Delivering Relevant Content: The ABCs for B2Bs
Business-to-business (B2B) marketers have become savvy to the power of the email channel and the returns that it consistently delivers, and for two good reasons. First, email marketing is a great way to nurture leads through the buying cycle. Second, email marketing is a critical tool for customer retention.
The effectiveness of B2B email campaigns hinges on delivering relevant content: the mesh of what you offer with what your prospects need. Here are nine tips (the “ABCs”) for making sure your emails are relevant and have value:
1. Define your internal goals. Establish an internal goal for every campaign and stay on track with your own metrics.
2. Include a solid value proposition in every campaign: What are you delivering that creates an opportunity or solves a problem for your prospect?
3. Communicate your value proposition effectively with your subject line. Answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” Promise a benefit, solve a problem, raise a concern or offer valuable tips. Plus, convey a sense of urgency. This makes it more likely that your prospect will open and interact with your content right away.
4. Personalize the communication. Use an easily recognizable “from” address. For most B2B marketers the “from” line will feature the company name. Once established, don’t change it without a very compelling reason, because if your prospects have white-listed your “from” address, you’ll lose all that equity. Use the names of actual employees when possible – emails from one person to another are far more likely to be opened.
5. Humanize the message. In the B2B space, closing the sale is all about the relationship, so put a face to your brand. Use photos or even fun and engaging mascots to build a connection. Also pay attention to the tone of your message. If your offer feels mass produced, it’s not going to resonate.
6. Be clear and concise. Make sure that your core benefit is clearly stated upfront and that prospects clearly understand what you’re offering. Make your call-to-action readily obvious and accessible.
7. Deliver value on a personal level. Keep in mind that the B2B audience isn’t typically spending its own money, so focus your offers on perks and relationship management.
8. Leverage segmentation. First, make sure that you’re gathering the right information during the opt-in process, and keep up with email address changes, send frequency and other important preferences. Then you can group prospects according to important commonalities, such as position in the buying cycle, length and strength of your relationship, role in the organization, and industry, stated interests and demonstrated behavior. Remember: the better your segmentation, the better your results.
9. Maintain the brand experience. Manage a rolling three-month content production schedule to ensure that you maintain your momentum and your prospects’ experience with your brand. Align your schedule with what’s happening with other marketing programs, such as upcoming events, new product announcements, upgrades and other special offers.
By adhering to these guidelines and consistently delivering relevant content, B2B marketers can reap the rewards of leveraging email throughout the customer lifecycle – from acquisition through nurturing to conversion and beyond.
About the Author
Deborah Papp is Field Marketing Manager at Lyris.