Disclaimer: This blog isn't legal advice. Please get a professional opinion before actioning any of our recommendations.
GDPR shook the email marketing world when it came into effect in May 2018. And it got a lot of marketers hot under the collar. But now the the dust has settled, it’s clear you can still do email marketing well in the age of the regulation. All you have to do is follow the rules.
In our mammoth guide below, you'll to learn everything you need to know about GDPR in B2B email marketing. Buckle in and let's go!
While you're here, why not check out our mega B2B email marketing stats list?
GPDR, or the General Data Protection Regulation, is a law created by the EU to safeguard its citizens’ personal data. It came into effect on May 25th 2018.
There is no specific mention of B2B email marketing in the GDPR framework. However, it sets out rules around the use of personal data. Many B2B marketing activities use personal data as defined by GDPR, such as using individual email addresses. Even someone’s work address is considered personal data by GDPR. Therefore, B2B marketers need to be aware of the ins and outs of the regulation.
Much of GDPR talks about "processing" data. This term covers a range of activities, including sending an email newsletter or other marketing comms.
GDPR lays down different rules for businesses marketing to consumers, rather than other companies.
In B2C marketing:
In B2B marketing:
It’s important to note that when you market to sole traders and some partnerships, it falls under B2C rules, rather than B2B.
In the context of GDPR, consent is when someone makes a specific action that tells the business, clearly and unambiguously, that they're happy to let them process their personal data. Permission must be freely given, with no coercion. It also has to be easy to withdraw.
An example would be ticking a box clearly labelled "Join our mailing list".
In B2B marketing, to make a call or send a text or email, you do not need to ask for consent specifically. For example, you can send an email to a business address if there is a legitimate interest. (See "What does legitimate interest mean?" )
GDPR also sets out rules on how business can keep personal data. For example, if a recipient doesn't want to receive any more emails from you, you must abide by that. You must tell people what you'll do with their personal information, such as how long you plan to keep it and who you'll share it with. You also have to justify your reasons under the law for how you process personal data.
The Privacy and Electronic Data Regulations (PECR) are a set of laws that came into effect in 2003.
PECR safeguards privacy, relating to marketing calls, cookies, customer information and more.
Today, the PECR sits alongside GDPR. When it comes to B2B marketing, GDPR has given PECR renewed vigour. Marketers must still follow the rules laid down in PECR, as well as new GDPR rules.
Legitimate interest is when a business is allowed to process a person’s personal information because they have a clear business reason to do so.
For B2B email marketing, legitimate interest could include:
Legitimate interest is essential for B2B marketers to bear in mind. It means you need to target your approaches. No more spray and pray!
Opt-out is when someone you've emailed takes action to withdraw their consent.
There are two types of opt-out:
B2B marketers need to make sure they don’t send marketing emails to individuals who have opted out. If they do, they will be on the wrong side of GDPR, which could lead to heavy fines.
Single opt-in is when a user adds their email address to your list in one action. It could involve entering their address in a box on your site, or checking a box after a transaction, for example.
B2B marketers need to bear in mind that an email address that has only been through a single opt-in process may not have given consent, under GDPR rules. It depends on the exact wording of the process they went through.
Double opt-in is when a user goes through a two-step process to add their email address to your mailing list. For example, after they have entered their address in a box on your site, they receive an email where they have to click a link. They join the list only when they click the link.
Like single opt-in for B2B email marketing, double opt-in doesn't necessarily mean consent. GDPR doesn't specify that you need to get double opt-in for contacts on your list. However, it is best practice.
It’s clear that B2B marketers can still get results in the post-GDPR world. You just need to be thoughtful about who you contact and how. If you're handling data correctly, and only marketing to people who you believe will be interested in your business, you've nothing to fear. It’s what you should be doing anyway!
Learn more about starting your B2B email marketing journey.
Cognism Campaign Executive, James Sutton, explains how you can fire up your B2B email marketing engine.
B2B email marketing is a strategy designed to:
Successful B2B email marketing strategies often use a combination of inbound and outbound emails to achieve this, targeting both new and existing customers.
Email is a universal channel. Everyone has an inbox and everyone expects to receive marketing messages in them. This means communicating with known and unknown contacts over email is easy and non-invasive. As a result, email is an ideal place to start building relationships with prospects and customers.
In both B2B and B2C email marketing you’re selling something to someone. So at their core, the objectives are the same. But the methods used to achieve these objectives are completely different. These usually reflect the fact that B2B sales cycles are long and B2C sales cycles are short.
