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The Power of Email Marketing: Seizing the Opportunity in B2B
Marketing Foundations

The Power of Email Marketing: Seizing the Opportunity in B2B

Email marketing is arguably the first vehicle for content marketing and lead generation. But in the age of <insert whatever technology or channel you want that’s “hot”>, isn’t email dead?

I probably get asked this question once per year, and my answer is always the same: no. Email marketing remains a crucial tool for marketers looking to engage with their audience and drive conversions.

The proof? 88% of people check their email daily, and most of those people check it multiple times.

ZeroBounce Email Statistics Report for 2024
ZeroBounce Email Statistics Report for 2024

However, only 50% of B2B marketers say email is their most impactful channel (via EMARKETER). This begs the question: where are the rest of you, and why aren’t you leveraging this powerful tool?

Maybe your hesitation is explained here: 59% of Americans say that most emails they receive are not useful to them (Edison Mail, 2023 via HubSpot).

Instead of seeing this as a challenge, let me issue this rallying cry. B2B marketers: let’s do email marketing better. Say it with me:

“By creating targeted, valuable content and utilizing various email marketing strategies, I can effectively engage with my audience and drive results.”

Fired up? Great! Now let’s take a closer look at how to use different types of email campaigns to achieve your marketing goals.

Types of Email Marketing

Email marketing comes in various forms, each with its own purpose and benefits. Some might be appropriate for you, some may not. How do you know? Just like we say with nearly every marketing endeavor: You must think about your audience first. What do they need? And how can we give it to them through email? You must consider that first before you get to messaging, creative, or format.

But back to those formats. Here are four common types we’ll break down in a head-to-head way since they are sometimes confused with each other.

1. eBlast vs. eNewsletter

eBlasts are one-time, standalone email campaigns designed to promote a specific offer, event, or announcement.

Example: I’m a user of Grammarly, but only the free version. I receive occasional marketing emails from them with offers to join premium. Yes, I receive these periodically, but they are not connected in the same way a regular newsletter would be. The subject lines, cadence, look and messaging are different.

Send date: April 5

Subject line:⌛ Limited time: $85 for a year of Premium

Send date: April 24

Subject line: 📢 Last chance for 50% off Premium

Grammarly eBlast Example

Grammarly Flash Sale eBlast Examples

eNewsletters are regularly scheduled emails (e.g., weekly or monthly) that provide 
valuable content, industry news, and updates to subscribers. 

Example: Grammarly (I swear this isn’t an #ad) sends a weekly writing update email. I generally open it because the subject line is encouraging (this week: You’re a writing powerhouse! 💪) and so is the rest of the content. I love knowing how productive I am compared to other users and which Tone is rising to the top of my writing.

Grammarly Weekly Update Newsletter

Before you embark on sending an eNewsletter it’s important to consider:

    • Who am I sending it to? Are these prospects? Customers? A mix? Depending on your business a mixed audience may work. Otherwise you might need to consider segmentation.
    • Your editorial purpose: why are you sending it? What value is your audience going to get out of it
    • Your frequency: what will benefit the audience AND be possible to commit to for your organization. Maybe you love the idea of a weekly send but don’t have the resources (including time) to pull that off.

In summary: eNewsletters are sent at an expected cadence. eBlasts are one-offs, but like the Grammarly example, it doesn’t mean they have to be sent only once.

2. Drip Campaigns vs Nurture Campaigns

Marketers often use these terms interchangeably, but in our opinion there are distinct differences between them.

Drip campaigns are a series of emails sent at a regular interval you define - i.e. weekly at 10:00 am, every 10 days, etc. It gets its name because it literally drips like a faucet that you either need to turn off or fix. Meaning, the full series is sent to the defined recipients unless they unsubscribe.

Linear Drip Marketing Campaign Flow

Drip example: send a Welcome Series to new newsletter subscribers. I’m inspired here (as always) by Joe Pulizzi in what he sends to new subscribers of his newsletter, The Random. Here’s what he says:

  • Day 1: Ask them what they would like to receive from me and give them my free goal-setting guide. I learned this from Ann Handley (always ask a question to subscribers first. You get insight and it helps deliverability).
  • Day 2: Give them my free investing guide and why I believe it’s helpful.
  • Day 3: Deliver my “best of” content – articles, speeches, podcast episodes.
  • Day 4: Focus on how I can help or work with the person long-term.

Joe’s sequence is across four days, but maybe your sequence is across four weeks. When crafting a drip, consider what your audience can bear in terms of cadence (and you may not know without testing) that won’t annoy them in terms of hearing from you too often, as well as what your purpose is for that series.

Nurture campaigns are a series of messages sent based on the lead/contact’s behavior to get them to an ultimate conversion destination. They are sent via triggers (i.e. listening for a digital signal) vs. on a schedule. Triggers could be links clicked, pages viewed, forms filled out, videos watched, webinars registered for, demos requested, etc.

