Five Marketing Myths Debunked

We’ve all heard “facts” about B2B marketing that are based on misconceptions or assumptions. You might have read or heard that something is true when in fact research data or your own analysis can prove that it’s not.

Basing your marketing decisions on myths can lead to subpar results. To help you improve your marketing effectiveness, here are five common marketing myths, debunked.

Myth #1: People don’t attend webinars on Mondays or Fridays

Research conducted by HubSpot found that Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 1 or 2 pm EST are the best times to host webinars, but the best time can vary widely based on your time zone, your audience’s time zone, their schedule, and more.

ClickDimensions Marketing, after experimenting with different times to hold webinars, offers this advice: “If you can offer a variety of times, you will get a great turn out and appeal to viewers in other countries for having made the effort. If you think about the average webinar, the majority of the effort goes into promoting it and assembling the content. Thus, if you’re going to go to all the effort, why not run the live webinar a few times during the day?”

Another issue with following the midweek trend for webinars is that you face more competition for your audience’s attention. Other companies are also hosting webinars on those days. It’s worth experimenting with a Monday or Friday webinar to find out what your draw is like.

Again, testing different times and days of the week is your best approach. Every business is unique—as is your audience—and what works for one company may not for another.

Myth #2: Tuesday through Thursday mornings are the best times to send email

It’s been common knowledge throughout the industry that people tend to open their email in the mornings and that Mondays and Fridays are days to avoid sending email. But as customers are becoming more and more mobile, email opens occur at all hours, on all days, and on all devices.

According to Entrepreneur, for B2B emails aimed at entrepreneurs and workaholics, the weekend is the best time to send emails. Saturdays yield the highest open and click-through rates. For those who work regular hours and don’t check email outside of work, the most opens and clicks occur Tuesday through Thursday.

Even though the weekend was not the most popular time to send emails, those who opened were much more likely to engage with the emails they received, and click through or purchase.

Again, experiment with different sending times and days, and track results to see what works best. Perform an A/B test using only the day or time as the variable to provide some insight.

Myth #3: When it comes to content, more is always better

Though it feels like the general advice about content marketing is “create as much content as possible,” the truth is that it’s better to have targeted, relevant content than simply more of it. The Content Marketing Institute reported that although the majority (88 percent) of B2B marketers use content marketing as a strategy, the median time people spend on an article is 37 seconds. That means your 3,000-word article is skimmed for a few seconds and then dismissed.

The solution is to focus on content quality that will keep your readers engaged.  Understand your audience’s information needs and content consumption habits, and create content that fits those needs. That way, your content efforts won’t be wasted.

Myth #4: Engineers don’t make B2B purchasing decisions

Not true. The 2016 Industrial Buy Cycle survey conducted by IEEE GlobalSpec Media Solutions found that purchasing is a collaborative effort, with staff engineers and engineering managers having the majority of influence. Budget authority resides throughout the organization—not just with senior managers.

For marketers, this means you must communicate with the entire engineering team, including operations, corporate management, and purchasing. In addition to your overall marketing message, develop a strategy to communicate with each of these different personas, make a connection with them, and address their key concerns.

Myth #5: Social media results aren’t measurable

Like most things digital, social media is immensely measurable. Social media analytics and marketing automation platforms can surface meaningful numbers and benchmarks to guide your practice.

The key is to align your B2B objectives with your social metrics. Most industrial marketers use social media to increase brand awareness and distribute content. Shares, mentions, comments and likes can all provide brand awareness measurement. Clicks and download of content can demonstrate the effectiveness of content marketing. But if you’re expecting to measure new customers gained exclusively through social media outreach, you will be disappointed. Social media is only one of multiple tactics and touches that must work within an integrated plan designed to win new business.

That’s it for this edition of marketing myth busting. What other fallacies have you uncovered through your own data and analysis? Let us know!

Content Marketing E-Mail Marketing Social Media Webinars

Emerging Technologies Enable Relevancy and Engagement

Don Lesem, IEEE GlobalSpec’s Vice President and Chief Design Offer, recently contributed to eMarketers latest report “Email Marketing Benchmarks 2017: Metrics Steady as Data Creates Better Context and Relevance.”

