B2B email marketing problems

5 MAJOR Problems With Your B2B Email Marketing (And How To Easily Fix Them)

Are you a B2B marketer? Are you struggling to make email marketing work for your business? Let's talk about the five B2B email marketing problems we see all the time. Of course, we won't leave you high and dry. We'll share the reasons why these problems are so common but also give you some practical tips on how to fix them.

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(0:11) Join our FREE Facebook Group. 
(5:12) Check out our sponsor ZeroBounce. 
(7:00) What do we mean by B2B?
(10:40) Solve the problem of the PERSON working for the business.
(12:13) One - no one is joining your B2B email list.
(15:23) Kennedy's case study.
(19:49) Two - you're getting A LOT of unsubscribes.
(29:38) Three - you're not making enough sales.
(32:51) Four - your subscribers aren't opening your emails.
(38:29) Five - your subscribers aren't clicking on the links in your emails.
(40:25) Subject line of the week.

What do we mean by B2B?

First things first, we have a slightly different philosophy on B2B. We actually think there are two types of B2B marketing – b2b (smaller business to smaller business) and B2B (business to big business).

We make this distinction because we believe that in b2b, the businesses you’re marketing to make decisions just like consumers. Take us, for example. We sell a business solution, but often our customers are people who are spending their own money on their businesses. They spend and invest money like consumers. In fact, some of the people who buy from us have such a small business (or their business is so new) that they’re not even making any money yet! They're investing their own money by putting it into the business.

So the first thing we recommend you do is to evaluate whether you fit in the traditional B2B category. Are you selling to someone who works for a big business (B2B) or are you selling to a small business owner who's currently alone in their venture (b2b)? 

The advice that follows is mainly about B2B. But if you’re a b2b marketer, everything else we talk about on our podcast and blog will apply to you. Focus on this, and we promise it'll change the way you communicate with your audience. It definitely did for us, and it made a huge difference.

Solve the problem of the PERSON working for the company 

If you consider yourself a B2B marketer, the first thing to remember is that you're still selling to human beings – people who have busy days and lives. They might have short attention spans, but they still have emotions! They have stuff they care about. And when it comes to the work they do, they still want to do a good job and get good results for their boss.

In fact, because they're so busy and pulled in all directions (in their personal and professional lives), they want to get their job done in the easiest way possible. Because that can perhaps relieve some stress and alleviate pressure. And this is where you come in.

So with that in mind, let's look at the 5 major problems we see with B2B marketing and how to fix them. 

Problem One – No one is joining your B2B email list

If people aren't joining your list, it's worth pointing out that the person you're talking to (i.e. the ideal prospect for your list) might be someone who works in a specific department for a big company. You want to get their attention so they join your email list. But getting your emails adds a new layer of distraction to their (already busy) personal and professional lives. In other words, they have a lot going on, and you're coming along asking them to join your list. 

Put yourself in their shoes. Why would they want to do that? You must present them with a really exciting reason for them to want to give you their work email address, which is already bombarded with a lot of other stuff.

If the reason why they should join your list isn't interesting enough, then you're fighting a losing battle. So you need the most compelling positioning and messaging to get someone to pay attention and then join your list. Simply asking a person who works in a big company to join your newsletter isn't going to cut it! However you position your lead magnet, quiz, newsletter, or whatever you're offering, needs to be more compelling than you think. You can't grab people's attention with something dull and bland – they simply won't care! 

Kennedy's case study 

When Kennedy first started working as an entertainer, he was selling to big corporations with multiple locations and over 200 staff. Typically, the ideal subscriber for his list would be someone working for the CEO of the company – someone with the job to organise a big sales or marketing conference, for example. 

Kennedy was aware that this job might not be that person's main focus – it was just something they were tasked with. So what would be helpful for that person? What might they need or want? Perhaps a lead magnet along the lines of “Six ways to get the most value from the next entertainer you hire for your conference.” Why? Because that’s the problem that the person is trying to solve! They want to organise an event as smoothly and easily as possible. They want to do a good job. 

So in order to grab someone’s attention, focus on the problem that the person is trying to solve. The reason for opting into your B2B email list doesn’t need to solve the business’s problem. It has to solve the problem that the individual within the business is facing.

Problem Two – You're getting A LOT of unsubscribers

If you’re seeing a lot of people unsubscribe from your list, one of the ways of fixing this is to have a lead magnet on a topic that’s a lot wider than buying your product or service. If your lead magnet is too specific, once people download it, they won't have a reason to hang around. But if you’re helpful in your email marketing and focus on solving the emotional problems that your subscribers are experiencing in their lives, you can be helpful above and beyond what you do.

