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Despite rumors of its demise, email marketing remains a workhorse for B2B marketing. In fact, 95 percent of B2B marketers use it. Marketers consider it to be the best channel for distributing content, and it also generates revenues. According to Fast Company, for every dollar invested in email marketing, there is a $43 return. That’s a staggering 4,300 percent ROI.

If B2B email marketing is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

So how do you maximize your chances of reaping that $43 return … or perhaps even more? Here are some best practices that can increase your chances for B2B email marketing success.

  • Get Personal

    When it comes to email personalization, people often think they can simply add the recipient’s name to the subject line and be done with it. It’s true that this simple change can have a powerful impact on open rates. When it comes to personalization, however, more is better.

    Keep formats simple, using rich text emails. After all, if you were writing to a friend or colleague, you would not create an HTML 5 email with a striking design. All you need is plain copy on a white background with some enticing links.

    Since prospects are more interested in relating to people rather than companies, your emails should come from individuals. To add the credibility that your organization has built, you can include the person’s name along with your business’ name. So you might say “From Jeff at 3D2B.” When HubSpot tested this treatment, they discovered that including both company and individual’s name increased open rates (going from 6.57% to 7.10%) and click-through rates (0.73% to 0.96%).


    While the above techniques are easy to implement and will give it bounce to your results, the meat of personalization is in segmenting your lists so you can target individuals with highly relevant emails. Mail Chimp dug into their data to compare 11,000 of their customers’ segmented campaigns, sent to about 9 million recipients, to the same customers’ non-segmented campaigns. They discovered the targeted campaigns had 14.3% higher open rates and double the click-through rates.

  • A/B Test

    When you visit your eye doctor, they sit you in front of an eye chart, big letters at the top and minuscule ones at the bottom. Then they ask you to read it. If the letters blur at some point and become unreadable, the doctor will submit you to a series of tests, varying one lens at a time to see if it improves your vision. In this way, they optimize your eye-glass prescription.

    A/B testing with email marketing uses the same optimization process. You test one variable at a time. For instance, you can look at how results are affected by the timing of emails, email subject lines, the from-line, the message within the email and more. Then you analyze your metrics to see what works best so you can improve your email success. This step-by-step process takes time and discipline, but it yields results.

  • Time it Right

    When is the best day and time to send emails?

    Unfortunately, there seem to be as many answers to this question as there are studies that look into it. This article on OptinMonster rounds up the analyses and comes in with the verdict that weekdays are better than the weekend, but the weekday you choose will not make a substantial difference in your success rates.

How about the time of day? The consensus is that the early bird gets the worm. You’ll likely do better if you schedule your email marketing in the morning. You may do best by sending your emails before people get to work, so businesspeople can open them when they go through their early-morning coffee-and-email routines.

Of course, these timing recommendations are just a starting point. A/B test to find out the times of day and days of the week that work best for your organization.

  • Deliver Tasty Content

    Product promotions work well in moderation, but people do not want to be sold all the time. What do they want? Help. And if you provide what they’re looking for, you’ll build trust and brand reputation.

    So it’s a good idea to incorporate informative, relevant content into your emails. Send out an email with links to a couple of your blog articles or white papers or invite readers to a webinar that helps them solve a problem.

  • Steer Clear of Spam Traps

    To avoid spam traps, you need a high-quality list of people who have opted in to receive communications from you. Scraping websites for email addresses may be a quick way to build a list, but over the long-term it’s risky.

    Also, you should use your list frequently to minimize the number of bounced emails you generate — those that go to invalid email addresses. If you email often, you can delete the bounced ones each time, so you never have too many at once. It’s important because ISPs see high bounce rates as warning signs that the email might be spam.

    What you put in your email subject line can also trigger the spam traps. For instance, you should steer clear of exclamation points and caps. There has also been much speculation on the words in a subject line that can get emailers in trouble. If you hear a word is out of bounds, make sure the advice is based on robust testing, not hearsay. “Free” is a word marketers avoid because it has been marked as a spam trap trigger. In an A/B test HubSpot conducted, however, they discovered that using the word “free” in the subject line only had a minor effect on delivery. A 17% increase in click-through rates more than overcame that negative impact.

So if you want to increase your success with email marketing, keep your email personal, discover the timing that works best for your targeted prospect, combine promotional emails with helpful content, stay away from spam traps and test, test, test until you have a crystal clear vision of your winning email marketing tactics.