Approximately 55% of B2B businesses are already adopting marketing automation to leverage the multiple benefits it offers. As we discussed in our recent webinar Best Practices for Taking a B2B Company Online, email remains a dynamic marketing channel and the preferred contact method across all age groups. Automated emails rank among the top email marketing trends in 2017 and email automation offers a great way to reinforce your brand identity, re-kindle interest inside your client base, and increase customer conversions.
To help refine and shape your B2B email marketing strategy, we have listed our top four automated email campaigns you should consider launching.
Targeting the B2B Audience
When planning and executing email marketing campaigns meant to target B2B, keep in mind the difference between B2B and B2C buying process. In B2B, the purchase decision is made by multiple stakeholders meaning your message should address the interests and needs of each particular decision-making group. In addition, realize that the decision-making process is typically longer when compared to a consumer. B2B marketers need to understand the different stages of the customer’s’ journey so that targeted messages with relevant call-to-action can be sent at the right time.
Email Marketing Automation Campaigns You Should Run
Top of the Funnel Emails
When B2B customers start their purchase journey, they typically begin with a research phase. During this time, they might not know the exact the name of the solution/product they are looking for, so they start looking for recommendations and ideas. This is where smart B2B marketers create a pull demand and offer potential leads valuable gated content in the form of downloadable guides, checklists, whitepapers, and ebooks. In this scenario, the first email in your automation campaign should be the confirmation of download email followed by periodic touch points to secure a meeting. First providing your potential customers with valuable and useful information will help develop your business as a trusted thought-leaders or experts which further differentiates yourself from your competitors. These emails need to be short and well-designed as it gives the first impression of your brand.
So make sure you:
- Brand your email template well
- Use proper personalization
- Come up with a series of related content you can offer the leads in the follow-ups
- Ask additional questions to learn more about your leads in the follow-up messages
As mentioned before, the purchase decision of the B2B buyer can take weeks, sometimes months. To make sure your leads have your company at the top of their minds when ready to make an investment, be sure to remind them that you offer the solution they need and offer incentives to help speed up their decision-making process. At this stage, there’s no need to woo them with general knowledge content. You can be more feature-specific and include light sales pitches to gauge their interest. Solution comparisons, feature highlights, demos, case studies, and testimonials work well for these types of emails.
Few things you need to focus on here:
- Make sure all of these emails have a clear call to action and are preferably leading to a salesperson
- Think about different variations of your automation programs and early exit rules, for example, if the lead clicks “Contact Sales”, make sure he automatically stops receiving the follow-ups
- Don’t overcomplicate your nurturing emails – the shorter they are, the higher chances you’ll have to engage with a lead.
Sales Cycle Stage Determination
There are times where it’s not easy to figure out which stage of the sales cycle a specific prospect is currently in. This holds true for new leads that have just popped into your sales pipeline (e.g. leads generated from events). To address this issue, you can create a series of automated emails aiming at stimulating your prospective customers to self-identify the stage of their purchase funnel. Set up several different email campaigns that offer clickable content catering to specific interests and priorities of buyers within every typical customer journey stage, and monitor how prospects are engaging with it. Keep the subject line targeted and make the message as succinct as possible. Your primary objective is to drive client engagement for shorter sales cycles.
There are a few things to pay attention to here:
- Make your messages as personal as possible. Consider plain text emails sent from your salespeople addresses instead of HTML-based marketing emails.
- Make sure your sales team is well aware of each and every message sent so they can adequately react to customer engagements at every stage
- Do not request secondary info – you don’t need to know their birthdays and spouse names, focus on what’s really important – do they know what they want? are they ready to buy? who is making the buying decision? etc.
In the B2B space, purchases are typically well-planned, predictable and (often times) repeatable. Creating an automated timed workflow that triggers when a customer needs to refill orders can significantly boost repeat purchases and upsells. Be sure to think about the following things for these type of emails:
- Ask how their experience was with their last order
- Make sure you include upsell and cross-sell incentives in those emails, offering higher quality products or something that goes well with their typical order
- Make sure you notify your clients of available loyalty program awards or options
- Update your customers on new arrivals and coming soon relevant items
- If they haven’t done it yet, ask for a review or a testimonial
Email remains a powerful customer engagement tool that adds value throughout the entire customer lifecycle. It’s a must-have strategy within B2B marketing and a vital component of your holistic marketing plan. Automated emails allow to easily engage with your existing and prospective customers to reinforce brand benefits as well as improve customer conversion and retention rates. When building automated emails, make sure to target the right audience and have your messages personalized as much as possible.
Marketing automation solutions such as MailChimp or dotmailer will help you design and distribute automated email campaigns with a personalized touch. Once you integrate them with your CRM system, you can capitalize on the wealth of data and marketing tools the combination of these applications can offer.
We hope you find these B2B email marketing tips relevant to your company. Feel free to share the campaigns that work best for you in the comments below.