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Essential Tips for B2B Email Marketing Supremacy

Industrial email marketing

I have been working in the industry since 2005 and to this day it still amazes me how many client websites I visit that do not offer any form of newsletter signup, it’s crazy, especially when it's so easy to set it up!

Email marketing is something that every company should be doing, and yes, the argument is that people receive too many emails, but that’s why working hard to make sure your emails are high-quality, readable and actionable is so important, for a number of reasons which I highlight below.

There are too many self-proclaimed ‘experts’ and marketing guru’s who have their own opinion about email marketing, some say keep it short and sweet, or provide long detailed information, fancy html, or simply plain text only.

The truth is, NO ONE knows exactly what is best for your own industry. B2B is totally different to B2C. From a Publisher to a Marketing Manager, or a Pump Manufacturer to a Process Engineer, the tone and style will be different in each variation.

I think it’s important to make sure that you tailor your emails in the right way, making sure you maintain a familiar style and not be afraid to show personality or an opinion -it’s these emails which have the best impact (unless you’re giving stuff away for free of course!)

There are a number of ways you can approach this and in this post I cover pretty much everything from basic beginner steps, software to run & manage campaigns, to advanced strategies and segmentation.


Industrial email marketing data nurturing

Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective formats of marketing, but what many marketers fail to understand is that it’s not always about a direct sale at the end of a broadcast, it’s about keeping in regular contact with your client-base, educating them, demonstrating your expertise and forming a trustworthy relationship.

But first things first….

Choosing your email address

Here’s something that not many people will know, you should never use the same email address as your website domain name, and here’s why;

There are some pompous people out there who can mark your email as spam even though your product/service might be relevant for them, they just can’t resist clicking the spam icon, ‘Jobs’ and ‘Worth’ come to mind at this point.  

In my book, Spam is when you receive emails about Viagra, Pornographic or anything seedy, or when you unsubscribe but continue to receive correspondence. If someone has taken the time & effort to add you to a list for a product/service you might be interested in I don’t see that a problem - in fact I do this but automatically drop a quick note to let people know I’ve done it, so it’s not a surprise when they read my latest goings on in my WCU newsletter, thinking who the hell is this guy and why is he talking about Husky dogs? (btw if you want to subscribe to my WCU newsletter drop me an email [email protected])

And guess what - if you add us to your PR distribution list, damn right we’re going to add you to ours!

So as I was explaining... when your email is marked as spam it can affect your email sending authority, which could also impact your domain. If you are being reported lots, to the point where your open rate is minimal, it’s easy to change your email address, but not so easy for your domain.

So I would always recommend making the email address slightly different to your website domain.

How to manage email subscribers

Before you start thinking about collecting subscribers, you need an email system in place to run campaigns through, because whatever you do, do not run a large campaign via your own email client for two reasons:

  1. If people mark your email as spam your sender score reputation will go down significantly
  2. With the new GDPR law coming in May you need to give subscribers the option not just opt out, but control their personal details with you. Asking readers to add UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject will no longer be feasible.
  3. I will also add a 3rd - it is far more professional running campaigns through a specialist service as you can track, create segments and build profiles.

There are many types of Email Marketing Software, for all levels.

Most all offer a freemium option, or at least a 30-day trial. I would pick 3 you like the sound of and run a few campaigns through each one and then decide from there, based on the campaign stats and your overall experience.

I have used many different systems and I am only listing those I have used and would recommend (There are many I have used but would not recommend though!)

icontact

Mailchimp

Getresponse

There is also marketing automation software which I have not touched on in this post as this is a subject on its own and only for advanced use specifically for inbound marketing.

How do you get subscribers for your newsletter?

Love them or hate them, the obvious and easiest way is via a popup. We have used a popup for many years which results in fresh new subscribers each and every day, without fail. We have gone from 0 to now over 15,000 subscribers via this alone over a period of 7 years.

PII Daily Email Subscribers

YES it does take time to build a database which drives me bananas when I hear of these ‘pop-up medias' claiming to have 10’s of 1000’s of email subscribers, yet they have only been established for 5 minutes, but it’s OK because you’re only paying peanuts to use their data, so who cares right?

Moan out the way, I’ll continue….

If a pop up really isn't your thing, then at least have a module which is present on every page of your site promoting your newsletter, although this has to stand out and I would advise placing somewhere with a lot of space around it so that it easy to focus on.

When using a popup, or a form, you absolutely 100% HAVE to give readers a reason why they should sign-up and what to expect - there has to be a carrot or proof that you will not just send junk to them. The days of ‘Sign up to our newsletter - it’s great!” have long since gone.

There are other ways to obtain subscribers, sure, but this is by far the most cost-effective.

