Breaking Through the Corporate Email Box

Last week’s Fast Company article on how to manage your corporate inbox carried a headline, “Email is Dead.” Wow, did that get my gander up! And get me clicking through, which was the point, I suppose.

In fact, the headline is misleading and not at all what the article reports. Email isn’t dead at all in the corporate environment—in fact, it’s so essential and powerful that many corporations are investing time and resources training employees how to use email more effectively. For instance, the EEC has recommended not sending gratuitous “thank you” emails to help reduce the flow of email.

The lesson for email marketers is that B2B subscribers have a LOT going on in their inbox. Our marketing messages have to break through not just the clutter of other marketers, but messages from the CEO, the boss, the team…all of which are likely a lot more urgent and important to the reader.

Try a quick test on your own B2B marketing emails—what chance do you have for an open or response when you consider your message strategy in context of a very crowded inbox and a day that has fewer hours than project deadlines.

Is the subject line about how the subscriber will benefit? Is there urgency? Is the topic a description of your products or is it about how they benefit the reader? Would your messages break through your own inbox clutter? Think like your customer or prospect—and answer that question again. This is why the most successful B2B marketing emails are not long newsletters or product announcements, but succinct, cogent, relevant (a.k.a.: targeted) offers for training, whitepapers or tools that help readers be more productive, intelligent, capable or impressive to their superiors.

Ensure that B2B marketing messages are truly subscriber-centric, and you’ll have a much better chance of breaking through.

—Stephanie Miller

One thought on “Breaking Through the Corporate Email Box

  1. hi stephannie… great post!

    some other email handling habits that i think apply to b2b subscribers and will impact senders:

    * recipients set aside all the i-do-want-to-read-these emails that they’re subscribed to and read them later: sometimes days or weeks later. i think this contributes to a longer opening tail then in B2C, and marketers should look at stats long after the 24-72 hour window. it also takes the pressure off marketers from having to always create ‘urgency’ in subject lines; instead highlighting how relevant and useful the information inside will be when the reader gets time to look at it. this of course doesn’t apply if your email is time sensitive! then it’s important to work on emphasising immediate opens.

    * today the storage space for email is a lot less of an issue – this is particularly relevant in web-based accounts, people aren’t always performing triage to ‘save space’. because of this – and the strong search functionality in email software – i believe people have acquired a habit of saving emails to search through and find specific items/ products/ services at a later date (and often to print out and bring to a meeting). this means email newsletters and communications have a much longer shelf life then the previous read or delete era.


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