January 11, 2021 6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
It’s not fair, but it’s a fact: business-to-business (B2B) newsletters don’t get as much attention as business-to-consumer (B2C) emails. According to the DMA, B2B newsletters have an average open rate of 20.6 percent, which is 1.8 percent lower than B2C emails.
On the other hand, it’s fascinating to look at these stats:
When it comes to ROI, email reigns supreme in both B2B and B2C industries: the average return is $42 for every $1 spent. Nonetheless, B2B newsletters can be a challenge for many companies. What kind of content should you send? How often? Should you try to sell through your newsletter?
Let’s answer these questions below.
Ask yourself if your email is useful
Aleksey Danchenko, co-founder and COO of marketing automation platform eSputnik, has a simple rule that guides him and his team. “Before writing an email to your business partners or clients,” he says, “ask yourself these questions: Is this email useful? What pain points will it solve? After reading it, are people likely to open my future emails?”
Danchenko brings up a great point: if there’s one vital purpose a newsletter should serve, it’s to solve a problem or fulfill a need. This applies even more to the B2B space, where the right kind of content can move a lead down the sales funnel — fast.
So, when picking a topic, keep your subscribers in mind and do your best to be of service to them. Your B2B newsletter should be educational and informational, but that doesn’t mean you must refrain from selling at all costs. If you’re running a promotional campaign, don’t be afraid to include it in your newsletter, as well. A call-to-action button is a great reminder of a promo people could otherwise miss.
Let your subject line draw people in
How many emails do you get on an average day? My inbox can see up to 100, and if you run a business, yours probably doesn’t look much different.
Now, what determines whether you open an email or not? If it’s the subject line, you’re among the 47 percent of people who open an email based only on its subject. This goes to show how important those first few words are and why it’s worth the effort to get them right.
Nailing your subject lines can take time. At ZeroBounce, we spent months studying what our subscribers react to and what they tend to ignore. To sum up what we found, the subject lines that get the most opens:
- are on the short side — 40 characters or less
- include numbers — such as “5 ways to…” or “3 tips for…”
- are honest and informative — give people a summary of your content without resorting to any tricks.
Think of your subject line as the headline of an article. It should inform and entice people to click by appealing to their curiosity.
Focus more on copy than on visual elements
What’s more important in a B2B newsletter – the copy or the visuals? Of course, both should work together in creating an enjoyable reading experience. But B2B audiences are a lot more demanding when it comes to copy, eSputnik’s COO Aleksey Danchenko found.
“B2C brands can benefit from creative design, fun text, fancy call-to-action buttons, gamification, dynamic content or any other elements that entertain and provide a quick distraction,” Danchenko told me. “In B2B, what you write in a newsletter matters more than any impressive visuals. Business people are immune to marketing tricks and like to get straight to the point,” the entrepreneur says.
Make it easy to read
Another important aspect is the layout of your B2B newsletter. First, take a look at some of the emails you most enjoy reading. What do they look like? Chances are you won’t see excessively small fonts or overwhelming chunks of text. Instead, short paragraphs and eye-friendly fonts win the race.
“Reading your email shouldn’t feel like work to your subscribers. A simple, well-structured template and copy that’s easy to read will increase your engagement,” Aleksey Danchenko believes. “While images are optional, make sure to have enough space between lines, use bullet points and subtitles, and your content will be a lot easier to digest,” he adds.
Also, don’t forget to test your emails before you send it, to see that it renders well across all devices.
Find the perfect sending frequency
I often hear business partners wondering how often they should send their newsletters. The truth is there’s no hard rule: send it as often as your audience wants. The only way to determine that is to test different sending frequencies.
At ZeroBounce, we send one newsletter a week, but there are companies that compile their best content into one monthly email. Perhaps your audience would prefer to hear from you every other week — test and find out.
Once you learn what your subscribers like, stick to your schedule. Not only does this build your brand awareness, but it also maintains your sending IP warm and supports your deliverability.
Validate your contacts regularly
Being confident about your content is a sign you’ve done your homework and you know a lot about your audience. Now, how confident are you about reaching it?
B2B email addresses tend to become obsolete faster than B2C contacts. With the pandemic causing millions of people to lose their jobs, data decay has accelerated this year. That means senders have to be more proactive about their email list hygiene and ensure they keep their bounce rate under control.
So, before you send out your next B2B newsletter, verify your list for accuracy. A good email validation service will spot any invalid and abandoned email addresses, along with other types of risky contacts. While your database will shrink in size, it will increase in quality and you’ll have a higher chance of reaching people’s inboxes.