Newsletters are an established marketing tool. There is hardly any other medium out there that enables companies to reach out to a base of people who are truly interested in such a low-cost way. In the B2B sector, however, there are other rules when creating newsletters than for the B2C sector. Here is where you can discover how to create successful B2B newsletters.
B2B newsletter: how successful is my company?
Email marketing not only remains the ultimate of all marketing disciplines, it is even gaining in importance: 98 per cent (compared to 95 per cent in the previous year) used newsletters and other emails to regularly start up a dialogue with customers and interested contacts. This was shown by the survey E-Mail-Marketing Benchmarks 2021 (German only) taken among more than 5,000 top companies in nine industries within the German-speaking realm.
The survey E-Mail-Marketing Benchmark 2020 from Episerver offers a broad industry comparison of the most significant facts and figures which are meaningful when sending newsletters and other emails. It enables companies to better estimate the success of their own campaigns and to determine where potential still lies.
Three relevant results for B2B companies:
- The average open rate of emails in the B2B segment is 26 per cent (all industries: 29 per cent).
- The average click rate on links in B2B emails amounts to 4.1 per cent (4.8 per cent).
- The average unsubscribe rate, in other words the different between unsubscriptions and delivered emails, is 0.16 per cent (0.1 per cent) in the B2B segment.
Newsletter marketing in 2021: the effects of the corona pandemic
The effects of the corona pandemic have unmistakably unrattled marketing and sales. Digital shop systems and deliveries are becoming just as significant as the sending-out of newsletters and other emails as customer loyalty and sales channels. On the one hand, many areas continue to lack the opportunity for personal customer support, and, on the other hand, due to pandemic-based restrictions, important in-person events as a sales channel have become obsolete for the B2B segment. If a bridge of trust to the supplier exists, newsletters with personalised content can make a significant contribution to sales.
But that’s not all. As long as COVID-19 continues to reign, newsletters can serve to keep customers and business partners regularly up to date about the latest developments of the company and its mid-term outlook, for more transparency. For instance, contact is maintained and trust reinforced. Authenticity and openness not only make a positive impact among many partners in times of crisis, they create a likeable appearance and support the creation of relationships.
For such regular information and status updates, automation plays an ever-important role in email marketing. Email marketing systems offer marketers various options for individually adapting the newsletters to their customers’ journey, despite the high degree of automation. The use of professional software, according to the 2021 benchmark survey, has grown from 60 to 71 per cent within just one year.
B2B has other rules than B2C
The important thing when creating B2B newsletters: they are not much different from B2C newsletters in terms of their technological requirements, but they do feature other content and a different tone of voice. While B2C newsletters usually use discounts to lure customers to an online shop, B2B newsletters aim to convince the recipient to purchase often highly complex products and services.
B2B newsletter: 7 things to keep in mind
1. The B2B target group has high standards
We are bombarded with thousands of advertising messages every day. The B2B target group has especially high standards and is interested in one thing above all: what value does the content offer? So, don’t spam your target group with your offers or “scream” out your discounts.
Instead, convince them with your know-how, important industry information and exciting novelties. Ideally, these would be tips on how to use a product, service hints and information via white papers and studies to provide an advantage over the competition. High-quality content guarantees that the subscriber will frequently read your newsletter – and, more than this, will underscore your competence as a serious business partner.
2. Get to the point
Your B2B newsletter reaches your business partner at their workplace and competes with a number of business emails in their inbox. So: keep your message short when creating a newsletter. Provide the recipient with just enough information, but don’t be excessive. Get to the point in your text as quickly as possible, and make it as easy as possible for your readers. When it comes to topics which can be very complex, it makes sense to plan a multi-stage email campaign and serve the subscriber information in bite-sized bits.
3. The subject line
According to a study by Newstetter2Go, only 22.2 per cent of emails are even opened on average. This number clearly shows: it is absolutely necessary to use a good subject line to inspire the recipient to open your electronic post.
The subject line should contain a concrete statement featuring an attention-grabbing keyword and refer to the full content. The best way is to highlight the value and formulate a clear call to action. Here are a few triggers to opening a newsletter which have proven to be effective:
- Time pressure or limitations (“For just a short time only!”)
- Curiosity (“Most trade show exhibitors make this mistake!”)
- Innovations (“This tool lets you work more efficiently than ever!”)
Studies have shown that short subject lines lead to better opening rates than long ones. Ideally, the length of the subject line is between 40 and 60 characters to ensure that it is not cut off on smartphones and tablets.
4. Personalisation of the newsletter
A way to gain the recipient’s attention from the moment they look at their inbox is to personalise the subject line and the content. For the subject line, simply naming the recipient or their location is enough to gain their attention. Especially in the B2B segment, this measure has huge potential for setting your company apart from the rest. As the Episerver survey showed, only 7 per cent of subject lines are personalised for business customers – in the travel industry, in contrast, this is 63 per cent. The average open rate of personalised subject lines, after all, is 16 per cent higher on average in the industry than emails without personalisation.
A personalised main text, too, based on the current preferences of the recipient can increase attention and generate more trust in the brand. To achieve this, however, an elaborate integration of customer, purchase and product data is required. For small, target-centric emails is personalisation easier to realise than large-scale mass emails.
5. The best time to send
Many companies send their newsletter as soon as they have finished creating it. The time of sending it, however, can make a difference in whether the newsletter is top or flop. For instance, the Newsletter2Go study evaluated more than 230,000 newsletters from over 40 branches between 31 March 2018 and 31 March 2019. In nearly all branches, the most popular time to send a newsletter is working days between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. The highest open and click rates were shown, however, to be on Fridays.
But Friday is not always the best day for every company to send a newsletter. According to the study, B2B companies reach significantly fewer recipients in the office on Friday than on Wednesday. Generally speaking, the study’s results should only help companies to navigate within the world of potential sending times and days. Ideally, you should perform A/B tests by sending newsletter campaigns at different times and comparing the results of their performance.
6. Consider technical requirements
The results of the Inxmail E-Mail Marketing Benchmark 2018 show: nearly half of the newsletters analysed (46 per cent) were opened on a mobile device. In the B2B sector, the desktop computer remains the main email client at 52 per cent, however: just under one-third of the recipients read their emails on their smartphone. So, when you create a newsletter, it should also definitely be optimised for smartphones and tablets.
Good to know: free email service providers such as Gmail or Yahoo! play a secondary role in the B2B sector. As a result, you should optimise your newsletter for Outlook, Lotus Notes and smartphone clients for iOS and Android to ensure it is optimally displayed.
7. Use interactive newsletters
Generally speaking, newsletters close off with a call to action, in other words the chance to click on a button or link to be led to an offer. New, interactive emails allow for interaction directly in the email, for instance with Google’s open-source project AMP for email, in which the size and specifications of a product can be configured directly in the newsletter. The call to action then leads to the online shop’s basket, where the configured product then only needs to be ordered. In addition to an ordering function, surveys or gamification elements can be integrated in the newsletter.
Conclusion: do you have a strategy?
Creating B2B newsletters is not a matter of magic. But, keep in mind: no newsletter is always better than a poorly created newsletter. If your newsletter doesn’t have a real strategy or added value, don’t send it.