Effective Email Marketing Strategy to Reach Senior Executives

effective email marketing strategy

With well-researched, highly-relevant, and concise emails, B2B marketers can build an effective email marketing strategy that reaches senior executives.

The Senior Executive’s Dilemma 

Reaching key executives is a top priority for B2B marketers—and email marketing is the best way to do this. Email engagement increased 78% over the past year, and the ROI of email marketing is a staggering $42 for every $1 spent. This puts email marketing at the top of the B2B marketer’s toolkit as the most effective marketing strategy.

But what makes B2B email marketing effective? What differentiates the emails that senior executives find valuable, and the emails they disregard? And how can one email cut through the multitude of emails executives receive each day?

There are many different factors to consider when it comes to creating an effective email marketing strategy. First, senior executives want to find information they don’t already know in order to make informed business decisions. Plus, the decision-making process is becoming more diffuse as organizations become more complex and more decision-makers come into play. With communication technologies like Slack bringing more people into the decision-making process than ever, it becomes even more complicated. In fact, 72% of senior executives responding to a McKinsey survey agreed that bad business decisions were as frequent as or more common than good decisions. 

To make matters worse, the world is changing at an unprecedented rate. Between the fluctuating restrictions on workplaces due to COVID-19 and the economic uncertainty associated with the pandemic, executives have to make decisions quickly and efficiently to keep up with the changing world. 

With all of this in mind, today’s executives are eager to find more information quickly and seamlessly, in order to make the best possible decisions in an increasingly complicated business environment.

What are the Elements of an Effective Email Marketing Strategy?

Not all emails are created equal. There is a reason some emails are effective in reaching senior executives, and others are sent straight to the trash folder without a second glance. We’ll discuss the elements of a highly effective email marketing strategy below.

In terms of content, executives are responsive to emails that are highly relevant to their situation. As we discussed previously, executives want to know what they don’t already know. They want to keep up on industry trends and the state of the field to stay cutting-edge. Similarly, executives want to stay informed about potential threats or emerging opportunities that they didn’t foresee internally. With this in mind, a well-researched email packed with relevant information is valuable to executives.

But executives are busy people—they don’t have time to read a 10-page newsletter every day. For this reason, an effective email marketing strategy includes concise emails, while still packing in a wealth of information that is relevant to the specific executive.

What about the layout? Executives respond to clean and simple layouts. Overwhelming them with a barrage of multimedia elements and unreadable fonts might make an email stand out—but in the wrong way. In order to get a concise and relevant message across, a clean layout is a vital element of an effective email marketing strategy.

Finally, including certain visual elements will make an email more compelling to executives. Executives are most responsive to data visualizations, photography, and charts, but relatively few have time for videos and interactive features, virtual reality, and audio clips. Once again, in this instance, simpler is better.

Best Practices in B2B Email Marketing 

With a highly-relevant, well-researched, and concise email marketing campaign ready to go, the process of implementing an effective email marketing strategy is almost complete. The next step B2B marketers have to consider is the logistics of sending these emails. B2B marketers obviously don’t want to overwhelm executives with too many emails, and run the risk of being discarded as spam. So what is the right number of emails to send to executives in a given period of time?

While the industry standard is five touches in 30 days, marketing experts advise five touches in 45 days for CEOs. This way, B2B marketers can rest assured that they are not becoming a nuisance to high-level executives while staying relevant at the same time.

In addition, 50% of executives read an email newsletter upon waking up to receive relevant news and prepare for the day. With this in mind, the best time to send an email newsletter is early in the morning, to ensure that the email is at the top of the executive’s inbox.

With these key elements of a highly effective email marketing strategy in mind, B2B marketers can cut through the noise in an executive’s inbox and deliver highly-relevant information. This will establish credibility, and lead to increased email engagement in the future.

Next Steps

SOMAmetrics designs and executes its proven 4-step high-quality lead generation programs to deliver more leads that close faster and at a higher rate for 20% of what it costs clients to produce in-house.

As a next step, download this white paper that describes the most effective way for B2B companies to generate high quality leads for their sales organization.

Then, let’s schedule a quick call to discuss how we may be able to help you build your high-quality lead generation programs.

