Email marketing

The Essential Role of Email in B2B Marketing

Email metrics should center around engagement.

Forget open rates, which have been on a slippery slope towards becoming a vanity metric for years. Furthermore, if there are deliverability issues, it’s critical for marketers to analyze and correct these immediately. Marketers should develop KPIs based on their objectives, but these should always include engagement metrics that actually show how emails are performing.

  • Conversion rates are one of the strongest indicators of interest and intent to purchase. A call to action (CTA) can spur a request for a demonstration or a conversation with a salesperson—and both can directly lead to revenues. Or it can drive a white paper download or a webinar registration, an indication that the recipient finds the content valuable.
  • Interactivity and response rates provide an excellent measure of engagement. Engagement can be measured by recipients’ actions within the email, such as taking a poll or survey or watching a video. Requesting a reply also encourages engagement; the recipient read the email and took the time to type a response, good or bad.
  • One of the best signals of a poorly executed campaign is the unsubscribe rate. An email could be a miss for many reasons: irrelevance, a lack of personalization, salesy copy, poor or nonresponsive design, email overload, or bad data quality. The question, “Why did you unsubscribe?” can also provide insights into how to improve.
  • Revenues and ROI are imperative to measure and track. When an email recipient converts to the next stage in their buyer’s journey, or when an email is tied to a renewal of a customer or an upsell, revenues and the ROI must be attributed. B2B leaders need to prove and demonstrate the value of their marketing campaign investments.

Today’s B2B buyer has higher expectations for email.

B2B buyers are now younger, digital-first, and savvy. They expect email communication to be relevant, or it will be ignored. They also won’t bother to engage if the email doesn’t provide value or useful information, or if it doesn’t make them feel better. Marketers need to communicate to humans, not account opportunities or renewals.

  • Personalization (beyond the name) is a must. Today’s buyer expects personalized engagements; 65% of marketers worldwide said email is where personalization has the most impact in 2023, per a January 2023 Ascend2 report. In the attention economy, marketers need to provide the right message, at the right time, and with an authentic voice to break through.
  • Marketers should consider accepting personal email addresses. The quality of B2B audience data could degrade rapidly in the face of layoffs and other adverse market conditions. Gathering nonbusiness email addresses gives marketers the opportunity to continue providing valuable information and nurturing buyers toward a future sale.
  • Remember that email represents the brand. Every email can provide value and build trust to encourage buyers to share their information, preferences, and intent. Email has the power to differentiate a B2B brand from the competition. Email should also be an ongoing part of the customer experience (CX) to maintain communication, trust, and differentiation through the customer life cycle.

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