Why Email marketing still matters for B2B marketing

5 areas of B2B email marketing to review

Email is in decline with the next generation of business professionals more likely to rely on SMS and social network messaging. Yet, most B2B companies still use email-based newsletters as a primary way of attempting to communicate with and engaging customers and prospects.

Email statistics

A recent Forrester report titled ‘How US Marketer’s use email’ heaped further concern on business use of email by summarizing:

  • 6 in 10 B2B companies are keeping their marketing spend flat in 2011
  • 71% use email to communicate with customers and prospects on a regular basis
  • 33 % don’t routinely remove bad email addresses from databases
  • 43% of B2B marketers think email will become more important to their marketing activity

So, the challenge is how to better use email as a form of content marketing in order to generate business from the permission you have worked hard to attain.

Creating  more valuable emails

Encouragingly, the latest statistics on UK business email as reported on by Dave Chaffey on this site in March, indicate that there is reason for cautious optimism. But B2B companies need to accept that adding value through expertise is a much better strategy than simply selling.

If you count yourself in the majority that use email for B2B, there are five things you need to do now to ensure your B2B email campaigns stand the best chance of cut-through and so make it more valuable for your audience and your business.

1. Always offer opt out, make sure it's easy and it works

A strange place to start but it's the law! You should offer one-touch, unequivocal opt out just in case you have got the data wrong or the email is not required any more.

2. Provide relevant content

When used well, Email can pay dividends. You would do the same with a face-to-face presentation. Make the content relevant to customers. How can you help them do their job better, more effectively, more efficiently? Remind them why they are opted in and the benefits of continuing to receive your emails. Solicit their opinion and provide feedback when it has been offered.

3. Keep to agreed frequency

Deliver emails with the agreed frequency outlined when recipients sign up for them. The Smart Insights Emarketing Essentials email lands in your inbox weekly if you subscribe. It contains links to the latest website content. Abusing the permission you have earned by sending too much, too little or unwarranted email risks you being blacklisted in future.

4. Manage your list

Sounds obvious. We’ve all bought lists, picked up cards, collected Linkedin connections but have you put them all in one place and have you checked they remain relevant?

5. Cut your list!

Do you send the same email to your entire database? A better approach must be to segment by either live or lapsed customer, prospect met or as yet unmet, by geography or language, by vertical sector, job title or all of the above. Why? Different information is required by different people and most companies don’t have the resource or budget to personalise communications. Use different Excel lists and import them into your CRM tool to despatch separately.


Email may be in decline, as an older, mis-understood part of the digital toolkit. Social media, RSS, readers and other alert software all provide useful information in real-time - but B2B decision makers and influencers still subscribe to high quality relevant emails from companies they trust and respect. Some of them need to receive yours.

Share your thoughts

  • Hi Phil,

    Thanks for stopping by. Of course I agree with you (the clue is in the title!) but we just need to be mindful of the evolving landscape and the trends that are prevalent in the next generation of business buyers. I don’t think we have anything to worry about when it comes to the use of email in the B2B environment.


  • Hi Rene

    Great post in many ways. Not sure it’s right to conclude that just because teenagers’ use of email declines, we’ll see the same thing among managers. Email is a business critical medium. In my experience, senior managers report, hire and buy via email. I’m not sure that will migrate to SMS or on to social networks.


  • Two great examples Joe. You might consider MarketingProfs, Econsultancy and the ubiquitous Mashable too. But above all, SmartInsights! The reasons speak for themselves – useful, usable content that can be relied upon to help marketers effect a step change in their marketing.

  • Joe commented on July 28, 2011

    Hi Rene, I am no expert here but here is my contribution: 2 lists I would never unsubscribe to are Copyblogger and Hubspot. Copyblogger ran a series of around 30 emails (short course) on content marketing and copywriting. I think email is good for delivering a series of content like that. Hubspot – I find out about their webinars through email, I think this is exclusive content.

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