B2B Email Newsletters Beat Promotional Marketing

B2B prospects like email that includes news as well as information about webinars, publications and the chance to attend forums, according to a report by a global marketing firm. And they are more likely to open these email newsletters than those with pure product promotion.

Experian Marketing Services looked at the performance of B2B newsletter email compared with other types of B2B email. It found newsletters had 29 percent higher open rates and 63 percent higher click rates than the promotional mailings for those brands.

"This reinforces the idea that the B2B buyer or purchaser is often more informed and knowledgeable than we typically see in B2C," Shelley Kessler, Experian's manager of reporting and analytics and cross-channel marketing, told CMSWire. "Newsletters allow B2B businesses to inform and educate their prospective customers with a much more thorough approach than a typical promotional mailing alone would do."



For its analysis, Experian looked at the email performance and email content for B2B brands that have opted-in to participate in its email benchmark analysis from January 2012 through September 2013. The goal, Kessler said, was to highlight key trends within email marketing for B2B brands and identify potential areas of opportunity.

Kessler said she was most surprised by the strength of newsletter emails for B2B. "Many of the B2B brands we work with send newsletters," she said, "but I was surprised to see how effective those newsletter emails are for the B2B brands."

Not surprising however, was the general trend upward in B2B for strong revenue per email and transaction rates. The B2B transaction rate in the study was 62 percent higher than the all-industry transaction rate for the same period, and revenue per mail was 2.5 times as high as the all-industry values.

"This analysis confirmed that the trend of strong transaction rates is continuing within B2B," Kessler said.

Why E-Newsletters?

So why make the effort to put out these e-newsletters? They provide, Kessler said, an opportunity for B2B marketers to inform their prospective customers about the details of their products and services.

"B2B products are not typically 'off the shelf' items," she said, "and an informed subscriber base is a great way to ensure on-going interest in the brand and potential repeat sales."

Good Subject Lines

So how do you get recipients to open an email in the B2B world? The Experian report cited some successful B2B subject lines:

  • 30 Minute Webinar: Chatter Knowledge Session 
  • PRO member perks at B2B Forum? You bet 
  • Get Pumped About Social Media [Free Seminar] 
  • New white paper: Video Best Practices Guide for Marketers 

"There is no one rule for an effective subject line," Kessler said. "Sophisticated marketers and brands develop a subject-line strategy, and then test regularly to see what works best."

B2B marketers should consider including in subject lines:

  • Subscriber specific account information (such as renewal dates, or closest office or store location)
  • Announcements of new products and events, offers and tips for new or "special" information that is only for subscribers

For example, Kessler cited: “Hacking AdWords: Secret to Quality Score (Free Guide)." It includes, she said, an offer of a free guide and makes the subscriber feel special by including them in the "secret to quality scores."

Why Webinars Work

Offering a webinar allows brands to present their story, thought leadership and their products to a self-selected group of participants, Kessler said.

"Webinar attendees are most likely interested in the topic being presented, or they would not have elected to attend," she said. "Webinars can enhance relationships and allow the brand to become the recognized expert and/or leader in your field. It is especially important to follow up the webinar sign-up email with reminders and post-webinar surveys and discussions."

Unique click rates for post-webinar emails are four times higher than the overall B2B unique click rate: 10 percent for post-webinar emails compared to 2.5 percent for all B2B.

More Lifecycle Planning

The best B2B email marketers are using email throughout the customer lifecycle, Kessler said, more so in B2B than in B2C marketing.

"Email provides a touchpoint for every step of the sales and purchasing process, as well as on-going product support and reselling once a purchase has been made," she said. "All B2B marketers should analyze their customer lifecycle and look for opportunities to create meaningful conversations with their subscribers/customers."

Less Non-Mobile Optimized Emails      

The impact of mobile is growing, and B2B marketers should not wait for some future time to ensure that their emails are mobile friendly.

"To keep subscriber interest high," Kessler said, "email designs for newsletters, promotions, and transactional/lifecycle mailings should be reviewed regularly to keep creative fresh, and become mobile friendly."

Title image by riadna de raadt (Shutterstock).