16 Tips for Creating High-Performing B2B Newsletters
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If you’re in business of marketing to business, then you definitely need an email newsletter. According to VTL Design, 72% of B2B buyers share information they get by email. Plus, depending on the stats you believe, the ROI of B2B emails is somewhere between $38:$1 and $44:$1.
That means your email newsletter will expand the reach of your content, paving the way for more leads and sales.
But with so many email newsletters out there, how can you be sure that yours will get results? In this article, we’ll show you how to create a B2B newsletter that gets subscribers’ attention and brings you business.
One of the first steps in creating a high performing B2B newsletter is to tweak your process so you get more email newsletter signups. This first batch of tips gives you some ideas for how to make that happen.
1. Make Your Signup Form Prominent
If people can’t see your email newsletter sign up form, then they’ll likely ignore it. That’s why the first step to getting more signups is to make your signup form more prominent.
A lot of people place signup forms at the end of content but according to FinnPR this is a spot that most people ignore. Instead, place your signup form in a highly visible location on your site, like the sidebar or above the navigation. That makes it much more likely that people will actually see it and be motivated to sign up.
You can also use on-site messaging, as we do on our own site.
And our next tip can increase visitors’ motivation to sign up even more…
2. Boost Signup Prospects With a Lead Magnet
Another way to encourage prospects to sign up is to offer a lead magnet as a reward for doing so. What’s a lead magnet? It’s an incentive you offer visitors in exchange for handing over their email address.
A lead magnet is usually an e-book, checklist, worksheet or other resource that provides value to them on a key issue affecting their business while showcasing what your business can do for them. Or you could offer a content upgrade, which adds value to the content your visitors are looking at right now.
The research from FinnPR shows that offering a lead magnet can increase signups by 10x, and offering a content upgrade can boost signups by as much as 20x.
We agree: at Sleeknote, offering a content upgrade helped us boost subscriber numbers 28.83% in just 30 days. So try it, and you can improve your signup process even more with our next tip …
3. Keep Customers Happy by Showing Value
Anyone who’s signing up for your email list wants to see immediate value. There are a couple of ways you can do this.
First, of all, give your new subscribers instant gratification by delivering the lead magnet the minute they hit that submit button. You can decide whether to do this by:
- Having the lead magnet open immediately
- Redirecting them immediately to the download page
Note that you should still deliver it by email so people have access to it whenever they need it.
Another way to show value is to customize your thank-you page. Instead of using the default option, change it to redirect or link to a high-value resource on your site. That will reassure people that they were right to subscribe to your email list, and will help to show your expertise in your niche.
Entice Subscribers to Open Your Emails
Our next batch of performance tips for your B2B newsletter is aimed at getting subscribers to open your emails. Believe it or not, although email is the main communication tool for professionals, a huge number of emails never get opened.
Follow our next set of tips to buck the trend with your B2B newsletter.
4. Authenticate Your Emails
Did you know that 21% of the emails people send never reach the recipients’ inbox? We’re not talking about spam; these are emails that never even make it to being marked as spam.
The way to make sure your own B2B email newsletters don’t get caught in this trap is to authenticate your emails. Email authentication lets email service providers your emails really come from the place they claim to be coming from.
Email authentication protocols read like technical alphabet soup but here are the ones to be aware of.
- Sender Policy Framework (SPF) tells email providers that your email is coming from an authorized IP address on your domain. This fights email spoofing.
- DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) links your domain with your email in a kind of digital signature.
- Domain-Based Message Authentication, Reporting, & Conformance (DMARC) fights phishing and spoofing.
These protocols are often implemented at the domain level, so your hosting and email marketing services providers will be able to help you with this.
5. Identify the Sender
Even if you make it into the inbox, that still doesn’t mean that people are going to open your email. One way to give your B2B email newsletter a fighting chance is to identify the sender of the email.
According to Litmus, 42% of people look at the sender name first when they’re deciding whether to open an email or not.
You can set the sender name in your email marketing software. A format that is being used often these days is [first name] at/from [company], as in the example below:
6. Get the Subject Line Right
The Litmus research also says that for 34% of people the subject line is the most important thing they look at when deciding whether to open an email. That’s why it’s so essential to nail the email subject line for your B2B email newsletter.
So what’s the best kind of email subject line you can use for your B2B newsletter? According to Find A Way Media‘s study of the top performing B2B newsletters, literal subject lines are effective and are a good place to start if you’re not feeling inspired. But if you’ve got a great copywriter, consider going for email subject lines that are clever, interesting and intriguing.
Ideally, your subject line will relate to the email content, otherwise subscribers may be disappointed when they open it. It’s far better to meet their expectations.
Keep email subject lines short, relevant and possible attempt to elicit some emotion. Here are few examples:
- Vertical videos for Instagram and Snapchat (Lumen5)
- Your site in shining armor is riding away (AppSumo)
- Three epic design tips for non-designers (Canva)
7. Customize the Preview Text
Preview text is the unsung hero of email opens. According to Litmus, 24% of people look at it before deciding whether to open an email. So the preview text is another opportunity to tip the scales in your favor. In fact, Find a Way Media says using customized preview text actually enhances the effectiveness of your email subject line.
