B2C email marketing is substantially different than B2B email marketing because the products and topics being addressed — and consequently, the content in marketing emails — are vastly different depending on the type of audience.
Even if we intuitively understand that B2B and B2C marketing play out differently, it’s still important to know how that translates to bulk email marketing campaigns.
In a business setting, subscribers place more emphasis on thought leadership and comprehensive solutions for advanced problems rather than style and design. This means they’re more willing to consume longer-form content like whitepapers, eBooks, and helpful case studies if they think they might provide the value they’re looking for.
Consumers, on the other hand, expect timely, eye-catching, and clever emails catered to their specific needs and interests. The email content should offer value in the form of short purchase cycle promotions and exclusive content. Furthermore, they want to receive emails that will stand out amongst the clutter of their inboxes instead of adding to it. In short, they want it all! And it’s a marketer’s job to deliver.
Live up to consumers’ expectations by following these six best practices:
Email list segmentation is a best practice for both B2B and B2C marketing because it allows marketers to organize their overall email contact list into smaller, more focused lists. This allows marketers to craft email content the more directly addresses the needs and interests of their audience.
While segmentation is an excellent tactic for both B2B and B2C email marketing, it’s arguably more important in the B2C arena because consumers are bombarded with promotional emails all day and B2C products typically solve less complex problems than B2C. That means that even if the content is relevant,the stakes are higher in B2B, which creates a higher baseline level of interest. Segmentation is one of the most effective methods B2C marketers can use to rise above this lower baseline level of interest and stand out in the inbox.
The most common segmentation criteria for B2C email marketing include things like:
- Demographics (gender preference, age, location)
- Past purchase history
- Subscriber-specified preferences (preferred frequency, stated interests)
But, segmentation can take many different forms. Depending on the industry and audience, other dimensions like website behavior, previous email engagement behavior, and even psychographics may also be excellent segmentation criteria.
For segmentation to be effective, however, the criteria must be actionable. So, while you might be able to group subscribers based on any characteristics you can think of, it only makes sense to segment people based on criteria that shape their preferences and buying patterns. These are the criteria that enable you to create more specific and targeted content that position your product or service in a way that’s more attractive to a specific group of consumers.
To find these, you’ll have to think deeply about how people use your product or get value from your service. Take, for example, a dating app:
If you’re trying to create two different advertisements, one for a younger segment of consumers aged 18 – 28, and another for an older consumer segment aged 29 – 40, the message will be very different — even if it’s the same product. For the younger segment, you might find that users are less interested in commitments and more focused on meeting as many new people as possible. This might lead the ad to focus on the number of users that you have on the platform to showcase the large number of potential dates a user can get through the app.
Conversely, you might find that the older consumer segment is more interested in finding long-term relationships. If that’s the case, the ad will probably focus more on the features of the app that promote compatibility (e.g. an algorithm for finding matches or an integration with Spotify that allows users to select and display their favorite music to potential dates).
Whatever products or service you’re selling, it’s almost guaranteed that you will have different groups of people who find value in different aspects of your business.
Personalize your Message
Consumers want to feel like your email was created specifically for them, which is why personalization is so important. Subscribers are more likely to ignore mass emails than personalized emails when their inboxes are getting full. After all, there’s nothing like selecting a huge chunk of emails and hitting delete when your inbox starts to get too crowded, am I right?
Personalizing your communications can fast-track your way to email engagement because it’s the easiest way to cut through all the noise in the inbox.
Inserting a subscriber’s name or account number into an email is the most basic form of personalization. And now that most companies are using these basic tactics, it’s also become largely ineffective for differentiating emails. These days customizing the marketing message to individual segments is the most effective way to personalize emails (see point 1). Overcome the inbox cacophony by customizing email content to standout with your different groups of consumers.
Appeal to Emotions
Tessa Wegert explains, “On the consumer side, being a thought leader isn’t really going to move the needle… Instead, B2C content marketing is often focused on the topics consumers care about. That’s why Red Bull has become the biggest extreme sports media company in the world. It’s also the reason American Express has become a small business publishing powerhouse.”
Effective B2C email marketing focuses on appealing to the desires and personal needs of consumers. This emotional plea can be in the form of highlighting a thriving non-profit partnership or a touching case study on how your product truly helped someone. No matter what form it takes, however, making the emotional argument is the best way to reach consumers with a message that resonates.
Send Emails at the Right Time
B2B emails, understandably, have much higher engagement rates during business hours than in the evenings and on weekends. But B2C emails are much trickier!
The best time to send an email for one company can be a total flop for another (even within the same industry) due to nuanced differences in their audiences. Without testing email send times, you won’t know what’s going to perform the best with your subscribers. You may even find during testing that different segments have vastly different engagement patterns, necessitating custom timing strategies for each.
Don’t be afraid to send emails during off-peak times like late at night or early in the morning. Often the reduced competition during these time periods results in far greater engagement.
If you want to save yourself the work of testing different send times, you can also sign up for a free Sendinblue account and use our machine learning-powered Send Time Optimization feature to automatically schedule your emails to go out at the best time for each one of your contacts.
Throw Formality Out the Window
In B2C emails, you don’t have to be as buttoned-up as you do in B2B emails. In fact, some of the best performing email campaigns by consumer-facing brands tend to be light-hearted, silly, and downright irreverent. Have fun with your B2C emails by being clever and witty, using emojis, and tying into social media.
B2C email marketing is all about letting loose to show your brand’s personality in a way that’s “sticky.” Craft the kind of emails that subscribers look forward to receiving and get excited about opening and sharing. The outcome will lead to organic email list growth and greater overall subscriber satisfaction.
Use Promotions to your Advantage
B2C sales cycles tend to be much shorter than B2B sales cycles. Consumers are more likely to make snap purchases if they see a good deal, which means that promotional offers resonate more strongly with this audience. Having a strong CTA in your email and offering coupon codes or other promotions increases engagement and subsequent conversion rates.
Whether email promotions are made to prompt a purchase or upsell customers who have already purchased, this is the easiest way to win the B2C email marketing game. Limited-time coupon codes work well to incentivize purchases quick purchases (especially during busy holiday shopping seasons), and providing benefits like free shipping for purchases of a certain size can help increase average order value.
The bottom line for B2C email marketing is that it the message has to be about the consumer. If you come across as impersonal or overly salesy — it might work in B2B, where product and functionality are key — but it will send individual consumers running.
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Inbound Marketing Manager @Sendinblue. I love helping SMBs and eCommerce businesses reach a larger audience by writing on digital marketing best practices and advanced techniques. In my free time, you can probably find me skateboarding or tinkering in an overly-complex spreadsheet. 😉