Ancient secrets for getting B2B email opened and read

Is there a polite way to say that I love being proven right? Is it a “neener, neener” moment?

Yesterday, MarketingSherpa posted the results of research presented at their Email Summit by Bob Johnson, VP and Principal Analyst at IDG Connect. This research addressed “What Motivates Buyers to Receive and Engage with Vendor Email?” (Access to this MarketingSherpa article will close on Ancient Secrets2/20/10.)

What Johnson reported, which I was so pleased to read, is that the elements that make buyers pay attention to opt-in emails are the same ones that have made buyers pay attention to direct marketing messages for decades — possibly centuries.

They are . . .

  • LIST — Influences results by 200%
    How targeted is the list of people who are receiving the message?
  • OFFER — Influences results by 100%
    What information is being offered, what action, what opportunity?
  • CREATIVE — Influences results by 50%
    How clearly does the email communicate the message and the call to action and resonate with the individual reader?

(Other direct marketers may put different percentages on these items, but the relationship between them will remain the same.)

So what did the IDG Connect research reveal?

  • LIST – Obviously, a B2B marketer can’t find any better list than one made up of prospects that have opted-in. Every recipient has raised a hand and asked for information related to the product or service being offered. So that element is as good as it can be.
  • OFFER – The offer is as important as it ever was. MarketingSherpa reports that “Underwhelming offers are the biggest weakness of most emails, according to buyers.” This insight tells B2B marketers exactly what area of their emails they can enhance if they hope to improve their open and response rates.
  • CREATIVE – The survey shows two creative elements that can make an impact on email response. One is recognizing the sender. “Buyers cited ‘known sender’ as the most important factor in determining whether or not they open an email.” The second is personalization — not just with the name but also with title and area of interest. Directing the message to individuals is why direct marketing is also called target marketing.

Another “revelation” is that “Buyers want to do a good job for the organization they work for, but they’re also looking out for number one.” That point is no surprise to those of us in B2B direct marketing who know that ALL decisions are emotional. The more the message is focused on what the product or service can do for that individual in his or her workday (while benefiting the company), the better it will perform.

So I send out a thank you to my readers for letting me have this moment of glory and proving once again that marketing channels may change — but people do not.

One note on social media
This IDG Connect study researched the opinions of both buyers and marketers, finding interesting differences between their views. In fact, marketers gave far more importance to social media as a “favored method for receiving product/services information.” Buyers were shown to favor that channel by only 12%.

2 replies
  1. Jerry Kaup
    Jerry Kaup says:

    Good Tips, Susan … here are a few more:

    16 Tips to Boost Email Open Rates 35% to 85%:

    1. Target non-openers and re-send the same email to them one week later

    2. Use smaller, ‘White Listed’ email transmission vendors

    3. Use dedicated IP addresses

    4. Split-test the “Subject” and “From” name

    5. Contact bounced emails with snail-mail and fax requests for updated e-mail addresses

    6. Add “White List Request” note on all correspondence, asking that your “From” email address be White-listed by the individual

    7. Send email on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm.

    8. Use well-cleansed, targeted opt-in lists

    9. Remove email addresses from list that have “hard bounced” in previous e-mail transmissions

    10. Be specific in your demographic / geographic select choices

    11. Make your communication to the point as possible

    12. Use “bulleted subject matter”

    13. An illustration is worth 1,000 words

    14. Make the “click here” link point as obvious as possible

    15. Make sure you take them to a landing page that fulfills the promise of the email message

    16. Run your HTML, plain text version AND Mobile Device version through your transmission SPAM Checker

  2. Marty Thomas
    Marty Thomas says:

    I recently had a client that brought in a 35.2% response rate from an PURL email campaign using Purlem. It was very simple and effective. I can forward you some details on the campaign if your interested.


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