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Modern Marketing Blog Influencer Series: 3 Ways to Make Your B2B Emails Stand Out in 2019

By Katie Martell

“The Modern Marketing Influencer Blog Series asked top influencers from across the marketing spectrum what’s on their minds and what topics and pressing issues in their fields they feel are begging for more insight. Here they share their thoughts on B2B emails, the ever-changing field of marketing, and how it all comes together.

The first time Forrester Research evaluated email marketing technology vendors was nearly two decades ago in 2002. Fast forward to 2019, and email remains the “most cost-effective promotional channel” in our digital toolkits, according to Forrester.

However, unlike 2002, B2B teams leveraging email marketing are doing so in an age of noise and commoditization. There’s far more content to compete with and more clutter than ever to break through. In fact, the modern business inbox receives 121 emails per day. Buyers trying to manage business communications also find themselves distracted by messaging apps and SMS when trying to make their way through so many emails.

The average person checks email or instant messages every six minutes. What are you doing to ensure your messages stand out?

Consider these three tips to engage busy B2B recipients:

1. Do Your Account Homework

A 2017 study by the Aberdeen Group found that buyers’ number one biggest turn-off with the B2B sales experience is that they “don’t get to know our company.” Another study found that 70% of B2B customers feel brands don’t understand their business.

For those firms embracing ABM (Account Based Marketing), consider creating account-specific content offers that are tailored to the specific domain (e.g., “acme.com”) of your recipients. This strategy is effective for B2B accounts that are valuable enough to warrant custom, highly relevant, personalized content. It also provides important “air cover” for those sales employees who are working hard to forge relationships and connections among employees at target accounts.

For target companies that don’t warrant company-specific offers, consider tailoring emails and content by industry, geography, company size, or other unifying criteria. A little content-tailoring goes a long way in showing a recipient you’ve done the legwork to earn their attention.

2. Write for the “Inbox Zero” Audience

Given the popularity of the “inbox zero” movement and trends like Marie Kondo’s decluttering method (if it doesn’t “spark joy,” out it goes), your recipient is likely practicing some method of inbox management.

Many readers are learning to take one action immediately upon going through their inbox: delete, respond, forward, or file emails. Today, 61% of all email is now opened and read on mobile devices, giving your email a short window of time in which to be deemed worthy of staying.

What will make the cut? How do our emails survive the purge? Today, more than ever, only the most pertinent, relevant, and important content survives.

  • How to be relevant: If you have access to past subscriber analytics and can tell what content an individual (or their account) has viewed, downloaded, or engaged with on your web properties or past emails, take a cue from Amazon and Netflix and create emails with tailored offers dictated by past activity.
  • How to be seen as important: However, if you don’t have access to these insights just yet, start the relationship with third-party, expert content (analysts, studies you’ve commissioned, etc.) that speaks directly to the top business concerns of a particular audience. The CSO Insights 2018 Buyer Preference Study found the most preferred resource used to solve business problems by B2B buyers was “subject matter experts from industry or third parties.”

(Bonus tip: Keep it short. Text-based emails that are easily skimmed and answer the questions “What’s in it for me?” and “What’s the next step?” align well to the modern decluttering mindset.)

3. Give More than You Take

No, you may not have 15 minutes of my time.

We have all received prospecting emails that nearly immediately ask us for our time, without giving anything up front to warrant such a request.

Social selling evangelist and VC Jill Rowley demonstrates in a recent tweet the reaction that most buyers have (but rarely share publicly) to these emails. “Asking for 20 minutes of my time is a [withdrawal.] No deposit [has] been made. #Fail.”

We must treat our B2B buyers’ time with the respect it deserves. At work, time is money. Make it easy for your buyers to see your expertise without scheduling a meeting.

Email has been—and remains—a timeless tool at our disposal. In many ways, the rules of email apply now more than ever: be relevant, be brief, and be necessary. In other ways, the email game changes with our evolving technology and business culture. 20 years ago, I never thought we’d be asking whether our emails “sparked joy,” but here we are.

Best of luck as you deploy this tactic in 2019!

Now that you know how to make your email marketing stand out, find out how to further optimize it by reading “Do More with Email Deliverability and Privacy.”

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