A lot goes into becoming a successful email marketer.
The right technology doesn’t hurt.
However, as with just about any endeavor, one of the best things you can do is develop the kinds of habits others have used to create highly successful email marketing campaigns.
Get in the habit of doing what works best, and success is inevitable. Fail to develop these habits and successful campaigns will be few and far between – if ever.
7 habits of the most successful B2B marketers
What works best for your company will depend on your market and other unique factors.
Still, these are the seven habits all successful B2B marketers have followed to achieve incredible, sustainable results.
1. Starting with a strategy in mind
Successful email marketing requires a strategy.
In fact, the fastest way to ensure your email marketing efforts fail would be to get started without any kind of plan – just sending emails on random subjects whenever the mood strikes you.
Instead, you should create specific email types that you’ll automate for certain reasons. These generally include:
- Order confirmation
- Abandoned cart reminders
But you should also have a strategy for ongoing content that you’ll send your entire list on a weekly basis.
Later on, we’ll cover two habits that directly relate to a winning email strategy: segmentation and helpful content.
Once you read those sections, you’ll have a better idea of how to create an email marketing strategy.
Just remember: It doesn’t have to be perfect to get started. Successful email marketing never happens overnight. Start with a basic strategy and refine over time (another helpful habit).
2. Segmenting their email list
As we just alluded to, successful email marketing requires successful segmentation.
This refers to the practice of identifying the different categories among your email subscribers.
For example, if you sell software for professionals in human resources, your list is probably made up of those who work at small businesses, those who work at medium-sized businesses, and professionals working at enterprises.
Presumably, each of these categories has different interests. Someone who works for a small business might need information about handling taxes for independent contractors. Someone at a large corporation would probably be more interested in handling taxes for workers spread out all over the world.
The point is that if you try sending the same email to your entire list, you won’t be happy with the results.
You might have several different categories, too.
The segments in our example would be based on the size of the company. However, you may also have HR professionals located across different continents, so you could break down your list by country, too.
In any case, successful email marketers make it a habit to send out emails which will constantly give them feedback about the makeup of their lists.
So, among your small business recipients, you may find that half open emails with subject lines about taxes. The other half ignores those but opens emails with subject lines about cutting accounting costs. That’s two more sub-segments within a segment.
The more you find these types of segments, the better you can target your emails, and the better your results will be.
3. Always checking analytics
One very easy way to learn about your segments is with a simple survey. You can literally ask your recipients to help identify themselves for you.
Understandably, these aren’t the most exciting emails. Don’t be surprised if recipients don’t go out of their way to open them and take the time to fill them out.
Instead, the secret to identifying your segments and measuring how well you’re addressing them is with email analytics.
At the very least, these should include:
- Open Rate – What percentage of recipients open your emails?
- Bounce Rate – What percentage of your emails “bounce” back because the address no longer works or there’s a technical issue?
- Click-Through Rate – What percentage of your subscribers clicked the link for your CTA (call-to-action)?
- Opt-Out Rate – What percentage of your subscribers unsubscribed after your latest email?
“Go with your gut” is a foreign concept to anyone who is successful with email marketing. Every decision they make is driven by analytics.
Moreover, they make it a habit to check their analytics daily. They want the most updated numbers about their campaigns, so they can adjust their strategy as necessary.
4. Constantly A/B testing their emails
A/B testing your emails means sending out two or more of the exact same messages with just one change made to each.
Probably the most common example in email marketing is A/B testing those all-important subject lines. If you wanted to test two different subject lines, you’d send an email on the same topic and just change that one variable. The email that gets opened more is clearly the one with the winning subject line.
Obviously, you don’t want to recycle the same subject line over and over, but that test would give you a good idea of what kinds of subject lines work best.
You can test all kinds of other variables, too:
- Time and day sent
- Email length
Successful email marketing is about always testing and retesting, so you’re constantly improving. The moment you become complacent, you risk losing to competitors.
5. Offering content without a CTA
For many companies, the attraction to email marketing is because this channel offers the highest ROI.
Unfortunately, this fools many of them into thinking that every email they send should be with the sole intent of closing a sale. They make sure that they finish each message with a call-to-action that will bring recipients to a landing page.
Then they are absolutely shocked when that legendary ROI doesn’t surface.
Successful email marketing is a lot like successful inbound marketing: It only works when you provide truly valuable content.
It’s not surprising then that many companies fail at content marketing for the same reason: All of their content is basically sales pages. They don’t educate or improve their readers. Instead, they just build up to a pitch.
It’s okay to sometimes include CTAs in your emails, but wait until your analytics show that you’ve clearly nailed down your segments and your recipients are responsive.
Otherwise, expect low open and high dropout rates. People don’t want endless sales letters. They want helpful information.
Check out this example from Birchbox:
Source: Really Good Emails
With free offers like these, think it’s safe to say they have impressive open rates?
6. Leveraging social proof
Successful email marketers keep a close eye on how many subscribers they have. As we mentioned earlier, it’s an important metric.
However, recipients have no idea how many other people are also receiving your emails.
When you’re just starting out, that’s not such a bad thing.
But when you reach the 1,000-recipient milestone and beyond, you want your recipients to know just how many other people love receiving your email.
This kind of social proof can be incredibly powerful. Recipients will be less likely to unsubscribe if they’re convinced other people are clearly receiving value from your emails.
That’s why successful email marketers are in the habit of reminding their list of how many subscribers they have.
For example, have you ever received an email from a company that was “celebrating” reaching a certain subscriber milestone? They probably offered a special deal to commemorate the achievement, but their real reason was taking the opportunity to tell you that a lot of people really love their emails.
Keep in mind that there are other forms of social proof, too. Social media followers is an obvious one, but so is the number of customers you have.
Here’s how Duolingo makes it clear to their email list that they have a true problem-solving solution:
Image Credit: Hatchbuck
They don’t just tell you how many users they have. Instead, they tell you how many teachers are using their app. Then, they provide examples of what satisfied customers have had to say.
Another way to do this is by simply referencing feedback. Again, you may have seen emails where a company answers a question they received from “one of their subscribers,” even screenshotting part of the email.
This doesn’t just show that they’re helpful. It’s also a subtle reminder that other people are benefiting from being subscribers.
7. Doubling-down on successful emails
Successful email marketing doesn’t require reinventing the wheel. Yes, it’s certainly helpful to think outside the box every now and then. However, as we mentioned earlier, monitoring analytics and running constant tests is how you figure out what works best, so you can return to that tried-and-true approach.
That applies to both content and format.
At the same time, referring to what works is also another opportunity to inject social proof into your strategy.
For example, you can remind recipients of an email you sent a month ago and how you will now address the most common questions people had about it.
Or, you can refer to that email and produce a case study based on a recipient who took the advice in that message and saw amazing results.
Doubling-down like this increases the ROI of every email, even ones that you have already sent out. Again, it also adds social proof to your efforts. Furthermore, it subtly communicates that your emails are being read and having some kind of effect on those readers. In a time when everyone’s inbox is jammed full, there’s a lot to be said for reminding recipients that your messages actually carry potential.
Building a habit doesn’t happen in just a day or two.
Likewise, you shouldn’t expect that the rewards of that habit will arrive right away, either.
Be patient with your email marketing campaigns. Create a strategy, but then get started right away. If you develop all the other habits we covered above, successful email marketing is inevitable, as will the massive ROI it promises.