Keep people in your world

Ultimately, you want to drive people to work with you. But the truth is that someone might not be ready to buy right now. For whatever reason, they're not prepared to solve their problem. But that's not to say they won't be down the line. So you do need them to stay on your list. And people are more likely to stay if you're generally helpful, rather than making your emails all about you. 

Another issue is that people move jobs and businesses. So ideally, what you want is for someone to give you their personal email address. That way, no matter where they go and work, they take you (and your helpful advice) with them. And this gives you more longevity in your relationship with that person. You want people to continue to know who you are and why they should read your emails regardless of whether they change jobs.

How do you do that?

  • Give great advice.
  • Make your emails about them and not about you.  
  • Help people to solve their problems and nudge them in the right direction with your emails, regardless of whether they end up buying from you.
  • Use our approach to email marketing, i.e. share hints, tips, stories, ideas, and things that connect with the human in the business.

These things will keep people subscribed to your email list because they'll know that they can go to the office (or log into their work email address) and look forward to what you're going to say. 

What if people don't remember who you are? 

If you think that people are unsubscribing from your list because they don't remember who you are, make sure you include your first name and your brand in the sender. People might remember the brand more than your name (in fact, they might not even know your name to start with), but they also want to know that the emails come from a real human being! So create a personal connection – it makes it more unlikely for people to unsubscribe from your list. 

Another reason why people might forget who you are and unsubscribe is that you don’t email often enough. In order to be remembered, you need to email often. If you’re not showing up regularly, people will simply forget who you are. And if you can’t remember who someone is when you receive their email, you’ll automatically assume it’s unsolicited spam. So, increase the frequency of your emails to at least a few times a week, so people can’t forget who you are. 

Unsubscribes aren't a bad thing! 

Generally speaking, unsubscribes are not a problem if increasing the frequency of your emails is part of your business model. But you need to be careful that unsubscribes don’t come from the fact that your emails aren’t good enough! You can either have high retention or high churn, and both models work.

We take the approach of high churn with our list (and clean it regularly and quite aggressively) because we want to keep it the leanest it can be. As much as possible, the only people we want on our list are hyper-fans.

So when someone joins our email list, we send them our Get to Know You sequence (which is our Welcome sequence). At the back of that, people will either decide to stay (and typically stay for a while), or they’ll immediately go. And that’s fine by us because it means we’re left with a small but super profitable list of active people who buy. It’s more profitable, it's easier to manage, and it makes our deliverability higher. The hygiene of that list is much easier to maintain. 

Watch out for surges of unsubscribers

While unsubscribes aren’t a bad thing, you want to avoid sudden surges of unsubscribes. If you send something out, and suddenly a lot of people unsubscribe (and that’s not a typical pattern for you), then you want to figure out what caused it.

But if you have a consistently high unsubscribe rate, it's not a huge problem if that’s by design, and your marketing and sales are making up for that. Keep your list clean by making sure that people either buy from you and stay on your list or if they're going to just grab your lead magnet and not buy, let them go. You're not for them, and they're not for you.

What you don't want to do is to cling to every single person on your list. Because you're probably spending money to acquire subscribers, and if some of them go, that's fine. Focus on nurturing those who stay and on turning them into hyper fans so they'll buy from you. In the long run, the amount they spend with you will more than cover the cost of the people who unsubscribe.

Both models (high retention and high churn) are valid and can be hugely successful. You just need to pick your path and make sure it’s profitable for you. As long as you’re getting results and hitting the income, sales, and profit target you set for yourself, carry on with what you’re doing. But don’t get too hung up on regular unsubscribes.

Problem Three – You’re not making enough sales

What happens if you’re not making enough sales in your business from your email marketing? We believe that if you’re not making sales in the first 60 days of someone being on your email list, the chance of them ever buying from you plummets down to less than 5%. That’s what we’ve seen in our business and a few others too.

And it makes sense. Because when someone joins your email list, they have a problem they want to solve. And if they haven’t decided to solve it with you within the first couple of months of being in your world, it means they’ve probably found the solution somewhere else or that problem isn't that important to them. 

The way to fix this is to make sure that when someone joins your email list, you have a bunch of email campaigns, automations, and systems in place to give them the best chance of buying from you within the first 60 days. Or, if you have a longer selling cycle, then account for that. Break that cycle down into key checkpoints to give yourself a better chance to hit your sales target at every milestone. And always remember that your job as a marketer is to get your emails opened but also to drive clicks, engagement, and sales

The Top 10 Books To 'Power Up' Your Email Marketing

10 book recommendations that will improve all areas of your email marketing (including some underground treasures that we stumbled upon which have been game-changing for us).

