B2B buyers are getting 60% of the way through the decision making process before engaging with a business. It’s vital to cut through and make contact before you’ve been discounted!
Traditionally this was always done via direct mail, with marketers crafting print sales material and sending it right to the buyer’s desk. However, just when Direct Mail was starting to become more targeted, personalised, and effective the recession hit. This made everyone jump on the email bandwagon. It was cheaper, easier and was appearing to have much more potential. With email marketing, businesses could easily set up campaigns for a wide audience for a relatively low cost. People were finding elements of telemarketing rather intrusive, and email seemed to tick all of the boxes for B2B marketers.
The Challenge of Email Marketing
Fast forward to now, and can you remember the last time you checked your inbox and there wasn’t any ‘spam’ sales email? And how long each day do you spend deleting emails that don’t interest you? Businesses quickly began bombarding anyone and everyone with countless blanket emails, quickly filling up inboxes all over the country. Permission marketing became ‘carte blanche’ marketing.
As time passes, the smarter B2B buyer has struck again and is wise to email spammers. Their resistance to ‘being sold to’ has risen, and their responses to email marketing has changed completely. They do not respond to untargeted, irrelevant emails – they want to feel special! But don’t give up yet – although another bandwagon may be approaching, there is still potential with email marketing (if it is done properly!). The Direct Marketing Association agrees, claiming that email marketing is still capable of achieving significant ROI.
It’s important to consider that even though ROI in general for email marketing may have dropped, it’s still cheaper and easier than other marketing. When you consider cost per sale rather than cost per response it’s clear how valuable email is for marketing. What’s more, the benefits are crucial. Businesses can track recipients behaviour, then use that information to construct future activity.
Obstacles to Consider
The first obstacle businesses have to face is getting the customer or prospect to open the email in the first place! If they don’t recognise the sender or if they don’t resonate with the subject line, they are unlikely to open the email. Once you hit the junk folder, are deleted or they unsubscribe, you’ve lost the battle and there is no lead.
The proof is in the personalisation. Did you know that personalised subject lines are 22.2% more likely to be opened? Responsys reports that using customer data to better craft your campaigns can increase open rates by more than 70% and click-through rates by more than 55%. Beyond the subject line, you need to be engaging people through insightful content. Content is the key factor within email marketing. A prospect engaging with your content can signal the beginning of a relationship.
Getting Past the DMU
Content within an email marketing campaign needs to be personalised and targeted. When we think about the process of B2B it is key to consider who is involved in the purchasing decision for your product or service. It is incredibly rare that one person would be taking the sole responsibility of making a purchase decision. The DMU (Decision Making Unit) is likely to be made up of people across the organisation.
In a smaller business you might be looking at the Managing Director along with a functional head, for example an IT manager. Whereas in a larger business it might be a functional budget holder (with perhaps various influencers from their functional team), a Financial Director, a Managing Director or a Sales Director perhaps. With large businesses it’s also wise to consider who may be able to stop or block purchasing decisions!
As you can imagine, all of these people involved in a purchasing decision are likely to all make decisions differently. They will have different ideas, concerns and considerations when it comes to spending budget. They may also have a list of favourite suppliers too. In other words, you need to be treating each of them as an individual and work towards creating tailored, relevant and targeted messages. This is what will create cut through and catch each of their attention – helping you to be successful.
Using Segmentation in Email Marketing
But segmentation can go much further – even in B2B. Development of a behavioural or values based segmentation can create a much better level of engagement. This will not only provide personalised, relevant content, but also fine tuned imagery and copy treatment. For instance, we know that ‘passionate’ small business leaders are more emotional by nature, and like cool brands and messages about great service. As opposed to the less emotional ‘analytical’ characters who need and want technical information. Sending technical information to the former and brand information to the latter isn’t likely to get great results.
Email is not a tool to consider in isolation. When used properly, email marketing can be incredibly successful, playing a key part in the broader marketing mix. The power to gain access to people’s exact response to your marketing material should not be overlooked either. It’s all about determining how, and at what level, your prospects and customers are ready to engage and how people prefer to do business. In other words, insight.
If you’d like to hear more about how you can use insight to drive email campaigns or marketing material in general then contact us!