Category: B2B Email Marketing

Why B2B marketers must read this book on lead generation.


The title of David Scott’s new book “The New Rules of Lead Generation: Proven Strategies to Maximize Marketing ROI” is a bit misleading. It doesn’t just cover the new rules of lead generation marketing that involve LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. It covers all the channels and all the practices necessary to achieve successful B2B marketing lead generation.

As the CEO and founder of Marketfish, David Scott knows his stuff. When he tookScott Book marketing courses at the Wharton School, all he learned about was brand marketing. Thrown into a B2B marketing position when the CMO left the $3.5 billion publicly traded software company where he worked, he had to learn fast. Over the years he has discovered the value of data, testing and measurement for all channels. He now shares his knowledge and experience in this comprehensive lead generation marketing handbook.

B2B marketers must read and share this book if they:

  • Have been so focused on entering social media — or any other single media or tactic — that other necessary lead generation channels have been neglected.
  • Want a comprehensive refresher course on B2B marketing best practices to ensure that nothing valuable has been missed.
  • Have beginners on their team who need to learn what effective lead generation is all about.
  • Need to better understand the importance of data, brand, B2B marketing math and all the other elements that turn million-dollar companies into multi-billion-dollar companies.
  • Are worried that they’re missing one of the seven most successful lead-generation approaches that companies are using today.
  • Have budget limitations and want to focus lead gen dollars on tactics that can maximize the return.
  • Want a handy list of how-tos on any aspect of lead generation marketing.

Highly readable and very informative, this book doesn’t miss a beat. I recommend it for every member of every B2B marketing team — beginner or expert — wanting to maximize the success and the ROI of their company’s lead generation.

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Discovering the true power of personal B2B marketing videos.


Video seems to be popping up all over the place in my B2B marketing world these days.

First (as you can see from last week’s blog on “Why anyone can use video in B2B marketing & why they should“) I was told by my SEO provider that I needed to put a video on my Website, which I have done now.

Video Salesman 2Then, just days ago, I got a personal video with a message from a client that was just for me. He had used a service called Eyejot to record it. Being the first personal video email I’d ever gotten, I have to say I got pretty excited about it. So much so that I told a colleague what a great tool I thought it was for sales people to communicate with prospects and customers.

His response was, “I think it’s tacky.”

Not sure that a survey of one produces reliable B2B market data, so I posed the question on the B2B Video Marketing Group I belong to on LinkedIn. “Do you think that sending a personal message via video in business emails is great or do you think it’s tacky?”

What a wonderful education I got. Here are a few of the great responses:

Daniel Dorfman of Covideo Systems shared a terrific video that supports the importance of visuals and tone in effective communication:

“Susan, I work in the video email and marketing industry, and I agree with what most people have said thus far and have found that it is all about the context in which you use the technology. It will never replace email communication but it can give you that personal touch that you might be looking for. Video as a communication medium also takes out any chance of your message getting misunderstood. Here is a great video on ‘why email starts fights‘.”

Hugh Macfarlane, another group member, made a quick video to demonstrate how a sales person might use a video for a personal communication. I agreed with Caroline Leslie’s response:

“Great video, Hugh! An excellent example of not being naff, tacky or inappropriate and making it about them, not you. A useful strategy for cutting through to a qualified prospect. In a marketing (vs sales) context, the challenge is to make videos which are still about them (i.e., carefully segmenting your audience) while leveraging your database for one-to-many communication.”

Daniel agreed with what I take as a good response to my question and good advice:

“Great point Caroline. I use video daily throughout my communications and I have learned that when you directly communicate to a prospect or client it is best to keep the videos one-to-one or one-to-few. This allows you to really personalize and tailor the videos toward your audience and give them a direct call of action that really hits home. It’s amazing the response you get when the first thing the client or prospect hears is their own name.”

That was my response exactly. It’s good food for thought for any B2B marketer.

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Why anyone can use video in B2B marketing & why they should.