So in order to be persuaded to make more significant purchases in B2B, recipients need to be taken on a journey. As a result, marketers have to take a steady slope approach. In this, they drive awareness about the products/services they’re trying to sell, relating them to the company or industry the recipient is in.
Whereas in B2C, marketers can appeal to impulse with more direct messaging. This is because purchases are generally less significant and more affordable.
A B2B email marketing sequence often starts with value-led content. So let's say you're a provider of an email marketing tool. You might start off with something like:
Hey [first name]
We've noticed you're interested in email marketing. So we thought we give you access to some more of our resources.
Hope this helps,
To scale this sequence up, you could include some case studies.
Hi [first name]
Burned through the content we sent last time? Fear not. Here are some case studies that show how an email marketing tool works in practice.
Then, you might decide to sell to them.
Us again [first name]
We come bearing great news. We have a tool that can help you with your email marketing!
Arrange a demo today and get 20% off your first three months with us.
By contrast, a B2C email would go straight in for the kill. For example, a burger joint might say:
Hi [first name]
Szechuan sauce is back! Visit us in-store before October 7 to get your dose.
See you there,
Firing off random emails to your contact database is unlikely to bear fruit. That’s because the average worker sends and receives around 121 business emails per day. As a result, it’s tough to craft emails that:
So while a simple channel to the naked eye, the tactics B2B email marketers use to hit these key criteria are sophisticated.
For example, email signature marketing plugins help amplify the channel. Meanwhile AI-powered MarTech helps streamline interactions.
This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the add-ons and integrations available to aspiring B2B email marketers. But for beginners, the best way to start your journey is to keep things simple. That means keeping amplification tactics in mind, without forgetting the basics.
Defined goals are a key part of successful B2B email marketing strategies. This means outlining the time you want to put into your campaign and defining what success looks like.
Take a look at our definitive list of email marketing stats to give you an idea of what other B2B marketers are doing.
By setting benchmarks, you can:
This helps you to build a predictable B2B email marketing machine. And to decide how to do that, you need to be tracking a number of key analytics. These include:
These are especially useful in top of the funnel awareness campaigns. That’s because your key objective is to get opens and clicks.
But if you’re working on bottom on the funnel campaigns with clear desired customer actions, you should be tracking:
Of course, determining your success is dependent on your goals. And these metrics will help you do that decisively.
Speaking your readers’ language is a big deal in B2B email marketing. Because if you don’t, you can’t deliver the personalised experiences they expect. So first of all, you need to work out:
When you've done that, you need to live by three principles.
Targeting isn’t about chucking the same messaging at all your CRM contacts. Sure, addressing people by name is great and all, but it isn’t enough to build trust. Instead, you have to work out what different customer segments need from your product/service.
For example, let’s say you have different ICPs for decision makers with different levels of seniority. What a middle manager needs to get buy-in for your product/service will be completely different to a CEO. Therefore the emails you send to them will need to target different wants, needs & pain points.
Automation makes marketers’ lives easier. And automated email sequences allow you to personalise your emails at scale. This means even in a team of one, you can pump out resonant messaging to all of your personas.
There are a number of email automation tools depending on your price point. But the most important thing to note is that there’s an affordable option for every marketer. That means there’s no excuse not to do it.
Adding value is the key to successful B2B email marketing. Because at the end of the day, people are busy. And they don’t have time for stuff that isn’t going to help them out.
At Cognism, we don’t get good results from our email marketing strategy because people know who we are and what our platform does. We get results because we closely monitor our ICPs pain points and send them resources to help solve them.
At the top of the funnel, we do this for free to make an impression on the reader. So the next time we land in their inbox, they’re more likely to remember and engage with us, even if they’re not ready to purchase. Over time, we can provide more resources to these contacts and help guide them through the funnel.
B2B email marketing is a subtle game. And a long game. A lot of marketers fall short because they don’t recognise this. Instead, they focus on the benefits of their product/service rather than on their customers’ needs. Ultimately, showing you know your stuff about your industry is only going to help you in the long run. So make the investment in great content and resources now and thank us later.
In case you’re still wondering how to start your B2B email marketing journey, here are a few more top tips to help you on your way!
A lot of people forget email marketing isn’t just problem solving. Sure it’s a key part of it. But you also need a positive angle. Help your recipient improve, not just troubleshoot.
Think about what your recipients need at each stage of their journey to help guide them through to conversion. To do this, you need to have a subject line that resonates, email content that leaves the reader wanting more and a CTA that entices them to click.
Unfortunately, quick fixes don't cut the mustard.
