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Improving B2B email deliverability

By ZoomInsights staff

It’s an Ethernet jungle out there. B2B marketers looking to maximize email deliverability know the landscape is littered with increasingly savvy spam filters and inbox fatigue – not to mention a super storm of distractions.

Inbox rates – the tally of whether an email reaches its intended inbox – dropped to 76.5 percent globally during the second half of 2011, down from 81 percent during the first half of the year, according to a report from email certification provider Return Path. Even worse, email blocked as spam increased a startling 24 percent during the same period.

Right message, right people

What’s a marketer to do? Place an even higher value on targeting both the pitch and the list of intended recipients, according to industry experts. It’s a game of quality over quantity these days if you want to maximize open rate, read length and opt-in. And these facets are particularly heightened in a business environment.

“Relevancy is the new message,” Dennis Dayman, chief privacy and security officer at Internet marketing firm Eloqua, told ZoomInsights.

For starters, the B2B sell cycle is a lot longer than on the consumer circuit. There’s more money on the table, the review process is more calculated and the conversation is longer. In short, B2B marketing tends to require more email messages, so well-planned communication is paramount.

“There’s a larger analytical piece with B2B. You really have to do the work on the front end and target your message, then take time to review the campaign and see what’s getting people interested,” Dayman said. “A $1 million deal is way different than a $19.95 offer.”

On the move

If you’re sending email, there’s a good chance your target audience is reading it on a mobile device. It’s the biggest recent sea change in the market, and it’s changing fast. As of September, 38 percent of email was opened on a mobile device, compared to 33 percent on a desktop client and 29 percent for Web mail, according to Litmus’ Email Analytics report. By 2017, 78 percent of email users will access their mail by mobile, according to Forrester Research.

“If you’re getting emails and they look all mangled and terrible, you can bet that’s going to decrease engagement,” according to Hunter Boyle, senior business development manager at AWeber Communications. Enough said.

Lose the tie

Should your email make it through the maze of filters and personal delete options, you’ve got about three seconds to capture your reader’s attention once they open it. Try to sound a little more excited about the budding relationship. Thanks in large part to social media, B2B marketing communication is loosening up. If it hasn’t completely shed the coat and tie, at least it’s looking more casual Friday. “The whole idea of using old, dry, buzzword-laden marketing speak to push a white paper or a piece of technical writing is almost archaic,” Boyle said. “People like to buy from other people, not from a machine.”

Social studies

Speaking of social media, today’s climate almost insists that email marketing enlarge its social circle. Whereas a year ago marketing emails might tack on a Facebook or Twitter icon almost as an afterthought, organic integrations with LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other virtual friends are expected nowadays.

Leaving so soon?

Despite the gloomy forecasts, most industry experts say reports of email marketing’s death at the hand of social media are greatly exaggerated.

Yes, a July study by Pardot revealed only 30 percent of B2B marketers currently use email marketing as their primary tool for lead generation. To boot, the majority of survey respondents, 65 percent, said they are devoting less than a quarter of their marketing budget to email. But it’s important to note that the survey comprised a pool of only 100 executives.

“There seems to be a real disconnect between some of the things we see reported and some of the stats we show,” Dayman said.

At around $40, email still has the highest ROI per channel, according to Boyle. “It may not be that exciting, but it’s not going to disappear. As much attention as social media gets, it’s the difference between owning your database and renting it. It’s almost ludicrous for organizations to talk about social media killing off email.”


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