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B2B vs B2C email marketing: Best practice guide

In the B2C world, purchase decisions are typically made very quickly, so your emails need to be brief and filled with emotionally compelling text and images. that meet the feelings of the recipient so that they are motivated to buy your particular product or service ahead of your competitors.

With B2B it’s slightly more complicated because you’re marketing your product or service to businesses and high profile company stakeholders rather than the individual end user or customer.

As a result purchases often go through long decision-making processes - from supervisors, managers or even whole departments – and email marketing is fundamental to cutting through this.

In order for consignors to make an informed purchase decision they have to convince a number of different people with objective details and specifications of the items to be considered. Emails that are loaded with emotions can even be counter-productive in this scenario, because B2B customers are looking for more information and less emotion. That doesn’t mean your emails should be text heavy and you should abandon images and personalisation elements. Your emails should still be factual, informative and clearly describe your product, but they should be appropriate to the business and industry of your target group.

So how do you put this into practice?

First of all you need to establish the right tone. Emails should be direct, professional and presented in a manner that makes your audience want to do business with you. Essentially, you need to approach it like you would a face-to-face meeting with your prospects and make sure that you clearly state why you are sending the message and why it is relevant and valuable to the recipient. Make sure the call to action is clearly identifiable, and don’t get too bogged down by sending too many cross promotional messages or secondary marketing messages, otherwise the effectiveness of your campaign may be compromised.

The measurement of your campaign should be based on how many leads (and of course any subsequent sales) are generated and not open or click-through rates. It is still important to make sure that your content is highly relevant and targeted, but you need to make sure you pay attention to email forwards and any additional email subscriptions generated from the campaign. If you have a high open and click through rate but only a small number of leads you may have put up too many barriers to capture the lead. Therefore make sure your landing page and relevant gateway pages (for example, a whitepaper sign-up page) are easy to find and utilise. This may take some co-ordination that goes outside the realm of a typical email manager but can be incredible influential to the success of your campaign.

Once you have that sorted, make sure you consider the following five tips:

Know your audience: Make sure you identify who your audience is, what their characteristics are and how they may want to be contacted. For example, if you’re sending out an email to an IT network administrator – a text approach is more likely to solicit a more positive response than an image intensive email. More importantly you need make sure your emails are fully optimised for mobile and realise that you cannot adopt a one-solution policy.

Consider the most appropriate “From” & “Subject” lines: Sending an email from a CEO or top level executive is likely to resonate better with your recipient than an email from someone further down in your organisation. However in addition to sending the email from someone influential you need to support this with a short subject line which is clutter free and clearly sets out the intentions and purpose of the email.

Respect the audience's time: The timing of your mailings is incredibly important, so do investigate the most effective times to reach your particular audience. However, if one of your subscribers doesn’t respond to your first few messages that doesn’t mean you should send them more messages more frequently. Instead, make sure that you create a follow-up campaign based on how each of your users responded (or in some cases didn’t). Using these metrics will help you to implement a more relevant strategy and increase your potential lead volume.

Offer something unique: You need to give people a reason to interact with you. Sometimes, you can do this via a whitepaper or by granting access to content on your website or a free event. Whatever it is you need to bear in mind that the B2B audience is unlikely to want to spend money, so you need to stand out and provided added value if you want your lead volume to grow.

Don't oversell: Make sure you don’t overwhelm your audience and offer them too many promises. If you do you will diminish your opportunity to encourage people to click on the links within your email which point to details of the services and products you want them to purchase from you.

Ultimately you need to remember that whilst you may use the same tools and resources, the way you communicate and present your content for your B2B and B2C email marketing campaigns differs exponentially. If you follow these five principals you will be able to build a strong campaign which delivers you highly qualified leads which can have positive impact on your business.

eCircle is a Teradata company