Choose the Right Market Focus for Revenue Growth

choose the right market focus for revenue growth

Choose the Right Market Focus for Revenue Growth

For a B2B company seeking to increase its revenue, the first step is choosing the right market. Market focus is the single most important factor impacting revenue growth.

There has been a shift in expectations for B2B marketing departments in recent years. Today, nearly 70% of CEOs expect CMOs to lead revenue growth for their companies. In order to facilitate revenue growth, today’s marketers need to increase their understanding of their customer bases and better anticipate customer needs. In today’s world, marketers who fail to work toward the goal of revenue growth will fall behind their competitors.

This means that today’s B2B marketers have to take things back to basics and reevaluate the fundamentals of their marketing strategies in order to maximize revenue growth—and this process starts with defining the right market.

Choosing the Right Market: Broad vs. Narrow

When it comes to determining a target market, many companies make the mistake of defining their market in the broadest possible terms. This might make sense at first glance—one could rationalize that a broader market definition will include more potential customers—but in reality, this is the wrong approach for revenue growth.

With a broad target market, marketing content will have to appeal to a wide variety of individuals with differing needs and motives for purchase. This makes it difficult for a company to demonstrate its depth of understanding of a potential client’s needs and the workings of the client’s specific industry. In addition, with an unnecessarily broad target market, marketers risk wasting resources on customers who are unlikely to purchase the product. In the end, with a broad market definition, marketers will encounter difficulties when it comes to differentiating their business from competitors.

On the other hand, a narrower market segmentation is often correlated with an increase in revenue. Instead of trying to reach a large audience with a vague and general message, marketing content will be much more effective if it is geared towards one specific customer’s needs. 

This might seem like a counterintuitive marketing strategy—how can a business be successful by targeting a single customer? It’s important to remember that companies within a market segment are in conversation with one another. By providing solutions to one specific company at the center of a market segment, marketers can simultaneously appeal to other companies with similar needs and goals. 

Putting Market Focus Into Practice

To make this concept more concrete, let’s consider an example in the form of a hypothetical company that provides software for the healthcare industry. According to marketing expert Geoffrey Moore, there are three elements of a B2B market segment: industry, role in that industry, and geography. With this in mind, the target market segment for this company could be defined as Hospital Administrators in the United States.

A specific number of potential customers will fall into this category, which can be expanded to include more potential customers or narrowed even further, as demonstrated in the table below. 

Segment

A. Hospital Administrators in California

B. Hospital Administrators in US

C. Healthcare Professionals in US

Estimated Number

400

2,200

128,000

Key Competitors

4-6

70-120

200-300

Message

Managing value-based reimbursement

Managing value-based reimbursement

Regulations in healthcare

Conferences

3

17

211

As discussed previously, it might initially seem like a good idea to target the broadest possible market—Healthcare Professionals in the United States—because of its 128,000 potential customers. But it is vital to consider the perspective of the buyer—will this software company provide value to all 128,000 US-based Healthcare Professionals equally? In addition, what messaging and strategies will be effective to reach all of these professionals with varying job descriptions, including Doctors, Nurses, and Hospital Administrators, to name a few? 

At this point, the company faces a difficult decision: It can choose to go shallow and wide, or invest exorbitant amounts of money in building expertise in each specific profession. Most companies choose to go shallow and wide, rather than investing in a focused market—and they are ultimately beaten out by companies that choose to go narrow and deep—which explains why the costs of sales and marketing rise faster than revenues.

However, there is another option—companies can choose to go narrow and deep in one segment at a time. This is the best option for increasing revenues.

Evidence has shown that with a narrower market definition, marketers can maximize revenue growth. Instead of burning through resources to compete with hundreds of other software providers, the software company can simplify the marketing process by honing in on Hospital Administrators in California, for instance. With significantly fewer competitors and fewer conferences to attend, marketers can increase the depth of their content and differentiate their company from the competition more effectively. Plus, it is more feasible for sales reps to become experts on the issues faced by this smaller market. 

When it comes to increasing revenue growth, choosing the right market is the single most important factor for marketers to consider. With the right market, B2B marketers can use their resources more effectively to increase revenue growth.

SOMAmetrics is a revenue-focused marketing agency, delivering high quality leads that close faster and at a higher rate. Our proven process identifies the best targets, defines the most compelling messaging, and runs highly targeted, digital campaigns—for about 35% of what it costs clients to do internally.