With all the things we do to make B2B marketing interesting, attention-getting and memorable, it’s a fact that there’s nothing like video. Video personalizes and humanizes communication in a way that words and even still pictures cannot do. It adds a human touch to marketing messaging that can be beat only by a face-to-face meeting. I’m not diminishing words and pictures, but, living in a world raised on television and movies, we’ve all been trained to respond to moving and talking pictures.

The arrival of YouTube in 2005 has made it remarkably easy for anyone to put video on the Internet, even a small B2B business like mine. In fact, I did just that in 2012 when my SEO resource, SharpNet Solutions, recommended that I could boost my Website’s SEO performance by adding video. Which it did.

I was so pleased with the result and with the company I chose to do the work that I recommended to the San Diego Direct Marketing Association (SDDMA) that they invite Greg McKinney, Founder and President of Webstorytellers, to be a speaker at one of their luncheon events. So, on Tuesday, I joined my fellow SDDMA members to hear what he had to say. Here are some of the highlights:

Why use video — the stats.*
If B2B marketers are not yet convinced about using video, these powerful stats may convince them. These numbers are based on reality today and don’t even include the projections on the huge future of video:

  • The average user’s visit to a text-and-image-based Website lasts only 43 seconds. For a Website with video, the average lasts 5 minutes and 50 seconds.
  • Customers who watch videos of products or services are 85% more likely to make a purchase.
  • 75% of executives surveyed say they watch work-related videos on business-related Websites at least weekly. More than half watch work-related videos on YouTube at least weekly.
  • 65% of senior executives have visited a vendor’s Website after watching a video.
  • It’s estimated that 75% of U.S. smartphone users watch online video on their smartphones and 26% of them do so every day. 50% of tablet users watch online video content.

Ways to use video.
There are many ways to use video. The best approach is to have multiple videos that cover all these options. Length should depend on the location and purpose of the video. Like all marketing issues, length should be tested for each product and market.

  • Testimonials and Customer Stories: One of my clients took advantage of a customer summit to record video success stories told by their customers. These were then edited into quick video testimonials for use on their Website. They also turned the full stories into case studies, which were put into a very popular content text-based offer.
  • Meet the CEO/President/Owner/Employee, etc.: There are few faster or more effective ways to personalize a B2B company to its prospects than showing an exec or employee talking about the company, its mission, its commitment, or the benefits it offers to customers and clients. Greg recommends that these recordings NOT be scripted.
  • Product Sales: One of my B2B ecommerce clients is adding video descriptions to products on their Website. They’ve made a huge impact on the company’s SEO and product sales.
  • Present the USP: B2B marketers can present their unique selling proposition (USP) in a quick video statement that adds life to the words.
  • Promote the Offer on Landing Pages: Videos produce better conversion from search engine ad or banner landing pages.
  • Enhance Page Content: A video can be put on every page of the site to support or enrich the content of that page with testimonials, product details, etc.
  • Video on Emails: Just like a video can enhance a Website, Web page or a landing page, it can do wonders for generating readership and response to prospect or customer emails.

What to pay for video.
The answer, of course, is, “It depends.” Companies can produce their own videos in-house for very little. But no company wants to project an amateur image. Using a professional video firm can significantly enhance the quality and results. Some resources are willing to do a simple animated video with voice over (like the one I had done) for around $1000. Using interviews, announcers, animation and more might cost an average of $5000 and up.

Video can be a cost-effective investment in better SEO, a more compelling Website and landing pages that convert. If I can do it, anyone can.

*The sources for the stats are available on request.
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The most popular posts from B2B Marketing Smarts in 2012.


What follows are the five most popular blogs posted on B2B Marketing Smarts in 2012. They are not only packed with useful information on B2B marketing best practices, but they can give B2B marketers a little insight into what their competitors may be researching, reading and implementing now and into the coming year.

In case you missed any of these, here they are again for your review.

Also at this close of the year I have the opportunity to wish all my readers a rewarding and successful 2013.

