The tech world has more than its fair share of fads, whether in products that capture the zeitgeist for brief spells or in companies that briefly threaten to take over but are summarily brought to heel (or simply bought) by their more seasoned competitors. It makes it tricky to approach a marketing campaign — after all, you can’t know for sure what will stick around.
Aside from email, that is. If anything were going to supplant email, it would already have happened, but it’s never budged from its position as the go-to platform for long-form online communication, account registration, and identity verification, to name just a few things.
It also happens to be the most reliable tool in the digital marketer’s playbook. Sure, newer channels get most of the attention, but email quietly and consistently gets measurable results. And while it performs exceptionally well in the B2C world (at least, when used smartly), it’s even more potent in the B2B world where prospective buyers are more patient and engaged.
With a thought-out email marketing strategy behind you, you can greatly enhance your chances of converting — but how do you do it? Here are some tips for achieving email success:
Make an effort to bring back inactive customers
B2C customers can easily appear for one-off purchases before leaving forever. After all, there generally isn’t too much incentive to keep buying from the same company — even if there’s a reward scheme, you need to factor in new customer incentives from other brands. In B2B, though, returning to a business you’ve bought from before is often the easiest approach: you know the people, you know they can be trusted, and you know the prices are fair.
Notably, it isn’t always frustration or dissatisfaction with a B2B brand that leads a customer to leave. Sometimes it’s simply forgetfulness, or a brief financial crisis that demands cost-cutting. You suddenly need to save money, so you suspend some subscriptions, only to forget to resume them once your revenue is in order.
Because of this, a great move for any B2B business is to make a concerted effort to tempt back previous customers (particularly those who stuck around for a while before eventually leaving). Using inactivity emails, let them know how your business has changed, how you’ve improved, and what they’re missing — then offer them an initial discount (or some other incentive) to return. You might be surprised by how many of them do just that.
Use personalization very carefully (possibly manually)
Personalization is something that everyone’s talking about these days, and it comes down to two factors: businesses becoming more keenly aware of the importance of customer retention (particularly for SaaS and B2B arrangements), and sophisticated analytics and automation options making it possible to easily carry through dynamic fields.
However, B2C personalization is often quite thin and generic. Insert first name, insert last name, insert custom recommendations. When done inoffensively, it can be useful enough, but it can easily become counterproductive through seeming overly-familiar. Someone who doesn’t really know you acting as your friend is always disconcerting.
Since the best and most profitable B2B relationships are relatively close (often involving occasional face-to-face meetings), this kind of impersonal personalization won’t fly with a B2B audience. Instead, you should prioritize manual personalization as part of an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy (HubSpot has a good guide to this) — at least for the most lucrative clients — to show that you’re genuinely invested in your customers’ success.
Link through to customized storefronts
Email marketing is fundamentally actionable. You’re looking to push the recipients to take action in some way, and it’s often going to be some kind of ecommerce purchase — whether they’re paying for a digital product such as a course or a service, or whether they’re ordering physical products such as pieces of office equipment or even food supplies.
Since you can’t realistically win conversions directly inside emails, you need to send people through to some kind of landing page, and everything we looked at in the last section applies here: you want meaningful, tasteful personalization. Don’t settle for something generic, because both the message and the level of effort need to match what you achieved in the email — otherwise, the recipient is likely to rethink their decision to click through.
This will likely be easier than you expect to achieve, depending on how many clients warrant this level of customization. You can simply create some custom landing pages that lead into your regular website, perhaps even with some added parameters to achieve unique pricing. Ideally, you’d offer a custom store page: Shopify Plus supports B2B-targeted storefronts natively, so if you use a system like that, you can provide custom pricing very easily.
Provide a lot of relevant detail
You can convince the typical B2C shopper with an emotive case and some fancy visuals. B2B shoppers are different — they’re still susceptible to these things, but their decisions are generally quite important, so they have to take the time to make smart choices. Quite often, a prospective B2B buyer will be a manager, or someone in a comparable position of power, making them more discerning and particular about what they need.
Because of this, you shouldn’t settle for succinct bullet points and gigantic CTAs: they’re not going to cut it. An email can be about as long as you want it to be (at least, until the size becomes a problem), so you can take your time to make a lengthy and well-reasoned case. If the person reading is genuinely interested, they’ll take the time to read everything.
Email marketing in the B2B world provides an incredible opportunity to present your strongest argument and push people towards conversion, so you mustn’t waste it. Follow these suggestions, and the results will come.
This was a guest-post from Rodney Laws. About the author:
Rodney Laws is an ecommerce platform specialist and online business consultant. He’s worked in the ecommerce industry for nearly two decades, helping brands big and small to achieve their business goals. You can get his advice for free by visiting EcommercePlatforms.io and reading his detailed reviews. For more tips and advice, reach out to Rodney on Twitter @EcomPlatformsio.