You can view the entire report here.

emarketer2

Other personalization tactics used by US marketing executives, according to an April 2017 survey from OneSpot and The Relevancy Group, include dynamic content (cited by 65% of respondents), personalized email based on real-time data (e.g., location) and personalized email content based on machine learning (60% and 58%, respectively).

Clients of IEEE GlobalSpec are using propensity models to craft more relevant audience segments, and seeing 30% better open and click rates. “We used data analytics and modeling technology to determine the propensity of subscribers to interact with video content,” said Don Lesem, vice president and chief design officer at the company. “Then we built the list based upon which audience members would be more likely to engage based on past behavior. Because of the technology, we know that if we send these users a certain type of content, they’re going to participate.”

You can learn more about data personalization by downloading the entire report here.

E-Mail Marketing Uncategorized

List Health Practices to Maintain an Engaged Audience

IEEE GlobalSpec’s own Linda Uslaner, Director of Product Management, was interviewed for eMarketers latest report “Email Marketing Benchmarks 2017: Metrics Steady as Data Creates Better Context and Relevance.”

You can view the entire report here.

emarketer

Sustaining and growing subscriber lists is another aspect of email marketing that’s also improved. A July 2016 poll from software services firm Clutch found that roughly six in 10 US email marketers used an opt-in form on their website, social media and online purchases to get new email addresses for their lists. About half as many relied on renting and paying for lists.

List health can decline in two ways, according to [Kyle] Henderick [Yes Lifecycle Marketing Senior Director, Client Services] . First, email marketers will always have users that unsubscribe on their own, but it is also important to consider passive opt-outs, in which recipients become unengaged over time by either deleting emails or just letting them sit in the inbox, unread.

“We’ve increased the frequency of doing list pruning for our clients from once a year to twice a year,” said Linda Uslaner, director of product management at engineering and industrial platform IEEE GlobalSpec. “That’s really helping drive performance and improve metrics across the board. If somebody’s not responsive and they’re really not engaging with the content, they should be removed.”

You can learn more about list hygiene by downloading the entire report from eMarketer here.

Charts E-Mail Marketing Market Research Uncategorized

The Story of Content Marketing in Five Statistics

The results are in! Content Marketing Institute recently released the research report, “Manufacturing Content Marketing: 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America.”

Sponsored by IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions, the report proclaims: “In the four years we’ve been reporting on how manufacturers use content marketing, this year’s results reveal the most progress they’ve made thus far. The fact that we see a 72 percent increase over last year in the percentage of manufacturing marketers who have a documented content marketing strategy indicates they’ve taken one of the most important steps toward achieving content marketing success: putting their strategy in writing.”

Not all of the research results point to success, however, and manufacturers must still overcome a number of content marketing challenges. The following five statistics, taken directly from the report, shed light on the state of content marketing today in the manufacturing sector.

1. Eighty-five percent of manufacturers are using content marketing
Manufacturers get it: content marketing is important. Done right, content marketing increases brand awareness and engagement opportunities with motivated prospects. Successful marketers set content marketing goals, establish metrics, and measure results.

Unfortunately, not all manufacturers are experts at content marketing. Only 19 percent would rate their content marketing maturity level as sophisticated or mature. That’s okay, for now. Almost all manufacturers are in the game, and should become more sophisticated as they gain more experience.
You still have to wonder about the 15 percent not using content marketing. What’s their story? It’s all in the report.

2. Forty-nine percent are extremely or very committed to content marketing
Look a little further and you’ll find that 74 percent of companies that say they’re successful at content marketing also indicate that they are extremely or very committed to content marketing. Only 23 percent of the least successful companies say they are committed to content marketing.

No surprise there – commitment and success go hand-in-hand. Overall, marketers are improving: 59 percent are much more or somewhat more successful with content marketing than they were a year ago.

