it in the subject line.  Use words that create anticipation and urgency.

4. Message

The next thing is to get the message across in a clear and easy to understand way.  Stick to one action that you would like to achieve and tell the reader what to do next.  For example if you are selling something, make it obvious how to put the product in their shopping cart, or at least how to get to the page that will allow them to do that.  If you are promoting a webinar include an obvious link or button for them to click on to get to the registration page.  Do not make them jump through hoops.

5. Test Before You Send

No matter how much effort you put into designing and crafting your layout and message it’s not going to make any difference if it’s all messed up on the screen when someone views it.  There are many different products available that you can use to test how your email will look in the most widely used email providers.  We use Litmus.

6. Landing Page

Your reader has open and read your email, were interested in what you had to say and clicked on the link.  What happens next is crucial to not only whether they will complete the action you require of them but it will also have a huge impact on whether they will continue to open your future emails.  The email has promised them something, make sure that they landing page it directs them to follows through with that promise.

7. Segmenting

Not everyone in your database will want to hear about every offer or product you might have.  Be sure that you don’t bombard people with emails they have no interest in.  A good way to do this is to segment your database.  Depending on your specific situation you can split it by gender, location, current customer v potential customer, habits and so much more.  Use this as a way to communicate with them on a one-to-one basis.

8. Split Testing

To be sure that you are getting the most out of your emails it’s best to continually test and tweak them.  Split test everything from subject line to layout, colors to content, plain text to html.  Change just one thing each time so that you have a true idea if it made a difference or not.  If something works significantly better than another go with that until you find something even better.

9. Timing

There is and always will be a great debate about when is the best time to send an email.  I think most people will agree that Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday between 8:00 a.m. – 12 noon is a good time for a B2B email campaign and that Friday is the worst day.  However, if you’re not sure you can always test it.  Send 1/3 on Tuesday, 1/3 on Wednesday, and 1/3 on Thursday and see if there is a significant difference in the responses.  You can always test the time of day too to see which works best for your business.

10. Analytics

Once you have sent your email your job doesn’t end there in fact that’s when the real work begins.  Look at how the email performed.  Compare, if you did a split test, and see which one worked the best and figure out why.  You should consider not only open rate and clicks but also if the goal of the email was achieved i.e. did the reader buy something, complete an action on the landing page, download a white paper etc.  By scrutinizing and using this data you can constantly improve the results.  With Marketing Automation you can also follow-up with people who clicked on certain links within the email but that’s a subject we’ll cover later.

Email is still thriving in the midst of social media and mobile apps.  If used correctly is can be personal, inexpensive and the results are easy to measure.  Despite concerns about spam, email is still one of the best ways to communicate with your customers.

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