Here are some things you can do with preview text:
- Add more description of what’s inside
- Personalize it to get attention
- Include a call to action
Whatever you do, avoid simply leaving the default preview text. This often looks uninviting.
Improve the Content
Once people open your email, how it looks and what’s inside will determine whether your B2B email newsletter is actually effective. Our next batch of tips is aimed at helping you wow your audience with your newsletter content.
8. Choose the Right Format
Here’s one piece of good news: you don’t have to create all your newsletter content yourself. In fact, according to Find a Way Media, 69% of B2B newsletters consist of high quality curated content, both from the company blog and elsewhere.
That means that you can spend some time collecting the best content you can find related to your business and use your B2B email newsletter as a digest of that content.
Of course, not everyone agrees. Boston Content says you should keep your newsletter focused for best results.
Our take on this is that there is no wrong or right, only what’s right for your business and your audience. We’ll talk about how to figure that out in our final tip.
9. Keep Emails Short
For B2B email newsletters, Find a Way Media found a link between length, design and effectiveness, with the longest emails tending to have the worst design and the worst results.Their research showed that the average length of B2B email newsletters was 273 words, and the best performers were even shorter with an average of 241 words.The bottom line: keep them short. This example from Designrr is just over 150 words long:
10. Make the First Paragraph Relevant
Irrelevant content turns people off and it’s one of the key complaints that people make about the emails that they get. So, for best results, keep the first paragraph of your newsletter content relevant to the subject line. This helps to reassure people that they made the right decision to open your emails.
Find a Way Media says many of the top performing email newsletters use that first paragraph to tell a story that makes their business more human and relatable and draws subscribers into the email. Once you have their attention, it’s more likely that they’ll keep reading.
Here’s an example from Prezi (via Really Good Emails). The subject line is “Learn the storyteller’s secret”, and the headline and first paragraph support that:
11. Use or Link to Video
You can’t get away from it: video is huge. According to Cisco, video will represent 82% of all Internet traffic by 2021. So, how does this help you with B2B email marketing?
It’s simple. Include video.
According to data from Vidyard, even mentioning a video in the subject line can boast email open rates by 40%. And even if you only link to the video in your email, rather than including it, it’s still tremendously effective.
Here are some examples of video subject lines (follow the links to see the full emails on Really Good Emails):
- The best videos on Curiosity right now
- The Fathom and Draft make a scene with video on Twitter
- Did you know that video plays in email?
12. Nail the CTA
The call to action (CTA) Is where you let email recipients know what you want them to do next. There are a few ways to include this in an email:
- As a text link
- As a clickable image (but use alt text in case recipients have images disabled)
- As a button, which is pretty common, like the example below from Moo:
Often, people use more than one of these options. CTAs include action words like “buy”, “get”, “shop”, and so on.
Good CTAs appeal to the emotions, remove the risk of taking action (for example with free trials) and encourage people to act immediately.
For best results, vary the type of CTA until you figure out the CTA strategy that works best for your audience.
Design for Conversions
Apart from the content, the design can have a major impact on whether people continue to look at your email once they’ve opened it. These next couple of tips help you to deal with that.
13. Make Sure It’s the Right Width
You know what’s offputting? Emails that take up your whole screen where you still have to scroll sideways to see the whole thing. Don’t be THAT marketer. Use an industry-standard newsletter width of 600px and your newsletter will look good in most inboxes. Sure, you can go a little bit narrower or wider according to taste, but keep your newsletter narrow, and your subscribers will be happy.
14. Make it Mobile-friendly
While you’re at it, make sure your email newsletter will also look good on any device. Since more people are using cellphones and tablets to consume content, it’s essential to make sure they have a great user experience when doing so.
A mobile-friendly responsive B2B email newsletter template will help you to achieve that. The best templates will not only make the text content bigger for small screens, but also automatically resize images so they load quickly but still display clearly.
Other B2B Newsletter Tips
There are just two more tips that can help your B2B email newsletters appeal more to your subscribers.
15. Get the Send Cadence Right
One thing you need to do is decide how often you’re going to send emails and when you’re going to send them. According to the Find a Way Media stats we quoted earlier, on average businesses send 5.8 emails a month though the top performers may send more than 10.
And CoSchedule’s roundup of business email marketing stats says 54% of brands descend between two and four emails per month.
Interestingly, the same stats show that 90% of people want to hear from brands at least monthly and 65% at least weekly.
16. Test What Works
Finally, the best way to have a high performing B2B email newsletter is to test what works for you and your audience. CB Insights, considered one of the top B2B newsletters, does just that for consistent improvement. You can:
- Split test your subject lines when you send emails
- If your emails are based on blog content, do a pre-test by sharing the same post on social media with different headlines and images to see which one appeals more
- Try different headlines within the content
- Vary your CTAs
With continuous testing, over time, you can build up a B2B newsletter content library to use as a starting point for future email newsletters.
That’s it! If you use these tips for improving signups, enticing subscribers to open your emails, improving the content, designing for conversions and testing your your emails, you’ll soon win and retain the attention of your B2B customers for more leads and sales.