Increased success in content marketing was attributed to factors including: content creation (higher quality, more efficient); strategy (development or adjustment); content marketing has become a greater priority; spending more time on content marketing; and content distribution (better targeting, identification of what works)

3. Seventy-eight percent of manufacturing marketers use email newsletters
Email is the top content marketing tactic, and was also rated as the most important tactic to overall content marketing success, further reinforcing email’s importance to industrial marketing efforts.

The next most popular content marketing tactics are, in order: social media content, video, in-person events, print magazines, and blogs. Ebooks/white papers are also in the top 10, with 49 percent of respondents using that tactic. The average number of tactics used is eight.

In terms of paid content promotion, manufacturing marketers use an average of four methods, with social promotion, print, search engine marketing, banner ads, and native advertising rounding out the top five.

4. Eighty-two percent say that brand awareness is their top content marketing goal
While lead generation is often a marketers’ top goal, this isn’t the case when it comes to content marketing campaigns. Why? Content marketing can’t and shouldn’t stand alone. Rather, it should be included as part of an integrated program – to gain the attention of a target audience, educate and inform them, demonstrate thought leadership, and build brand awareness. And yes—generate leads.

Other content marketing goals include lead generation (71 percent), engagement (70 percent), sales (62 percent), lead nurturing (58 percent) and customer retention/loyalty (53 percent).

5. Sixty-seven percent don’t have enough time to devote to content marketing
Like economics, marketing can be considered a science of scarcity: how to allocate limited time, budget, and resources to what seems like an unlimited amount of marketing that must be done.

Lack of time was cited as the number one factor that resulted in stagnant content marketing success in the past year. Other leading factors included content creation challenges—62 percent; and strategy issues (lack of strategy, developing/adjusting strategy)—51 percent.

The reality is that content marketing can be a huge undertaking. You need to develop a coherent and integrated content marketing strategy, define measurable goals, create and distribute content, track performance and more.

And yet, 57 percent of industrial companies are limited to a one person marketing/content marketing team that serves the entire organization. That’s a lot of pressure.

Companies strapped for content marketing resources—yet still committed to content marketing because of its proven value—should consider using content marketing services from their media partners. IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions offers expert content marketing services to help you develop compelling content, get it into the hands of your target audience, and generate engagement opportunities. You can find out more here.

And don’t forget to download your complimentary copy of the research report: “Manufacturing Content Marketing: 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America.”
 

Content Marketing E-Mail Marketing Market Research Marketing Strategy Marketing Trends Marketing, General

Three Tips for More Effective e-Newsletter Marketing

Chances are your company publishes one or more marketing e-newsletters. Eighty-one percent of B2B marketers use e-newsletters as a content marketing tactic, according to joint research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs. Sixty-four percent of B2B marketers rate e-newsletters as very effective or effective.

Your audience gravitates toward digital publications. They subscribe to an average of 4.4 digital publications, in contrast to 1.4 printed trade magazines, as reported in the “2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” research report from IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions.

This audience uses e-newsletters as an important information source through all phases of their buy cycle, from early awareness, to research, to consideration and comparison. Engineers and technical professionals are looking for specific types of information in e-newsletters. They don’t want to be sold to; they want to learn and become educated. They want to know who’s who in the supplier world. They want to discover the newest products and technologies, stay-up-to date on industry trends and check the latest news.

Whether e-newsletters have a long-standing role in your marketing program or you’re of the 19 percent that don’t yet use e-newsletters (you should), here are three tips to pump up the effectiveness of e-newsletter marketing.

1. Determine goals and measurements in advance
At the Maven, we like to drill this message home: no matter what marketing campaign you’re launching, establish your campaign goals and metrics for success up front. If you already have them, see if they need tweaking. Also, make sure you know your audience: what they want and need. The reason that goals, audience and measurements come first is that these factors drive all other decisions.

One thing you don’t want to do is keep publishing the same old e-newsletter just because that’s the status quo. Instead, have purpose.. Do you want to increase exposure? Then you should measure opens and forwards. Do you want to drive readers to a web site to take further action? Count clicks and forms completed. Analyze what is working and tweak the aspects that your readers aren’t responding to.