Take your B2B trade show booth from boring to spectacular.
This guest post from Daniel Frank suggests how the right activities and practices can significantly improve the number of visitors to a B2B trade show booth, the time the visitors spend at the booth and how that visit can stand out from the competition.

Two B2B marketing rules that cross all forms of communication.
Don’t miss reviewing these two basic rules that, when followed, consistently enhance the readability and impact made by a B2B marketing message.

B2B marketing’s 10 most common copy mistakes.
Regardless of one’s marketing experience and background, there’s likely at least one rule here that a B2B marketer could be missing. Check out this list and see if there isn’t some little improvement that could enhance the impact of a marketing communication.

B2B content marketing: Be noticed in this attention economy.
Thanks to the Internet, smart phones and more, demands for our attention have multiplied tenfold. Here are a few elements that B2B marketers may have missed that can help their messages stand out when trying to reach their target markets.

Use others’ B2B marketing landing page wins to boost yours.
Here are eight ideas that have been tested by others and have proven to improve the conversions from B2B marketing landing pages.

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Writing B2B email subject lines with complete confidence


Many thanks to Jay Schwedelson, President & CEO of Worldata, for my richest learning experience at the recent Direct Marketing Association (DMA) 2012 Conference.

His topic of “What’s Working Now: Critical Email & Emerging Media Trends” was packed with information on how to make B2B emails work better. The information he provided isn’t based on guesswork or the results of just a few projects. It’s taken from the results of testing over 20,000 email campaigns in both the B2B and B2C arenas.

His opening point was that, today, most emails are seen on mobile devices first. This stat proves it:

87% of C-Level executives see their email on their mobile device first

This means emails must be designed to be mobile-friendly, with pictures and sidebars built into the design and not added as separate elements.

The big learning for me was what he said about subject lines. I’ve been writing them for years, but few of my clients test; so, much of what I do is built on the best practice of including a benefit in the subject line. But the simple instruction he shared now makes me surer of the subject lines I’m creating.

His words of wisdom? The two most essential elements in subject lines that continue to win in A/B split testing are these:
Exclusivity and Urgency

He reports, “Implying exclusivity generates a 22% higher open rate.” This is true in B2B and B2C. The other factor, “urgency”, is the #1 driver of response and raises open rates by 34%.

To maximize visibility he also advises that subject lines be 30 to 35 characters long or less.

A great way to achieve exclusivity is to target emails to specific titles and put the title in the subject line. This implies that the message is exclusively for that group. Then try to include urgency words such as “now” or, even better, include a respond-by date.

Here are a few ideas on how to include exclusivity and urgency in a B2B subject line — and keep it short:

  • Now CFOs can track labor costs fast
  • SMB savings ideas: Register now
  • Download guide now on closing sales

To help us all, Worldata has created a free tool, www.subjectline.com, that lets B2B marketers test subject lines they create and get a score of how well the line measures up. The above lines achieved a 94% to 100% rating. So I can be confident that they are a good bet for getting good performance — and being mobile-friendly, too.

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B2B marketing efforts that deliver big payoffs.


B2B marketers get hammered daily with so many pieces of advice that it’s hard to know what to do next.

Just this morning I got an article from LinkedIn Today — “4 Blogging Tips to Double Your Site Traffic” — that endorses the power of videos and blogging. Written by Louise Julig for SocialMediaExaminer.com, it tells of how a video and a huge commitment to their blog and its content generated these remarkable results for Block Imaging International Inc.

“Sales volume has increased significantly enough since September that the company — which had been in a slump — hired 13 employees, including 3 additional salespeople.” But best of all, that single post with the video generated a $70K order.

This is a perfect example in which new technologies and new inbound channels deliver bottom-line results. But it took a huge commitment in time and effort by the players at Block Imaging to make it happen.

On the outbound side of the fence, I recently had a client send an email to its house list and experience a significantly higher-than-average response. This email did not offer free informational content, but was designed to generate calls and emails directly to sales.

