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 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 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.
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?
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)
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)
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.
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.
Offer Free Trials or Guarantees
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
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
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.
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.
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
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…
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EMAIL APPEND SOURCE
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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?