Craft a Winning B-to-B Email Strategy from the Start

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

If you want to have a great B-to-B email program that generates solid leads, the beginning is a great place to start. That means asking the right questions on your sign-up form, crafting an engaging welcome email and enticing your prospects to open that email with a solid subject line. Megan Feltes, sales content specialist with email marketing service Emma, shares some best practices she's learned through working with clients and crafting the company's own lead-gen strategy.

Start with the email sign-up form and make sure you're asking the right questions.

This, says Feltes, should be a continuous process. "Don't be afraid to change it as you go along," she says. "Ask prospects for as much as you can on the front end, and allow them to self-identify their preferences about frequency and what types of emails they want to receive."

Take the time to craft a good welcome email.

"This is something some people forget, and they don't have anything going out when prospects are the most interested," she notes. "That's valuable real estate because it sets the stage for what happens next and helps establish the brand in the inbox."

Be clear and not cutesy in subject lines.

Feltes notes that longer subject lines that give recipients a clear idea of what the email is about work best for Emma. She suggests front loading your subject line with something meaty other than your company name. Remember, your subject line is likely to be cut off in the preview pane, so hook those eyeballs immediately. And, especially during an initial contact, be direct rather than clever. "Emma does have a quirk to its voice, but that might not be appropriate for people who are just coming in the door."

Keep your messages consistent.

Have your design team create a look for your emails that is instantly recognizable. " Make sure it has a consistent tone," says Feltes. " You're going for recognition in the early stages—wait until later to show off all your bells and whistles."

Don't forget to have variety in your messages. Go for diversity in your content. Even though the look and voice of your email messages should remain consistent, try different messaging, she says. After all, you never know what will resonate—some segments might respond better to product information, while others might spark to customer stories or data about how your product/service will improve their ROI.

Have a clear call to action.

This is direct marketing 101, but it bears repeating, says Feltes. Make sure the message is consistent, clear and easy to find. "Don't bury it too far down. And have your contact information right up at the top and in the preview pane."

Know why people are responding to your messages and treat them appropriately.

"Treating every lead the same way just doesn't work," says Feltes. "For our part, we need to get smarter with our inquiry forms and be aware if people are really interested in purchasing or just want content."

This problem arose for Emma last year when the company offered a guide for holiday email marketing. The company was treating everyone who downloaded the guide as a potential lead. " We were calling them right away, because we didn't know what they wanted."

A better tactic, she says, would have been to find out upfront if all they wanted at the moment was the content, and then over time offer them more content and nurture the relationship until the prospect was ready to buy.


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