Operational Excellence (Part 1): Marketing

Person looking on phone and writing on paper marketing statistics

The whole point of B2B marketing is to get your sales people onto the short list of vendors that a prospect is considering.

That can only happen if your marketing is compelling, which will only be the case if you have identified real problems you can solve. The process of identification is a lot easier if you focus on a well-defined group of customers that you fully understand, rather than going after a large number of prospects that you don’t really understand.

Focusing on a well-defined group of prospects is what makes marketing work. Everything else might as well be junk.

Objective(s)The number one objective of marketing is to get your prospects to actually reach out to your sales team. These are people who are ready to evaluate potential vendors. Their numbers are likely to be small—typically under 10% of your target market.

Next to that is fully engaging the remaining 90% and gradually converting them into Marketing Qualified Leads, or MQLs—people who are interested in finding out more, and may even be willing to meet with a sales rep.

Best PracticesAwareness→ Curiosity→ Interest→ Action

The process always starts with the prospect’s awareness: awareness of the extent of her own problem, that there is a solution to her problem, and that you have a potential solution. You want that awareness to be converted into a curiosity to find out more, and then an interest in learning more, which ultimately leads to some action—such as a willingness to attend a webinar, download a free trial, or talk with a sales rep.

In rare cases, the above journey might only require the first email you send out because the prospect is actively searching for a solution. In other words, she was already aware and interested before she even knew you existed. As soon as she finds a potential candidate, she is ready to meet and evaluate.

Most of your prospects, however, are not aware that they have a problem, much less the type or extent of the problem. If they are aware, they don’t really think the problem is a pressing issue. It is the responsibility of your marketing team to convert a mild and vague concern into an urgent one that must be dealt within sooner than later.

That is accomplished primarily by gaining a nuanced understanding of the prospect’s world through research, developing highly relevant and engaging content around it, and then distributing that content where the prospect is most likely to find it.

Key MetricsHere is what you are trying to find out: did your prospect come across your message (awareness)? Did she view it (curiosity)? Did she take further action after viewing it (interest turning into some type of action)?

Key indicators are (in the order listed): Emailing or calling you based on your marketing; attending or registering for a webinar; filling out a form; viewing a video; liking/following you on social media; clicking on a link; and opening an email.

Read about the second crucial operation of B2B Sales, “Prospecting”.​​

Revenue Growth Decision Point: Build or Buy

Business man trying to make a decision for revenue growth

As you can see, there is a lot that goes into building and maintaining the operational excellence necessary for generating consistent revenue growth. Not only does a company need to produce high quality and compelling content regularly, but it must also continually distribute this content to its targeted audience, track engagement, make necessary adjustments, and pass those that are ready to the next operations team. Building a marketing team is expensive, and therefore a big decision point that management needs to make is to build or buy. 

To Build or Buy?

A common mistake that many companies make is to think that to improve their revenue growth, they can hire one or two people who will take on the various roles shown in the chart to the right. It doesn’t seem to work out that way, no matter how hard the marketing team tries to learn and master these various disciplines.

Position Salary/yr.  
Marketing Head$108,000
Researcher$45,000
Copywriter$84,000
Graphic Designer$84,000
Video/animation$84,000
Social Media$60,000
Email marketer$60,000
SEO specialist$60,000
Prospecting Head$84,000
BDR$55,000
Sales Support$45,000

A better alternative is to keep your marketing team lean with just the Head of Marketing, who is responsible for developing your marketing strategy, and a smart, energetic product marketing manager who will work with sales to develop product marketing campaigns and push for revenue growth.

With your internal team controlling your marketing and revenue growth, strategies, and metrics, you can now work with a partner to provide you with both the Marketing Operations and Prospecting Operations deliverables you need for revenue growth.

This approach gives you the following benefits:

Focus. You focus all hiring where it matters the most—on those that are integral to the design and development of your products and services.

Rent-to-own. You let others make the required investments toward achieving the operational excellence that is necessary to deliver the quality and quantity of results that you need for revenue growth.

It is the classic case of paying for what you use, rather than for the infrastructure needed to deliver what you use.

