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Email newsletters are in again. Look around you – everyone is trying to get your email address and add you to their list. The business-to-business (B2B) space isn’t any different, with B2B newsletters thriving in the past year.
Not getting the engagement you were hoping for? There may be simple things you can change to improve your results.
Did you know that, on average, Americans spend 143 minutes in their inbox every day? While many complain about email taking up too much of their time, people love getting good emails. The pandemic has only exacerbated their interest.
Since March 2020, unsubscribe rates are down 50%, and opens and clicks are up. Nobody could blame you if you saw this trend as an opportunity.
While B2B newsletters typically get less engagement than business-to-consumer (B2C) emails, they’re still a tremendous way to nurture your audience and boost your brand awareness.
What a B2B newsletter is – and what it isn’t
Although newsletters are so popular, many business owners confuse them with promotional emails. While the latter focus on a specific offer you’re running for a limited time, a B2B newsletter tends to stick to:
• informational and educational content
• updates on your products and services.
Apart from that, a newsletter isn’t a temporary series of emails that you send to your list within a certain timeframe. On the contrary: newsletters take time to work and for best results, they need to go out consistently.
So, two things to keep in mind right from the start:
• Avoid including too much self-promotional content in your B2B newsletter.
• Commit to sending these emails for longer periods of time.
For instance, at ZeroBounce, we’ve been sending newsletters for almost four years, every week. They include lots of educational content and occasional company updates.
Now, let’s move on to a few simple tactics you could try that help improve B2B newsletter engagement and ROI.
Remove invalid contacts regularly
One of the most common issues I hear marketers talk about is the lack of email engagement. It’s understandable: you work hard on those emails and low open and click rates can make you feel like your efforts aren’t worth your while.
Usually, there are two main reasons for low email marketing metrics. One of them is a list spoiled by poor-quality contacts.
“For your B2B newsletter to be effective, it needs to reach your audience. The first step in making sure that happens is to keep a close eye on your email list,” says ZeroBounce COO Brian Minick.
“How many bounces do you get? Is anybody flagging your emails as spam? Also, are there any subscribers that haven’t opened your emails in more than six months? Asking these questions before you send your next email will help you get to the root of your potential deliverability problems,” the email expert adds. What’s more, it will help you prevent them.
Remember these useful benchmarks:
• The accepted industry standard for email bounces is 2%. If you’re getting more than that, your list needs a scrub. Use an email validation service to prune out invalid and risky addresses.
• It’s acceptable to get 1 spam complaint for every 1,000 emails you send. However, more than that is a sign that either your content comes across as spam or some of your subscribers don’t have the best intentions. A good email validator will detect known complainers and give you a chance to remove them before they mark you as spam.
Maintaining a clean email list is critical to the deliverability of your B2B newsletter. Be mindful about it and follow best practices. Ideally, you want to validate your contacts at least once a quarter.
Improve the relevance of your content
Another common reason for low engagement rates is the content of email newsletters. Sometimes, people won’t react to it because it’s not what they’re looking for.
Don’t feel bad – it happens to all of us. Just because your content doesn’t generate clicks doesn’t mean that it’s not good. It may not be good for your audience.
Thankfully, we have so many tools at our disposal that allow us to analyze our results and adjust for improvement. Start with simple things, such as looking at the reports your email service provider (ESP) offers. Go through all your metrics in the past three months and see how each newsletter performed.
What type of content got the most opens? What about the most clicks? Although these metrics don’t tell the whole story, there’s so much to learn from researching your audience’s behavior.
Once you get a better idea of the kind of emails your audience enjoys, go a bit deeper with your analysis. Olga Mykhoparkina, founder and CEO of Quoleady, suggests that landing page traffic paints a more accurate picture of your email success.
“Your ESP metrics are a great place to start. However, this data can be misleading,” she says. “Open rates are often unreliable and also, you need to get the exact number of unique clicks to see how many people actually went to your page,” the entrepreneur explains.
A good way to go about this is to study this data in your Google Analytics, which provides details on traffic, overall engagement and the ROI goals you set.
Adjust your copy to sound human
Now that you better understand what type of content most resonates with your subscribers, how can you improve the way you present it?
Copywriting can take years of practice to master, but you certainly don’t need that long to fine-tune your emails. Start by looking at some of your favorite B2B newsletters: what do you like about the way they’re written? Chances are the copy is concise, compelling and most of all, clear and easy for anyone to understand.
“B2B marketers and business owners often feel like jargon helps their emails sound more professional,” says Josh Brown, Digital Marketing Consultant at Helpjuice. “In reality, it’s quite the opposite,” he adds.
If you read newsletters from some of the most popular B2B platforms, you’ll notice that their copy is free of jargon and pretentious buzzwords. They keep things clear and simple, and that makes their emails engaging.
“Just remember that even if you communicate in the B2B space, you’re still talking with people. At the receiving end of your newsletter is a person just like you. Hook them for the very first lines with crisp, short phrases that convey your message right away,” Helpjuice’s Josh Brown suggests.
If you find yourself struggling to clean up your copy, consider platforms like Grammarly and Hemingway that can polish up your writing. Not only will these filters flag any grammar mistakes and typos, but they also help you cut out unnecessary words.
Finally, apart from sharing your newsletter with your team, show it to a couple of friends outside of your industry. Can they easily understand your message?
Final thoughts: Be patient and fix issues as soon as they occur
Here’s the truth about B2B newsletters: none of them succeeded in the first month – or even the first three months. From my own experience and from talking to my peers, I can tell you that these emails need patience and consistency.
To keep growing, take action as soon as you start to notice your metrics drop. Whether your email list quality has degraded or your content could use a revamp, these are things you can improve right away.
Cleaning your list can make a difference from one week to another. Coming up with more targeted content will also boost your opens immediately. What’s more, good engagement will generate even more visibility for your emails. A higher number of clicks contributes to your sender reputation and increases your deliverability.