Email is one of the most widely used and established of all platforms and has long been the cornerstone of many business-to-business (B2B) marketing plans. Given the maturity of this medium, spending on email remained flat for years, though its efficiency did draw some B2B dollars during the economic recession, according to a new eMarketer report, “B2B Email Marketing: Benchmarks and Best Practices for 2014.”
But even as new digital marketing and advertising platforms, formats, and channels draw companies’ attention and budgets, email remains vitally important and is arguably more valued by B2B marketers now more than ever before. While its core function has not changed substantially, there are new developments and challenges marketers must address: mobile, content marketing and automation.
For B2B marketers that use email—and indeed for any B2B marketer today—personalizing messages and integrating channels are vital, and automation is essential for executing those tactics.
With content marketing now table stakes for email marketers and mobile making it critical that B2Bs reach the right individual with the right message at the right moment, it becomes nearly impossible to personalize email marketing without some form of automation.
B2B marketers recognize the value of marketing automation solutions, but many have been slow to fully integrate the technology into their sales and marketing efforts. Data released in November 2013 by BtoB Magazine showed just 26% of US B2B marketers had completely integrated automation into their sales and marketing initiatives at the end of 2013. More than half (52%), however, expected full marketing automation adoption for this year.
Automation solutions are often broad and can be applied across multiple channels and formats, but for most, email automation is vital. B2B marketers surveyed by Regalix in March 2014 reported that among marketing automation features, email automation was the most important to them.
One significant insight from the Regalix data is that marketers say the email technology they need is not simply mechanisms to automate and manage email. Instead, they want sophisticated systems to manage cross-channel campaigns and deliver personalized, targeted experiences to customers.