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How can email marketing still benefit B2B companies?

28 February, 2018

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Date of Publication: 28 February, 2018
We asked some questions to Elisa Nardon, Marketing Manager at the digital transformation consultancy firm Intesys. We talked about B2B email marketing: though some pundits have already deemed it obsolete, email still plays a leading role in business communication strategies.

Elisa, do you think email marketing is still a key asset in B2B communication?

Yes, absolutely. We get relevant conversion rates from it and data support this view: email generates a total 124% ROI, which is a lot compared to the 30% from social media and the 23% from online search (source: Data & Marketing Association, June 2017). There’s a key to this success, though: email communication has to be part of a wider strategy that looks at the user experience from a holistic point of view, with touch points both online and offline.
Digital transformation reduced the gap between the virtual and physical worlds. We have 31.7 million buyers in Italy that use the internet to complete at least one phase of their purchase (source: Politecnico di Milano, December 2017). We can therefore engage potential customers taking advantage of various touch points: call centers, emails, advertisements, social media, retail stores. The world is ready for omnichannel business models.
Businesses should apply a seamless approach in their future strategies, making use of communication platforms connected to several touch points. Relying on data (CRM, purchase history, choices and customizations after a login), each single content and message shall always be relevant to where customers are along their journey.
Italian companies still have a long way to go about this: most of them include 50% of their touch points in an integrated system; 16% only includes all of them; and one-quarter of companies does not include any. They mostly work with websites (60%) and email (63%), while other channels are slightly less used: app 51%, text messages 47%, online ads 44%, call centers 42%, retailers 34%, social media 32% (Source: Multichannel Observatory of Politecnico di Milano, December 2017).
They could do much more. And there’s plenty of opportunities too, especially for B2B.

 

Are these strategies more effective in specific industries?

It’s not linked to the industry. It depends on how thoroughly a business is working to build a relationship with their customers. They need to research and identify their buyer personas, to design solutions and services based on them - such as guided procedures, research material, online help centers. Businesses should also train their sales departments accordingly.

 

But how can Companies understand exactly what to do?

Email marketing comes in handy to collect information. We must keep a data-driven approach to apply measurable KPIs (i.e. sales performances) to marketing and communication needs.
Business firms nowadays have access to a huge volume of information: their own data (CRM data, website and app analytics, DEM), data from third-party suppliers (social media), profiled data (buyers’ personal information and purchase history), aggregated data (analytics, market investigations, online ads) and information collected from single customers (one-to-one marketing, fidelity cards).
Today, all these data are collected and managed with different, separated means. Should we be able to integrate them all in a single platform, we could easily find concrete solutions to innovate services and gain customer loyalty.

 

Communication can be personalized based on customers response: it’s called Marketing Automation. Do you work with it?

Absolutely. Marketing Automation generates value for both customers and sellers.
We’ve been promoting its use for years, especially if businesses want to take advantage of a Customer Relationship Management System to support sales or to engage their customer base. When all contents are profiled and personalized, customers feel listened to. This improved relationship with the brand can make them more willing to buy and to come back buying over the years.
On the other hand, an automated marketing process reduces the workload for marketers, allowing them to concentrate on innovating sales funnels and conversion paths that gather new data. This can be done with A/B testing; touch point analytics; database cluster mapping, to see which campaign performed better with each customer sector; or landing page performance analysis (we use Hotjar for this), used to determine which content works and what can be discarded.
Using this approach, we recently helped a business generate results 4 times better than usual with their email marketing campaigns, following a click-through rate 8 times higher than before. And their product, redesigned following a user-centered analysis, gained a 38% increase in sales.

 

Are there any universal best practices - regarding mail subject, tone of voice, style, length, and overall design - that can guarantee the best returns?

Yes. For instance, a research by Return Path suggests that users spend from 2 to 7 seconds to decide whether to keep reading or to discard a message. Which means that the sender’s name and email subject are extremely important. The mail itself shall be short, easy to scan, and the tone of voice must be consistent with one’s industry. The ideal content is focused on a solution to a given problem and should end with a proper call-to-action (See More, Buy, Download).
Customers and prospects get hooked by a good balance between different elements (sender, subject, content, landing page) that guide your target audience throughout the funnel (awareness > consideration > decision).
You’ll need analytics to inform your continuous redesign, based on deletion rate, open rate and open rate by device, click-through and click-to-open rate, etc.

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