B2B

Are Curated Email Newsletters Right for You?

curated email newsletters

No one can possibly sort through let alone digest all of the information that comes our way each day. But it is the Information Age and we need to keep up with the latest news and developments. That’s why we subscribe to blogs and newsletters or in the first place, right?

So if we need all that information yet we don’t have time for all of that information, what is the answer? The answer is, the curated email newsletter—a newsletter not of original content, but of content you deem worthy of putting in front subscribers.

For the recipient, the curated newsletter can be a blessing, saving them from sorting through all kinds of emails and searches to find up-to-date information. Plus a well-curated newsletter will include information they might not have come across on our own! It’s like news you can use in a nutshell. Curated newsletters can keep us informed and save us time, all at the same time. What’s not to like about that?

As for the curator of such an email newsletter, what’s not to like about pulling together content rather than creating it? Again and again, studies show that B2B businesses struggle with content creation.

With a curated newsletter, on the other hand, you’re seeking out content that’s shareworthy, which can certainly be a lot more efficient than creating content from scratch. Not only is that a huge time saver for your team, but think about the brand impression you make when you go to that kind of trouble for your audience (assuming your curating only the best stuff). That’s the kind of goodwill marketing any brand can benefit from, but especially in the B2B world where people are so challenged to keep up with news.

There are obvious benefits of a curated newsletter but, truth is, I’ve always been a huge fan. One of my all-time favorites is Hacker Newsletter, which we’ve featured before. Simply read the testimonials to see how much people appreciate the time saved by it. Another favorite, which is not tech or marketing related, is Next Draft. Where else can you find an article on turkey bowling alongside an article on the Supreme Court’s pending hearing on free speech online?

Is your business producing a curated email newsletter? If so, let me know in the comments section. I want to check it out and perhaps feature it. And if you have any suggestions for others on how to get started with this kind of newsletter approach, post those comments too.

About the Author: Scott Hardigree is Founder of Email Industries (the folks behind IndiemarkBlackBox, FormSwell and Email Critic). Connect him everywhere, here.

Important Distinctions Between B2C and B2B Email Marketing

As marketers and humans we always look at others for inspiration.

To innovate we take what others have done and build on those ideas to improve and make more interesting.

That’s the goal anyway.

When it comes to email marketing, though, there is one tricky part of the equation.

There are B2C emails and there are B2B emails.

In this post we’ll look at the differences between B2C email marketing and B2B email marketing. You’ll want to pay attention because while some of the methodologies are the same the differences are important because a strategy for one might not work for the other.

Overview of B2C Email Marketing

B2C email marketing promo example.

Woolrich uses a little urgency with this email. It’s a common element of B2C email marketing.

B2C emails are pretty common for most Internet users. You probably received about 5 to 10 B2C emails just today if you’re an average email user.

B2C companies tend to be more aggressive with the frequency in which they send messages so the footprint is higher than in the B2B world.

Another aspect of B2C email marketing is the fact that nearly all emails are sales-focused. This means that each email is about getting to a sale quickly. Purchase price tends to be on the small side for B2C products so the sales process is more impulsive and quick.

You might see an email that introduces a new product. The expectation is that you immediately become interested in the item and make the purchase.

Another common scenario is to see an email that puts the pressure on your to purchase. Urgency is a common tool in B2C email marketing. You’ll see a sale that is ending soon and you have to act now otherwise you’ll miss the promotion.

Urgency is actually one of the areas where B2C and B2B are similar. B2B salespeople do try to get urgency attached to a quote or an offer trying to get a person to commit to a deal.

Finally, B2C emails tend to not follow a welcome series. There are instances when it does happen, but the welcome series is usually not longer than one or two emails. This is in contrast to some advanced B2B email marketing campaigns.

Overview of B2B Email Marketing

B2B upsell example

This email from FreshBooks doesn’t focus on sales, exclusively. It’s also about building trust in the B2B world.

B2B sales tend to be large purchases. There are exceptions on both sides of the equation. There are small purchases in B2B and large purchases in B2C, but in general the large purchases lean toward the B2B world.

