I’ve gotten 12 business emails today. It’s only 9:14am. A “light” day in email marketing so far.
My inbox isn’t alone. The email struggle is real. You feel it, don’t you?
The Envelope Icon In My System Tray Haunts Me
Will I read and process each email, and the legions that will assuredly follow? Of course not. I’m pretty sure I hear from the same companies almost every day. Their messages boil down to a weak offer, an (un)tantalizing bit of research that simply must be read, boring news about the latest blah blah (when I didn’t care for the previous blah blah), and…well, you get the gist.
B2B Email Marketing Is Big Business
My state of inbox affairs is all kinds of sad. It’s sad because I waste a good chunk of time hitting the delete key, or going through the unsubscribe process (a particular annoyance in instances where I never truly subscribed).
It’s sad because some talented people likely spent a lot of time crafting the copy and getting the design elements in those emails just so. Someone built the landing pages the email anchor text points to. And someone with data segmentation skills set up and executed the campaigns.
That’s a lot of time, creativity, energy, and thought put into something I find mostly annoying and rarely useful, and almost always distracting. There are exceptions, though – and I’ll get to those rare jewels in a minute.
Because we all receive a truckload of business email each day, frequently written off-voice or with transparent enthusiasm (um, we’re probably not real friends), the volume obscures the individual effort behind the electronic messages. We don’t see the craft and can’t explore for useful nuggets. The amount of used car type email we get cheapens email marketing as a whole. We’ve read “free!” and “exclusively for you” and “for a limited time” until the words hold little meaning.
So I ask: If your business is going to go to the trouble to send email, shouldn’t the email be of value to the people receiving it?
Despite Often Messy Execution, B2B Email Continues to Perform Well
Rationally, we know what companies are trying to accomplish with email campaigns. Executives need to generate sales and revenue (and maybe move aging stock or renew customer interest in a core, if undervalued, service). Email marketing is relatively inexpensive to develop and execute. It boosts content marketing efforts, has staying and sharing power, and provides a direct communication link with end users.
As a tactic, email marketing:
- Can put a brand top-of-mind with the prospective or recent customer.
- Can be driven by online behavior, thereby increasing message relevancy and timeliness.
- Can generate loads of website traffic.
- Can be leveraged in co-branding and partnership situations.
These are significant strategic benefits, predicated on the use of marketing automation technology, list depth, and the presumption of receptive (interested) recipients. But these benefits are a little one-sided in favor of the brand.
The question is: How can email be more user-centric, in ways not directly pushing a reader to buy?
Three Types Of Email Providing Real Value To Readers
Before your business uses email as a vehicle to sell to a list of people who consented to hearing more from the brand, figure out if your company can:
- Address a core need the reader may have.
- Neil Patel (QuickSprout, KISSmetrics) consistently delivers in-depth guides, instructionals, and posts about a variety of topics related to website traffic and conversion.
- Deliver related information, ideas, or news that the reader could benefit from.
- CloudPeeps (freelance marketplace) sends emails containing a timely story in the market, offers a few curated favorites related to the company’s core freelancing theme, and features a few recommended reads from members of the CloudPeeps community.
- Offer a bit of levity or self-indulgence, for a break from the daily grind.
- Edgar (social media management) emails cover books recommended by employees of the tech startup, tools used by the company, and a few suggested blog posts. The short emails are easy to read, conversational, and reflect the company’s spirit.
Sales may be an organic outcome when companies meet these (and other) types of needs business customers have, either because the indirect approach is more welcoming, effort was made to build trust, or the reader identified with the fresh style.
Business Email Users Will Read
The Welcome Email
Welcome emails have a way of saying “Thanks for doing business with us. We’re glad you’re here.” While often triggered by a purchase or a membership subscription, the simple acknowledgement can foster a feeling of belonging, and serve as a small reward for choosing the brand.
On a tactical level, welcome emails present opportunities to reinforce membership credentials, rules of the road, or other information.
The Adoption Email
Adoption emails can be distributed in a timed sequence or to correspond with specific behaviors/actions taken. Like a good concierge, adoption emails acknowledge where recipients are in a progression, offer suggested solutions, and reaffirm motivations for the original purchase decision. This example is for the app Headspace, aimed at consumers, but illustrates the point well.
The Affinity-Building Email
Emails designed to build affinity for a brand do so by inviting the reader to be part of a shared solution, explore new ground together, or provide unexpected perks.
Imagine your company’s email being the one message I actually open. That would be something, wouldn’t it?
By using the above advice and types of emails described, you can get your readers to the point where they not only open your business emails, but look forward to doing so.