2. Allow form to follow function
The “form follows function” principle says that the shape of a building or object should be primarily based upon its intended function or purpose. The same holds true for e-newsletters, in regards to both advertisements and editorial content. Design follows goals.

For example, if you’re primarily sharing articles, your design might include a branded graphic header, followed by a list of compelling headlines, snippets of copy and links to more information. These design elements combine to make for easy user recognition, scanning and action.

Many organizations include house ads in their company e-newsletters. These should be designed around what action you want the user to take. Provide value through a benefit-oriented headline, image, a bullet point or two, and a compelling call to action—that’s all you really need.

Use images in a similar fashion. If you’re introducing a new product, show a clear photo of it and ask the user to take action: “Download the data sheet.” “Read the article.” “Request a demo.” If you’re promoting a white paper or analyst report, use an image of the document in the banner ad. Show users what they are getting.
Buttons and arrows, as simplistic as they may seem, make good visual cues for the user to take action. The same is true for “action” verbs. All the examples above include action verbs: Download, Read, Request.

3. Think beyond your company newsletter
If you’ve been publishing a newsletter for a number of years, it might be hard to move the needle further forward in terms of user engagement. That’s to be expected. Applying the two tips above will help improve results.

When you take a look at your goals, you might realize they can’t all be achieved through your current newsletter alone. Maybe you want to connect with hard-to-reach prospects who aren’t in your database. Maybe your goal is to penetrate a new sector or geographic market this year. Or, maybe you’re strapped for marketing and production resources but you want to expand your newsletter advertising efforts.

The solution is often to advertise in a respected and relevant third-party newsletter. Ads in third-party newsletters, such as the dozens published by IEEE Engineering 360, deliver broader yet still targeted exposure, giving you access to a highly engaged audience and new markets.

Another advantage of advertising in third-party newsletters is that someone else does all the heavy lifting. The right media partner will handle database and list management, newsletter design and production, and sending and tracking. If the newsletter is opt-in, you should receive timely reports about who clicked on your ad, which will offer new engagement opportunities for your company.

Finally, a media partner can help you integrate newsletter advertising with other digital campaigns, resulting in a holistic approach to the market and producing greater impact for your overall marketing program. To learn more about newsletter advertising options from IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions, click here.

 

E-Mail Marketing Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing, General Thought Leadership

Is Email Dead?

Has the sun set on email as an effective B2B marketing tactic? It’s hard to get the attention of your intended recipients. Open rates are down. Spam reports are up. The inboxes of busy professionals are overflowing. Other forms of communication—social media, texting, etc.—are growing. Perhaps your own email marketing programs to your house lists aren’t performing the way they once did.

With all these factors, you might believe that email is dead. But you’d be wrong. Sure, email is not the latest thing; it doesn’t have that sexy, edgy aura any longer. Instead, it’s mature, and with maturity often comes sophistication. Properly executed—targeted lists, laser campaigns, relentless tracking, careful refining—email remains a viable and powerful marketing tactic within an integrated, multichannel marketing strategy.

As Gartner reported, “No, email isn’t dead. It’s still valuable since more email marketing is being consumed on the go through multiple devices, and is still extremely measurable.”

Statistics bear out the continued popularity and effectiveness of email. Eighty-one percent of B2B marketers use e-newsletters as a content marketing tactic, according to joint research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs. The Winterberry Group has reported that estimated email data spend is increasing 9.1% in 2016, a faster than expected rate increase, a statistic that encompasses email lists, database management and hygiene, analytics, and integration.

Consider this additional research from Salesforce: 73% of marketers believe email marketing is core to their business and 58% of B2B email marketers are increasing their email marketing spend.

E-newsletters Predominate
Within the universe of email marketing, e-newsletters are the most often used email campaign among B2B marketers, and 64% of B2B marketers rate e-newsletters as very effective/effective (Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs). Your target audience of engineers subscribes to an average of 4.4 digital publications, in contrast to 1.4 printed trade magazines, according to the “2015 Digital Media Use in the Industrial Sector” research report from IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions.

