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B2B Email Marketing Tactics

In this article, Denise Zimmerman explains how B2B marketers can apply B2C email marketing techniques for success.

According to Forrester's Q2 2006 Business-to-Business Marketing Effectiveness Survey, email ranks third as a marketing tactic used by B2B marketers-- right behind public relations and ahead of direct mail. There is clearly a strong move from B2B marketers to embrace interactive more fully and explore a host of different online tactics.

From a features and functionality perspective as it relates to email marketing software there is not much of a difference between B2B and B2C email marketing-- on the front end. There are some companies that may speak to B2B in their marketing, their press releases and even in their strategic relationships but the supporting systems are really not that much different. It appears that B2B marketers are raising their level of sophistication in how they might use these solutions, borrowing to some extent from their B2C brethren marketers yet in consideration of their own unique needs. The great divide between B2C and B2B actually reveals new opportunities for B2B marketers.

It is helpful for B2B marketers to look at consumer brand marketers as they have proven certain strategies and tactics that can apply to B2B efforts. Performance-based, qualified lead-generation programs are an example of this and we are seeing service providers including those in the email space starting to promote different pay models.

Use of personalization; customized, targeted messaging; even promotions so successful in B2C email marketing may also apply to B2B efforts. For the most part, since expertise is a key selling point for many B2B marketers, emails offering whitepapers and other expert positioning content have been a strong part of an overall email and marketing strategy. It is not unusual also to find that a B2B marketer's efforts in email are limited to a once a month newsletter. Expanding and targeting content more strategically is an opportunity as well.

B2B email marketers have similar challenges as B2C marketers but the landscape and potential solutions change, particularly when it gets more tactical. For example, the challenge of spam filters and firewalls takes on new dimensions in B2B email marketing, and deliverability becomes more of an issue. Here we have corporate filters to contend with rather then ISPs.

A number of providers have developed solutions specific to B2B issues such as these including Habeas, Pivotal Veracity and ReturnPath, who provide tools for scoring content against commonly used B2B spam filters and monitoring blacklists. The suitability of these products and services for individual B2B marketers depends on their volumes, criticality of mailings and severity of issues.

In general, B2B marketing has more layers of complexity then B2C as the transaction more often then not happens offline and the price points tend to be higher. There also tends to be more points of influence and multiple stakeholders in a B2B purchase decision.

Most B2B marketers can improve marketing's value when they focus on increasing their alignment with sales and integrating their marketing programs. Demand generation or lead generation is an important goal on the front end of most B2B marketing efforts. It then flows to different touch points in the sales cycle. This speaks to a need to align the front-end email marketing system (and other marketing programs as well) to a sales system for a total customer service experience integrating the B2B marketing, sales and customer relationship lifecycle.

For optimal performance, this requires an enterprise-wide system that can integrate and connect the relevant touch points for actionable responses. It also begs for the B2B marketer to understand the ROI metrics from cost per lead to lifetime customer value as the prospect heads down the sales cycle.

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