The client is a company selling technology and services to CIOs in a very small, very vertical market. Most of the time, they send every B2B email marketing effort to their entire list of CIOs. However, in this particular effort, they put much time and energy into refining their targeting.

The product and service being offered related to a compliance issue faced by their market. With this email, they took the time and effort to select the specific state in which each company resided. Then they personalized each message with verbiage that read something like:

If you’re looking for ways to meet this (compliance issue)
look no further.

ABC Company has already helped [XX] companies
in [Name of State] achieve this functionality . . .

The client built 24 versions of the email, for prospects in 24 states, each in HTML and text. Within days they had gotten 25 responses — with many asking for more information. Again, this was not an offer for informational content but a “deep buy cycle” offer.

Both the inbound and outbound campaigns put in the extra time and effort necessary to use best practices. If B2B marketers reading this post get only one message, it’s that making a commitment and putting in the effort to follow best practices — whether inbound or outbound marketing — has a big payoff.

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B2B marketing: How B2B marketers can maximize open rates.


My colleague, James Pennington of Anderson Direct Marketing, a full-service direct marketing agency, was recently helping a B2B marketing client build their marketing strategy for a new product. In the process, he related this story, which some readers may not find amusing. Yet it’s true.

“I was attending a social media presentation in which the speaker spent time bashing traditional direct mail marketing by stating the fact that 44% of direct mail was not opened and got tossed directly into the trash. After hearing this statement, I raised my hand and asked, ‘Does that mean that 56% of it does get opened? That seems pretty terrific to me. What’s the open rate on email?’ The presenter answered 10% and there was some serious buzz kill in the room.”

In the B2B marketing world, direct mail marketing is still the most effective channel for generating leads and it is still cost-effective for companies selling higher priced products with long buy cycles.

Although it has a valuable place in integrated marketing, email marketing typically cannot produce the lead generation, open rates and response rates of direct mail.

Here are a few of those stats:

  • Prospecting emails to fresh lists typically get open rates of 9%-15% and click-through rates (CTRs) of 2.8%-3.2%. Marketo views open rates of 16%-20% as top performers. The average CTR per Marketo is 2.1%-5% with 5.1%-10% viewed as top performers.
  • A newsletter to a B2B house list is getting open rates of 18%-22% and CTRs of 3%-11%. This is consistent with MarketingSherpa‘s 2010 Email Marketing Benchmark Report in which 1,500 survey respondents reported an average open rate of 23% for B2B newsletters and an 11% CTR.
  • Follow-up emails to webinar or event attendees get an open rate of 31% and CTR of 55%.

B2B marketers looking to maximize open rates and fill their pipeline with qualified leads might want to include the still very powerful and productive direct mail marketing channel.

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Converting B2B marketing click-throughs in 50 milliseconds


Tim Ash, in the latest version of Target Marketing magazine, makes a dramatic point about how critical it is to make sure a landing page follows all the right practices to maximize conversions.

In his article “After the Click“, Tim lays out specific must-dos for landing page productivity. He says, “Getting people to click on your email link or banner offer is irrelevant if they don’t see what they expected to see, can’t find what they came for or are just plain turned off by your landing page.”

As the CEO at SiteTuners and author of Landing Page Optimization, Tim knows his stuff. He reports on research estimating that marketers have only 50 milliseconds to capture a person’s attention. Tim reports, “Recent findings in neuroscience are giving marketers insights into how the brain reacts to new information, what it likes and what it rejects. For example, the brain is frustrated by:

  • Tasks that take too long to resolve;
  • Clutter; and
  • Messages that distract or don’t apply.”

I’ve often written about the importance of keeping messages simple so B2B buyers can “react” to offers without ever having to stop and think. Tim refers it as “first impressions.” That’s why I thought it might be time to repeat the highlights of my “5 Biggest B2B Marketing Design Mistakes” to help B2B marketers creating landing pages make the right visual impression:

  1. Never reverse body copy out of a dark background (headlines are OK, but not body copy).
  2. Keep lines of text short from left to right to maximize readability (no more than 70 characters per line).
  3. Never treat copy as purely a design element.
  4. Use pictures whenever possible.
  5. Don’t hide your call to action.

