Email has been around for 50 years now, and it's still a viable marketing strategy—provided you know how to pique the interest of your prospects.
When the pandemic and economic uncertainty of 2020 changed the business world, many marketers redoubled their email efforts, focusing on a channel they could control. About 36% more marketing emails than usual were sent during the stay-at-home summer, HubSpot reported.
Considering that substantial increase, you might think that audiences grew tired of full inboxes. But the same HubSpot report found that marketing email open rates remained at 10-20% above average.
Marketers will undoubtedly continue to capitalize on the current success of email campaigns. Moreover, increasing investments in tools such as Outreach, SalesLoft, and HubSpot indicate that many professionals are streamlining their marketing communications.
An environment with more emails and increased engagement, however, means heightened competition for B2B marketers. To reap the benefits of the email trend, you'll have to get ahead of the crowd. That's why you must refresh your approach.
Focus on the following four tactics to improve your email marketing strategy in 2021.
1. Deliver value in your email above all
If you're struggling to engage prospects, that doesn't mean you should ditch email entirely. It just means you need a better approach.
Leave the self-promotion behind and pack your communications full of the kind of content that your prospects find valuable or interesting. The content could be authored by your in-house subject matter experts or by a different source entirely. Put prospects' needs first, and they'll think of you when it's time to buy.
Lots of marketers who aim to deliver value provide educational materials. That's a great start, but it's not the only way to captivate your audience. Make your email content entertaining, whether that means signing off each communication with an industry-specific joke or sending a silly meme or GIF you think prospects will appreciate. If you can make prospects want to open your emails, you'll have greater success.
2. Prioritize personalization in your email marketing strategy
Scripted pitches are underperforming, so you'll need to personalize your emails to get more meaningful engagement from prospects.
Test to see which approach resonates the most. Is your audience looking for discounts? Are they hoping for more interaction opportunities (e.g., polls)?
Learn more about your prospects with each email, and make sure they know that you're listening. Playing the long game is expensive, but it's an investment you have to make in an uncertain economic environment.
Marketers often overlook the importance of sharing information about themselves, but relationships are a two-way street, after all. Don't be afraid to include fun family pictures as we all try to navigate through the pandemic. The same suggestion goes for pets: No one will turn down a picture of a cute dog or cat!
If you humanize your communications, prospects will be more likely to respond.
3. Switch up your sender or domain
Something as simple as a new sender can prompt responses from quiet audiences. A full 68% of Americans decide whether to open an email based solely on the sender's name, data from Campaign Monitor has found.
If an email is focused primarily on one aspect of your business, you could try sending it from [Department Head] at [Your Company] to humanize the message.
To drastically revitalize an unengaged prospect list, you can switch up your domain. Just be sure to warm up it up before you start sending a ton of emails. Otherwise, your communications might end up in spam folders because your new domain lacks a reputation. It's also understandable if you're not ready to make that sweeping change.
Starting fresh requires a lot of work, but it can pay off.
4. Support your sales team
When the US economy shrank in March and April, sales teams scrambled to win new business and fill rapidly emerging voids and vacancies. Sales departments sent 44% more emails in the second quarter of 2020 than they did in the first quarter, according to the HubSpot report mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, response rates remained 25-30% lower than they were before the pandemic.
Be prepared to help your sales team win new business by supporting them more directly. If one of your marketing tactics resonates with your audience, spread the news so your company's sales team knows to continue using that tactic while nurturing prospects through the funnel.
* * *
More isn't always better with your email marketing strategy. The pandemic caused many marketers to follow a mass messaging approach in 2020, but prospects aren't likely to respond to that tactic in 2021.
Instead, make a pointed effort to deliver consistent value, personalize communications, and switch up your send to earn additional engagement.
And when you find a tactic that works, share the information with sales. Sales and marketing are two sides of the same coin, so there's no need to silo your successes.
More Resources on Email Marketing Strategy
Take 10: Email Marketing Strategies—Out With the Old, In With the New
Four Ways to Empower Your Email Marketing Strategy With AI
How to Keep Your Email Marketing Strategy Relevant to Millennials
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