A lot has been written about persuading consumers to click and buy. You probably know of some of the popular B2C (Business to Consumer) best practices.

Business to Business email marketing is different in many ways. Yes, there is a person on the other side reading your email, granted. But the business context, makes that many of the precooked B2C marketing “rules” don’t apply. Whoops! So what does a strong B2B email campaign make?

Especially when tapping into the strengths of B2B email marketing to promote your products and services, it is important to strike the right chord.

Nobody ever bought an airplane after reading one email

A Boeing 747 Airplane isn’t bought on impulse. Often you will deal with long buying cycles, so realize that B2B recipients will not buy the instant you email them. This means multiple emails spread over a longer period of time, maybe in the form of well-thought-through, event-driven email marketing geared toward lead nurturing. Marketing automation forms the core of this process.

“You can’t shortcut relationships.” – Scott Stratten

Content sells better than a great offer

Analysis of the campaigns of B2B email marketing agency Admitter shows that in 90% the Call to Action link text “more info” wins from a Call to Action texts like “try me now” or “buy now.” A confirmation that telling before selling works in most cases, especially if information is aligned with interests and profile of the B2B recipient.

In most cases the recipients want to be informed about options, read helpful or entertaining content, or see references in the form of cases. Most people won’t get excited from just “look at our possibilities.” They crave engaging content. This shows that you must find creative ways to convey the message. Don’t sell the product but the content. Adding to that, each stage of the buyer descision asks for his own type of content as the table below illustrates.

There is no such thing as a CEO

In targeting your B2B email marketing newsletters, a selection based on function title seems attractive. For instance, targeting all managing directors. They call the shots, right? But there is no such thing as a CEO. A freelancer is a CEO, the owner of a local restaurant is a CEO, the managing director of a wall street enterprise is a CEO.

But these CEOs have completely different profiles. There is a huge difference in behavior and a gigantic gap in the type of information they seek. That means you’ll need to mix function title with other selection criteria to find the right audience. On its own, company size turns out to be a much bigger predictor of reaching the right person in your target group.

B2B Buyer persona

In B2B email marketing it has become pupular to use Buyer Persona’s to envision the person behind the purchase.

Tony Zambito defines Buyer personas as: research-based archetypal (modeled) representations of who buyers are, what they are trying to accomplish, what goals drive their behavior, how they think, how they buy, and why they make buying decisions. Today, he also includes where they buy as well as when buyers decide to buy.

As you will understand, B2B Buyer Persona’s have everything to do with buying behavior and not much with profiling, B2B companies are looking to find the “story of buyers”.

Using data, means prioritizing data sources

A lot of the data inside and in external sources can help to get a better image of your customers and leads profile. To do it is important to bring together the different sources. Many will speak of a Single Customer View, but in reality we’d like to pick and mix and start with bringing together the most valuable sources first.

In B2B environments the “company graph” is often a valued asset, it includes all information about a company such as size, industry, roles, geo etc and can be used to enrich your own data or score your priorities on.

Aim for the DMU

In the B2B process, a purchase decision is often not made by a single person. A group of people is involved with the purchase of your product or services; together they form the Decision Making Unit (DMU). Targeting your email only to the influencers or only the final decision makers is a common pitfall, because both groups play an important role in making the final purchase.

A member of the DMU will look at your B2B email marketing campaigns from his or her own perspective. So it is crucial to adapt your message accordingly. All marketers say they would like to segment more (both more often and deeper), but in B2B email marketing this is even more prudent. Their differing roles mean they have other “pressure points”; a chief financial officer will have other concerns than a technical director or marketing manager.

Email that correctly addresses these pressure points will have a much higher email engagement. The takeaway? Put an email marketing strategy in place to diversify your messages and collect additional data points for targeting purposes.

B2B email marketing

An email is an email, but just translating B2C email campaigns to B2B is a huge pitfall. In B2B there is quite a need for professional email marketing, but often a lack of channel-specific knowledge. Email is still the workhorse of B2B marketing, bringing in conversions and adding value across the customer lifecycle.

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