In addition to popups, there are page-blocker type subscriptions, and one guy that does this brilliantly is Neil Patel - this is the subscription he uses for his website;

Neil Patel's email subscribe - Industrial email marketing

Now that is one bold statement and the scrolling website search video in the background is a really nice way to emphasize his statement, and if you were an online marketer you would have to be a mug not to subscribe.

I have to say though, his landing page for ‘Online Marketing’ is an absolute beast, it has taken a huge amount of time, effort and research to create this page, which is why it’s number one.

But it’s these kinds of bold statements that will get you subscribers, and if done well with the proof to back it up, you will get them.

Of course it does not always have to be a newsletter, you could for example offer something in return and then have an automated process of adding new subscribers to your newsletter.

So how do you set a newsletter subscription popup up?

There are two ways to do this:

Most email broadcasting services offer a service to create newsletter signups, which is probably the easiest way to set up a form as you do not then have to connect it via an API.

You would just need to simply install the associated plugin (if compatible with your site).

Mailchimp is certainly one of the best at this...

Mailchimo sign up graphic - Industrial email marketing

Another option is to use a CMS plugin.

If you use any standard CMS platform e.g. WordPress, Joomla!, Magneto etc there are an abundance of plugins to choose from, I have linked to the relevant plugin/extension/marketplace pages below:

WordPress

Joomla

Magento

In most circumstances there are detailed instructions for downloading and installing, to creating your first popup.

However a little technical knowledge is required here as you have to link the form to your email broadcasting software via the API.

Alternatively if you do not use those platforms, I would recommend  www.sumo.com/app/list-builder

It’s simple to setup, works on all websites and you can create targeted campaigns in minutes, without any technical knowledge. I use it and love it, but note that this service is just for collecting emails, you will still need a broadcasting service to send your campaigns.

Setting up your subscriber lists

One key thing to consider when creating your campaigns is segmentation or tagging.

What this basically means is adding a tag next to each contact so that you can send a campaign to contacts with that tag, or segment data into specific groups based on their history with you, as you can see on the chart below there are clear benefits from this;

Email Segmentation Results - Industrial email marketing

Almost all reputable email broadcasters allow you to create ‘tags’ which you can then integrate into your newsletter signup.

For example:

If you sell multiple types of products, valves, pumps etc you can set up a unique signup form on dedicated pages relating to each product type, so that they are automatically tagged or listed in a segmented list relating to that specific product type. This way you can then send campaigns just to those who are interested in ‘pumps’.

If you have existing data that is not segmented, then I would highly recommend spending the time and effort adding tags so that you can make your campaigns more relevant to help increase conversations.

Ways you can segment your data include: by industry, by product type, by location, how often they buy, how much they spend, how often they want to hear from you, product updates, promotions etc

You could even create a campaign asking users to select their own tags, which would save you a huge amount of time & effort!

Tips for sending

1. Personalise

Personally, if I receive an email that hasn’t got my name on it, I tend not to read it - unless the subject is very attractive and relevant.

Try and gather as much information about your prospects as you can and use this to your benefit to personalise your emails even further.

All email broadcasting services use input fields to add sets of data, so for example, if you have a field for ‘First Name’ you can add for example ‘Hi {first_name}’ and it will add the contacts name. Quick tip - always segment your data by first name and last name so that you can just add the first name, again if I receive an email with ‘Hello Guy UIlmann’ it does not go down well (But that’s better than being called Gary, which is a very common one for me!)

2. Subject and first line

You don’t need me to tell you how important the subject line is. In my book it HAS to be one of the following:

  • 100% relevant
  • Funny
  • Intriguing
  • A question
  • Helpful

And for God’s sake DO NOT use Fwd: or Re: - it’s against industry best practice and basically makes you look like a bit of a sleaze-bag.

Also always make sure it is not cut-off and fits nicely, so just send an email to yourself to make sure.

The first line

For me, the first line is probably more important than the subject line, because now in most email clients you can read it - especially if you have a big screen like me 🙂

Email first line

So try and make this line as interesting, or to the point as possible.

3. Be interesting!

Large corporate companies forget that readers are human and not robots. There are many newsletters I’ve subscribed to and after reading a few times I got bored and unsubscribed. But there are some which I literally can’t wait to read, it’s always interesting, funny, educational and written in a way that I feel human. Don’t be afraid to show personality and have an opinion - it builds trust and rapport.

4. Ask why

If you notice that people are not reading your emails, find out why. Although it is a labour intensive job, it will give you important feedback that will only make your newsletters better.

5. Forget the fancy HTML

For me, this is an interesting one as the general feeling of an HTML email is that they are of a sales nature which can automatically put people off. But they can look so much more professional and with a strong CTA (Call to Action) generate quality Click-throughs.

