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V-formation: Email Marketing – the real truth behind the statistics

This blog post has been written by Beth Baxter, the Sales Director of Great Guns Marketing. It was originally posted on the Great Guns Marketing blog platform.


Email marketing has been one of the most popular B2B marketing channels for a number of years now, in part because it can reach such large audiences quickly but mainly because of its low cost and proclaimed high return.

Is it just us, however, that feel email marketing has become less and less successful over the years if used as a sole channel to reach your target market? We speak to a lot of people who agree that emails aren’t as effective and are quickly deleted by decision makers, who feel they are intrusive to their inboxes and not relevant to them. So why do marketers still continue to see email marketing as a quick win solution?

Here we wanted to give you some real statistics behind email campaigns we have delivered over the years to demonstrate how email marketing can be used effectively and how it shouldn’t be used.

  1. Email marketing on its own is not very effective in a B2B prospecting environment

Email marketing results have diminished over the years due to heavy competition and people receiving too many emails. In 2010 we would regularly achieve a 10-15% open rate of emails and, of these openers, a 10-15% click thru rate. Of these you would often get a small proportion of people who would pick up the phone and enquire further (typically around 1% of the click thru’s). Get the numbers right and you could drive some leads into your business quickly to fill a void.

Wind forwards to 2013 and taking an average of the campaigns we have run over the past 6 months we are seeing the open rate fall slightly but not too significantly to just over 10% and the click thru rate to 6% of openers, resulting in total results being less than 50% of what they were in 2010.

Now you may question, quite rightly, whether this is due to the fact that we’re simply not putting such strong content or call to actions out there in the emails, however, working alongside a number of B2B agencies we are seeing exactly the same trends with them for their clients.

So it seems whilst open rates aren’t too bad (and a lot of smartphones automatically track emails as opened so this does improve open rates) there’s not as much notice being taken of the emails, or actions being followed through which implies not many people are actually reading them and taking an interest.

This follows through that we now receive very few direct enquiries as a result of the emails that we send out.

2.   Email Marketing can still be effective if used in the right way

Having outlined the decline in effectiveness for B2B prospecting, there are results which buck this trend. Whilst email shouldn’t be used as a sole channel to engage with new prospects, there is a place for it and here’s where we’re finding it successful:

* Use it to communicate with clients. We see the click thru rate rise to 20% when we send communication to clients. It’s therefore a really good tool to use to keep them informed of news, company developments and content. We find that we receive leads this way as people already have a confidence with the brand.

Use is as one part of an integrated marketing strategyWhilst the results of email marketing have declined, decision makers should be touched 7 times on average before they engage with you. Email marketing should be one of these touches as it will trigger an awareness of the brand and with consistent messaging through a number of channels you will start to see the effect of email marketing when you get to the telemarketing phase of your strategy. We utilise email in a structured integrated strategy of content, social media, digital , events and telemarketing and overall we’re seeing results of the telemarketing activity being increased by an average of 300% over just telemarketing alone.

* Automate it. If you have large databases and need volume sales then email should still be a strategy to prioritise the rest of your marketing activity. The best way to achieve leads is to automate the email marketing side, which will then reduce your time and cost spent on it and integrate it with your social media and digital activity automatically.  It also applies intelligence to each person who is interacting with your emails to give them a bespoke user experience, hence should give them more relevant content when they’re ready for it. We have experienced a 200% uplift on client results through automation alone.

So there is a place for email marketing, but how you use it is the key, and managing expectations around it success is also critical. We know many companies will still continue to use it as a sole channel to try and gain new clients and be disappointed in the results, however we’re pleased that our clients are moving in a more fully integrated direction which is having some really exciting results for them.