The growing popularity of social media and other communication channels has certainly not obscured the communicative power of email marketing, which is still a great strategy to reach, inform, and engage users.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at email marketing, focusing on the effectiveness of email automation for B2B, look at how to effectively manage contacts, and how to acquire new ones using inbound marketing and content marketing strategies.
In a previous post, we talked about the effectiveness of email for interacting with users, which offers companies the ability to communicate with them in a more direct and personalized way.
It has been established that emails offer great benefits in terms of ROI and increased sales, SEO optimization, increased website traffic, and lead generation.
Therefore, email marketing is not disappearing to make way for other channels. On the contrary, statistics reveal that, in 2019 alone, about 3.9 billion people used email to communicate, a figure that is expected to be around 4.3 billion in 2022. (Statista, 2020).
Starting from these premises, let’s try to understand how to exploit the potential of email marketing and what advantages automation tools offer for companies, especially in B2B.
Email marketing: what is it and why automate it?
Email is a communication tool accessible to all, however when we talk about email marketing we’re referring to communication activities that companies use with the goal of promoting a particular product or service or to strengthen the relationship between the brand and users.
On the basis of this distinction, we can identify other tools, such as newsletters, which are used to provide periodic updates on company activities that leave ample room for content marketing to build user loyalty and improve the reputation of the brand. There is also DEM (direct email marketing) that has a purely advertising and commercial purpose (eg. to propose offers on products or discounts).
As for newsletters, we can say that they are an excellent tool to increase user engagement through content marketing. Among the most effective content that can be included in a newsletter, video, now the protagonist of almost all digital marketing activities, is currently the most engaging and one that considerably increases the click-through rate. (source Hubspot)
Not only that, the effectiveness of video also lies in its ability to deliver a message much more quickly and attractively, all of which translates into an increase in open rate and a decrease in cost per lead and website traffic, which also impacts SEO. (source Vidyard)
Speaking instead of DEM, these are sent to a more specific target and contain targeted commercial content with the aim of pushing the customer to buy. The obvious effectiveness of this type of email marketing is given by the high conversion rates that it generates, thanks to accurate audience targeting.
In both cases, these are communications that have different cadences and they require resources and time. This is why automation tools can play a decisive role in email marketing activities.
As for the frequency of sending for a B2B audience, there is no perfect number of emails to send monthly to each user. However, recent research says that sending 5 to 8 emails per month is the right compromise for positive ROI without being too intrusive. (source Litmus)
In addition, automation programs not only save time in sending emails, but just as importantly, they allow you to securely and effectively manage the database of addresses you already have or those that you acquire over time.
Email marketing automation: a definition
Email marketing automation is an activity that allows you to manage email campaigns through automation tools. To be more specific, automation tools manage the sending of emails based on your user data (e.g. personal data, user behavior, the stage of the funnel in which it is).
This allows companies not only to improve communication with users, but to make it as personalized as possible for each of them, optimizing the performance of the email marketing strategy (and more broadly that of digital marketing).
Moreover, recent studies by Social Media Today show that email marketing automation has become a widespread practice among companies, in terms of time and budget optimization and of audience segmentation.
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of email marketing automation to understand when and how to implement it in a digital marketing strategy.
The benefits of email marketing automation for B2B: from database management to personalization
As we’ve already mentioned, automating marketing activities and, more specifically, email marketing, can be a great way to optimize time, budget, and resources. That’s not all.
Managing large databases and email lists without an automation tool can be a very complicated and ineffective action. Why?
By collecting and managing contact data, automation software allows you to send targeted content to each segment of recipients. Some examples: automatic follow-up emails with blog articles, ebooks, or infographics related to the recipient’s topics of interest, or welcome emails that arrive after a newsletter subscription.
All of this not only helps improve communication with users, but also to make emails more interesting, positively affecting open rates, clicks, and conversions. In this regard, in a recent post, we talked about digital marketing KPIs and how to measure email marketing campaigns by identifying the most suitable KPIs and metrics.
Therefore, we can say that email marketing automation leaves ample room for personalization strategies that are increasingly popular and more appreciated by users, as we have seen here presenting the marketing trends of 2021.
The ability to automatically send personalized emails for each user is definitely among the most relevant advantages of automation. If, on the one hand, we can optimize the time it takes to send emails, on the other, we must take into account the need to place the user, and therefore the customer, at the center of communication.
There is a need, therefore, to humanize automation and ensure that communication transforms the relationship with the user into one that is more solid and lasting.
This need has been seen by many companies in the B2B world. According to research by Econsultancy, about 67% of marketers said they want to deliver an increasingly personalized customer experience through email marketing activities, and when it comes to automation, about 53% expressed a willingness to adopt automation tools to improve the performance of email marketing initiatives.
However, for 51% of marketers at companies that are adopting personalization, data integration is still a tough hurdle to overcome, and this is mainly due to the difficulty of bringing together different sources of information and the many marketing platforms that are available.
Therefore, at a time when personalized communication is becoming more and more in demand, we can say that software that combines automation and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) features, such as Hubspot, are tools that every company needs.
As we have already mentioned, this type of tool allows you to manage and create segmented contact lists based on the data collected. How to expand your email list and database?
Email addresses: how to collect new contacts for email marketing in B2B?
The list of email addresses acquired over time is constantly evolving because it has to deal with unsubscribe requests but also with new subscriptions.
While we need to strengthen relationships with existing contacts through targeted and personalized content and communications (lead nurturing) and decrease the unsubscribe rate, we also need to constantly expand our mailing list with new contacts. How to do this?
In the case of getting contacts offline, attending events, trade shows, or conferences is definitely a good starting point to meet new prospects and enrich your database. However, it’s a move you can also put into place for attending industry events and online conferences, which have become increasingly popular, especially in the last period.
There are many more strategies for gathering new qualified leads online. Let’s look at some of them:
- Include a newsletter subscription form on the company website to receive updates (e.g. from the company blog) or new offers on products/services
- Run lead generation campaigns on social networks (e.g. using the Linkedin contact acquisition form) by sponsoring content (lead magnet) such as ebooks or infographics, that encourage the user to leave their data in order to download them
- Create organic posts on social networks that link to landing pages with a form to fill out to download content or sign up for a digital event organized by the company (e.g. webinars)
According to the logic of inbound marketing, once a new contact is acquired in the database, a workflow is automatically activated, i.e. a series of personalized communications that aim to involve the contact and bring him or her closer to the brand until the contact is convinced to buy a product or service (transforming the contact from a prospect into a customer).
How could this happen without automation tools? The road would certainly be more tortuous. Marketing automation intervenes to support communication that is becoming increasingly personalized, both in terms of the message and content conveyed, and in terms of timing of when the message is sent.
To conclude, we can say that email marketing is still a very effective strategy in B2B, also thanks to the automation tools that have made it possible to optimize it and adapt it to new marketing needs such as, for example, personalized communication.
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