We Can Help You with Revenue Growth

SOMAmetrics is a sales productivity enhancement consulting company that enables client companies to experience revenue growth by fixing three critical sales hurdles—insufficient sales pipeline, low conversion rates, and access to new markets.

We provide the best practices, new market research, SEO, digital marketing, sales enablement, performance metrics, and sales and marketing automation services that clients need to consistently achieve revenue growth.

Our best practices, systems, and processes have been honed through working with over 100 small and mid-sized B2B companies serving a wide range of industries including: Financial Services, Education, Healthcare, Manufacturing, and Data Centers.  Please contact us today:

Phone510 206 9264
Emaileskinder@somametrics.com
Websitewww.somametrics.com

Operational Excellence (Part 2): Prospecting

Person drawing a sales funnel the displays the words leads, prospects, and customers

If your marketing and prospecting is working, you will find that a lot of people are opening your emails, clicking on links, downloading papers, and attending your webinars and other events.  All that is great. However, not all of these people are qualified to see your most expensive resources—your sales reps.

What you want to do next is pre-qualify these prospects to make sure that your sales reps are meeting with the right people, at the right time. You want to give your sales team the truly Sales Qualified Leads (SQLS).

Objective (s)The objective of the Teleprospecting process is to pre-qualify MQLs and set appointments for the sales team with qualified prospects who are decision makers and ready to meet with a sales rep.
Prospecting Best PracticesCall→ Connect→ Key Conversation→ Qualify—Set Appointment

As we mentioned earlier, only a small portion of even your most actively engaged audience will reach out to you asking to be contacted. The vast majority will continue to view your new content and attend many of your events without making a move to buy.

You need actual humans to call them, qualify, and then set appointments with your sales reps for the qualified prospects.

This is far harder said than done:

  • In today’s B2B world, it takes between 25-40 dials to reach someone, and it may take two rounds to reach the right person. Therefore, it is vital that the target list ONLY contains highly targeted prospects rather than a wide audience.
  • Once you reach the right person, you have about 20 seconds to get the attention and curiosity of the prospect before she says, “No thanks” and hangs up on you. During that brief moment, your rep must make a compelling value proposition; keep the prospect engaged, and qualify her adequately.
  • Since your reps have less than a minute or so before the prospects says she has to go, they need to immediately ask your most critical qualifying questions—those that would absolutely qualify the prospect IN or OUT. First, is the pain a pressing issue; next, is this the right person to talk to; after that, are there any disqualifying criteria; and finally, if it’s all a go, schedule the meeting.

Clearly, you want to use highly experienced Business Development Reps (BDRs) for prospecting. They must have at least 5-7 years of experience in B2B prospecting, and preferably have had quota bearing inside or field sales experience as well. Remember that this is your first line team, not a place to try and save a buck or two.

Key MetricsBesides the actual number of appointments set per month per BDR, you want to track how many of these were added to the sales pipeline (conversion rates); how many were attended or rescheduled; and how many were no-shows. You also want to track these numbers not just in the aggregate, but per BDR and sales rep to see if there are anomalies you need to address.

Read about the third operation in B2B Sales, “Sales”.

Operational Excellence (Part 3): Sales

increase high quality leads to grow sales and profits

Your sales team is by far your most expensive resource, compared to Marketing and Prospecting. While your marketing must be targeted, the same marketing assets and messaging will go out to large numbers of prospects.  And while your prospecting activity is one-to-one, each engagement happens for a very brief time. A good BDR can work a list of 200 or so prospects in any given month.

Sales, however, is absolutely a one-to-one process and not very scalable. Your sales people will likely find it hard to work with more than 20 or so prospects at any given time.

Objective (s)Every member of your sales team must hit at least 80% of his/her quarterly sales targets on a consistent basis.
ProcessSales Qualify→ Prove→ Propose→ Negotiate→Close

All B2B sales will likely require at a minimum of the following stages.  While there may be more stages, these are the “gateway” stages that determine if a deal will close or not.

