Email is one of the go-to forms of communication for many companies who want to connect with customers and prospects as it allows for concise, yet detailed conversations.
You've probably read content from great resources about email marketing and how it can be a critical tool for converting customers. The difference is, many of those resources focus on the B2C space, and B2B can be very different in many ways.
Importance of email marketing for B2B
B2C versus B2B email marketing differs drastically, but that doesn’t mean that one is more important than the other. In fact, both have equal importance despite their different buying cycles.
So, is email marketing just as important for B2B companies? The answer is yes.
B2B buying cycles are longer than B2C buying cycles
Unlike B2C relationships, where you try to get customers to make decisions based on emotion, B2B sales are based on logic. It's easy to make impulse buys for small items such as clothes and shoes; however, no one impulsively buys thousand dollar IT software.
Not only do B2B purchases have a higher monetary value, they are also there to serve a practical purpose. This is different than B2C items which are often purchased for emotional and material reasons along with how convenient they are to buy.
When selling to another business, you need to really think about the buyer’s needs. They will be seeking out as much relevant content and testing as available, and will be comparing your product or service to that of your competitors. Their purchase drivers will be logic, utility, and ROI, so you need to effectively communicate as much of this information to them as possible. Email is the perfect platform to do this.
According to Step Change, shorter B2B sales cycles often fall around three months, but for larger and more substantial sales, they can take between six to nine months. Buyers don't want to make a decision right away, so you need to nurture your leads over a long time. This means popping up in their inbox every week or month ensures you stay at the forefront of their mind so when they are ready to make a purchase, your brand is the first one they think of.
Content is still king
B2B purchases are based on logic, so most of the time your recipient wants to be informed about the product or service you offer by reading guides relating to your industry or other helpful content.
Email should be used to nurture your B2B leads by delivering engaging content to them. Although decisions are based on logic, you should still try to be creative with your email content and convey your message in an interesting way that will set you apart from your competitors. Try adding things like tables, graphs, infographics, and illustrations and be sure to keep on top of your email metrics to get a clear picture of what types of content perform best for your audience.
Stuck for B2B content ideas? Check out the handy table below and think about some engaging content that can deliver the information your customers are looking for.
It's all well and good us telling you the great potential that email has for B2B businesses, but you probably want to see a little evidence and the number don't lie so here are some compelling stats to convince you of the power of B2B email marketing:
Graphic courtesy of LYFE Marketing
73% of marketers agree that email marketing is core to their business (Salesforce)
73% of marketers agree that email is 40x more effective than social media for lead generation (Smart Insights)
69.7% of US internet users prefer email communication with businesses (eMarketer)
Only 24% of marketers rarely or never use responsive email design (Salesforce)
Email is the quickest personalisation win for marketers, with 90% of marketers personalising through email (Econsultancy)
These stats show that email marketing is here to stay but also highlight some key points to consider when creating your marketing campaigns. It's no surprise to anyone that mobile is central to most marketing these days so when creating your emails make sure the check them for multiple email host (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo!) across multiple devices and screen sizes so they are optimized no matter what screen your audience is viewing them on.
Personalization is also something to consider. Email is one of the easiest channels to personalize and create segmented audiences for. Personalization isn't just a trend that will blow over; it's an incredibly effective marketing tool. By incorporating it into your email marketing strategy, you will see some great results.
Artificial intelligence can further improve your personalization through big data analysis to give you the full picture for a piece of content and help you pick the next piece that a user needs to see.
B2B purchases are made by multiple decision-makers
When you are targeting with B2B emails, although you are sending to an individual account it's important to remember you are not targeting just one person. In B2C purchases, there’s often only one decision-maker, but in B2B, there can be multiple.
It often takes deliberation between multiple departments and managers to make substantial business purchases. They will all have different profiles and be seeking various information, so you may want to target emails at the company as a whole, showing the features, benefits, and offering helpful information that is not just specific to one company employee. Think about the problems and challenges your products can solve for the business you are targeting.
TIP: Give every decision a place to learn about your product with review platforms. In fact, 91% of B2B buyers say they are more likely to purchase after reading a trusted review. Claim your free G2 profile and connect with over 3 million buyers.
Segmenting your audience should be a no-brainer as well. Decide what you want to focus on. In B2C, market segmentation is very different as it is often demographic or behavior-based, but with B2B you may want to segment via geographic location, company size, number of employees, or industry.
Email marketing is a powerful tool for any B2B business, when set up correctly and used to nurture leads it can generate some of the highest ROI of any marketing channel so if you've not got an email marketing strategy in place already, now is the time to do it.
Michael is the content strategist at Atomic Reach, a content intelligence platform used by marketers to generate more leads from their text-based content.
He is on a mission to empower marketers with actionable data so they can make more informed decisions about their content strategy.