However, your company’s e-newsletter is not the only way to engage customers and prospects through email marketing. You can also share your news, content and product information—and build your brand and generate new engagement opportunities—by advertising in targeted industry e-newsletters.

Advertising in a reputable, recognized e-newsletter offers a number advantages for the industrial marketer seeking to get more out of email marketing:

• You can reach a much broader yet still targeted audience. Contacts that you don’t have in your own database and are otherwise hard to reach. Industrial professionals in new markets or regions you want to pursue. Motivated, engaged engineers who have opted-in to receive the publication.
• Someone else does the heavy lifting for you. The e-newsletter publisher handles database and list management, newsletter design and production, and sending and tracking. This can free you up to focus time and resources on other pressing marketing efforts.
• Customized reporting for measuring success and ROI. You can access timely reports that detail the results of your advertisement. With opt-in newsletters, you’ll know who clicked on your ad and expressed interest in your content.
• You can benefit from integration with other digital marketing efforts. The right media partner will offer e-newsletter sponsorship by itself or as part of an integrated marketing program that may include tactics such as display advertising, content marketing, searchable catalogs, webinars, and more. This helps you create a stronger, more holistic marketing program highly targeted at the audience you need to reach.

E-newsletter Advertising Opportunities
IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions publishes 69+ highly targeted, opt-in e-newsletters in the industrial sector. Your target audience relies on these publications as a key resource during all stages of their buying cycle.

Each newsletter features rich editorial content, including industry trends and events, the latest research, innovative technology, product news, and career information. Delivery rates exceed 98%, and subscribers are interested and motivated: 60% read the e-newsletters upon receipt.

No, email isn’t dead; not even close. It’s simply become more targeted when used appropriately and remains an essential tool for industrial professionals during their research and buying process. Click here for a list of all IEEE Engineering360 e-newsletters and to discover how they drive action in your target audience.

E-Mail Marketing Marketing Trends Marketing, General Uncategorized

Set Your Company Apart Using Email Marketing

 Just about every industrial company uses email marketing. The number-one marketing tactic in the industry is email marketing using in-house lists. It makes sense: email is effective. It also means you have stiff competition for getting your audience’s attention. But by employing a few best practices and some innovative thinking, you can set your company apart from the competition using email. Here’s how.

Be consistent—There are two angles to the consistency story. The first is that you want to maintain a consistent theme, look and message style in your email communications. This will help define and strengthen your brand. If every email looks different and the writing style varies, your audience can get confused. They may not understand what your brand represents.

The other half of the consistency story is that you should deliver on your promise. If a customer subscribes to your monthly e-newsletter, then they should get an e-newsletter every month, around the same time of the month. If you’re running a drip campaign to nurture leads and your plan calls for a touch every three weeks, then keep up the pace.

Conversely, don’t email prospects more than you say you will. They will get annoyed and will be more likely to ignore your emails, to opt-out, or to report your company as a spammer.

Segment your lists—The best way to get your audience’s attention is to send relevant emails on timely topics your audience cares about. But unless you sell only one type of product to one type of customer, it’s hard to be relevant to your audience without segmenting your list and customizing emails for each segment.

The more data you have for the entries in your email list, the more segmentation you can do. On the simple end you can segment by customer/prospect, or by type of product purchased, or expressed interest. More sophisticated segmentation might be by buyer type, such as an economic buyer interested in return on investment, an analytic buyer interested in solving a problem, and a technical buyer interested in making sure a product works within the customer’s environment. Another segmentation strategy might be based on lead score, if you use a scoring mechanism.

For each segment you create, you must also create custom content that resonates with that audience. Is it more work than a one-size-fits-all e-newsletter? You bet. But better results should make it worth the extra effort.

Use email to surprise them—Okay, so this one might seem to contradict the consistency rule about not emailing more than you say you will. But sometimes it’s okay to be innovative and send out an unexpected email.

