Is B2B email marketing all that different from email marketing in general? Well, yes and no. Some of the core principles that make for good email are the same regardless of whether you’re in a B2B or B2C environment. However, some of the specifics can change in crucial ways.
If you’re looking to add email marketing to your B2B marketing strategy, then this is going to be a good starting point. On the other hand, if you’re already well-educated on email marketing in general, and only looking for the differences to B2C, this guide will also be helpful.
Setting the foundations
Let me give it to you straight: if you’re in B2B, you need to hear this. Most of the “names” that you hear associated with “email marketing”, are not B2B-friendly, nor do they focus on what B2B marketers actually need. This is why if you do the research, you will notice that all the successful B2B marketers use platforms which are more of an “industry secret”.
And when we talk about most attention going to B2C email marketing, it isn’t just about the platforms catering to B2C. The same is true for most email marketing gurus and advice out there. Most of it is written with the assumption that you’re selling low-ticket digital products to individuals, not selling services to businesses.
This is one reason why large B2B businesses are moving to Emercury on a daily basis. We are the B2B email marketing partner that you need. Now, there are many reasons why this is happening, and if you’re curious you can book a free demo to find out.
One of the main reasons: we treat our B2B users as partners
Every business that signs up for Emercury is one that we look at as a “partner business”, one that we are invested in helping grow and become even more profitable. This means that we will actually sit down with you and try to figure out exactly what you need to see email marketing expand your business.
Now, this isn’t to say that you can’t get amazing results as a B2C when you use Emercury. It just means that we focus on quality first, and “bells and whistles second”. And when I talk about platforms focused on “bells and whistles”, I’m referring to the phenomenon of the “all-in-one, do everything” platforms that have popped up in the past years.
Saying you can do everything is a marketing angle that tends to work to attract B2C businesses, but doesn’t work well on serious B2B players. Experienced industry veterans prefer the power of utilizing a core platform and building a strong “stack” around it, but more on that later.
The marketing approach
You have to consider the main difference between B2B and B2C. The journey and decision process is typically much longer, involves multiple decision stages, and involves a serious commitment. You’re selling a service or product that can change how they do business, not a $35 eBook with recipes. That right there changes things quite a bit.
In the B2C approach you can expect to utilize emotions and storytelling quite a bit more, and triggering impulse purchases is just a given in such a marketplace. In a B2B context however you will be working with people who are making logic-driven decisions.
This means that you will need to utilize logical explanations for why your product will improve their business in some way.
Typically, this will change how you approach demonstrating value. Typically, you will provide value by sending well-crafted whitepapers, as well as by providing them with tools and tips they can immediately implement and try out in their business.
This will in turn demonstrate that you are indeed qualified to help their business grow or function better in some way.
The importance of data
Gathering data is important in email marketing in general, but there is one special advantage when you’re doing B2B email marketing. You can get away with getting more of the data upfront, instead of getting it over time.
If that sounds vague, let me clarify exactly what it means. If you look at most email marketing tutorials and examples, you will notice that they often only ask for an email and first name.
Sometimes they don’t even ask for a name. This is because in B2C you often cannot get away with asking people for more than this, as they will simply not signup.
However, you generally do want more data, and so you gather it over time, after they become a subscriber, based on behavior inside of the emails, and outside of it, including actions on your website. But more on that later.
The good news is that things are different in B2B. Unlike within a B2C context you can get away with asking for more data right on the signup form. This is especially true when you give away something valuable, such as an industry whitepaper, a 30 minute consultation, demo or trial account for your software.
You can go ahead and ask questions about the person’s role in the company, their industry, company size, whether they operate locally or internationally, or anything that it will make sense to build segments from, and personalize with.
The truth about personalization
Is all that hype about the wonders of personalization justified? Is it really the be-all, end-all of effective marketing strategies? Well, yes and no, and let me explain what I mean.
These days it’s very fashionable to talk about the most complex and convoluted super-advanced personalization strategies. A lot of this has to do with selling the latest shiny toys, some of it has to do with the fact that the basics aren’t as “exciting”.
Now don’t get me wrong, we have all the latest and advanced personalization features you can think of. If you want, you can create complex journeys that track the customer across both email and your websites and other systems.
And then you can micro-manage and track their every little-step in real-time and automatically adjust the messaging to the point where no two subscribers ever have a similar experience in your emails, or on your website.
However, the truth is that the 80-20 rule applies to personalization just as much as it applies to any other part of business. And just like in any other part of business, most people are stuck on the cool details that make 2% of a difference, and not the foundational stuff that gives you 80% of the results.
Getting started with personalization can, and should be simple
One of the most common types of advice I find myself giving when working with businesses is to just get started with personalization. And the trick to doing that is to just go with the simplest form of personalization. This is the kind of personalization that has existed for quite a while now. I’m talking about merge tags and segments.