Tim adds to these instructions on other ways to keep the design uncluttered. He adds:

  1. Keep your colors pleasing and neutral.
  2. Use standard fonts large enough to read without straining.
  3. Make text easy to scan.

The other point Tim makes is one I have also advised clients to remember for years — to have a single call to action. Those who click through will stop and get confused if the landing page gives them choices. Remember, B2B marketers don’t want prospects to have to think. They want prospects to react.

Tim clearly states that the landing page is not an “afterthought.” It’s the biggest part of a B2B marketing campaign that must convert click-throughs into follow-throughs.

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Great B2B marketing ideas you may have missed.


The rising number of visitors to this blog is not only good for my ego, but also indicates that more and more B2B marketers out there are interested in knowing about and following B2B marketing best practices.

It occurred to me, that with many readers taking the day off to celebrate the great day of our nation’s independence, it might be time to remember this blog’s great history. It seems a perfect time to expose some of the more popular earlier posts to new visitors who may have missed them.

So below are links to five of my earlier posts that remain the most popular on this site. Note that getting “B2B marketing ideas” does seem to be a theme.

Three Great B2B Marketing Ideas I Read in (OMG) Print Media.

  • One over-the-top creative idea that was a big hit
  • Ideas for writing more powerful B2B marketing email subject lines
  • Report on the goals driving IT decision-makers and how they affect B2B marketing copy

Two simple B2B marketing ideas I wish I’d thought of.

  • Making it easy and inviting for prospects to access and share business/product information
  • Adding a powerful Web page that boosts communication and SEO

Five B2B marketing ideas you can implement (almost) instantly.

  • Boost content downloads
  • Increase landing page performance
  • Lighten the burden of creating nurturing content
  • Get a longer life out of email and direct mail content offers
  • Get better results by using the word FREE in subject lines and emails

The two biggest B2B marketing campaign essentials.

  • Targeting
  • Tracking

Bad thoughts that block B2B marketing success.

  • I’m reaching everyone I need to reach with email
  • Social media is the only way to go today
  • We tried that and it didn’t work

I wish all marketers out there a happy and safe Independence Day observance full of fun and festivities, and many years of successful B2B marketing using today’s best practices.

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Great B2B content deserves greater B2B marketing.


As a B2B marketer trying to pay attention to what other marketers are doing, I see so much stuff that it’s hard to really grab my attention, but someone did today and I’m excited to share it with you.

It’s not a new idea, but I rarely see it used — and in this case it was done so very well. The offer is educational content. There’s nothing new or exciting about that. What was so well done, though, was how they got me to download it.

The sender was Symantec, which now owns VeriSign. The B2B content offer was a white paper on “Best Practices and Applications of TLS/SSL.”

The email grabbed me at the subject line by saying, “Take the trivia challenge. Get an 8GB USB.”

Sorry, but that’s a temptation I can’t resist — the challenge even more so than the flash drive. The headline in the email tempted me further with, “Think you’re smart about online security? Prove it.” How could I say no? How could anyone in IT not take this opportunity to prove to themselves, once again, how much they know?

After completing the challenge (I missed only two answers, which is probably pretty good for a non-techie), I receive a second email inviting me to download the white paper. The gift incentive made it more agreeable to fill out the short “who am I” form required.

The design was upbeat, the message short and clear, plus the campaign included an opportunity to generate an immediate inquiry by stating, “If you have any questions about online security, feel free to contact us at 1-XXX-XXX-XXXX or 1-XXX-XXX-XXXX, option 3.”

I don’t know how this campaign performed, but from my perspective, it followed most best practices. It effectively used the strong B2B marketing tactic — interaction. B2B marketers who can get their prospects “involved” in an activity with them and their brand are one step closer to building a connection and a relationship. It’s good marketing.

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