Consider these ideas: A personal note from an executive thanking a customer for their business or a prospect for their interest. An email containing important news that’s pertinent to everyone who has an interest in your company. An email to a customer you have not heard from in a long time, simply asking how they are and if you can do anything for them.  These emails are best sent only on an occasional basis.

Add the extra touches—There are a number of ways to make sure your email goes the extra mile and demonstrates your commitment. Make sure your emails are based on a responsive design so they render well and can be easily read on any type of device. Provide a link to let recipients view the email in a web browser if they prefer. Add features such as “forward to a friend.” Always provide a way for your audience to reply or respond to your emails. These extra touches are important and can help you stand out from competitors who might not be as thorough in their email marketing efforts.

Try different email vehicles—No matter how good an email marketer you are, at some point you’ll bump up against the limit of your effectiveness if you only send email to your own internal lists—even if you follow all the tips listed above.

Have you considered advertising in an industry e-newsletter targeted to the audience you want to reach? Appearing in a third-party e-newsletter offers a number of advantages. Your company can be associated with another strong and relevant brand in the industry. You can connect with hard-to-reach audiences in different markets and geographies. And if you work with an expert media partner, you can benefit from their advice about placement, frequency, messaging, and also receive comprehensive reports about the performance of your advertisement. It’s another way to separate from the competition.

E-Mail Marketing

Eight-Point Checklist: Emails That Get Results

 Email remains one of the most popular marketing tactics in the industrial sector. However, to be effective with email marketing, you have to overcome a number of challenges.

First, everybody’s inbox is crowded — how do you stand out from other emails and capture your audience’s attention? Another challenge is making sure your email looks right. Industrial professionals read email on a variety of devices including desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones, and each device renders content differently. Of course, there’s the entire relevancy challenge: Are you providing information that your audience wants and will act upon?

You can overcome these challenges and get better results from your
marketing emails by following this eight-point checklist for success:

1. Identify a measurable goal. For every email you send, even one within a drip campaign series to nurture long-term leads, identify a goal that you can measure. This will help you create a concise, targeted email because every decision you face about crafting the email can be compared to the goal you have in mind. The goal could be number of opens, conversions, downloads, shares, or any other metric that aligns with your objectives.

2. Create immediate interest with the subject line and from line. When your audience scans their inbox, they’re quickly glancing at who has sent emails and what they are about. To capture attention, make sure the from line is identifiable to your audience. Use your company name and/or an individual’s name your audience will recognize.

In the subject line, provide value to recipients, such identifying a key customer challenge you will help solve, or offer a complimentary white paper or a webinar that will help them with a work-related issue. You can also create a sense of urgency by reminding your audience that time is running out to register for an event or that an offer is only valid for a certain period.

3. Quickly tell your story. Even the most engaged audience doesn’t have the time or motivation to read through long, dense emails. Use your subject line, headline, and first line or two of copy to tell your entire story, including what your email is about, why it’s important to your audience, and what you want them to do. Use bulleted lists and short paragraphs for easy scanning. Here are three words that always describe your marketing emails: clear, specific, concise.

4. Repeat your call to action. You’re sending marketing emails because you want your audience to do something. Make that part obvious by including a call to action (such as download, register, read, watch, etc.) in a number of places and using different styles. Put the first call to action near the top because some recipients will be sold right away based on your quick and compelling offer. Others will read through and then consider taking action, so you need a call to action near the bottom. Use both text and graphical buttons.

5. Add imagery, colors, and graphics. Plain text emails lack visual interest. By adding imagery such as photos, graphics, infographics, and buttons, you can make your email stand out and reinforce your company’s visual branding. You can even add multimedia such as video into the email. However, you should always give recipients the option of receiving plain text emails when they opt-in to your list. Tools offered by email marketing service providers will automatically create plain text versions of HTML emails.

6. Use responsive design. Responsive design can detect what type of device a recipient is using to read the email and will render the email optimally for that type of device, ensuring that all text and graphics look the best they can. Whether you are using an email marketing service provider or an in-house solution as your email platform, be sure you can create emails with responsive designs.