What are merge tags though? This is where you get an email from someone, and it contains your first name right there in the subject line. This is simple and easy to implement, and you can start doing it from day one. And the best part is that it is going to give you most of the benefits of going more advanced.
Next, you want to implement segments as early on as possible. This is where you are able to treat different parts of your subscriber list as “personas”, based on a certain set of traits. I am talking about things such as their industry, number of employees, business goals, or anything that you can create quality segments from.
Fortunately, since you’re in B2B you can gather most relevant information right on the signup page, and then use this to build some powerful segments and see instant benefits. To learn more about segments, see our guide to market segmentation.
Getting even smarter with your personalization
At Emercury we spend a lot of time thinking about how we can help you get the most “bang for your buck”. This involves focusing on those things that have the highest leverage.
Imagine if you could get all the simplicity of merge tags and segments, whilst getting most of the benefits from more advanced personalization techniques. Introducing “smart segments” and “personalization”.
When it comes to smart segments, the benefit that they bring is real-time personalization based on real-time changes in data and customer behavior. This is something that is otherwise typically associated with more complex and time-consuming personalization techniques.
With smart segments however, all you have to do is flip a switch on your existing segments, and turn them into a smart segment. To learn more about smart segments, check out the introduction here.
Smart personalization also aims to bring something typically associated with more complex personalization techniques. Imagine if you could make sure that an email dynamically changes its content based on who is reading it. Showing them just the right personalized content, as it makes sense for that one reader.
Furthermore, imagine that this was as-easy to use as merge tags. Well, this is what smart personalization achieves. To learn more about smart personalization, see the announcement post here.
Track the decision stages and interest levels
If you are doing marketing of any kind, it helps to be familiar with the basic core foundations of marketing and general. And one of these things is the concept of the customer journey. This is simply the idea that a potential customer (or client in B2B) goes through multiple points before reaching a purchase decision.
And this is another area where we can see a difference between B2B and B2C, in that the customer journey in B2B takes longer and involves more steps. It involves more decision stages and it will require you to keep track of them.
Fortunately, with a platform like Emercury this is very easy. You get access to several tools to help you achieve this. First, you have access to our journey builder, where you can define how our system can automatically respond to and track the lead’s behavior in real-time.
This includes both actions inside of your emails, as well as any actions that they take on your website. For example, if they open a certain email, you can have it automatically change the lead’s interest level in your system. This will depend on how you choose to track this, whether with a custom field or with a set of tags.
Additionally, you might want to leverage our site & event tracking technology to track what pages a subscriber has viewed, or what actions they take on your site. For example if they open the pricing page a couple of times, automatically assign a tag that triggers sending them an offer for a sales call.
Integrating your sales processes
This is another aspect where B2B marketing will differentiate from B2C in a very important way. If you’re selling a service aimed at businesses, you most likely (almost definitely) will have a sales team, or at least a sales process of some kind.
This means that you will want and need to have your marketing aligned with, or integrated with your sales process. One way that people try to do this is to go for an “all-in-one” platform that does everything. This is a platform that purports to handle sales actions and marketing and everything else.
The problem with these platforms is that they’re either bad at everything, despite being expensive. Or if they’re any good, they’re outrageously and irrationally expensive. And even then, they still can’t do everything as well as dedicated and specialized platforms and tools.
This is why smart businesses will tend to build their own “stack”
What is a stack though? This is where smart businesses combine strong and powerful tools in a way that makes sense. And here’s a secret: your sales people will have their own preferred tools and ways of tracking sales. They might even prefer tracking everything in google sheets, and that is ok.
The trick is to choose a strong platform that is designed to act as the core of such a system. Such a platform should do the core things exceptionally well, and allow you to “plug in” other tools for everything else. Emercury was built with this philosophy in mind. You can integrate it with the rest of your tools, and in this case, your sales tools.
To make this a little less vague, let me give you an example. Let’s say that one of your subscribers fills out a form where they leave a phone number. You can use outgoing hooks to send that information to an external tool which your sales team uses. That could be a CRM, or anything you can imagine. Here is an example of doing that with google sheets.
Get A Partner On Your Side
There’s no need to go at this alone. While we do put out a lot of free content to help you, nothing beats a one-on-one conversation. In these articles we try to help clarify things as best as possible. However, every business is different, so we have to generalize.
If you want to understand better how to implement email marketing in your specific business, let’s have a chat. At the moment I am still able to do some free demos, so be sure to book one while I can still do these.
I would love to hear about your specific needs, challenges and any confusion you might have about best practices. And then, help you see how you can use Emercury to improve your bottom-line.
Alternatively, or in addition to booking a free demo, you can also grab a username for our forever-free-plan while we still have it. It’s probably the most generous email marketing automation plan on the planet. We include almost every feature in this plan, with very few restrictions.
Remember, you get to keep this plan for life, for free… Provided that you grab a username while registrations are still open. Be warned, we might decide to pull this way-too-generous offering at any point. So click that link to check if we still allow registrations.