How’s your email inbox treating you lately? Is it overflowing with real work, or it is a quagmire of untargeted (and unwanted) messages from dozens of companies vying for a few moments of your time and budget?
Social media marketing may be on the rise, but 64 percent of companies still say email is the most effective tool in their digital sales and marketing arsenal. Yet if that’s true, why do we get so annoyed with all those messages in our inboxes?
If you—as a marketing professional—feel that way about your inbox, imagine what your customers might think of the emails you’re sending their way.
Do your prospects view your emails as welcome guests—or unwanted pests?
Unlike consumer email marketing, the point of most B2B emails isn’t to sell something. At least not every day. While you might have a special offer from time to time, it’s probably not “30% off sitewide!” or “Buy one, get one 50% off.” We don’t often have this type of promotion.
Instead, B2B marketing emails should offer up useful information, preferably info in which the recipient has at least expressed some interest. Rather than trying to get a user to click “Buy Now”, you want to lead them to your website, engage them with content, and eventually get them into your sales funnel—and keep them there.
But if your emails are always about how fantastic you and your products are, chances are the reader will dismiss them as “salesy” and click <<Delete>>. In other words, as for all your content, the job of your email is not to be “in your face” but to keep your company “top of mind” for your customers and prospects.
With that in mind, let’s talk about who you’re sending those emails to.
When you’re just starting out, you may purchase one or more mailing lists to get your email marketing program going. However, unless those on the list are already your customers or active prospects—or your product is a household name—you shouldn’t expect overly high click-through rates. (Unless, perhaps, your subject line and lead paragraph really grab their attention.)
Also, if recipients don’t respond to a few mailings, take note and don’t be a pest. Let them know, sincerely, that if you don’t hear from them, you’ll assume they aren’t interested. Send them a “last chance” email or two, then STOP.
The last thing you want is to be the uninvited guest. If you persist too long—forcing them to unsubscribe to get rid of you—yours will be the last company they think of when, one day, they realize they need a product or solution like yours.
Of course, if they do want to unsubscribe, don’t make them jump through hoops. Make it a painless experience. Remember, they didn’t ask to hear from you in the first place.
Instead of a “cold call” through a purchased list, let’s say someone found you through organic search, a targeted ad or some other mechanism. Whether they filled in a form or subscribed to your blog or newsletter, they’ve expressed their interest by voluntarily giving you their contact information.
If you use a marketing automation platform like Hubspot, this is where you want to kick off a workflow for an onboarding email series. In B2B marketing, these emails aren’t so “in your face” as for companies selling some $29.95 consumer product. However, you still want to welcome the subscriber and guide them through the sales funnel. Your emails might suggest helpful content or ask them to complete a short survey, so you can find out a bit more about them. You can monitor whether and how often they respond, so you know when to send the next in the series—or not.
Just don't overdo it. You may have been an invited guest—they gave you their contact information, after all—but you’re not yet “family and friends.” If the contact isn’t biting on your emails, back off for a while. Follow up, give them one last chance, then stop.
Your prospect has signed up, is onboard and is ready to receive your best content. It’s time to start selling, right?
Not really. If you’re a B2B tech company, your product isn’t one your prospect is likely to whip out their personal credit card to order. Besides that, no one likes to be sold to, especially with a relentless, hard sell.
Online retailer and information marketers can be bad about this. Think how irritating it is when a website—even one you often order from—sends you one or more emails every single day. Maybe they have a different “daily special,” or worse, they keep hammering the same offer over and over. If you’re like me, you get into the habit of simply deleting those emails—unopened. Worse, you get fed up one day and unsubscribe altogether.
If that happens to your subscribers, your message will never get through.
Especially as a B2B company, you don’t want to become an email pest. Your emails should nurture your prospects, not nag them. Unless you have news and announcements that really warrant it, an email once a week or even every two weeks can suffice.
Of course, a successful email marketing program takes more than not being an overt pest. It requires making a true connection between you and your prospects. That means no more spray-and-pray approach—with too many emails and too little targeting—hoping your message connects with enough prospects to eventually hit your sales goals.
You have to be tracking performance and constantly modifying your list and your strategy. You have to capture and analyze data about how your subscribers respond, both positively and negatively, to further refine and target your messages.
An easy way to do this is using a marketing automation platform like HubSpot. HubSpot makes gathering and using this data possible (and simple), allowing you to understand the interests (and disinterests) of each subscriber. This in turn, lets you tailor the messages you send and promote the content of highest value to each individual subscriber. That’s why we recommend HubSpot to each of our digital marketing clients.
Want to know if your emails are a welcome guest in your prospect’s inbox—or destined for the trash bin? Contact our team to learn how Idea Grove’s integrated approach to digital marketing for B2B technology companies—including targeted email campaigns—can help you achieve your marketing goals.