What’s the ultimate conversion destination? This depends on your buyer’s journey and where your prospects or customers are in the funnel, but could include:

  • Visiting a key page
  • Watching a video
  • Downloading a high-value content piece
  • Registering or participating in a webinar
  • Booking a demo
  • Signing up for a free trial
  • Requesting a quote
  • Talking with sales

Note that I said prospects OR customers. While the most common use is to nurture leads towards a closed-sale, you can also nurture customers. It works well for brands that have opportunities to cross-sell or upsell, or even if you have new offerings your existing customers could benefit from.

Post-order or pre-delivery nurture streams could also help you set a great tone with customers about your level of service and support. This can be particularly effective for considered purchases that might have longer lead times to fulfill. It can help the customers stay excited and feeling good about their purchases as well as help create brand affinity.

Nurture example: CID ran a campaign last year to promote a content piece we created called “Discover the Brand Universe.” We ran lead-gen ads on LinkedIn so users could download the guide directly from the platform. Then we sent their contact information to HubSpot (our CRM and marketing automation platform) so they’d receive a series of emails that dug in further on the pillars of brand and showcased real-world examples of our expertise. Every message included a CTA to Schedule a Conversation with us. If someone successfully completed the action after an email, they stopped receiving subsequent emails.

Example of a Nurture Campaign after a LinkedIn Lead Gen Ad Conversion

In this example, there are triggers on both sides - 1 to kick it off (the download) and another to stop it (booking the conversation). This is pretty simplified, but you could create more complex nurture streams that are aligned your sales funnel. For example:

  • Raw Inquiry or Unqualified Lead: Intro email; thank them for signing up/downloading your resource, etc. Whatever action they took. Be specific. Be clear they’ve opted in and are going to get ongoing resources and information from you.
  • Marketing Qualified Lead: provide additional resources, but be sure they are speaking to pain points and solutions. You can use ungated or gated content (blog posts, eBooks, whitepapers, maybe a webinar). If gated, keep the forms short so you don’t prohibit form fills, but valuable so you learn more about the lead (challenges, purchase intent, budget, need, timing, etc.)
  • Sales Accepted Lead: marketing doesn’t have to stop because they are talking to sales. But at this point, you could get more sophisticated with the technology and send the emails “from” their sales rep so they are building rapport and trust. Content should still be helpful, but driving more directly toward a goal: setting a meeting, requesting a quote, etc. Case studies, buyer’s guides, and ROI calculators can be helpful at this stage.
  • Sales Qualified Lead: even if the prospect has a deal or opportunity, you can still nurture the close. These messages should reinforce the reasons to believe in your product or solution. Depending on your organization’s pricing strategy, this could also be the time to create a sense of urgency by offering a percentage off if they sign by a specific date, etc.

In summary: both Drip and Nurture campaigns are a way to stay in front of your prospects or customers. Use drip campaigns when you have a series of messages you want to get in front of people no matter what. Use nurture campaigns when you have a clearly defined buyer’s journey and want to get them to the ultimate conversion destination.

And Last, but not Least: Opting in and Why it Matters
Opting in has become a crucial aspect of data privacy and user control. CAN-SPAM, the U.S. anti-spam law around commercial emails, is celebrating its 20th anniversary, but countless other privacy and data regulations have come on the scene in recent years, including (but not limited to):

    • CASL: Canada’s Anti-Spam Law
    • GDPR: the EU law that’s set a new standard for data privacy
    • UK GDPR (yep, since Brexit, they have their own)
    • CCPA: California Consumer Privacy Act
    • ADPPA: American Data Privacy Protection Act

We’re not going to get into all of the specifics of each. We will say that unfortunately due to some pretty large data breaches over the years, people are more aware of the importance of protecting their personal information, including their email address.

This is where the power of first-party data comes into play. First-party data is information that you collect directly from your audience with their consent. By focusing on building your own email list through opt-ins, you can create a valuable asset that allows you to communicate directly with your audience without relying on third-party platforms or data sources. This not only helps you comply with privacy regulations but also builds trust with your subscribers.

So make sure that you always:

    1. Obtain consent before emailing anyone, especially for your 1-to-many marketing emails.
    2. Note somewhere in the email (such as the footer) that they are receiving the email because they’ve opted-in to hear from you.
    3. Provide a clear and easy way for subscribers to opt out of your emails.

With all of these options available for engaging audiences at every stage in their relationship with your brand, it’s easy to see why email marketing is such a powerful tool. The key is being strategic about how and when you use it. When done well you can see higher open rates, more click-throughs, increased conversions, and most importantly, happier subscribers who eagerly anticipate your emails.

Ready to take your email marketing to the next level but don't know where to start? We’re here to help. From eye-catching designs to compelling copy and smart strategies, we'll work with you every step of the way to ensure your emails stand out in crowded inboxes.

Let's make email marketing work harder for you! Send us a message now.

Heather Vaughn

Heather Vaughn

Executive Director of Marketing

Heather Vaughn is CI Design's Marketing Services Director. Her marketing career has been split with equal time on the agency and client sides, giving her a 360 perspective on marketing, and a keen understanding of how to use all its glorious data effectively.

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