Because the purchases are larger there is more marketing in B2B email marketing than sales.

What does this mean?

B2B companies know that email marketing mirrors the sales process. The first introduction happens when a new prospect signs up for the marketing newsletter or marketing program. From there the emails work like a salesperson.

Messages are directed at educating the subscriber. The first email might include some recent news happening in the industry along with a point of view from the company perspective.

Subsequent emails often provide additional insight into the industry and eventually the products and services offered by the company.

The entire process is about presenting the state of the industry and the problems that exist and take the subscriber down the path of solving that issue with the solution provided by the company.

By now you probably recognize that B2B email marketing lends itself well to welcome series. It’s true that many B2B companies setup email series to move new subscribers through the sales process until they become a customer.

Final Thoughts

These differences in B2C and B2B email marketing are important. If you understand the differences you can really focus in on what will work best for your company.

On some occasions you can use inspiration from one for the other. It might be a way to get a little edge on the competition.

Now it’s your turn.

What do you think the differences are in B2C and B2B email marketing?

About the Author: Scott Hardigree is Founder of Indiemark and Co-founder of BrightSpeed. You can connect with him everywhere, here.

Three (Mild to Wild) B2B Email Marketing Strategies

We talk a lot about consumer emails here but today we’re looking at three very different B2B email marketing strategies, which range from basic to advanced.

Needless to say, email programs in the business-to-business realm have certain attributes that make them different from the average consumer email program—like longer sales cycles, higher price points and fewer products to sell.

Today, we’ll review a few B2B strategies that may help you to, not only, stay in front of business prospects/clients but help you ring the cash register harder, and more often. Let’s begin.

Push Social Connections (as a Standalone Campaign)

B2B Social Media Email Example

In the example above from Wildfire, the company reached out to its subscribers and clients asking for followers on five social networks.

Aside from the additional reach that social media can afford B2Bs, Wildfire is likely looking to build its social following for two reasons.

First, having a large social following is corresponding more with search results. Google+, in particular, is having a bigger impact on search result. Therefore for companies looking to get more traffic from search it’s important to grow a social following.

Second, a social following does have an impression on people that have just discovered a brand. When someone hears about the brand and is potentially interested in the service they’ll do some research and today one of the basic research steps is finding out how many followers the brand has on social media. It’s a quick and general way to see if others trust the brand; social proof. That said, I’m surprised that Wildfire did not include a link to their LinkedIn company profile of company-sponsored LinkedIn group.

Use Dynamic Content (Like a Retailer)

Dynamic b2b email

Email newsletters are common among B2Bs. They’re a great way to provide useful resources in addition to the services you already provide. You can gather articles that will be interesting and useful to your clients. But everyone does that.

What’s unique about this example from LinkedIn is how they promote the custom aspect of the newsletter. They are using dynamic content, via merge tags, to accomplish this which insanely common in the consumer and publishing worlds but surprisingly not so common in B2B.

If an email is “dynamic” it means that each subscriber could, theoretically, receive a unique email based on their profile or behavioral data.

This dynamic data, which populates the content of an email, could be as straightforward as a photo and contact information of the user’s account manager or, like in the email above, it is based on a user’s LinkedIn profile.

Dynamic content has proven to increase relevancy which can often accelerate the sales cycle and increase upsells. It’s no brainer.

Use Google Remarketing (in Your Emails)

For those who are late to the party, Google remarketing provides marketers with an opportunity to stay in front of prospects who were on their site and then offer those prospects relevant display ads as they browse the web.

Though it is well-documented how retailers benefit from ad remarketing, it is not always apparent how the technology can work for B2B; it’s especially unclear how it can work with your email program.

I would argue that any B2B company that uses a free trial, has a freemium product, engages in active lead generation, or runs lead nurturing campaigns (which I suppose is almost every B2B) can use remarketing in their email campaigns to increase conversions and drive revenue; but they have to be smart about it.