  • Sales Qualify—the most critical stage. During the first call, reps must determine: whether the prospect wants to address this issue now rather than later; whether she is part of the decision making process; whether or not pricing is going to be an issue; and whether there are other alternatives that are far more likely to be selected than your product. This last one is the main reason why so many companies miss their revenue targets—they waste too many resources chasing deals that will never close.
  • Prove—Sales reps have to prove that their solution can solve the prospect’s problem and deliver reasonable ROI, so that the prospect will not experience any personal embarrassment from spending resources on an ineffective solution. The question is what kind of proof does the prospect want—a demo, customer references to speak with, ROI calculation, all of the above, or other?
  • Propose— No proposal should be submitted until the first two steps are completed and it is still a go with the prospect. The purpose of the proposal should only be to present the prospecting in writing— what the rep and the prospect have already agreed upon. The rep should NOT give out a proposal unless he or she thinks that the ONLY thing left to do is to negotiate pricing and Terms & Conditions. In other words, a proposal should be made when pricing is the only factor keeping the prospect from choosing your firm, and aside from that, the prospect wants to give you her business.
  • Negotiate—expect some negotiation and be prepared to counter by offering more value rather than price discounts.

If the above stages are done properly, good sales reps can expect to close at least 33% of their Sales Qualified Leads. Otherwise, the ratio is likely under 20%.

Key MetricsAverage deal size; average sales cycle; average closing ratio. If you watch these metrics closely and enforce discipline, your worst performing sales rep should not bring in less than 25% of what your best performing sales rep brings.

Read about the first and second operations in B2B Sales.

High-Quality Lead Generation (Pillar 1): Segmentation

Market segmentation, at its core, focuses a company’s sales and marketing efforts. Simply put, it is a decision to pursue a specific market. Once a company identifies a target market segment, the company will channel all of  its marketing and selling efforts into that specific market.

The purpose of market segmentation is to enable a seller to produce an unmatchable offer within that segment, making it the vendor of choice—and to do so profitably.

B2B market segmentation typically consists of three elements: Role, industry, and geography—in that specific order.

Making an unmatchable offer for these outliers becomes increasingly expensive until it becomes a losing proposition.

RoleIn a B2B context, products are sold to solve the problem of a specific business manager (also called a business driver). This person may or may not also be the decision maker in their respective company. Role is the single most important criterion for segmentation, as all features and capabilities of a product/service are targeted towards making that Role’s headaches go away.

An example of a Role of a business driver might be “Head of HR,” “Head of Sales,” or “Head of Compliance.”

IndustryWhile Role is the most important segmentation factor, adding industry to segmentation will make it significantly more targeted, allowing for better optimization of limited resources.

For example, while the heads of HR of the Hospitality industry have many things in common with the heads of HR of the Financial industry, the degree to which the two are regulated is different. Products for highly regulated industries need more controls built in.

Some industries are also more concentrated than others. Concentrated industries tend to be more uniform in size and type, while more fragmented industries have significant variations in size . The concentrated nature of the former makes it significantly easier to mass-market to the whole of that industry. In fragmented industries, businesses may need to seek out more niches to market their products and services to, thus highlighting the importance of market segmentation.

LocationSegmentation by the geographic location of a company is important because the farther away the customer is from the provider, the higher the cost. The most obvious cost is that of travel, but there are additional costs of  distance. These include differences in time zones, language, and local customs and laws.

Itis often important to meet face to face with customers in order to build rapport. This process is expensive when the customer and sales rep are far apart. Either the provider has to incur traveling expenses, or it has to open and maintain an office near the customer.

The issue of geography is typically not a problem in geographically concentrated industries. However, in fragmented industries, a provider will either have to pick a geographic location or find an optimal way to sell products and services on a national or international scale.

In the end, the purpose of segmentation is to make it profitable to build an unmatchable offer for a specific segment.

Read about the second pillar of high quality lead generation – “positioning” – here.

High-Quality Lead Generation (Pillar 2): Positioning

Positioning is the second pillar of High Quality Lead generation because it succinctly clarifies:

  • Exactly what a seller does
  • Why the seller is different from others
  • Why that difference should matter to the buyer

The goal is to communicate an unmatchable offer, and the positioning statement should do so in a way that is both clear and credible. The more specific the target segment is, the easier it will be to make an offer that is both compelling and credible for that segment.

As discussed in a previous section, there are three basic types of buyers, and these different types of buyers respond to three very different kinds of positioning statements.

B2C companies are generally much better at positioning than B2B companies because they understand and take full advantage of the different types of buyers.  B2B companies tend to ignore these differences and use general statements that have something for everyone, but not enough for anyone.

