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Email marketing tactics are popular, but are they effective?

Email is a strong component of any effective Internet marketing strategy. People are constantly connected to their inboxes via mobile devices, meaning email can be a reliable way to penetrate business-to-business target audiences throughout the day. However, while email is an effective lead generation tool, certain messaging tactics are proving more effective than others when it comes to reaching high-value prospective clients. In fact, the wrong subject-line wording, email format or choice of font and graphics can make or break an email campaign. Additionally, the first step of acquiring the addresses of quality leads can prove relatively complex on its own. As B2B marketing professionals continue to determine the best formula for successful email strategies, a recent study from software provider ExactTarget revealed what these people feel are the most effective tactics for generating strong contact lists.

How marketers are using, value email 
"The Audience Growth Survey" is based on a poll of 395 digital marketers, more than one-third of whom work in the B2B sphere and roughly 30 percent of whom work in both B2B and B2C. The vast majority reported using email on a regular basis for marketing initiatives. When asked what their primary objectives are for this tactic, 64 percent of these participants responded to sell products or services, 52 percent stated to generate leads and 51 percent said to drive traffic to their brands' websites. 

When determining the value of email marketing objectives, 41 percent said they measure effectiveness by the quality of leads generated, and the same portion reported relying on overall return on investment. Only 12 percent stated they use the quantity of audience members added as a metric.

The study asked marketers which email tactics they use to grow their subscriber list and which they deemed most effective. Reporting on the findings, MarketingProfs acknowledged that while certain address acquisition strategies are popular among email marketers, these professionals recognize they aren't all successful. According to ExactTarget's report:

  • 74 percent use general email sign-up forms on their websites, but only 42 percent deem these effective
  • 57 percent require an email address to create an account on their site, which 70 percent state is effective
  • 52 percent implement sign-up requests for access to different parts of websites, a tactic that has an effectiveness rating of 45 percent
  • 50 percent provide an immediate incentive for email sign-ups, which a relatively impressive 63 percent claim is effective

Tactics with relatively low utilization rates but high effectiveness scores include capturing emails during inbound sales and customer services calls, acquiring emails through loyalty programs and providing the option to opt in to emails when viewing brand content through a mobile app.

Multichannel strategies may translate to email lead generation success
The study goes on to highlight how marketers are using social media, mobile marketing and other channels to generate a greater brand following. Optimizing website content for social sharing and posting regularly on networks liked LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, as well as promoting brand apps on various platforms, are very popular lead create tactics on social and mobile. However, many marketers may not recognize how effective working on multiple channels to acquire email leads truly is.

In fact, ExactTarget stated collecting email addresses via Twitter, promoting online event like webinars via email and spreading the word about the brand's social profiles in email blasts are strong audience growth tactics for B2B companies. Other ways of increasing a company's number of quality email subscribers via other channel include:

  • Create clear, bold calls to action: BtoB Magazine suggested that while social icons on brand websites, blogs and in emails are important to encourage followers to share the business's content, they may not be sending a strong enough message. Using specific calls to action that tell the reader to share brand content or like the company's social pages is a good idea, but it's equally important to give followers an incentive in exchange. Offer something of value, like access to industry insights, news and best practices or exclusive deals.
  • Promote email content and campaigns on social networks: Newsletters, white papers, case studies and other high-value content shouldn't just be promoted via email and on the brand's site. In fact, spreading the word about content on social media can help businesses acquire more prospects' email addresses. BtoB recommended implementing an email sign-up form on the brand's Facebook page and sending a tweet asking who'd like to receive the content before its sent out through email.
  • Don't forget mobile: Optimizing for mobile will only grow more important for effective multichannel marketing, meaning websites aren't the only platforms that need to offer a pleasant mobile user experience. Formatting emails so that they appeal to smartphone owners is key, as is sharing content via social media that's image-heavy.
Sheila Kloefkorn

With more than 25 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.