For the most part, users who have accepted your free trial, for example, don’t want to see ads for a product they’re already tested. One of the biggest mistakes in retargeting is ads asking users to take an action they’ve already taken.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t advertise to existing clients, you simply must do so in a way that adds value. One prime example is freemium products. Preaching the virtues of your paid product to your free users (via email and Google remarketing) can help increase upsells.

Likewise, if you’re devoting dollars to bring traffic to a lead gen form, remarketing to those who open but (do not click) on those emails (or bounce from those landing pages) will help you stay in touch with your warm prospects, with a message that is more relevant to where they are in sales cycle. Here’s how it works.

Just like you would do on your website, all you need to do is add a sales-stage-specific remarketing code into the HTML of your emails, and everyone who opens an email, in that list segment, will begin to see those (more targeted) ads all over the web. The benefit here is that you can better focus your Google remarketing efforts based on how far your users are in the funnel. That way, you can ensure you’re getting the biggest bang for your remarketing buck.

What are your favorite B2B email marketing strategies?

Please share your thoughts and comment below.

Using Email Promotions to Convert B2B Subscribers to Clients

The holiday season is just ramping up, but most business-to-business marketers are already looking toward the beginning of next year. Rightfully so; now is the time to get plans ready for Q1 because that time is just as critical for B2B as the holidays are for retailers.

New Year Means New B2B Budgets

Many businesses start their fiscal years in January.

For B2B companies this means that new budgets have been approved and potential clients are out there actively looking for partners. If you can position (or reposition) yourself in the first quarter of the year you can earn new clients and get your company started out successfully next year.

Email is Still the Killer B2B App

Each year executives look at every program that generates net sales and profit. One area that is looked at every year in many companies is the email program.

Here are three high-level promotional ideas to turn those business email subscribers into clients, not matter if you’re using ad hoc email marketing campaigns or marketing automation.

Offer Free Trials or Guarantees

B2B email free trial example from LinkedIn

LinkedIn reaches out to its subscribers with free offers to entice action.

Free trials, samples, and guarantees are a great way to get people to take the bait and grow their comfort level.

People are wary about committing to something. To circumvent this hesitation you can offer them the no-risk trial, or if it’s fitting a guarantee. The great thing for you is that once they’ve made this first commitment they’ll be more likely to choose your service for the long run.

Now, you do have to deliver on your promises.

It’s all about getting that first commitment. You got the person to subscribe to your email program. Now use your email program to get them to take the next action step.

Share “New” Products

B2B Email Example of New Product Releases.

Google AdWords uses their email program to promote new products.

One way to do this is by offering new products or services. The first quarter is a popular time to introduce new offerings so it’s the perfect time to increase the revenue you earn from existing clients.

The product doesn’t necessarily have to be new to your company either. The product or service can simply be something else you offer that a segment of your prospect or client list doesn’t know about it or use it yet.

Don’t Foget to Promote Events, Webinars and Hot Content

B2B Event Email Example

Amazon Web Services promotes an upcoming event to their email subscribers.

Imagine the sales process you use when you sell something to a potential client face-to-face. The process likely takes some time and involves multiple conversations. The person will have questions. You’ll have to go back to your desk and put together some answers. This is part of the marketing process.

Email marketing in the B2B world works the same way. Instead of selling to all your subscribers, it’s about marketing to them in order to move them through the sales funnel. Nurturing them.

One way to do this is by promoting marketing material like events, webinars, guides and other resource material. It can all work to earn your customers trust and convince them that your solution will benefit their company.

Why I love Email Marketing: The People

When I first launched Indiemark I reached out to Mark Brownlow, the publisher of Email Marketing Reports, about available advertising opportunities on his blog and newsletter. Not surprisingly Mark was booked, for the foreseeable future. You see, Mark has been the voice of permission-based email marketing long before its true power was recognized by most marketers.

Many moons later, newsletter ad space became available but instead of charging me for this remnant inventory all Mark asked for in return was Jelly Beans, seriously. Apparently they’re hard to come by in Austria where Mark and his family call home.