Visionary BuyerProduct Positioning

Visionary Buyers are interested in accomplishing something that has never been accomplished before, and as a result, ONLY interested in a product that will enable them to be among the first to do something.

Therefore, all positioning is focused on demonstrating how this product is far better and faster than any other product out there. Anything less is not compelling.

Pragmatist BuyerMarket Positioning

Pragmatists want to see data and evidence. Therefore, they want to see some market forming around any new product so that there can be sufficient data on the efficacy of that product.  What is important here is to show the growth and credibility of the market and that the seller is a leading force within that market. Anything less is not compelling.

Conservative BuyerCompany Positioning

Conservatives care about relationships, and relationships take a long time to develop. It is the company, not the product or even the market, that conservatives buy from. Conservatives will loyally accept an inferior value from a company they know and trust, rather than a superior value from one they don’t.

As the goal of all marketing is to drive a product to a leadership position within a defensible space, positioning has to first identify the intended buyer group, and then give that buyer group every reason to believe this is an unmatchable offer.

Positioning is a complex subject, and we cannot do it justice in this paper. However, there are many excellent books and articles written on this subject that we encourage B2B executives to study,as they will make a significant difference in the quality of leads their companies can expect to generate.

In order for positioning to be effective, sellers must continually think about what buyers want by developing quality content. Read about the third pillar of high quality lead generation (“content”) here.

High-Quality Lead Generation (Pillar 3): Content

Positioning is the claim a business makes, but in order for it to work, it has to be believable. Developing quality content is the most effective way to be seen as the authoritative resource on a specific subject in a specific space.

It is worth repeating that buyers don’t want products or services—they want solutions to their problems. Many sellers, on the other hand, make money by selling products and services and continue to think that is what buyers want.

Content is the link between what buyers want and what sellers want. Through content, sellers demonstrate both a deep understanding of the buyer’s challenges and their ability to solve those challenges. That is how sellers provide the confidence that buyers need to engage in a favorable purchase decision.

It is important here to define what we mean by content. For it to have any value to Buyers, the content has to have the following qualities:

  • Relevant – The focus of the content must be on buyers, not sellers. It has everything to do with the buyers’ world, problems, and challenges, as well as the world-view and culture of the buyer. As we have shown above, what is relevant for a visionary buyer is not so for a pragmatist, let alone the conservative buyer. And vice versa.
  • Useful – The content should help buyers solve their problems — at least partially, regardless of whether or not the sellers gets anything out of it. Buyers have many options, so the seller’s first hurdle is to prove to be a more valuable partner than its competitors. The best way to accomplish this is to prove it up front, before the selling even starts. Proof is again different for each type of buyer—for a visionary, it is a demo; for a pragmatist, it is a pilot; for a conservative, it is a reference from an already known entity.
  • Fresh – Buyers can conduct their own research and find what they are looking for. Therefore, simply copying or repeating what others say, though that may sound safe and expeditious, will backfire. For sellers to make their positioning statements believable, they must provide original content that is hard to find elsewhere. Ironically, while conservatives are the least likely to want new information, they are also the most skeptical and will only accept something from an already well-established seller.
  • Depth, not breadth – The mistake many sellers make is trying to “cover all their bases” and generate shallow content for a wide audience. In reality, they need to do the exact opposite. . Buyers want someone who knows everything there is to know about the problem they have. It is the depth of knowledge they care about. This is why segmentation is the first pillar. It would be financially unsustainable to have both breadth and depth. Since buyers want to work with top-tier vendors, sellers must demonstrate depth and must choose where they will show that depth. Depth is especially important to Pragmatists who demand quite a bit of evidence. Conservatives want to know that there is a lot of evidence, but they typically do not “pour” over a lot of content.

As one can imagine, content development is resource intensive. It requires creativity and subject matter expertise, as well as skilled researchers, writers, and designers, to consistently produce high quality content.  One way to measure the quality of a lead is to gauge the lead’s level of engagement and interest. The content that the lead views (in terms of page visits and downloads, for instance) can inform sellers of the lead’s degree of readiness to be further engaged by Sales.

Finally, the use of metrics in comparing results to desired outcomes is the fourth step in generating high quality leads. Read more about measuring results here.