7. Keep testing. To get the best results from marketing emails, you should test different elements to see what performs best. The simplest tests are A/B splits, where you split your list in half and test one element in the email, such as the subject line or the placement/wording of the offer. With each subsequent test, you will learn a little more about what works and can incorporate your learning into future emails.

8. Segment your list. This tip isn’t about crafting an email, but segmenting your list will tell you what type of email you need to craft. Segment your list based on relevant criteria in your database, such as products owned, expressed areas of interest, geography, or other attributes. With a segmented list, you can create emails more targeted to your audience’s interest and needs and that kind of relevancy is the single biggest factor in getting the results you want from your email campaigns.

E-Mail Marketing Industrial Marketing and Sales

Checklist: Is Your Email Copy Helping or Hurting Conversion Rates?

 You probably have measurable conversion goals for your marketing emails. For example: download a white paper, register for a webinar, watch a video, complete a survey, enter to win a contest, and so on.

While email design, graphics, and sending date/time all influence conversion rates, the single most important factor determining success is copy. Your copy carries your message, tone, personality, and style. It announces your call to action. It broadcasts your benefits. Strong copy will increase your conversation rate; weak copy will hurt it. Sometimes it’s that simple.

Here are five ways your copy could be helping your email conversion rates—and five ways it could be hurting them.

Helping
1. Appeal to the interests of your audience.
The first rule of copywriting: Know what your audience wants and give it to them. If you are writing to engineers, focus your copy on their concerns. They are trying to solve problems, improve designs, increase efficiency, find the right components. If you’re writing to executives, you might focus your copy on economic messages and return on investment.

2. Create a sense of urgency.
There’s nothing like the sense of time running out to get people to take action. Phrases such as: Only one week left to register for the webinar; the first 50 respondents get a free sample; the trial period ends in 30 days. You get the idea. It’s easy to put off taking action, unless you give your audience a reason to make a decision quickly.

3. Vary your calls to action.
Even within a single email, you should write your call to action in different ways, whether the words appear on a button or in plain text. That’s because people respond differently to different language suggestions. What works for some may not work for others. For example, here are three different ways to word the call to action for the same offer: Download your complimentary copy; Click here for your white paper; Get the report today. Notice that each of them includes an action verb: download; click; get.

4. Keep your copy short and to the point.
While you don’t want to sacrifice meaning, and of course you’re a great writer, you do want to keep your copy concise and on point. Technical professionals are busy; they will scan your email to pick up important, relevant information. The great mystery writer Elmore Leonard had this advice to writers: leave out the boring parts. You should too.

5. Make the email come from someone.
This tip refers to two things. It’s better to use an individual’s name than a company name in the ‘from’ line of the email, or even something like ‘Brian Jones at Company Name’. But also consider writing the body copy as if it were coming from this individual. This helps you write more personally and conversationally, and helps develop rapport and trust with your audience. Don’t forget a signature at the end.

Hurting
1. Insider language loaded with jargon.
Every industry has its own terms that professionals understand, but you should perform an audience analysis to make sure your reader knows what you’re talking about. Stay away from terms that you use only internally, keep industry jargon to a minimum, and spell out any acronyms you use. An email your reader doesn’t understand is an email quickly headed for the recycling bin.

2. Long blocks of copy.
If any paragraph is more than three or four lines, it’s too long. If any sentence is longer than three lines, it’s too long. Long sentences and paragraphs are visually intimidating and difficult to read. Revise copy into shorter chunks. Use bulleted lists. Add sub-headlines.

3. Sales-oriented copy.
Your audience is looking for useful, educational information that will help them do their jobs better, not a hard sell. If your copy is too sales-oriented and pushes your customers to make a buying decision before they’re ready, you may lose conversions. It’s fine to sell your offer of a white paper or webinar, but do so by promoting benefits. Marketing emails that try to aggressively sell products in the B2B space typically fail.

4. When it’s about you.
“Our company is the first . . . We offer the only . . . Our products are better than . . . We are the market leader in . . .” Guess what? Your audience doesn’t care. Don’t write copy about your company and products. Write copy about how you understand your audience’s needs and can help fulfill them.

