Brian Carroll

Email Marketing: 4 steps to relevancy 85% of B2B businesses probably aren’t taking

Email marketing is a mature marketing tactic, yet I don’t believe B2B organizations are capitalizing on its potential to generate leads.

I realized this when I read MarketingSherpa’s just-released 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Report. They surveyed 594 B2B and B2G marketers, of which just about half send out 10,000 to 10 million emails every month. The top priority for the entire group is to deliver highly relevant emails – it ranks above even driving website traffic and revenue.

This makes sense, considering highly relevant email will achieve the other two goals.

But, I wonder how easily they can create highly relevant emails when only 15% reported they have dedicated resources to produce content for each stage of the buying process, as you can see in the below chart, Chart 3.32 – Tactics utilized to improve email relevance and engagement:

Q: Which of the following tactics is your organization using to improve the relevance and engagement of email content delivered to subscribers?


This makes me wonder what is being sent in those 10,000-plus emails each month:

  • Do they know what information their prospects want at each stage of the buying cycle?
  • Do they know how they want to consume that information?
  • Do they have the means to provide that information through their emails?

If they can’t confidently answer “yes” to these questions, how do they expect to achieve their goal of producing emails that are relevant to their marketplace?

I discussed this with my colleague Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS, and he agreed with my concern and related a conversation he had with one of our company’s Research Partners. They, too, wanted to send emails that were relevant and didn’t know where to begin. Typically, as a matter of rote, they blasted out an email every week about one of their products. The marketing team knew it wasn’t the optimal approach, but didn’t have the time to think it through – the emails had become merely another part of their weekly list of activities.

Daniel advised them to ask these questions before any email send:

  • What is the goal they’re trying to achieve? What is the pain they’re trying to ease? Essentially, know your audience. (I know this is Marketing 101, but when the vast majority of B2B organizations aren’t dedicating the resources to respond to these issues in emails, I thought it needed to be pointed out.)
  • Is this a content-focused or promotional email? If it’s content-focused, then what content do you have that’s going to help them ease their pain or achieve their goals? And remember, good content doesn’t sell – it provides information to help prospects regardless of whether they buy from you.  (Promotional emails may teeter way too much on the brink of spam unless they can directly relieve a prospects’ pain point or help them achieve a goal.)
  • Why should they open your email? Does the subject line clearly and concisely convey why it’s worth it for them to use their precious time to read it? Are you making a promise you can deliver on?
  • Why should they want to engage with you further after reading the email? If you’re directing your audience to a landing page, what in the email should compel them to click through to read it? What’s in it for them if they do? Does that landing page deliver the promised value? Is it crystal clear what their next step should be? Again, what’s in it for them if they take that next step?

Taking Daniel’s advice will put marketers well on their way to achieving their goal of email relevancy, and all of the benefits that come with it.

Related Resources:

Email Marketing: How to maintain low opt-out rates

Email Marketing: Only 21% of marketers integrating mobile with email

Email Deliverability: Only 39% of marketers maintain an opt-in only subscriber list

Email Marketing: 3 overlooked aspects of automated messages

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn

Email Marketing , , ,



  1. | #1

    Brian, you’re absolutely correct!
    Online email marketing isn’t something
    that everyone is capitalizing upon, yet it is
    oh so simple and effective.
    I could not agree more.

  2. | #2

    I found this piece very informative
    as I’ve used its strategies toward my
    own network and IT WORKS!
    Thanks Brian.

  3. | #3

    Great post! Too often, companies conduct email campaigns that rarely bring good results. What you’ve written is an excellent guide for marketers interested in increasing conversion of their leads.

  1. | #1
  2. | #2
  3. | #3
  4. | #4
  5. | #5
  6. | #6
  7. | #7
  8. | #8
  9. | #9
  10. | #10
  11. | #11
  12. | #12