September 25, 2020

Is this the end of B2B Marketing as we know it?

The COVID-19 crisis has had a profound impact on the marketing world. It's forcing marketers to rethink existing strategies and change the way they communicate. And the changes aren't only affecting B2C marketers – there's also been a significant shift in B2B marketing.Here at Essence of Email, we previously wrote about the key differences between B2B and B2C marketing. But it seems, and The Drum agrees, that the clear line between the two is now becoming blurry.

If you're a B2B marketer, you may have noticed these dramatic changes. The orthodox B2B approach now seems to be less effective and marketers are moving away from rational, succinct, and logical messaging. Instead, B2B marketing is appealing to readers' emotions by becoming increasingly creative and engaging.

"B2B marketing as we know it is dead. If we continue to run the same plays in B2B, filling inboxes with unopened emails and throwing up banner ads, we are only contributing to a go-to market strategy that is noisy, flooded and at risk in its terms of its ability to make an impact. We must instead take a page from consumer brands, going a level deeper and taking the time to think about how we can develop a meaningful relationship at the right level with our customers as people." says Carla Piñeyro Sublett, the chief marketing officer at NI.

So, what's causing the shift? As a result of the pandemic and the resulting lockdowns, our private and professional lives have become intertwined.

"The worlds of B2B and B2C have been on a collision course for some time now," says Joe Rivas, global chief executive at Doremus, the Omnicom B2B agency. "The recent impacts of COVID-19 and new work from home models have only increased the intersection between the two worlds. At any one moment you can be a mom, a CMO, an organizational leader. And as work and home continue to blur, B2B brands are having to compete for time and attention with not only their direct competitive set, but all B2C marketers. This certainly raises the bar. B2B brands must respond by upping their game in terms of content that is genuinely useful, relevant and culturally significant if they expect to engage the multitasking business leaders of today."

Is it wrong to assume that there were ever differences between B2B and B2C marketing? We could argue they both rely on the same thing: people.

Still, B2B purchases are often incomparably more complex, and the stakes can be very high. This puts a lot of pressure and responsibility on stakeholders, as they probably wouldn't feel comfortable getting involved with security solutions, government services, or military and defense software based on emotions. In such cases, sales need to be focused on facts and data exclusively.

Marketing in all its forms is indeed about people. It is certain that a lot of B2B sales will be influenced by the B2C approach, but there will always be gray areas. The key might be in combining cold facts and data with an agreeable, warm approach.


AI's taking the burden off small businesses

It's no secret that starting your own business takes lots of effort – both mental and financial. And the last thing you need is to spend even more time and money on tasks that could easily be automated. That's where new technology comes in handy.

Mailchimp has announced the launch of AI-based tools that will take some stress off small business owners and help them grow their eCommerce sales.

Designs based on the company's website, personalized product recommendations for shoppers, forecasting tools for behavioral targeting, and better email subject lines are just a few of the tools that will help smaller brands to stay in the game with their larger competitors.

With all of the innovation that's happening, it seems that lots of common struggles could eventually be eliminated by machine learning. However, it's important not to let technological novelties take over completely. Expert insights and experience can sometimes bring as much value as AI's recommendations.

Our advice: Use AI and people's expertise for maximum results!


Feel free to steal

If you're experiencing a creative block and searching for inspiration for your upcoming marketing campaign, Privy has your back.

On their podcast The Ecommerce Marketing Show, Privy shared cool stories from 6 eCommerce brands about their best-performing campaigns. Good news for you, because now you can use some of their tried-and-tested ideas!

Here are some of our personal favorites:

#1 Vivian Kaye from KinkyCurlyYaki decided to send an email to her entire list to celebrate her 40th birthday: 40% discount, 6 hours notice, and no hint on what to expect. This simple idea resulted in $44k in sales in 1 hour.

What's the secret? Urgency and an incredible discount turned out to be an offer her subscribers couldn't refuse. Our tip: add SMS on top to get even more customers to your website.

#2 Sahajan was accepted into A Night For Green Beauty, a community celebrating small, natural ingredient-based beauty brands. Cross-promotion via email and social media helped her to boost her own brand, and also made it much easier for her to grow her email list.

What's the secret? Cross-promotion with bigger brands is a great way to establish a level of trust and build relationships with your prospects. Our recommendation for even better results is to align your email campaigns with Facebook.

#3 When COVID-19 hit BlackTravelBox hard, its founder, Orion Brown, decided to ask her subscribers for their support. She did this via an email with the simple subject line: "It's complicated". It turned out to be her most successful campaign and it generated 3x more revenue.

What's the secret? Don't be afraid to be open about the human and vulnerable side of your brand – show your subscribers that there's a real person behind your email.


Vibrant & vivid

Being brave and direct is the best way to convince potential buyers that your product is the best fit for them. And that's exactly what this email by Ritual does.

The elegant email is perfectly structured and easy to navigate. The hero design immediately grabs your attention, through the use of strong colors and contrast. It also makes it clear what Ritual is all about. The body copy is short and to-the-point, conveying an understanding of a potential buyer's journey. And this naturally flows into an illustrated banner, which outlines the product's benefits in a concise way.

Our verdict: A great success! Every brand should strive to be this coherent in their email design.

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