In today’s crowded, noisy marketing environment, to build brand awareness among B2B buyers can be a struggle. In the B2B marketing world, brands face a double-edged challenge when it comes to balancing brand and demand generation. B2B marketers must:
• Communicate the value of a complex product or service in a way that gets the attention of B2B buyers
• Stay top-of-mind with a B2B audience that is constantly bombarded with messages
While many brands address this challenge by seeking out the latest B2B marketing “shiny objects,” it may surprise you to find out that good old email marketing still reigns supreme in the battle for brand awareness.
Why Email Marketing Is the New Black in B2B Marketing
Back when social media was new on the scene, many so-called gurus were heralding the death of email as a brand-building venue. Today not only is email marketing alive and well, but given the “reachpocalypse” we’re seeing on popular social networks, it’s enjoying a new renaissance in demand generation.
When a prospect agrees to be added to your email list, they’re inviting you into the online equivalent of their living room — their inbox. Instead of putting a message out there and hoping that some mysterious algorithm will allow it to be seen, you can speak directly to your B2B buyer targets in a place where they spend a large chunk of their days.
If you’re still not convinced that email marketing is the next big thing for building brand awareness, check out these the latest statistics:
• Every dollar spent on email marketing yields an average return of $38.
• Email has higher conversion rates than both search and social media.
• In a recent survey, 72 percent of respondents said they preferred communication with companies to happen through email.
• 88 percent of smartphone users check email on their phones regularly.
How to Use Email Marketing to Build Brand Awareness with B2B Buyers
For B2B marketing teams looking to make an impression and stay top-of-mind with their audiences, email is the obvious choice. Of course, to enjoy the benefits of email marketing, it’s essential to approach it strategically. We’ve put together a list of seven best practices to help you build your brand, grab prospects’ attention, and stay top-of-mind all the way through the buyer’s journey.
1. Get Permission
You can’t build brand awareness if you start off on the wrong foot by drowning prospects in emails they never agreed to receive.
Yes, it sounds basic, but you’d be surprised how many brands skip this vital step of asking people to opt in to their email lists. Regardless of who your targets are or how you acquired their addresses, you must get their clear permission to add them to your list. If you don’t, you risk not only being reported as a spammer, but also damaging your brand reputation among the people you’re looking to engage.
2. Put Out the Welcome Mat
Growing your email list by one more address is a good thing, right? Yet many brands fail to offer a single word of welcome to new subscribers.
A brief welcome email builds brand awareness by giving you a chance to showcase your brand at its best. Take this opportunity to highlight how your content will help new subscribers do their jobs better, to invite their input and feedback, and most importantly, to make them feel good about being part of your community.
3. Focus on Your Audience
Have you ever seen a pitch that goes something like this: “Sign up for our e-newsletter and get the latest scoop on what’s going on in our company!” If you yawned and tapped the Delete button, you’re probably one of many who did the same.
Customers and prospects don’t sign up for your email list to hear what’s going on with you — they want help with what’s going on with them. Build your brand by building your email content around your audience — their interests, challenges, and pain points — and offering valuable insights that highlight your brand attributes. Once they understand that your emails are focused on their interests (and not your own), they’ll be much more likely to keep engaging with you.
4. Segment and Personalize
Your emails will be individual drops in the deluge of messages that flow into your prospects’ inboxes on a daily basis — how do you make them stand out? Through personalization.
Have you ever had the experience of being at a noisy, crowded event and hearing someone mention your name from all the way across the room? That’s how personalization works, and it goes way beyond names. When people see content offering solutions to a specific problem they’re dealing with, using the same language they use, they can’t help but take notice.
To personalize your emails effectively, the first step is segmentation. Go through your email list and see which groups of contacts would benefit from having their own approach to content. For example, a CEO and a mid-level manager may be dealing with the same problem, but they probably see it from very different perspectives. By segmenting your audience, you can focus on the perspectives and priorities of each group of readers.
Personalization is one area where intent signal data can be a valuable resource. Intent monitoring allows you to see your targets’ online activity, which offers valuable insights into the challenges they’re facing, how they see those challenges, and the language they use to talk about those challenges. You can then take these insights and spin them into laser-focused, personalized email content designed to attract attention from those you want to reach.
5. Be Yourself
When companies approach brand awareness, they often focus exclusively on the “awareness” part and forget about the brand, which is equally if not more important.
Every email you send should incorporate the elements that make your brand distinct: not just your logo and color palette, but everything that makes up your brand personality. Remember, if you sound like everybody else, your content will get lost in the shuffle. So create unique email content that incorporates your brand voice, your language, and the qualities that make you unique.
6. Have a Strong CTA
As soon as you begin working on an email marketing asset, think about the call to action (CTA) — what do you want the reader to do after enjoying your content? Sign up for a webinar? Schedule a demo? Download a white paper?
Every email should have one (and only one) CTA designed to take the reader to the next level of the buyer’s journey. Make it obvious what you’re asking them to do and what they will get as a result, and make your link obvious so that it’s as easy as possible for them to take the next step.
7. Be Consistent
If we had to sum up the mission of marketing in two words, “building trust” would probably be fairly accurate. Everything you do is aimed at convincing prospects to trust that you can and will solve their problems. And you can’t build trust without consistency.
Being consistent in your approach to email marketing — from the formatting of your emails to your delivery schedule — allows you to build the trust that can turn prospects into customers. If your email recipients can trust you in little things, such as delivering your e-newsletter at the same time and on the same day every week, they’re more likely to trust you with bigger things such as solving their business challenges.
With this principle in mind, make sure your email marketing is consistent in:
• Topic selection (see #3 above, “Focus on Your Audience”)
• Visual look and feel
• Voice and tone (see #5 above, “Be Yourself”)
• Delivery schedule
Remember, when prospects agree to be on your email list, they are inviting you into the hallowed territory of their inbox. By following the best practices discussed above, you can return the favor by offering them a valuable content experience that builds your brand with every iteration. When those iterations add up, they create a unique brand experience, building the affinity, trust, and loyalty that can turn prospects into customers.
B2B marketing teams across industries are realizing the unique advantages of email marketing for building brand awareness. And given the tools and technologies we now have available — such as intent monitoring and personalization — we can make better use of it than ever before.