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B2B Email Marketing: Timing and Relevancy, not Volume Key to Success

Marketing organizations cut B2B email marketing resources but send more messages; 1 in 5 never respond to a demo request

When marketing leaders scrambled to reallocate budgets in the wake of the pandemic, email marketing wasn’t one of the areas that benefited. But that hasn’t stopped marketers from sending a greater volume of messages.

Doing more with less is a perennial challenge in B2B marketing, but it doesn’t work out so well with email. When you try to send more messages with fewer resources, your company winds up sending a lot of messages that prospects and customers just don’t want.

That’s my observation in reviewing a hat trick of articles by Ray Schultz this month. Mr. Schultz pens the Email Insider column and newsletter for Media Post and often reports on surveys and reports. Below are three such articles that support this conclusion.

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1. Businesses are sending more email

Email marketing remains one of the most effective B2B marketing channels. Some 94% of marketers put email in the top three. That’s according to a study by Litmus titled Fall 2020 State of Email Report which surveyed more than 2,000 marketers.

It seems natural then, that most (60%) marketing executives are sending more email this year, as Mr. Shultz reported. But then the findings take a left turn:

“while 11% have seen email budget increases during the pandemic, 40% have had cuts.”

The only way to send more emails with fewer writing resources is to skimp on the quality of the messages and put less thought into segmentation. There’s an opportunity in segmentation too:

“half rarely, if ever, conduct triggered win-back or re-engagement campaigns to inactive customers, subscribers or donors.”

2. Customers are frustrated with email irrelevancy

Some 67% of customers rely on email to communicate in the B2B space, but vendors are mucking up the channel with irrelevancy, Mr. Schultz reports:

“Of B2B executives surveyed, 53% are frustrated by receiving too many irrelevant emails and ads from suppliers.”

It’s not just the campaigns that miss the mark, but responses to direct inquiries as well:

“And when they do try to connect with the senders, 36% say they can’t get answers to simple questions, and 35% feel that services typically are impersonal.”

The data he cites comes from The 2020 State of Conversational Marketing, by Drift and Heinz Marketing which polled 538 marketers.

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3. Responding to leads with personalized email

Every salesperson knows it’s essential to respond to warm leads quickly before they cool. Many prospects expect an immediate response and you’d think this would be easier given the capabilities of marketing automation, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Mr. Schultz reported on a project by Workato which tested the response time of 114 companies by requesting product demonstrations. The results? Less than 1% responded immediately and most took much longer:

“…it took firms an average of 11 hours and 54 seconds to respond to leads with a personalized email, and around a fifth never replied at all.”

Think about that for a moment: 1 in 5 never responded to a demo request at all. It’s pretty hard to measure the ROI of marketing – especially if the organization is incapable of responding to leads.

The study also found that larger companies tended to be faster at responding than smaller companies. Vertical markets also seemed to matter:

“Oddly, companies offering marketing products were the slowest, at 12 hours, 26 minutes. IT purveyors were second-slowest, taking 10 hours and 47 minutes.”

It’s not too hard to set up an automated, and yet personalized email that’s triggered by a critical event like a demo request.

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Image credits: Photo by Ben White on Unsplash and respective studies

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