Ariana Grande has been feeling the heat ever since TMZ unearthed footage of her licking a donut that she hadn’t paid for—which any unsuspecting customer may have ended up eating—and then saying, “I hate Americans, I hate America.” Although she has since issued two of the most carefully crafted apologies money can buy, most thinking people aren’t buying her turnaround, as evidenced by the teeny bopper vocalist’s sudden decision to cancel a concert in Cincinnati due to “health reasons.”
With her career on life support, Ariana Grande is providing a textbook study in how to alienate an audience. Although her music targets consumers, there’s an important takeaway here for business owners who struggle to engage a business audience: when going B2B, think B2C.
Regularly published company newsletters provide a time-tested way for business owners to reach and engage their customers or clients. For businesses who target other businesses, the B2B newsletter is a proven performer, a must-have arrow in their quiver of digital marketing strategies.
Unfortunately, it can be a real challenge to nurture prospects through newsletters over time. One common pitfall that ensnares B2B newsletter publishers is that they try to be too many things to too many people. For example, they start out by trying to attract leads, but they also want to prod prospects closer to a sale; and, of course, they want to reassure existing customers that they made a great purchasing decision—and what business owner doesn’t want to be perceived as a thought leader? One newsletter, four target audiences. See the problem here?
B2C messaging, by comparison, arrives with a strong, singular purpose that is relentlessly conversion-driven. Adopting this approach with your B2B newsletter can yield a dramatic difference in both the way your company is perceived and the amount of sway you hold over your audience. Following are six proven B2C methods that can help you create B2B newsletters your audience won’t want to miss:
1. It’s Not About You
While it’s completely natural to want to share our knowledge, especially when you’re a business owner with something to say, it’s just as natural for readers to want you to get to the point. That is, the part of the newsletter that they care about right now. Whenever you choose to showcase the full breadth of your knowledge in a newsletter, you risk turning-off readers, who don’t have time to hunt for the buried knowledge nuggets that pertain to their very specific interests. If your newsletter must address multiple audiences (e.g.- prospects and buyers), select the article with the broadest appeal as your primary content. Use secondary pieces to address targeted segments with specific interests (e.g. sales, accounting, HR, etc.)
2. Link Articles to Your Website
The faster you can transition a reader from your email newsletter to your website, the better. Few B2B newsletter subscribers will endure a long article via email because most are sifting through their inboxes in scroll-and-delete mode, just looking for a reason to disengage. By making the conscious decision to click through to your site, they are actively engaging with your content and are more likely to read on. Equally important, having readers consume content on your site enables you to measure which articles were hits with your readers, and which were duds.
3. Unique Feels Special
When driving newsletter readers to your website, avoid the temptation to drop them on your home page. They will not take the time to search out your content; more likely, they’ll resent you for abandoning them mid-thought. A much smarter approach is to create a unique landing page for each article link, making sure to include links to other areas of your website that might also interest them (white papers, case studies, etc.). A unique landing page that is specific to your reader’s interests will make them feel like they’ve come to the right place. It’s your chance to make them feel special.
4. Design Elements Matter
If you haven’t already done so, make sure your website incorporates responsive design to maintain a consistent reader experience, regardless of the type of device from which they access your content. Your B2B newsletter design is equally important; favor a simple, streamlined template that leverages white space to separate articles. Aim for a vertical format, with a clear pre-header that includes a call to action. A good general rule is to think small: shorter line lengths, smaller images, shorter paragraphs, fewer items per newsletter, with bulleted lists instead of rambling paragraphs. Optimize your design for reading with images turned off, because many readers don’t enable images in HTML by default.
5. Reconsider Frequency
Just how often should you publish your B2B newsletter? Too often, the frequency of publication is determined by the availability of internal resources, rather than the needs or wants of B2B readers. Why publish a jam-packed monthly issue when you could easily chunk out that same content over two or more issues, building a closer relationship with your readers in the process? Conversely, why publish a weekly newsletter with filler content if your readers are craving substance? The standing guideline is that relevancy dictates frequency, so let your readers tell you how often to publish. Start by comparing your open, click, and complaint rates to determine if subscribers react, or even notice the change.
6. Use Metrics to Inform Content
Email tracking and web analytics tools provide immediate insight into the content categories that your readers care about. This same data should be used to steer both your B2B newsletter content choices and your inline navigation. You also may leverage it to develop different versions of your newsletter, targeting different audiences or customer segments.
Thinking of your B2B newsletter readers as consumers will help convey your authority, expertise, and company personality through concise, targeted messages. Pairing the right content with the right design is a friendlier, professional way to inform your audience members without alienating them.