Email marketing can get a bad press but it remains an important and valuable tool in B2B marketing. A host of respected sources cite stats like...

By considering the following five points you can make sure that your campaign is successful.

Create relevant and personalised email marketing messages

The nature and perception of email marketing, and regularly unfounded associations with spam, means that from a practical perspective, if someone feels that your email is not relevant to them, or that it is impersonal - or that they simply don’t remember signing up to receive anything from you - then there is an increased possibility that they will mark your message as spam. This directly affects your overall reputation as a sender and can impact your ability to send further emails to all customers, not just that one individual.

It is important to target the right people, with useful or valuable content. Personalising an email is not about putting their first name in the opening line, it is about using topics or products that are relevant to them. This can often be derived from looking at data for their website engagement history, purchase history or even simply past engagement rate from previous email campaigns. Wherever possible, personalising your email content will increase relevance and drive response, increasing overall chances of success as you are more likely to generate better results and improved ROI.

Reach the important decision-makers in a business using email marketing

Data accuracy and integrity is vitally important to success. With B2B email marketing in particular, there is an inherent need to have regular de-duplication and cleansing processes in place to ensure you are contacting individuals and are using accurate data. One common pitfall is the use of role or alias email accounts - for example ones which start with sales@.. info@… staff@… the challenge here becomes that there is an increased possibility that more than one individual sits behind that email address (it is more likely to be a team, or group of people - and not necessarily the key decision maker you actually want to address). For that reason, many email service providers will remove or stop you sending to these kinds of addresses.

Gathering key information at the time of opt-in is vitally important to this - alongside email address, first name, last name etc - capturing information like job title and level allows much more granular targeting for future campaigns.

Implement a call-to-action within email marketing content

If your call to action is not distinguished by colour, placement, or text treatment, it will be hard for your readers to understand the purpose of your email. Even more importantly, it will make it that much more difficult for them to act on it. If you set appropriate expectations with a reader about what you want them to do as a result of receiving your email, you are much more likely to generate good response rates - how you manage their onward journey and fulfil those expectations will also be key to the end conversion.

However, be sure not to have too many – your email should have a clear objective for the end action using the principal of guided decision-making, and the more options you give, the lower the response rate will be.

> Increase the chances of email marketing content generating new business leads

Know your audience, including their needs and wants, and target them with content which resonates with those - but also marries perfectly with your product or service offering. For example, by segmenting your audience into similar groups - be it based on their type of business, location, job level etc - you can devise appropriate content which is more likely to generate response.

If you are able to concisely address reader needs, set appropriate expectations, and carry those through to fulfilment then you are more likely to generate leads off the back of that activity. For example if you know a particular audience has a likely interest (or has indicated an interest) in a particular topic, it might be possible to target those people with a communication linking to a white paper about the topic - the email effectively becomes a quick executive summary of that content, and drives the recipient through to a landing page where we can easily capture key information, and ask permission to market/follow up with a sales approach. The key here is the value exchange - a prospect/customer is interested in a topic, and willingly provides the marketer with their personal information in exchange for that information/whitepaper.

Don’t break the law

Our final top tip would be to adhere to the law within the country you operate in - or even better, adhere to true permission best practice which will cover you in most instances and negates the complexities of issues if you address recipients in different countries (with different legislation). Permission, or opt-in best practice also future-proofs your email marketing activity and generally provides much better results than other methods (e.g. soft opt-in, third-party consent, co-registration etc).

Legally, marketers need to provide a clear and easy unsubscribe mechanism which is actioned as soon as possible - there are guidelines from Companies House to include registered address within the footer, and more defined guidance in the form of EU Directive / PECR legislation. This is enforced in the UK by the ICO.

By Drew Nicholson, CEO of OgilvyOne Business