Problem Four – Your subscribers aren't opening your emails

People often look at B2B marketing as this weird animal where you have to be super professional and use very benefit-drive subject lines. It’s easy to think that you can’t inject the same personality that you would in a B2C email. But that's simply not true because you’re talking to a human within a business!

So while you have to be professional to an extent (depending on what business you’re talking to) you can still have personality and use curiosity-driven subject lines. This is even more important in B2B because people's inboxes are full of random cold outreach emails from other marketers who are trying to get them to pay attention. And often, they use benefit-driven subject lines with no personality at all.

It's worth pointing out that a strong subject line isn’t what you write for the headline of a sales page (i.e. very benefit- and outcome-driven). You want to write subject lines that get people to open your emails to see what's inside. And they do that because the minute they see your subject line they feel something. They’re either confused, bewildered, interested, intrigued, or whatever. The point is that they’re feeling an emotion. And those emotions are more useful to you in terms of open rates and (down the line) sales.

Use curiosity-driven subject lines

So remember that you’re talking to a human within the business – not to the business entity. And as professional as they might be, they’re still people who can’t help but open an email with a curiosity-driven subject line because being curious is at the core of human nature – no matter who you are or what you do. So talk about things that are going to intrigue your audience – and not necessarily benefit them.

If you're not sure about this, split test. Grab two subject lines (for the same email) and send them to different sections of your email list. Then see which one performs better in terms of open rates. That way, you can start noticing patterns in your business and see what type of subject lines your audience tends to open more. What’s common about these subject lines? Do they all use humour? Are they all very short?

We find that the compound curiosity approach we use always outperforms benefit-driven subject lines. But by all means, test it out in your business and find out what works for you.

Problem Five – Your subscribers are not clicking the links in your emails

And last but not least, let’s talk about the links in your emails not getting clicked. When that happens, it means people can’t see your sales page or your appointment booking page. And a likely reason why this might be happening is that the call to action in your emails isn’t clear enough – or there isn’t one at all! We see that a lot, especially in the B2B world.

Remember that even in B2B you still have to ask people to go and do something. It could be to book an appointment, a demo, a free call, book a free trial, etc. But it needs to be something. And you also need to make sure that your call to action stands out. Because if it’s buried in the middle of paragraphs or at the very end of your email, you might find that people become ‘link blind' – they simply don’t see it.

We have a FREE resource on this called Click Tricks. It’s a free PDF with 12 different ways to dress up and present the links in our emails. You can use it to make sure your calls to action stand out and are compelling and exciting.  


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Subject line of the week

This week’s subject line is “We are ranked 18,281,928!!” And the email was about the fact that Rob saw a tourist attraction that claimed to be one of the top 25 Wonders of The World. But aren’t there only 7 Wonders of The World? We can’t just make that list longer to make sure that everyone’s included – it loses its meaning!

So this subject line worked because it looks like a big proclamation of fame or achievement. But instead, it’s a weird backward flip on what people would expect. So check it out!

Useful Episode Resources

Related episodes

Advanced Psychology: Using Compound Curiosity.

WTF Is An Automated Customer Journey? Use the SCORE Method.

Why You Shouldn’t Worry About Your Unsubscribe Rate.

FREE list to improve your email marketing

If you want to write better emails, come up with better content, and move your readers to click and buy, here's how. We put together this list of our Top 10 most highly recommended books that will improve all areas of your email marketing (including some underground treasures that we happened upon, which have been game-changing for us). Grab your FREE list here

Join our FREE Facebook group

If you want to chat about how you can maximise the value of your email list and make more money from every subscriber, we can help! We know your business is different, so come and hang out in our FREE Facebook group, the Email Marketing Show Community for Course Creators and Coaches. We share a lot of training and resources, and you can talk about what you're up to.

Try ResponseSuite for $1

This week's episode is sponsored by ResponseSuite.com, the survey quiz and application form tool that we created specifically for small businesses like you to integrate with your marketing systems to segment your subscribers and make more sales. Try it out for 14 days for just $1.

Join The League Membership

Not sick of us yet? Every day we hang out in our amazing community of Email Marketing Heroes. We share all of our training and campaigns and a whole bunch of other stuff. If you're looking to learn how to use psychology-driven marketing to level up your email campaigns, come and check out The League Membership. It's the number one place to hang out and grow your email marketing. Best news yet? You can apply everything we talk about in this show.

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Thanks so much for tuning into the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode (all about these 5 major B2B email marketing problems and how to fix them) and love the show, we'd really appreciate you subscribing and leaving us a review of the show on your favourite podcast player.  

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