In our day and age of pocket-sized attention spans, email newsletters don't exactly have a rep for being on-the-edge-of-your-seat entertainment forms; generally sitting on the lower end of the lawn bowls --> Game of Thrones spectrum. To some, the couplet of a newsletter and the term B2B, makes for a guaranteed yawn-a-thon. But no longer!
In this article, you'll discover that B2B Newsletters aren't actually as dull as we all make out, if sent to a targeted audience and read with the intended purpose in mind. At the heart of newsletters comes valuable information, genuine personality and a human touch that keeps people wanting to hear from you. Want to see the numbers? Let's dig a lil' deeper.
Why have a newsletter?
The ultimate reason to have a B2B newsletter is to build community by updating your customers or clients about what's going on with your company - subsequently keeping them informed and interested. But don't just take my word for it! It's been found that 86% of business professionals choose email communication over any other type of channel when they discuss any business related topics. As well as this, the click-through rate of B2B email campaigns is 47% higher than that of B2C email campaigns. Most importantly, 59% of B2B marketers suggest that email marketing is their best performing strategy in terms of revenue performance.
Unlike a B2C newsletter, which generally involves persuasive copy, intense promotion and a whiff of 'please buy from me' (otherwise known as conversion-driven marketing), the B2B newsletters' purpose is to help the brand develop and nurture a harmonious relationship with the viewer. An effective B2B newsletter can also attract the attention of potential clients, help prospects move through the sales funnel, build rapport with customers to encourage them to work with you again, improve your brands' reputation and boost the number of opportunities you find both personally and professionally. So contrary popular belief, email newsletters are actually a huge business booster! Let's get into how you can get started with your own!
What do I put in my newsletter?
Here's a quick list of ideas to get you get the creative juices flowing!
1. Round-up of recent blog posts or videos
2. Invitation to upcoming webinars
3. Link to watch your latest webinar on demand
4. New job openings at your company
5. New internship opportunities at your company
6. New case studies
7. New product launches
8. New best practices
9. Industry news
12. A team highlight with pictures and bios
13. Behind-the-scenes at your company
15. Frequently Asked Questions
16. Upcoming events
17. How your company has been involved in the community lately
18. Employee trips, company retreats
19. Has your company made a charitable donation?
20. Have you won any awards recently?
How should I design it?
Unlike my mother's hap-hazard approach to baking, it's not enough to simply know what to put in your newsletter, you need to follow a repeatable process to ensure it's consistent month on month - otherwise you'll end up with a confusing newsletter no one wants to click (or a scrambled egg-topped banana bread that no one wants to touch ... bless her).
Your company's newsletter needs to be a true reflection of your brand - so if your website rocks at being super minimal and clean, sending out a rainbow-themed newsletter - while very charming - will confuse the socks off your audience. Coupled with extensive A/B testing in the early stages to ensure you're on the right track and resonating effectively with our audience, check out this list every time to ensure the design is up to-par.
- Create a branded masthead
- Use clean, crisp images
- Use the same text throughout, company logo and icons
- Try filters, memes or videos
- Use relevant graphics to support blurbs
- Make the CTA clear and obvious
- Ensure it is mobile-responsive
- Test the length of your newsletter to ensure it's not too long and not too short
- Use a pre-made template
- Create a branded footer with your social media links and contact information
Well you don't send out an email newsletter every month without learning a thing or two! Here are some of our best practices to ensure you're keeping both attention spans and open rates up!
1. Get right to the point
Brevity is the secret sauce of a successful B2B newsletter. This is starkly different to the world of B2C newsletters, where major emphasis is placed on branding and connection, leading to lengthy content that does little to address your audiences' practical problems.
As a B2B marketer, you have to remember that your subscribers are busy people. While lengthy content has its time and place as part of your strategy, newsletters need to be consumed efficiently by being as direct as possible. Ensure you address the topic straight away and how it will help the reader.
2. Tell a story
As a marketer, you should be familiar with crafting a good story. Your newsletter is no different than your social posts and lead nurturing emails - you need to engage the audience. Don't forget that your newsletter is meant to communicate with the individuals from organisations - not the organisations themselves, so be personal and work to elicit an emotional reaction. This doesn't mean you have to go all Nicholas Sparks in every newsletter you send - you can merely just recount your successes and failures in first person!
3. Not selling is the new selling
In the B2B world, you have to assume that most of your audience will be industry pro's who don't fall for the selling techniques of old. Avoid pitching with typical marketing language in your newsletter - this isn't about quick wins, it's about educating your audience and offering them useful information!
4. Phone a friend
While most of the content in your newsletter should come from your company or team, don't allow that to be your only source of info. Adding valuable, insightful third-party content to your newsletter will help with your credibility by showing your audience that you're interested in offering them the most pertinent content regardless of whether it comes from your company or not. Also, there's always a chance that sharing another company's content could lead to them returning the favour!
5. Water it and watch it grow
No matter what type of organisation you work for, monitoring your email campaigns' performance is essential to address common email problems that may be plaguing your campaign while also optimising what's working. You specifically want to pay attention to which emails your subscribers engaged with most. Which B2B newsletter did most of your subscribers open? Which converted the best? Are there any types of emails that you send which perform poorly? Reviewing your performance will help you better understand what types of B2B email marketing content your subscribers respond to.
6. Hook 'em in
Include an appealing subject line that entices the reader, but is totally representative of the newsletters' content. You should never be misleading in your attempts to be clickable - keep it real girlfriend. We’ve seen great open rates by using personalisation as well as the specified month in the subject line, so that it reads - "May Agency Update for 'Tom'". This approach gets users familiar and excited to receive the monthly newsletter. We’ve also seen high open rates for subject lines that pose a question or include an industry-appropriate emoji. Remember to always keep your buyer persona in mind!
7. Make Goldilocks proud
You need to have just the right amount of content in your newsletter. Too little and you won't capture enough of your audience's attention, too much and your audience will feel too overwhelmed. We'd recommend close to five short blurbs of information separated by links and CTA's to learn more.
8. Who cares?
Ensure you focus on relevant content. Your newsletter is no place for company propaganda or side-swiping a competitor. Focus on blogs, case studies, ebooks, upcoming events, or industry tips and events - these are newsletter gold. At the end of the day, it should always be helpful and never sales-y.
9. Make it loveable for everyone
Bad design is a sure-fire way to crank up the unsubscribes. Content is one thing, but you need to ensure your newsletter is responsive and works on all types of devices and platforms.
10. Keep calm and carry on
Just like a magazine or newspaper, your newsletter should go out on a regular schedule. Monthly or bi-monthly is our hot tip for most of our clients. To stick to the schedule and limit the amount of time spent on any one thing, it's best to keep it simple and not reinvent the wheel every time.
Here are some tips for doing that!
- Repurpose older, evergreen content. It's all good if it isn't new, as long as it's still relevant! Your newsletter is a great way to get more mileage out of your content - and your audience won't even know the difference.
- Use the same design template and swap out content-related images / graphics as needed.
- Be super choosey about the email program you use, as some are more user-friendly than others and can therefore be a huge time-saver!
- Designate one person in charge of the newsletter or hire an agency to manage it for you.
So there you go! An introduction to the world of the B2B newsletter and why it doesn't have to be the oppressive bore we all make it out to be. Play your cards right (and follow every step in this article) and you'll build better relationships with your audience and encourage repeat purchase, boosted rapport, lifted reputation and grow your brand beyond belief!