5. Mistakes.
Grammar police here. We’re watching and we care. Grammatical and usage errors, misspellings, typos and factual errors not only hurt your conversion rates, they do harm to your company’s reputation. If I can’t trust a company to write clean, mistake-free copy, can I trust them enough to give them my business? Seemingly small errors can have large consequences. Have someone proofread all email copy before you hit the send button.

E-Mail Marketing

A Quick Refresher to Improve Your Email Marketing

How long have you been using email marketing to connect with engineers and technical professionals? A number of years, most likely. And when was the last time you cleaned your email list and made strategic improvements to your email marketing efforts? Chances are, the time has come to freshen up. It’s worth the effort, because email remains an effective tactic in the industrial sector.

The time has come to freshen up your email marketing. It’s worth the effort, because email remains an effective tactic in the industrial sector.
The time has come to freshen up your email marketing. It’s worth the effort, because email remains an effective tactic in the industrial sector.

First, Clean Your Email List

If you are emailing to a stale list, you are likely incurring damage in terms of low response rates and brand reputation. You might even be risking having your account suspended by your email service provider if you incur a large number of spam complaints, undeliverable messages or unsubscribe notices.

There are several ways to clean an email list. You can send emails out asking recipients to verify their address and their desire to continue receiving emails from you, but if your list is poor, you’ll get a poor response and this tactic won’t help much. You can manually go through the list looking for problem addresses, which could take a long time and still not produce the results you need.

If you choose to manually validate and clean your email list, look for and remove:

  • Duplicates
  • Improperly formatted addresses
  • Syntax errors
  • Role accounts like sales@, support@ and info@
  • Accounts with words like spam, junk, abuse, etc.

To increase the likelihood that your email list will stay cleaner longer, use only an opt-in strategy when building your list. Also, consider using email to fulfill downloadable offers; sending the recipient an email with a link to download a white paper, for example. This ensures you have a valid email address.

Also, going forward, keep an eye on bounces and unsubscribes. Make sure they are removed from your lists and suppressed from future mailings. Most email service providers will do this automatically for you.

Use Analytics to Improve Performance

With a clean email list in hand, it’s time to freshen up other aspects of your email marketing efforts. Your number one tool in this is analytics. Most email marketing platforms can help you create more targeted campaigns and improve results. For example:

  • Identify highly engaged recipients who most often open or click on your emails, and then offer rewards in terms of early access to a new white paper or industry research, special offers or a sneak peek at new products. Be sure to note in your copy that they are receiving the discount or special offer because they are a valued reader.
  • Identify recipients who tend to ignore you and try to re-engage them. Give them a reason to pay attention again: discounts, an invitation to a special event, or a just-published white paper or video.
  • Split your list in two (called an A/B split) and test various aspects of an email campaign, such as subject line, headline, copy, layout and graphics, and call-to-action. Change only one variable at a time when performing a test. Incorporate the successful changes into subsequent emails and you will get closer and closer to optimizing your email campaigns.

Incorporate these Proven Strategies

Industrial marketers have years of email marketing experience and many have learned what works and what doesn’t. Here are some proven strategies and best practices that other industrial marketers have incorporated into their campaigns:

  • Use an email marketing service offering responsive design templates that will automatically render well on different user devices, including mobile phones and tablets.
  • Include only one offer in each email and repeat it several times, making it easy for your readers to understand and take action. Include both text links and buttons for your offer.
  • Visually break up copy and make scanning easier by using subheads, short paragraphs and bulleted lists.
  • Get to the point quickly by keeping important information, including the first mention of your offer and a call to action, near the top of the email.
  • Include the offer (webinar, white paper) and/or action verbs (register, download) in your short and sweet subject line.
  • Create synergy between your email and landing page by repeating key copy points and using the same colors and graphics. Landing pages are a great place to put social sharing icons allowing your audience to share the content on their social media platforms.

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How are you keeping your email marketing fresh? What advice or tips would you give your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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