For most businesses, email plays a pivotal role in their overall marketing strategy. In fact, according to a Salesforce report, 73 percent of B2B marketers say email is essential for growth.
Of course, we're not talking about the blast emails from the past or purchasing lists of people to bombard with messaging. A cohesive inbound marketing strategy is the secret to success, but how does email fit in — and how is it superior to outbound email?
Inbound as a Strategy
Today's buyers are in control of the sales process. Smart marketers know how to lay down a path for these savvy buyers to make it easy for them to find what they're looking for. This path, or the inbound method, allows buyers to research, compare, and make decisions on their own and email marketing is a key player.
Rather than sending random pitches via email, a B2B inbound strategy allows marketers to use email to meet buyers at every stage of the process with customized, tailored messaging designed to help steer the buyer toward a sale.
In other words, rather than treating email as a separate strategy — like a mailed flyer — marketers are finding success when using it as part of a broader content marketing strategy that's far more effective. Here's why it works.
1. Recipient's Choice
One of the most important distinctions between traditional outbound email marketing and inbound marketing is putting the audience in the driver's seat. When you build a list using inbound methods, every contact has opted into receiving your messages, so you know they want to see them.
You can build lists by attracting subscribers from blogs, offering premium content downloads in exchange for contact information, and other methods of reaching out, such as social media. Once someone has subscribed, he or she should also have the ability to unsubscribe as well as change subscription options to tailor messaging to their needs and preferences.
2. Better Segmentation
No matter what you're buyers are looking for, there are very few messages that every person on your list is interested in. When you're creating lists based on inbound subscribers and their activity, you'll also be compiling information about that user that you can use to craft better and more targeted content. You may have fewer recipients for each message, but highly targeted messages will be far more successful for you and less annoying for your readers.
3. Add Value, Not Pitches
Inbound marketing relies on educating prospects and adding value with each interaction. Rather than using email to go in for the hard sell, an inbound marketing email seeks to help the reader answer questions, solve problems, and build relationships.
In other words, use inbound email marketing to nurture leads and nudge towards a sale while also building relationships with people and establishing trust — all of the key ingredients for closing a deal.
4. Better Timing
A blast email is sent out in hopes of getting a few opens. An inbound strategy relies on data to inform marketers what the best time and frequency for email messaging is, and this will vary widely depending on what your sales cycle is and which segment of your audience you're addressing.
The key is to be consistent without sending too many messages. For most B2B companies, this means every couple weeks is probably enough. Plus, as most recipients will also be at work, the timing should reflect regular working hours. To fine-tune your schedule, be sure to test different days and times to see when your audience is most responsive.
5. Quality Over Quantity
HubSpot defines outbound as a method of marketing seeking to obstruct potential customers. Some obstructive techniques can be successful, especially in-person events like trade shows. When it comes to email, however, obstructing isn't useful. When unsuspecting recipients get messages they find annoying, irrelevant, or simply unwelcome, you're doing more to harm your brand and your long-term success.
When you give your audience control over what they receive and how often they receive it, your marketing messages start to become part of a more significant conversation with your prospects, and not just another commercial sent via email.