Email marketing is far from dead despite the rise of several new marketing channels.
In fact, 60% of marketers say that they are generating a positive return for their company through email marketing, making it a very lucrative and powerful tool for reaching and communicating with your audience.
Meanwhile, there’s a whole world of difference between the types of emails and campaign structures you use at a B2B company compared to consumer-focused industries.
This is something you instantly realize when you move from one to another form of marketing.
So, while email marketing can be a very versatile and lucrative form of the channel in your stack of digital marketing strategy, you need to ensure that it’s leveraged the right way.
It no secret that email marketing is used by most marketers across the world, but the rules vary based on the nature of their audience. And one of the key areas to focus on is separating your consumer and business campaigns, and also understanding the difference between the two in order to effectively send relevant content at the right time.
The following are some differences that you need to account for when you’re launching email campaigns in a B2B company versus a B2C company.
B2B and B2C marketers are driven by very different factors. B2C and B2B marketing have similar goals but as a marketer, you’re communicating to two very distinct audiences. While B2B email marketing is more emotional and focuses more on the benefits of the product or service, whereas B2B marketing is more logical and focuses on the knowledge and return on investment (ROI).
The length of the B2B sales cycle is very challenging as several touch-points can make it tricky to accurately determine the total impact of various campaign components.
Organizations should see marketing as a capital expense instead of as an operating expense. And when done right, marketing has a lasting and direct impact on a company. But unfortunately, we usually see organizations take marketing very lightly.
B2B email marketing should focus not just focus on lead generation efforts but creating valuable new connections with prospects. It’s very important to look at the infrastructure, activities, and programs that are directly responsible for developing these business assets as an investment.
The sales goals are much more obvious in B2C compared to B2B, and also it is much more challenging for B2B marketers to set their KPIs. Many marketing professionals and leaders fall into paralysis by analysis and by focusing on the lower level of metrics and priorities. The top-level alignment of metrics to goals is very important in keeping all the eyes on the prize and also for establishing how the success be measured globally.
Nowadays, the lines between B2B and B2C are definitely blurred. Qualitative and quantitative data are invaluable while targeting both audiences.
But, do the marketers truly know why an audience buys? Since a B2C buying decision is more emotional towards product or service, understanding market segmentation and lifestyle to effectively target your message is the key. As marketers, we invest a lot of time and resources trying to better understand our audiences and create buyer profile so all of our content is bespoke and something our audience is going to engage with.
Successfully delivering your emails to your subscriber’s inbox isn’t a challenge as it used to be once. While for the B2B marketers, content filters still have much prominence. These look at the keywords in your email content before choosing whether to send your emails to your subscriber’s inbox or their spam folder. Meanwhile, B2C marketers have to focus more on building a sending reputation and also ensure that the spam complaints are minimum that shows you a reputable sender.
The line between a B2B and B2C inbox is increasingly becoming blurred since the advent of Gmail being used to power many business email addresses and mobile devices being used the same for business person and consumers alike.
Optimal Send Time
The oldest and most common question in email marketing – when is the best time to send emails? Normally, our response would be that it isn’t that important, however, it does vary even if the principles stay the same.
So, the best time to send a B2B email is during office hours. However, you don’t want your emails to land in your subscriber’s inbox first thing in the morning – It’s more likely to be added in their cleansing regime. And for the B2C marketers, we believe that the best time to deliver emails to their subscriber inbox is before 05:00 pm on a weekday if you can catch them at their desk.
With the huge increase in mobile usage people can now read their emails anywhere and at any time, but not all the views are the same. An effective rule of thumb is to get your subscribers when they are sitting down for an extended amount of time.
How Customers Respond
Business purchases usually tend to be more about the people buying from people, rather than consumers buying from a brand. Hence, the reply is very important, so ensure that you send from a person and avoid using ”no-reply” types of email addresses. While this is also true for consumers emails, but the expectations here are low and the greater need is to focus more on pushing customers down the online funnel.
The most important thing in terms of content to add in a B2B email is the phone number and the personal details of who the email is from.
Include your subscriber’s personality by adding their LinkedIn profile links with a photo. The same goes for B2C emails, be more transparent about who the email is from and also make it easy and simple them to contact you or make an inquiry.
Personalization and Segmentation
It’s either B2B or B2C, this is very important for all email campaigns, but it may vary during its implementation. While a B2C email campaign will benefit from personalized product or service down to the taste of individuals. But, for B2B it can be far more subtle like case studies which match similar buying personas and needs or as news stories for their industry.
For B2B marketers the automated emails tend to help drive people back on the website. And the triggers for B2B marketers are more likely not to be an email but a phone call from your sales team as someone is on the website, and the role of the triggers is to nurture and drip feed stories and relevant communications over the lengthy B2B purchase cycles.
So, apart from these aspects mentioned described above, what else do you need to look out when planning for your B2B and B2C email marketing campaigns?
The buying cycles are different
Do you know anyone who’s made the decision to make a big purchase like a house or an airplane, after reading a promotional email?
