Email MarketingIf you’re in the B2B space and want email subscribers, there’s a magic formula for success—make it easy. Email subscribers want the same thing we all want; for the process to be quick, easy and deliver valuable information in return. And, if you’re a marketer, we likely don’t have to tell you why this is significant. This data comes from a recent post from Marketing Profs, citing a report from Return Path, which focuses on some interesting changes in email marketing tactics.

How Email Marketing Tactics Have Changed in the Last Five Years

B2B marketers want just one thing from email: success. And data proves out the “less is more” theory. In 2008, just 20% of marketers were inclined to limit an email signup to just an email address and today, more than 33% think that’s just fine. The reality is, that smart email marketers get it. By making the opt-in process more efficient and less cumbersome, more consumers are opting in. Sweeeet. Even better, those relaxed “standards” have little or no impact on open rates, inbox placement, or complaints. Even sweeter.

Rethinking the Unsubscribe

One shift that we think is particularly interesting is a change in the traditionally black-and-white thinking about email opt-outs. Instead of just giving subscribers the “unsubscribe” button as an option, marketers are expanding their thinking and providing opt-out alternatives. These alternatives include asking for feedback about what kind of messaging customers want to receive as well as the frequency they’d like to receive it, which helps for further segmentation and customization of corporate email initiatives.

This customer feedback also helps fuel the success of future campaigns in a big way, as well as fine-tuning your list as well as your lead funnel.

Moving Away From the Me-Me-Me Mindset

Marketers are also (finally) beginning to understand the importance of delivering value to their readers and creating long-lasting relationships instead of constantly embracing the sell-sell-sell, wholly brand-focused mindset.

In fact, some 80% of brands are kicking off the beginning of their email relationships with “welcome” messages—something that was nearly unheard of just five years ago. While the use of welcome messages is on the increase, special offers are becoming less important. Only 39% of the brands in the report included special offers, such as discounts, free products or free shipping to their subscribers, which is a sharp decrease from 2008, when 65% included such offers. That is music to our ears. Marketers, on the whole, seem to be realizing that engaging with their customers and talking to them (call us crazy) like they are people will actually increase trust, lead to long-term relationships and create connections that aren’t based “what’s in it for me” goodies and/or stories about the brand’s latest and greatest successes. It all goes back to delivering value, addressing pain points and solving problems as a basic premise of content marketing and forging relationships based on trust.

Keeping It Personal?

The success and prevalence of welcome messaging notwithstanding, there’s still a big piece of the puzzle missing. Of the brands followed in the Return Path report, only 22% reported that their email campaigns personalize subject lines, message or signature even though data shows that adding personalized signatures and subject lines can result in an increased percentage of click-throughs and higher open rates. In short, it’s pretty clear that if you want the email opened and want to create a lasting customer relationship, adding personalization to your email is too simple and too important a step to ignore. And really? It’s so stinking easy to personalize your messaging that it absolutely makes no sense not to do so.

Email Kicks Social’s Butt

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone paying attention that when it comes to effectiveness, email marketing absolutely outranks social. And it should. Email is, in general, inexpensive, easy and a great form of one-on-one communication that social media can’t match, especially in the B2B space. For brands putting their eggs in the social media basket rather than focusing on building and growing their email lists and putting email at the very top of their integrated marketing tool list is a misstep. I mention this almost every time I’m speaking at a conference–when you compare email marketing to social media marketing, there’s just one question to answer—who owns your list? Facebook owns your fans, LinkedIn owns your connections and Twitter owns your followers. You have zero control over what those platforms ultimately do with those networks you’ve created. Conversely, you own your email list. And that database is one of your most important corporate assets—you should treat it as such. And your focus, instead of growing Facebook fans, should always be on growing and segmenting and cleaning your email database. That, beyond measure, will do you a world of good.

In summary, focus on building your email list and making it easy for customers and prospects to opt-in. Create content that delivers value, personalize your emails whenever possible and ask your customers, on a regular basis, what they want and need. Then provide it. It really is that simple.

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