However… The big problem is that spam blockers are too fussy when it comes to HTML, so to bypass this I would always recommend sending a follow-up email in plain text to those who did not open the initial email.

6. Frequency

Another important one. I have unsubscribed from companies emails purely because they send too many! I’m sure they are all interesting and relevant but there are just too many and no option to reduce the frequency.

If you have the facility, it's great to offer subscribers the option to select how often they would like to hear from. Then you can send regular emails to those who have the time to read your emails often, or you can send a summary email to those who don’t - this way everyone wins and your Sender Score remains high.

7. Length

Many experts say to keep it short & sweet, which if you are approaching senior board-level contacts I would certainly agree with, however, if what you have to say is interesting and relevant to the reader, I personally do not think length is an issue - just make sure that there is something mind-blowingly interesting in the first line/paragraph and try to cut out the waffle!

8. Images

This is an interesting one, because yes it’s true that many email clients have incredibly fussy spam protection and the slightest sniff of an image will send it to spam, so how do you bypass this?

The best way is to double opt-in all subscribers, and with the new GDPR laws being introduced in May 2018, this should be mandatory anyway.

Even if a reader whitelists your business email, it does not mean your newsletter email will be whitelisted because they are sent via your email software and not your own account.

But make sure that the image file is as small as possible, as the size of an email can also trigger spam blockers.

It is always advisable to add a link to read the html version for those subscribers who are particularly ’careful’ about downloading images.

A nice trick here, is to always add an intriguing alt text to an image so that curiosity gets the better of the hesitant reader and they download the images.

9. Check Spam Score

For absolutely every email I send, prior to sending I use this service www.mail-tester.com

It’s free and offers great tips to improve your email friendliness. Bookmark it and use it.

10. Mobile friendliness

With many emails now read via phones it goes without saying that you should make sure your emails are mobile friendly, below are a few tips to also keep in mind:

  • Keep subject lines short
  • Use large font
  • Use double paragraphing between stacked links (this way it’s easier to click the right link!)
  • Keep image size really small (This way it loads faster)
  • Use text as your CTA (Call To Action) (Images may not be displayed)
  • Use a single column template
  • Max width of 600px

Email Tracking graphic

To track or not to track email campaigns?

When using email broadcasting services you have the option to track opens and click-throughs, but there are some important points to consider with this.

Firstly some spam blockers will automatically detect that there is tracking code within the email and automatically send it to spam. And some readers may not like to be tracked so the site of a tracking link may put them off clicking altogether.

However, you can disable this which is not much help for monitoring campaigns, but will ensure a higher deliverability rate.

My rule of thumb here, is that if I am sending a newsletter type email I tend not to track, however, if it’s a promotional-based with a clear CTA damn right I want to know who’s clicking through so I’ll be tracking 🙂

Maintaining your data

This is a really important part of email marketing as it has a direct impact on your deliverability, or in simple terms, how many subscribers receive your email in their inbox rather than their spam folder.

Spam protection services work with all the major email clients (Gmail, Yahoo, MSN etc) and if they’re seeing a lot of emails from the same address are not being read, they reduce the ‘Sender Score’

Sender score works in very much the same way as a credit score, but for email.

The less your emails are opened the lower your score, thus meaning the more likely your email will end up in the spam folder.

This is where you will need to work with your email broadcasting provider to start segmenting your subscribers for those who do open your emails and those that don’t, and then start a re-engagement programme with those who do not read your emails.

This is essential for ensuring a high deliverability rate.

So if a media company is claiming to have unrealistic email subscriber figures, keep this in mind, as they have more than likely bought the data, which in the first instance means that the subscribers have not given permission to receive emails, but more importantly email clients are so intelligent now that they know when a list has been bought, so will send that data straight to spam.


In summary

Email marketing has been one of the biggest marketing changes the world has seen, it literally flipped the marketing world upside down. The sad thing is that it is used in so many negative ways that those who try hard to produce good material are affected - even Google’s Gmail added to this nightmare with its tab system.

So, we need to be more creative with our emails and thankfully the way technology is going this allows us to be! But always remember to ask permission or let people know they have subscribed, be consistent and don't be afraid to be different!

Do you run email campaigns? If so I would love to know your average open rates - drop me a comment below

And if you are looking to start running campaigns, I truly hope this quick guide will send you on your way to email marketing supremacy!

PS. If you are looking to run a DEM campaign to the manufacturing process industries we can help - Drop me a line; [email protected]

Guy Ullmann

http://www.tagmeapp.co.uk

I am the Sales & Marketing Director here at PII and the Founder of Tagme app. I originally studied art at Chester University, and now focus this creativity into marketing where I have since develo

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