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B2B Email Marketers Hone Best Practices As Use Of Email ‘Cleanup’ Services Grows

shutterstock 146189999Email continues to play a pivotal role in the B2B marketing landscape.Marketing Sherpa states that 60% of marketers say that email marketing is producing ROI for their organization, demonstrating the continued value of the channel to B2B marketers.

With the average person projected to send and receive close to 200 emails per day — according to a report from the Radicati Group — email management services such as Mailstrom and have grown more appealing, causing many B2B email marketers to revisit their best practices for timing and frequency of emails. These services are designed to give users control of when, how often and in what format they receive emails from specific senders.

There are potentially significant implications for B2B email marketers as recipients increasingly turn to these tools to help manage inbox overload. For example, based on their buying signals, a prospect may be put on an email nurture path with a cadence of once a week. With an email cleanup service, the user can opt to have those weekly emails condensed into one monthly email. Consequently, if a B2B marketer sends an email with a time-sensitive offer or a reminder on the day of an event, those emails may not be seen immediately by the recipient.

“This isn't about spam anymore, this is about the amount of emails users receive to function on a daily basis,” said David Troy, co-founder and CEO of Mailstrom, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “Now these tools are helping them function efficiently. It's a natural response to want automation and ease to clean up the clutter.”

Using Data To Drive Relevancy

The change in email consumption habits strengthens the need for more personalize email calls-to-action (CTAs) and messaging, observers noted.

“The way to maximize the impact of any marketing communication is for it to be relevant,” said Steve Krause,Group Vice President of Products for the Oracle Marketing Cloud. “In a world where every person has an email-cleanup service, this rule just gets stronger. For good email marketers and their buyers, it’s a positive development.”

Krause noted it is important to use the insights about what emails an individual is responding to, or not responding to, to tailor email campaigns.“Over time, factor in the response data about what each person is opening, clicking, buying, or ignoring. On an individual basis, do less of what isn’t getting a response and more of what is. It sounds simple, but it’s hard to do well at scale.”

The growth of mobile also plays a key role with email management services. A study from TriComB2B shows that 59% of B2B buyers use their smartphones to gather information, so email has to meet these needs. Many email management services offer smartphone apps that help users sync via mobile

Emails not only have to be mobile friendly, but also visually enticing in smaller views, according to Loren McDonald, VP of Industry Relations at Silverpop, an IBM company. “But while these inbox challenges may change form, they are fundamentally about creating marketing messages that stand out from competitors and speak to each individual subscriber.”

Another feature offered by email management services is the option to have emails deemed “unimportant” sorted into particular buckets. Due to security concerns, many email management services analyze subject lines to sort emails into the buckets setup within a user’s email. This raises concern for email marketers trying to make initial contact with prospective buyers. The services, however, take into consideration the number of interactions email recipients have with the sender

Setting expectations from the beginning is an important way to inform prospects of what they should expect to receive in emails, according to Tom Sather, Senior Director of Research at Return Path.

Sather added: “Make sure subscribers know how often they'll get messages from you, what they'll contain, and even how they'll look. Then make sure to send a welcome email right away that reminds readers of all of that.”

Provide An ‘Opt-Down’ Option

If the only option is to opt-out, marketers risk losing prospects that still had some interest in what the company was sending them.

“Make it as easy to ‘opt-down’ as it is to opt-out,” said Sather. “Give subscribers an easy option to reduce frequency, to combine offers into a weekly summary or to get a message only when it includes a certain topic, product or offer.”

As with many aspects of the B2B marketing landscape, continuously testing and measuring email effectiveness is the only true way a marketer will know if its email campaigns are making an impact on prospective buyers within a target audience.

“You have to test your different variants because you never know what's going to truly work,” said Dmitri Leonov, VP of Growth at Sanebox, an email management service for filtering emails into various folders. “It's important to understand that most marketers optimize for one metric — but that's not enough. If a recipient opens an email but the body doesn't meet their expectations, which hurts your image.”

The Result Can Be Cleaner, More Valuable Lists

While there are several challenges that some marketers need to overcome, these email services also bring value to email marketers in various ways.

“[Email management tools] can actually be a good thing as long as your content is valuable to the target audience,” said Leonov. “These services can actually get content in front of your target's eyes quicker.”

Sanebox, for example, allows users to setup labels or folders within an email and analyzes a portion of the user’s inbox to understand which addresses the user has been engaging with. Users can also add their own rules for particular emails, defining each rule by who sent it or even what time an email is sent. If a company’s email campaigns have been relevant and resonant with that particular prospect,

Ultimately, email management tools can even help emails get seen over all of the noise, according to Krause.“And for irrelevant marketing, these services just make it easier for people to ignore or reject the noise, which would have happened anyway.”

Other email services, like Mailstrom, make it easier for users to massively unsubscribe from lists that they no longer wish to be a part of. While that sounds terrible for most marketers, it actually turns out as a positive for those who understand that they do not want to waste time and resources on disengaged prospects.

“It forces email marketers to have higher quality lists, which ultimately brings value to the business with more MQLs,” said Troy.“Individuals mentally check-out prior to unsubscribing, these services make it easier for them to opt out when the mental checkout happens — ultimately saving the marketer time and money.”

Sather added that keeping uninterested subscribers on a list “becomes a threat to maximizing your email reach, so by identifying subscribers that want to opt out, email management services are improving the marketers' ability to connect with the biggest possible audiences."