Email marketing: Becoming data-driven

By Anders Björklund

Email marketing: Becoming data-driven

I looked through the statistics of some prominent B2B-brands' online activities and found that email marketing is still very essential, but also that it has changed. The purpose of this article is to inspire you to increase your usage of email marketing.

About 290 billion emails are sent daily, and that is expected to reach 347 billion daily emails by the end of 2023. Email marketing is the most efficient communication channel for B2B companies, but do you do email marketing based on good segmentation and are you suggesting relevant actions? To do successful email marketing takes more than an email marketing tool and some company news or a customer offering. 

Email marketing changed

What worked well a couple of years ago, now doesn't work anymore. At the same time, email marketing is still a pivotal part of your marketing and sales activities, and the most efficient way to keep in touch with your potential and existing customers over time.

For most companies, email marketing is still the most efficient go-to-market channel. How come? Simply because email marketing delivers the results and brings the best ROI. Email marketing usually outperforms most other online marketing initiatives, including SEO, PPC, and content marketing! Your email marketing plan should be an essential part of all marketing and sales initiatives and efforts. Email is the most cost-effective way to communicate with your customers, promote your offering, and is very helpful for reaching your business goals.

Advice to gain desired results with email marketing campaigns

Here I have listed some basic things that I believe that you need to get in place.

  • Personalise your messages! When we say personalised email marketing, we don't mean that you send an individual email to every single subscriber. Personalisation means that you use customer data to create a personalised message.
  • The only company that I know of that does personalisation well is Amazon. All emails that I receive from Amazon's are personalised. And they have realised that email marketing is not just a channel or touchpoint. It's key to the overall customer experience and your company's success.
  • Amazon knows how to handle email marketing - they understand the value of reading through customer complaints and act on them. That's also why a vast amount of their product sales comes from recommendations. By personalising your emails, you stand out against the competition.

Personalise 

Most companies do not personalise their email marketing. The simplest form of personalisation is to address the reader by name. 

Outside of using the names, I have listed a few tips on wow you could get started with your personalisation of email marketing:

Ask for information upfront

Personalisation starts before you hit 'send'. It needs to starts with your sign up forms. You need data such as, e.g. name, company and location. If not, you will be limited with your personalisation possibilities. Remember to ask for the data that you need, rather than the "nice to have" data. 

Use a real reply email address

When you use donotreply@yourcompany.com, it will take away the authenticity from your messaging. You want your subscriber to engage and respond and need to use a real reply address; it will improve your credibility and be more personal.

Use your actual email signature 

Just like using an actual reply-to email address, you do want to use accurate contact data within the email, the best way to do that is to include your contact details in your email signature. To allow your contacts to get in touch with you is an excellent way to be personal and to build a relationship with them. I provide my contact details with the possibility to book meetings with me and let them book appointments directly in my calendar (Link to Book a meeting).

Segment 

Segmentation should be your top priority when moving forward with email marketing. Once you have segmented your database, your email campaigns will become much more targeted.

The best way to get relevant and to get the right response is to put much effort into creating the appropriate segments. Do the segmentation in your CRM software. It would help if you compared this to sending one email to your whole database (many recipients will be annoyed to receive an irrelevant email).

Before you start with the segmentation of your database, let's look at how valuable it can be. Most companies find that email marketing KPIs perform much better when they are willing to put in the effort of segmenting their data and email lists.

Your segmentation should strive to increased performance in improved open rates and conversion. Another advantage is that segmentation goes hand in hand with GDPR and email marketing. 

How to segment your database

Most companies do not segment their database, here I give a few examples for how you can get started with your segmentation:

Segment by industry

Knowing your contacts industries is one of the best ways to segment your email campaigns. And it would help if you thought through how it is in that industry and what the main challenges and the general needs are.

Segment by company size

Segmenting email campaigns by company size or revenue is a proven way to increase relevance and response rates. 

Segment by sales cycle

The early-stage buyers will not be ready for an aggressive sales pitches or your online demos yet, but they will appreciate receiving a relevant industry whitepaper. At the other end of the cycle, buyers who are ready to buy will respond well to product demos, webinars or free trials.

Make your emails mobile-friendly

Approximately 60% of all marketing emails are opened on a mobile device. Most people have their phones next to their beds, and the first thing they do each morning is to grab their phone and check messages, alerts and emails. Approximately 50% of us do this.