You want to start your B2B email marketing journey with the least fuss possible. That means keeping your existing CRM suite and using the data already in it. Luckily for you, most major ones have in-built email toolkits. But we’ve listed a few below in case you’re starting completely from scratch.
For more B2B email marketing hacks, check out the posts below 👇🏼
If marketing is bread, email is butter. But with hundreds of billions of emails sent every day, starting your email marketing journey can be overwhelming. What do you need to get buy-in from your bosses? How should you be using it to promote your content? And why do you need to be mindful of email blasts?
Well, in this blog, we’ve got the answer to all of these questions and much, much more. We’ll be covering:
While you're here, why not check out the beginner's guide to email marketing?
Email is big. Bryan Cranston after Breaking Bad big. In fact...
And in 2020...
This means that if you’re not using it as a channel for your business yet, you probably should be. Because preeeetty much every top B2B marketer is.
Good news! Your most important channel is also one of your most cost-effective. This should light up the eyes of your firm’s number crunchers. And get them to chuck a few quid your way.
This is probably why...
But let me shock you.
With so many businesses passing on email marketing, there’s room for you to edge ahead of your competition by doing it well.
Social, SEO and email are marketing’s answer to The Three Amigos. In fact…
Some marketers also go the extra mile to amp-up their content promotion efforts through email. For example...
Email is a vital part of the marketing mix. It should be used in tandem with other key channels to generate traffic to content, leads and conversions.
The quality of your subject line is the difference between getting open and getting ghosted. In fact…
As a result, crafting the perfect one has become something of an art form among marketers. For example...
This is because they want to guarantee their key messages land. But when it comes to mobile, marketers have to be even more economical. That’s because...
But even within such restraints, marketers still have to get creative.
Complicating matters even further is the minefield of words that kill an email recipient’s vibe.
All of these variables suggest that no one size fits all email recipients. To best action these insights, you should start your own campaigns, bearing in mind tips and things to avoid. Then dig into your own data and see which cocktail of ingredients works best for your customers.
Open and click-through rates (CTR) are a big deal. Basically, that’s because they show you the fruits of your labour. And according to the Content Marketing Institute, they’re becoming increasingly important to marketers.
But what actually constitutes success in the email marketing game? Well, SaleCycle has a few useful benchmarks for you to follow...
But to juice these numbers well above average, marketers are using every weapon in their armoury.
Open rates and CTR are the currency of email marketing. Make sure you measure yours and test different techniques to pull your numbers up.
People look at their phones. A lot. But this doesn’t stop some marketers from neglecting mobile experiences. If you want to succeed at email marketing, you just can’t afford to fall into this bracket. For example...
You also need to check you’re optimising for the email platforms your customers use. That’s because…
Don’t kill your email marketing journey before you pass go. And remember … doing the basics right is crucial.
Chances are you’ve read an email that opened with “Hi [first name]”? Then you tossed into your junk without a second thought. This is probably the most important lesson you can learn about personalisation. Because...
And a minority are peeved when they don’t get it...
To scale personalisation, you need to segment your audiences. That means having different email lists for different customer personas. And taking the time to do this is likely to pay off…
To add the cherry on top of your segmentation and personalisation strategy, why not throw in a few millennial favourites, too?
Don't spam your audiences with unwanted messages. Connect with them and show them what they could gain by engaging with you.
Souping up your email marketing is easy as pie. And one of the best ways to do that is through email signature marketing. This allows you to include banners in every employee email signature to drive traffic to relevant content, offers, events & more. And outgoing emails quickly add up in big corporates....
And if we’re talking about engagements with known contacts, recipients are likely to open an email multiple times. Say 2.5 times on average. So, all of the sudden…
Email signature marketing is quick win in its truest form. To make sure you’re not missing out on easy revenue gains, book a demo.
Marketers and email go together like Tony Soprano and cigars. In fact, 68% of companies rate email as the best marketing channel for ROI. But good email marketing is a craft. And success or failure depends on your email subject line.
That’s because all kinds of communications are beamed into our brains for every waking moment. It’s a lot of info, and only so much can stick.
So to make sure your emails get noticed, we spoke to Cognism's email experts Liam Bartholomew and James Sutton. Below, they provide the best email subject lines for different marketing scenarios, along with some killer tips.
Adding value to readers is the core goal of every newsletter. This means you should avoid a blanket approach in your newsletter email subject lines. Instead, focus on how your company updates benefit your readers, and how it can remedy their pain points.
