5 B2B Email Marketing Tips that Will Double Your Response Rates

Gil Allouche
Gil Allouche

When it comes to email, do you know whose message gets opened 100 percent of the time? Your mom’s! While there is no way to make your company have the emotional resonance of a mother’s missives, there are a lot of lessons to be learned from this anecdote.

Email marketing platform MailChimp reports that businesses using their service get about 20 percent open rate.  The kind of business sending the email matters though. For instance, Daily Deal sites usually see 14.92 percent of their list opening the email, while messages from religious organizations get opened 25.33 percent of the time.

But you don’t want to be “average” do you? These five tips will help you double your B2B email response rates.

1. Develop a History of Sending Valuable Information – You can train your list to open your emails if they know you will be enhancing their lives when they read what you write. Some companies deliver such valuable information that their messages become “can’t miss.” Others write with humor or panache that makes people look forward to the style of the email.  Companies that have poor open rates often send messages that are overly promotional. When you write with the reader in mind, they will look forward to the emails you send — and they will open them.

Mom Lesson – You open your mom’s email because you know that if you don’t, you’ll never hear the end of it. Plus, she might have some juicy gossip about your cousin Ashley. Moms write emails that we can’t afford to miss. Your corporate messages should do the same.

2. Test Your Sender – Think about the information email clients like Gmail and Outlook provide readers. They see the sender, the subject line, and perhaps the first few words of the email itself. That means that the person sending the email is a key factor in whether someone chooses to click on it or hit the delete button.

Who is your email coming from? Is it coming from a company brand name or a real person at the company? If the person sending the email is known to the reader — either personally or through “branding” — they’re more likely to read it.  If you’re getting low open rates, look at who is in the sender line of the emails and consider doing A/B testing to see if a different sender gets better results.

Mom Lesson – You always open the messages from your mom because, well, she’s your mom. She gave birth to you. Similarly, when you get an email from that creepy person you went on a date with 3 years ago, you never open it.  So, you know that who sends the email matters. Figure out who in your company your email list responds to and use them to send your direct emails and autoresponders.

3. Improve Your Subject Lines – The subject line is the “headline” of your email and just like a headline on a newspaper article draws readers into the content below, your subject line has to compel the reader to open your message. There are a few things you can test that might improve your open rates.

  • Keep it casual – Think about the emails you get from friends. They usually have subject lines like “lunch?” or “what’s up?” Too many business email writers try to make the subject line formal. These subject lines scream “corporate advertising, do not read me!”
  • Use lowercase – One of the easiest ways to “keep it casual” is to use lower case letters in the subject line. A proper newspaper headline capitalizes the first letter of every word — and that’s because that’s what works in print to draw readers in. The principle of “your subject line is your headline” can be taken too far though, and using capitalization principles meant for another medium doesn’t necessarily translate to B2B email marketing.
  • Inspire curiosity – The best email subject lines tease the reader. If all the information is in the title itself, there is no reason to open it. But, if it intrigues the reader, they can’t help but to “open the box and see what’s inside.” This allows you to engage with the reader in a deeper way through the message itself.
  • Personalize the message – Okay, we know people are selfish and vain. A person’s favorite word is usually their own name. So, take advantage of this psychological fact and personalize the message. Most email marketing platforms have a feature where you can input a token to customize each subject line. Using it means that you have to ask for the information on your opt-in forms, but when you do personalize, you will usually see an uptick in open rates.

Mom Lesson – Write your email subject line to your customers the same way you’d write it to your mom and watch your open rates skyrocket.

4. Do List Maintenance – Many people think of email as “free” and they send messages to people who don’t want to receive them. That’s a mistake because they do cost you money (most email marketing platforms charge more for bigger lists) and if you send the wrong messages to people, they will not open when you send them ones they are interested in. You’ve trained them to not open your emails.

The first thing you should do in terms of list maintenance is cull the people from your list who never open your emails. Most email marketing platforms have a feature where you can see who has not opened the past X emails and allow you to cut them all from your list.

The other important maintenance task is to segment your list. For instance, you might have separate “prospects” and “buyers” lists. You can go even further and segment your buyers into the job title or level of the person you’re sending to (i.e. an IT Director will respond to different messages than a purchasing manager or CFO). Obviously, groups of people have different pain points to address in email messages and one size does not serve all.  The more precisely you can craft your message, the more likely people will respond to it.

Mom Lesson – Think of what you’d tell your mom about your bachelor party vs. what you’d tell your best friend. If you want them both to think highly of you, you need to send them different messages. Same goes for your customers and prospects.

5. Re-send the Same Message – Think about your own email habits. If someone sends you a low-importance message, you’re more likely to open it if you’re not super busy. So, there are times when a “let’s have lunch” message get opened and other times when you think “I’ll get to that later (and never do.)

Customers are in the same boat. They are more responsive at different times. You can test for the best times to send the message, but even the most responsive time won’t reach everyone. So, don’t be afraid to send the exact same message a second time to people on your list who didn’t open it the first time. They won’t hate you. In fact, they probably won’t recognize that you sent it before. Some companies have found that just sending a copy of the message a second time gets an entirely new group to open their email.

Mom Lesson – If, on the off chance your mom sent you a message and you didn’t respond, do you think she would let you off the hook? No, she’d probably send you another message (this time using annoying all caps text). So, don’t let your customers ignore you either. If at first you don’t get the open, try again.

You Can Improve Your B2B Email Open Rates

There are some companies that send out emails and hear crickets while other businesses with a similar list regularly get more than 30 percent of their customers to open their mail. Use the strategies in this article to reach more people more of the time.

Want to learn more demand gen strategies for your B2B business? Contact us today!

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