That is one of the reasons that you need to make sure that your marketing emails are optimised to be mobile-friendly. If not, they will delete it, throw it in junk-mail or unsubscribe.

Providing responsive email design necessitates that you must ensure an optimised user experience regardless of what device or screen they use. Most email service providers offer responsiveness within their email functionality.

Keep the subject line and pre-header short

The subject line is crucial. Always keep it short, so the reader understands what the email is about. And don't let the snippet text (pre-header text), go to waste when using phrases like "To view this email in your browser...". Instead, make sure that you summarise your email message and include a CTA (call to action). 

Make the CTA obvious

Mobile devices vary in size. While a linked text may work on a tablet or larger screen, you might be alienating readers who have a smaller screen if your CTA is too small, make the CTA, big, bold and easy to click.

Test copy, design and buttons

Whether you test your .com/.xx, landing pages or email templates, testing provides you and your company with data to make practical decisions that will improve your performance. And email marketing is no different.

Some companies use A/B-testing for their email campaigns. By using several variations of the subject line to a small sample of recipients, they can calculate the number of conversions they could expect to receive based on the results. Sometimes the best performing subject line outperforms expectations. You can also test the following:

Optimise the from address

The name appearing in the "from" field has a substantial impact on whether the reader opens your email. The name of the sender is the main reason why people open your email. Try to send your email campaigns from a person's name, person + company or a relevant decision-maker, e.g. your CEO.

Plain text vs HTML

Like most companies, I guess you already sent a few HTML email campaigns or newsletters to your customers. But, perhaps you should test a plain text only email marketing campaign. And if you add some personalisation, plain text emails appear to be written just for that reader. 

Short vs long emails

You can create long and detailed emails, or you can keep your emails short and sweet. Long-form emails can include much more detailed content, whereas more straightforward emails aim to send the reader directly to a page or a targeted landing page. And if you want to maximise the outcome, start testing.

Automate email campaigns when possible

Trigger-based emails are sent automatically based on user behaviour. A common form of trigger emails are welcome emails, thank you emails and the transactional emails, e.g. confirmation emails and receipts. The data behind your trigger emails will show that trigger emails outperform traditional emails.

In my experience, trigger emails have better open rates than traditional emails. And usually, the average click-through rate (CTR) for trigger emails is more than double compared to conventional emails. The reason why triggered emails perform so well is because of context.

The power of trigger emails.

Setting up triggered emails should be comfortable and not expensive. Start by adding auto-responders in customer service to replicate the automation aspect. 

Some examples of trigger emails that you could send:

Activation

When a new customer is onboarded, create an activation campaign that sends an automated email with relevant information, and the steps of how they can get started and include a video, and offer additional support. You can also invite them to a video meeting to walk them through how to get going, and bee available to answer any questions they may have.

Keep

One of your existing customers is soon approaching budget times, and you haven't interacted in a while, you now need to interact to make sure to keep them on as a customer. Create an automated email to all customers with suggestions of what to prioritise during next year.

Prioritise ambassadors

Your customer's loyalty is key to your success. Always reward your ambassadors by giving them something now and then, that is exclusive for them. Create surprise emails that send an automated email to your ambassador's offering, e.g. something for free, and exclusively. The reward is huge!

Summary

Email marketing practised the right way to deliver results and has evolved. It's time for you and your company to update how you work with your email marketing. You need to send relevant and targeted messages. When sending emails that are personalised and optimised for multiple devices, you are on the right track.

Also test new elements, because trends change quickly, and what worked a while ago may not be as successful today. Be keen and open to testing. When you understand what works here and now, make sure that you find ways to automate through triggered emails.

When you implement these suggestions into your email marketing, your potential and existing customers will respond, your performance will improve, and you and your company will become more credible.

If you'd like to continue learning more about email marketing, make sure to take a look at our in-depth guide - it covers topics like how to build and email list, how to comply with privacy regulations, and what the benefits of using this marketing method are.

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Anders Björklund
Founder, CEO & Strategist since 2001. Anders provides thoughts and reflections about what and how to think about onlinification and digitalisation in B2B. Asks a lot of questions, and knows what to do with the answers.
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