Information overload is a real thing in today’s connected, digital, social world. Blog posts shout the latest and greatest must-dos and should-haves. Don’t let the deluge of expert advice intimidate you. Many B2B marketers only need the basics to get started with a functional B2B email marketing program for their organization.
Based on our experience with B2B email marketing, we’ve created a list of the key concepts to help you get your first email campaign off the ground:
1. Opt-outs and data privacy rights are a very big deal.
The CAN-SPAM Act is a law that sets rules for email marketing and GDPR is a 2018 EU regulation related to data privacy and individual personal data protection. (We recommend contacting your legal counsel for advice regarding these matters.) For purposes of this article, it’s only important to note that there is a legal side to email marketing, and B2B Marketers need to stay up-to-date.
2. People want to choose what emails they get, and how often they get them.
In addition to opt-outs, some email marketing tools have a feature in which an organization can set up “preferences” for their subscribers. If you have signed up for an email list and later clicked to unsubscribe, you may have been taken to a page on which you could opt to continue receiving certain kinds of emails, but less often or about specific products. These preference options are a best practice and can help retain your email subscribers by giving them relevant content at the frequency they prefer.
3. People expect you to personalize their emails.
We’re not expecting you to know the name of a subscriber’s first unborn child, but we recommend knowing their first name (and how to spell it properly), and their general location (country, time zone). Why do these details matter? There are ideal times (and also un-ideal times) to send emails. Would an email addressed to your personal name be more enticing to read than a generic email? Usually. Would receiving an email with your name misspelled be a deterrent? Likely, yes.
4. Less is more.
We’ve heard this saying before, and it applies to email marketing and automation. Start with smaller, more impactful and invested lists of subscribers instead of using a list of thousands of email addresses belonging to people who might not even recognize the name of your organization. Less is also more when it comes to email length. And, if you are contemplating quantity of emails over higher-quality emails, go with quality.
5. “Content is King,” so why not ask your customers what they want to read?
It’s important to provide information to your readers that is useful and actionable. Sometimes we get wrapped up in what we do, and it’s hard to see the topics and pieces of content that readers want most. So why not ask them? Take a moment and set up a digital survey for leads or customers, or, simply ask them at networking events or in meetings.
6. Automation is awesome, but it doesn’t come first.
It’s best to set up your email program with the correct tools, pertinent content, and targeted lists and test everything manually before automating. Why? Because automating something that hasn’t been created, validated, and tested first can cause more work in the long run. New programs and launches require tweaks and pivots in strategy. So, iron out the kinks before automating.
7. Limit access to the email tool based on function.
Not all people who have access to your email tool need to have full access as an administrator. Email tools contain confidential and sensitive information: client contact information, proprietary email clauses, content, imagery, etc. Allow users to access only what they need. If they are a content writer, they need content permissions. If they are a manager, they need reporting permissions.
8. Test… test… test.
When starting email programs, it’s important to not only test, but know the ways in which to test. Test in HTML and in text only; test in all browsers; test on PCs and Macs; test on all devices – Apple and Android – and on all sizes of device. And, finally, test with a smaller subset of subscribers. Your first email doesn’t have to go to your organization’s entire client list.
9. Metrics can be simple and still be informative.
To get started with reporting and use it to drive next-step decisions, start with the basics: click-through rates and conversions. What emails generated the most clicks, and what were individuals clicking ON in the email (which link)? “Conversions” is a term that can mean different things conceptually and within different email tools. In this case, we’re referring to how many of those email recipients took significant action from your email. And, while click-throughs are definitely actions, so are surveys completed, contact us forms submitted, and demo or sales call requested. As time goes on, metrics can become more insightful, robust, and integrated with other marketing or sales efforts.
Launching an email program for your organization is exciting. Don’t let information overload prevent you from starting! And never hesitate to reach out to an implementation provider or consultant to work with you through the caveats of a new email tool or customization.