The beans were sent. The ad was run. The clicks and calls followed. I felt indebted to Mark. Yet today I received this handwritten note from Mark along with Austrian chocolates, which my wife and daughter will certainly devour.

These acts alone don’t make this industry great but it does confirm that Mark’s one heckuva guy and supports what I already knew; the email marketing industry is like no other. Phrases like sharing, win-win, long-term value, and relationships aren’t just words they permeate the culture. I’m grateful to be a part of it and the other people listed here.

Into B2B Email Marketing?

Join us for the Progressive B2B Marketing Summit

Thursday, 12/02/10 — 11 to 6 ET (8 to 3 PT)

How you adapt to and harness the opportunities in the changing B2B marketing environment could make all the difference between success and failure. Join Indiemark (at booth #4) and other Focus Experts in this half-day event to make sure you’re ahead of the curve.

It will cover everything from the importance of branding to implementing lead-management strategies and improving sales/marketing alignment. Pre-register here.

The Power of Personalization in Email Marketing

Don't be that guy.I recently took my 9 year old daughter to Justice, a children’s apparel retailer. From the onset the manager bombarded me, at 5 minute intervals, with product recommendations and promotions. This continued for 30 minutes until I was forced to school her on customer insight and preferences.

A bad email program is much like an ineffective sales person. Instead of having to read the disinterest on the faces of your customers, feel the negative impact on sales, or in my case, hear the harshness of their words; email marketing can tell you almost everything you need to know about your customers and help you to sell more.

Going Beyond “Hi FNAME”

The insight required to make your email program more profitable is already at your finger tips and it’s inexpensive. It comes to you in the form of data. I don’t mean open and click data, although that will tell you a lot, I’m talking about data that will allow you to personalize the experience for each of your customers.

Sure, personalized greetings are often well-received but as I mentioned in a recent Chief Marketer article, this year’s standout Valentine’s Day campaigns were those that used deeper data, such as purchase history and customer profiles, to make their offers more personal and therefore more relevant. In the article, I was speaking largely about retailers but service companies too have a slew of easily accessible data to track (or even predict) the purchase intent of their customers as well as identify cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.

What Do You Have to Work With?

The sources of actionable data are seemingly endless, but here are few categories and specific examples:

Profile: Imagine you run a travel agency and I’m your 65 y/o prospect, do you think I’d respond better to an offer that reflected the most popular senior destinations? Now imagine that the images in the offer were those of the silver-haired persuasion. Or perhaps I’m on west coast time and your webinar is schedule for 1pm eastern, would I be more likely to reserve my seat if the email read 11am pacific?

Purchase History: If I bought gifts in or around today’s date, two years in a row, might I want to buy another again this year? What if the new gift recommendations were in line with my previous purchases of those of other gift buyers? Conversely, what if I’ve already purchased your primary product, do you think that I want to hear about how much money I could have saved, if only I’d waited? Instead, wouldn’t I rather know about your secondary offerings?

Activity: Maybe I’ve downloaded three sequential white papers in 30 days, but I’ve yet to make a purchase, would it be a good idea to invite me into a discussion about my specific needs? Or maybe I haven’t responded to your offers in some time, am I perfect for a reactivation offer or satisfaction survey?

Preferences: Imagine that you have 10 different products but I’m a reseller that’s only interested on products 1-5. Shouldn’t I be put into a segment with other resellers? What if I’m a direct user but I only want to receive educational information, as opposed to promotional, I’m more likely to remain an enthusiast and share your information if I only get what I really want?

It’s Easy and Inexpensive To Execute

I’m always surprised when SMB marketers say that using data at this level is only for the big boys. That may have been true in the years past, but today any ESP that’s worth their salt integrates easily with your CRM or E-commerce solutions and web analytics. All you have to do is integrate it and most importantly test it.

- Scott Hardigree | Indiemark

Are you passionate about email marketing?

twonewblogs

We’ve recently launched two NEW blogs that you may find of particular interest; both are dedicated to email marketing yet each is very different. Take a look…

EMAIL CRITIC
EmailCritic.com ( Blog | RSS ) is a no holds barred blog, was created to spotlight brilliantly executed email campaigns and berate the brainless and uninformed (from design to delivery). If you’re into improving the performance of your email marketing efforts, please stay in the loop. Fan us on Facebook!