Using “Newsletter” as your email subject line is likely to kill your message stone dead. That’s because it doesn’t indicate the value a reader can gain by clicking through. To write something resonant, home in on what you’re offering and why it matters.
Including names, locations or companies in your email subject line helps to separate you from run of the mill email blasts. Even if your newsletter is going to 5,000 contacts, make sure it’s personalised.
So, if you have multiple buyer personas, use different subject lines to address them. Also try to serve up tailored content. After all, giving marketers sales content is unlikely to strike a chord. Tapping into topical conversations is another fruitful tactic. This helps to emphasise the timeliness, and thereby relevance, of your message.
Successful hooks do enough to pique interest without giving the game away. Attention-grabbing data, special offers, exclusive content and questions will all help achieve this.
Inboxes are full of dry email subject lines. And you want your newsletter to stand out. Humour and emojis are great ways to cut through the noise and may even make your readers look forward to your newsletter.
There’s a fine line to be struck in product email subject lines. On the one hand, you want to include technical detail. On the other hand, you don’t want to turn your readers off with complex jargon. To achieve this feat, all you need is a sprinkling of context...
Whether it’s a product update or a product launch, your subject line has to grab attention. And “Say hello to [insert product] 2.0” is unlikely to cut the mustard. Instead, choose the headline benefit of the product and hint at how it could benefit your readers.
Personalised email subject lines land. Generic email subject lines don’t. So when you’re covering products, try segmenting your data. This will allow you to address different customer bases effectively. You can also try calling out your audience in the subject line. Including job titles like “Sales Leader!” or “CEOs!” will leave no illusions about who you’re addressing and why.
We explored the value of hooks and humour in our newsletter section above, and product emails are no different. Provocative questions and eye-catching stats are your secret weapon.
Email is a great way to guide leads through the sales funnel. And blending a number of email subject line tactics should help get your personas from A to B.
Moving beyond first name data is a nice trick to have up your sleeve. Especially if you’re selling a product, you’re likely to be liaising with key decision makers. And they're responsible for whole departments, not just themselves. In these cases, focusing on company names can help make your subject line more resonant.
Don’t beat around the bush. Let your reader know what you’re talking about in the first couple of words. This will help them identify value as they scan through their emails. Also try and keep your subject lines around 40 characters.
Email subject lines that ask questions get results. In fact, when James sent a nurture email to around 500 cold leads, the results were frightening. “[First name], who’s buying right now?” returned a whopping 52% open rate and a 24% click through rate.
The email shared a new trial for Cognism’s prospecting tools, focusing on how to identify active leads through the platform during COVID. It was successful because it used personalisation and tapped into a huge issue facing salespeople and marketers.
Data is the most valuable resource in the world. Don’t be scared to use it. If you can draw on a recent study that highlights the value of your product, amazing. If you can illustrate that statistic with real life examples or case studies, even better. This helps the reader visualise how your product could work for them.
Different email subject lines will work better for different audiences. Using A/B testing will help you hone your approach and guarantee high open rates.
Particularly in cases of cold outreach, credibility is key. If the reader of the email doesn’t know you, they might know your company. They may also know people in your professional network. By using your subject line to name-drop, you’ll be setting yourself up for success against your anonymous competition.
You may only get one chance to make a connection with a high-value prospect, so strike the iron while it’s hot. If an event or development makes your product attractive to an audience group, be sure to reference it. It could be the spark you need to turn them into loyal customers.
Sometimes, wacky works. If you’ve chased and chased again on an outreach email, take your foot off the breaks and get creative. You can even crack wise or point fun at the situation. But be sure to run more daring email subject lines by your peers to check you’re not going overboard.
Everyone knows how to write good internal emails, right? Well, you’d be surprised. Even though your co-workers have a vested interest to help you out, they’re busy with client work. Just as you would with a client or a cold lead, you need to grab their attention.
Make your email subject line as easy as possible for your co-workers to understand. This will allow them to quickly action your request. Including keywords at the beginning of your subject line will help.
You know these guys. That means there’s room for a casual tone and humour as long as it doesn’t detract from your key message.
Don’t let your co-workers stick your request on the laterbase. Because as soon as that happens, it’s never getting done. By introducing a time deadline, you’ll get your teammates to jump to attention. And you won’t have to add that red exclamation mark that everyone hates.
Your email is important, so don’t send it at a random time. This will make your request feel like an afterthought, making replies and actions less likely. You can always use scheduling tools to ensure your email arrives at an appropriate time. Sending between 6am - 7am will ensure your mail is the first thing your reader sees.
Now your readers are opening your emails, you can use them as a marketing channel. Learn more