One of the most important components of B2B inbound marketing are newsletters. And in case you haven’t noticed, we’re getting tons of email newsletters lately.
It is because many B2B organizations are cutting costs—including marketing costs—due to the recession and the pandemic. But newsletters tend to be very inexpensive, so they have been saved from the cutting block. Even more, B2B newsletters continue to prove effective, making them a key component of a proven B2B inbound marketing program.
If they are leading to sales or if you see a significant increase in web traffic after a newsletter has been distributed, those are good signs it’s producing results. But most of the time, we must look a bit deeper to see how effectively our newsletters are performing.
The first and most important thing to investigate about your newsletters is how many are being opened.
According to HubSpot, an inbound marketing agency, here are the benchmarks you should strive for:
- Open rate: 25 percent or higher
- Click-through rate: 10 percent or higher (this is when someone clicks on a hyperlink in a newsletter, taking them to some form of content)
- Bounce rate: one percent or less
- Unsubscribe rate: .03 percent or less
- Spam complaint rate: .01 percent or less.
So, these are the goals, but what is the reality? In the B2B world of email marketing, these are the averages:
- Open rate, 20 percent
- Click-through rate, 2 percent
- Bounce rate, .72 percent
- Unsubscribe rate, 1 percent
- (Spam rate not provided)
Before going further, let us look at these last three items because they can spell trouble.
If too many of your email newsletters bounce, that tells the organization distributing your newsletter that it might be spam. If there is an exceptionally large bounce rate, the distribution company may believe you purchased a dated distribution list, which means they are being asked to distribute spam. That can ruin their reputation as well as yours.
Further, after distribution, if many recipients unsubscribe from the newsletter or worse, file a spam complaint, these are also indications the newsletter is essentially spam.
The problem here is there are legal implications when distributing spam and these concerns have mounted in recent years.
That aside, let’s examine open and click-through rates and how we can make newsletters a more effective B2B inbound marketing tool.
Let’s assume the newsletter is attractive, designed for access on all types of devices, and is being delivered to recipients who have asked to receive it. One of the most effective ways to increase the open rate is to send the newsletter a second time to those who did not open it the first time.
Constant Contact makes this quite easy. MailChimp and other services make it a bit more difficult, but it can be done.
In my own experience, we have one client newsletter using this strategy. We were able to increase open rates from about 16 percent to nearly 24 percent, just by having it go out a second time to non-openers.
As to improving click-through rates, let’s make another assumption: your newsletter has lots of great content, but your subscribers are not taking the next step, clicking to read it. The first thing to do is make sure there are images accompanying each item and that they are attractive images. This is especially important. A skilled graphic artist can make this happen and help improve click-through rates.
Additionally, make sure the image is hyperlinked to the content and that the teaser to the content is short and, even more importantly, encourages your reader to read the content. View the teaser as a call to action; let your audience know this is something they should read.
Finally, realize that producing newsletters is a journey. Make changes. Send it out at different times. Use different types of subject lines. Use emojis. This can improve the newsletter’s effectiveness and make it more interesting to your subscribers to boot.