EMAIL APPEND SOURCE
EmailAppendSource.com (Blog | RSS feed) is the place to find top-level articles, reviews and links to help you start or improve your email append projects. We want this blog to be the most comprehensive, unbiased resources on the web.

WANT TO CONTRIBUTE?
If you’re passionate about email marketing, we’re looking for guest bloggers, case studies, best practices, white papers, strategies, and fellow smart-ass commentators. Please email me with your submissions and feedback or simply visit the blogs.

Putting a Value on Email Design and Optimization

As email marketing continues to grow in both breadth and depth, I’ve observed that there is still surprising void in the supplier marketplace, those organizations that both create and improve the performance of the email message, or creative, itself.

In direct mail there are countless copy writers and designers who are charged with beating controls. In the online space there are companies that focus solely on improving the performance of corresponding landing pages. Even in email marketing there are many fine organizations that provide high-level optimization intelligence solutions.

Why then are there are few firms that provide comprehensive solutions that are specific to email marketing creative; companies that provide the strategy and creative and testing, from beauty to brains. Companies that create messages that are on brand, highly deliverable, and optimized.

This void cannot be due to a lack of need–so is it the perceived value of the offering? Does the perceived value keep away many would-be solution providers?

Please give your opinion to this LinkedIn Poll (http://polls.linkedin.com/p/50330/joehi).

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Does your Marketing Firm Sing for its Supper?

blog-sing

 

 

 

 

 

Ask any CEO if they’d be willing to share profits with a marketing firm or consultant who provided a positive impact to their bottom line. “Absolutely!” is the response that you’re likely to receive. Now ask them how they compensate their marketing agency, service suppliers, or in-house marketing department. Exactly.

Finding a true marketing partner  isn’t easy to locate but they’re out there. In fact, they’re becoming increasing more common.

For many businesses, the realities of the current economy have resulted in a reduction in marketing spending and staff. Marketing firms, agencies and consultants too are experiencing general belt tightening. Yet, each has a need to drive revenue. Combined, these factors have created a unique opportunity for both parties.

Marketing firms and consultants who satisfy more fundamental or complex needs such as branding, demand generation and cross-channel customer acquisition (services that are typically provided on a project or hourly basis) are now singing for their supper but they’re eating well.

While some firms have always worked under a performance-driven model, others are now beginning to partner with their clients and truly put their talents, time, and even their money where their mouths are.

Marketing partnerships can be are structured on a long term or month-to month basis and can take virtually limitless forms. The shape it takes is dependent on the client’s goals, offerings, and budget as well the core capabilities of the marketing service provider. However, these arrangements are generally based on a lift in client revenue, of which a percentage is paid to the service provider, or they receive a stake in the company, along with a minimum retainer.

Partnerships of this type are best suited to small and mid-sized companies who are seeking reduce marketing costs and/or acquire more profitable customers yet lack the resources or wherewithal to manage the marketing effort effectively. It also works well with start-ups or companies seeking launch a new venture or expand an existing offering.

There are challenges in establishing successful marketing partnerships however. Firstly, it’s a two way street. Mutual trust and performance weigh heavily on both parties therefore and, unlike traditional work-for-hire relationships, the agreements are more comprehensive and the qualifying process is extensive and may require that you disclose privileged information that goes far beyond your marketing efforts and experiences.

Before you enter into a marketing partnership or start your next marketing initiative, ask your vendor if they’ve built successful companies themselves; if not it’s unlikely that they will be able to do the same for your organization. Learn what services they provide in-house and which services they outsource; excessive outsourcing is likely to be reflected in their guaranteed compensation. As with any vendor-client relationship you’ll want to learn more about their industry expertise and client-partner successes.

Marketing partnerships are not for every organization but for those clients and marketing services suppliers that are willing to share the risk, a good match can often reap greater rewards for all.

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