It’s because the B2b sales cycles are quite long in structure and nature. And a long-term nurture email campaign having multiple workflows can last from weeks to several months, dishing out the content that impresses various stakeholders from solution-focused buyers to financially-driven decision-makers.
Unlike with B2C, the B2B buying cycle:
- Involves several decision-makers
- Can last several weeks
- Exposes buyers to a variety of content types like whitepapers, eBooks, case studies, webinars, etc.
On the other hand, B2C email campaigns tap into the impulsive decisions of the recipients. They tend to address a broader audience and have a typical sales cycle that is more likely to last from 5 seconds to 24 hours.
In fact, the B2C sales funnel can be as simple as this;
Read email → Click on a link (CTA) →Visit landing page → Purchase.
Content plays a bigger role in B2B emails
Let’s say that you just paid a huge CPA to bring a lead into your email marketing funnel. Now what?
Since the B2B buying cycle is much longer, it would be highly beneficial to deliver a combination of educational, non-promotional content like infographics, blog posts, and e-boos, along with the bottom of the funnel content like whitepapers and case studies to generate more demand for product or service over time.
In a report by peppercomm and The Economist Group, 500 marketers globally were surveyed about how they create a content strategy, and 500 business executives globally were surveyed about what they look for in the content. Following are some of the key findings from the report;
- 85% of business executives preferred text over audio and video content when making business decisions.
- While 93% of marketers’ primary purpose was to directly promote their products and services, 75% of business executives were searching for business ideas.
- 71% of business executives said that they didn’t like content that sounded more like a sales pitch rather than something that provided valuable information. On the other hand, 67% of business executives said that content that offered timely or unique information had a positive impact on their perceptions of a brand.
- Although 85% of marketers said that B2B content is intended to help build their brands, while 70% of the respondents actually measure success based on the number of leads generated.
The end goal is to eventually talk to them over the phone or in-person; your email content is just leading up to that point.
On the other hand, B2C email marketing, especially in the e-commerce sector, is all about hitting your subscribers with instant, compelling values that entice them into making a purchase.
This means focusing your email content more on the value proposition and call to action (CTA) buttons.
The consumers will not be receptive to your CTA if the value is not compelling. Just think about it; when was the last time that you received an email from any e-commerce brand without a discount, sale or some kind of promotion?
The type of “value” your emails offer
In order to entice a purchase, a B2B nurture email campaign doesn’t necessarily have to be visually appealing. And these email campaigns may even lack the “entertainment aspect” of B2C emails in favor of offering informational value.
A B2B email campaign should position the brand as a go-to resource for solutions and invoke thought leadership as well. Hence, these email campaigns have to be informative and also address the pain points of the business they are trying to target.
A B2C email campaign, on the other hand, has to tap into the emotions of the buyers. They have to be more visually entertaining enough to provoke the emotions of the consumers. They also have to include the right combination of CTAs, messaging, product features and displays on a single page for the consumers to move on to the next stage of the funnel, like a landing page.
While the B2C email campaigns tend to have a more personal, casual tone, and the wording is relatable and simple. In addition, there’s usually a sense of urgency created in B2C email campaigns that target the recipient’s emotional trigger.
It’s very critical to keep in mind that B2B customers are humans, too. In simple words, refrain from coming off as robotic and try to strike a balance between creating an emotional connection and delivering all the necessary information required for the conversion. The B2B email campaigns can be entraining, too! However, the B2B email marketing campaigns tend to have a more professional, objective tone that is factual and result oriented compared to the B2C email campaigns. The financial benefits of the product or service are emphasized in B2B email campaigns, letting the customers know exactly what they are going to get for the price they have to pay. In addition, the use of technical, industry-specific jargon is more usually appropriate in B2B email marketing campaigns than in B2C email marketing campaigns.
The ideal timing for sending emails campaigns will vary
Are Tuesday and Wednesday the ideal times for both B2C and B2B markets? According to the 2013 “Email Marketing Benchmark Report” by MarketingSherpa, they are.
However, you shouldn’t treat it as “one size fits all” measure in these both types of industries.
Here, testing is the key!
A large B2C e-commerce brand sent over 64 million emails to their subscribers and tested several timings with various segments to see the greatest increase in their email open rates between 04:00 pm to 09:00 pm.
But, we have seen very different results from sending B2B emails, not just with our own email campaigns, but also for our client’s campaigns.
Following are some of the thing to consider when testing;
- B2C customers can get home, have their dinner and then check their personal emails. Maybe try testing your email campaigns after 08:00 pm?
- B2B customers may be busy during the day, so try testing your email campaigns between 11am-1pm during lunch?
- B2B customers may open their emails at all times of the day, while B2C customers might open their emails after coming back from work.
One size doesn’t fit all
In both B2B and B2C email marketing campaigns, while it is important to include a personal touch to the way you communicate, there will still be undeniable differences in your approach even within specific categories.
As always, test and try to see what works best for your specific niche. It’s a continuous process of improvement.
These differences in B2B and B2C email marketing are important to understand. And if you truly understand the differences you can then really focus in on what will work best for your organization.
On some occasions, you can also use inspiration from one for the other. It may be a way to get a little edge over your competitors.