B2B Email marketing – 5 ways to engage customers & grow sales

Image of a persons hand using a tablet with a few envelopes floating around

With the rise of the internet worldwide, digital marketing has become one of the most powerful ways to reach your customers and build your B2B business. Choosing the right channel is essential though, and with employees spending 28% of their work week on their business mail (McKinsey Global Institute), email marketing clearly takes the prize.

Why is e-commerce email marketing vital for B2B businesses?

59% of respondents say marketing emails influence their purchase decisions.

80% of business professionals believe that email marketing increases customer retention.

40% of B2B marketers say email newsletters are most critical to their content marketing success.

59% of marketers say email has the best ROI.

Source

Depending on the source you consult, the return on a well-planned email marketing campaign varies between 30 – 44 times the investment, making it the best digital marketing channel by far in terms of ROI. This chart, showing how companies rate various marketing methods in terms of ROI, clearly shows how effective it is, followed closely by SEO:

graph showing the effectiveness comparend to other online marketing methods.

Source

There are several reasons for this:

  • Although buyers also interact on other channels, email is widely accepted as an essential business tool in the professional, corporate environment of most B2B businesses.
  • Once the email is written, it’s quick and easy to send it out to your entire database immediately or to schedule it for a later date.
  • The buyer has already opted in, so there’s a good chance they will read or at least scan through the email. In fact, for 77% of consumers (ExactTarget), email is the preferred way to receive marketing communications.
  • Social media posts quickly come and go, but emails live on in a buyer’s inbox, giving them more time to take the content onboard (and giving you more time to sell).
  • The content is easily shareable. According to Earnest Agency, 72% of B2B buyers are more likely to share useful content via email than any other channel.
  • A well-planned email campaign lends itself to a long sales cycle, grabbing attention and holding it until the deal is sealed.
  • Emails are easily personalised, and simple to adapt as you test and fine-tune your marketing strategy.

Personalised and useful communication, aimed at helping customers to buy, effectively engages them and encourages them to visit your site. Once they’re there, there’s a good chance they will make a purchase, boosting your sales with very little effort from you.

While blogs and social media are winning larger and larger portions of B2B marketing budgets, email marketing remains an important and cost-effective solution to drive lead generation efforts and build long-lasting relationships with clients. An expertly crafted marketing email can initiate the sales conversation with valuable leads and help you stay connected to your most profitable clients.

– HubSpot’s 7 Steps to Jump-Start Your Email Marketing Strategy

Five B2B email marketing ideas

Think about the journey a customer takes through the purchasing process, bearing in mind that B2B businesses tend to have a longer sales cycle. Your marketing emails should gently and helpfully guide them all the way to checkout. Also remember that no-one has time to read long emails, so shorter is almost always better.

Let’s take a look at how you can best use your B2B email marketing budget.

Blocks with five different email marketing ideas

1. Welcome your customer to your B2B business

This is the first email (or set of emails) you will send your new customer when they register on your site or sign up to receive your newsletter. Start with a ‘thank you for [whatever action they took]’. You might then give them a short introduction to your company and how the products you sell can benefit them, followed by a special offer to tempt them to make their first purchase with you. That special offer could be a discount voucher, free delivery or a 2 for 1 special, for example.

The stats: When someone has opened a welcome email from you, they are more likely to read at least 40% of your communications over the next 6 months.

2. Provide useful content

Current marketing trends lean away from the hard sell and towards helping people to buy. The type of content that adds value and works well includes:

  • Helpful information, such as how-to blogs or videos
  • User-generated reviews and testimonials
  • Shareable links to social media campaigns about the latest company and product news – these also give people a chance to personally engage with you and your team

All of these inform the customer, and build interest in and engagement with your brand.

The stats: 47% of B2B buyers view between 3 and 5 pieces of content before they begin the purchasing process (Demand Gen).

3. Remind B2B customers to re-order

Helpful reminders that it might be time to order the next batch of products can boost your sales. They also make the customer feel like you’re looking after them, thereby building that all-important trust and loyalty. Mine your data to identify relevant products and the right timing for these emails, establishing average re-order periods for each customer.

The stats: The open rate for replenishment emails can be as much as 53.6%.

Tip: Make sure your emails contain ‘buy buttons’ that place the order directly in your B2B system.

4. Recover abandoned carts

With access to so much choice online, B2B buyers naturally prefer to shop around for the best deal. As a result, they often leave abandoned carts scattered across the online landscape. It’s possible to reduce this but where that fails, timely and well-worded follow-up emails can help them make their final decision. Read more about how to reduce cart abandonment.

The stats: Follow-up emails sent within 24 hours, followed by more reminders over the next 2 weeks, are the most effective.

5. Entice your customers back

If a previous customer hasn’t opened your mails or bought from you in a while, it’s worth trying to tempt them back. You don’t want to annoy them into unsubscribing completely or deleting their profile, so use a very light touch as you follow up. A simple and friendly email saying you haven’t seen them for a while can work, perhaps mentioning a product or helpful content they might appreciate. Adding an incentive like a discount, freebie or special offer also goes a long way.

The stats: 71% of email marketers rate re-engagement campaigns as effective.

Tracking B2B email marketing metrics

Once you’ve set up your emails, you need to keep track of how well they’re working for you. These are the most important numbers:

  • Open rate
  • Forwarded (i.e. shared) emails
  • Unsubscribe rate
  • Links clicked from within the email
  • Complaints

Of all of these, the open rate is the most important as none of the other stats apply if your customer doesn’t actually open your email. The open rate is calculated like this:

Formular showing how your email open rate is worked out.

If your open rate is low, start tweaking your mails. This might be as simple as changing your subject line to something more attention-grabbing, or reducing the length of the mail. Of course these aren’t the only variables – delivery day and time can heavily impact your open rate too.

Email marketing service providers for your B2B business

Manually sending hundreds or even thousands of emails would be a complete waste of your time. Email service providers (ESPs) make things easy by providing layouts and formatting tools, so you can simply insert your content. Then you upload your database and the ESP does all the work of sending the mails out for you, either immediately or at a scheduled time, while tracking the analytics for each batch of mails.

We recommend using one of these reliable ESPs:

Mailchimp

This extremely flexible, dedicated platform lets you send up to 10,000 emails a month absolutely free, provided you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers. After that, you pay a fee based on the number of subscribers. Powerful analytics allow you to track exactly what’s going on. There is also a pay-as-you-go plan.

Campaign Monitor

This tool makes designing unique emails with customer fields quick and easy. It’s simple to segment and manage your subscriber list, and their customer service is award winning.

Constant Contact

Starting at $15 a month, this is the largest ESP out there. It allows you to customize your mails and automate to a certain extent. It also provides learning resources to help improve your marketing skills.

HubSpot

This is a full-service marketing platform. Its email marketing offering includes the usual personalisation, automation and analytics, as well as content management packages and a free customer relationship management (CRM) tool.

Make sure you fully understand the capabilities of each of these platforms so you select the right one for your particular needs. They are all so easy to integrate into your Comalytics B2B e-commerce shopping cart system that you can do it yourself. Feel free to contact us for help though.

The bottom line…

B2B email marketing is a powerful and cost-effective tool to build your business. It helps drive traffic and sales, very effectively engaging your customers and building trust and loyalty. With email automation, once mails are set up, sending them out at the right time is effortless. Then all you need to do is track the analytics, and fine-tune where necessary to make sure you’re maximising your business results.


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