Email marketing is still the backbone of many B2B companies. That’s for a good reason; it may be a bit of a dinosaur compared to newer tactics like inbound, but it still works extremely well.
It’s become a bit of a technical minefield these days, though, with spam appliances getting ever-more advanced and aggressive and groups like Spamhaus primed and ready to blacklist you at the drop of a hat.
Then there’s CAN-SPAM, GDPR and CCPA to contend with. Not to mention how hyper-aware professionals are of marketing-speak, being sold to, and how finely-tuned your messages need to be.
If you want to navigate these challenges and knock your lead gen goals out of the park, read on for our roundup of B2B email marketing rules.
B2B Email Marketing Rules for Killer Cold Campaigns
Rule #1: You’re Only as Good as Your Contact List
You might have the single best email campaign in the history of marketing, sent with the most cutting-edge sending platform. If the contact list you’re sending to is full of bad data, that campaign will flop even worse than Ric Flair did here:
Here’s why. When you acquire a list from anywhere other than a reputable data provider who aggregates their contacts, it’s going to be full of bad data.
Bad data, in this case, means spam traps, email addresses that no longer exist (or never existed in the first place), honeypots, and all kinds of other emails that aren’t potential leads.
When you send to those contacts, you’ll get hard bounces, spam flags, and spam filters glaring at your IP and domain suspiciously.
That’s when blacklisting happens. Getting blacklisted is the kiss of death for email marketing. So ensure you source your contacts from a reputable provider.
Even then, trust but verify. In this case, literally – you should always run your contact list through an email verifier that cleans out the bad data. Because any list, whether purchased or not, will naturally decay over time, cleaning that stuff out before you send is important.
Rule #2: Reduce Friction as Much as Possible
This is a mistake that gets made too often: some marketers link their email CTAs to their home page.
You should always use a dedicated landing page for every campaign you send. That way, you can message-match your email and landing page content, so that there’s a seamless experience for the contact.
Your goal should be to reduce friction as much as possible, to make it easy for people to convert. That means making your form as short as possible (and putting it right up the top of your landing page), and creating a landing page that expands on and supports your email content.
Don’t make them click through your site to find the specific offer your email was talking about. That’s a senseless waste of potential customers, since for every step they have to take, people will drop off.
Rule #3: Make It Personal
Personalization tokens are a given in any good email sending platform these days. The trick is to use them properly.
For opted-in leads, you’ll have a lot more data to use for personalization. When it comes to cold contacts, you’re often a lot more limited – usually just to their name and company.
Fortunately, those are the most important things to know.
Let’s be real – everyone knows that when you get an email that greets you by name, it’s just an automatic token. Most people are savvy enough to be aware that that’s the case for pretty much any personal information in a marketing email.
The thing is, it doesn’t matter. It still works. It’s even expected; a marketing email that lacks any kind of personalization just comes off as lazy.
Experiment with using tokens in different ways, in your subject line and working it into your email copy. If you can give even the slightest impression that you might have created this email specifically for the person reading it, you’re doing it right.
Rule #4: Never Neglect Your Subject
If you’re not taking as much time to craft your subject line as you are the rest of your email, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
Sure, it’s only a handful of words – how important can it be?
Turns out, it’s kind of critical.
Actually, there’s no “kind of” about it. Your subject line is what makes your email stand out from the tons of other emails in your contacts’ inboxes.
If your subject line is weak, your body content and landing page don’t matter at all because nobody’s going to see them. Because they won’t open your email. Because your subject line is bad.
It’s very much worthwhile to spend time crafting, testing and refining your subject lines. Getting eyeballs aimed at your email is the first step towards success!
Rule #5: Always Be Testing
Never send a campaign without some sort of A/B test in place. If you’re always testing, you’re always improving.
This can be anything from your subject line tokens to whether you use an image in your email or not, or different landing page strategies – anything you can think of, you can test.
Only test one variable at a time though. That way, you can concretely say that one variation did better than the other, keep the winner and scrap the loser.
A/B testing is valuable for every channel you’ve got, not just email. That said, with cold email campaigns, your lists can be immense and that generates a whole lot of data points with each test.
Once you adopt a testing-based strategy for improvement, you can try all kinds of strategies without entirely committing to a tactic you aren’t sure about. It means you can comfortably experiment with new content, and occasionally you’ll happen upon a change that will give you a big boost.
Rule #6: Don’t Scare the Spam Appliances
Spam filters are like skittish cats: slow to trust, quick to flee. Or junk your emails. Okay, not my best analogy, moving on…
Spam appliances judge your trustworthiness based on a sender reputation or sender score. This is a score from 1-100 that tells them how likely your messages are to be spam.
It’s really easy to damage your reputation, and can be difficult to bounce back from. Once your reputation is damaged, your emails will start going to the junk folder more frequently – which means your engagement is lower, which can result in a lower reputation … you see what’s happening?
Keeping your sender score high is critical, and it’s also something many marketers aren’t really very aware of.
It’s a pretty technical, deep topic, which you can read more about here.
Rule #7: Be Aware of the Actual Rules
Depending where you’re operating, cold B2B email has different legislation around it. It’s important that you understand the ramifications and requirements around your activities.
GDPR is still a big buzzword, and to a lesser extent the ePrivacy Regulation is as well. You can check out our roundup on both of them right here.
CAN-SPAM is the main legislation around email marketing, and has particular requirements. You can learn everything you need to know about how to send email marketing without spamming in this guide.
Follow these B2B email marketing rules and you’ll be well on your way to success.