5 observations about the B2B email marketing space

The strategy team here have been spending a lot of time on B2B emails recently and in doing so, we’ve noticed a lack of conversation around the topic (it is even harder to find examples, unless you’re a business that actually receive them). To help B2B Marketers we’ve listed 5 key considerations to take into account when planning your campaigns.

  • B2B templates are still different.
    If you are an email designer new to the industry it might come as a shock when you are expected to come up with a completely different look and feel for corporate customers. In theory, you are still marketing to humans, the psychology shouldn’t differ too much right? Well there are a few areas where you might notice the general difference:

Content – The obvious one. Depending on the nature of the business, modules need to be designed based on the content being served. You may have more data, stats and information in general. Because of this, businesses tend to like to share things like infographics and charts. We are seeing these come to life more and more within the email itself.

Longer footers – Brands tend to have more legal obligations when sending emails to business consumers. Sometimes a landing page might do but isn’t always an option. Also, decision makers, particularly if financial, will read the small print, they care about information. Decisions they make have a lasting effect.

Visuals – Some companies seem to still be stuck on imagery for the big corporate types. Typical cheesy stock photos can be common and are ruining some pretty modern templates.

  • But in general, the gap between design trends is becoming smaller.
    It used to be that brands give less time to their corporate team or perhaps it’s just an afterthought. That might still be the case in your organisation but it is becoming more realised that just because it is a business email, it does not mean it gets a free pass to be dull and lifeless. We are seeing it a lot from new brands who do not have the baggage that comes with some of the older kids on the block. A fresh approach to email marketing and B2B marketing in general.
  • Business owners and operatives are becoming younger, so they are expecting more from you.
    The upcoming generation of business owners and decision makers have been exposed to seamless user journeys and innovative digital experiences, probably from the moment they got their first mobile. The pressure is on. If you take a look at your business emails and think you could do better, you’re probably right. This generation are also quick to move to the next provider if they aren’t happy with things like site performance.
  • In relation to this, the mobile experience is becoming more important.
    Although email open rate is still at 35% for business email, it is steadily growing. Some decision makers, particularly buyers, have reported using their phone for their entire purchase path. It is important that they can get the information they need, when they need it, wherever they are. Optimising for every scenario isn’t possible but taking into consideration how your email will be used and where it is accessed, is highly important to customer satisfaction.
  • People like engaging with work emails more than regular email.

Benchmark tableAccording to the latest benchmark reports from the DMA*, business emails perform better for click to open rate (21% vs 10.61%). In theory, because the open rate is much lower and CTR is slightly higher, this could also be linked to subject lines generally being much more descriptive and relevant than some consumer brands. This report looked at 23 billion emails sent in 2017 and it found that on average open rates are rising for both B2C and B2B combined data (18%). Although according to the Consumer Tracker Report, consumers believe they open around half of the emails they receive and that they will “click a link in an email if it looks interesting”.

We are seeing a lot of changes amongst the B2B audience and is why email design and planning is still so important for this segment. The average business person doesn’t exist anymore, and neither does the average working day. This is a first in a series about B2B email. Stay tuned for upcoming examples next week and more about the ever-changing customer needs.

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Millie Bartlett
Strategist @ Action Rocket