I’m not sure where I heard this, but one of my favorite quotes about email marketing is that it’s like the cockroach of marketing, as it will never die regardless of how much you hate it.
Ever since the creation of email addresses and inboxes, B2B organizations have used the channel to reach prospects and engage decision makers within target accounts. With the rise of marketing automation tools in the early 2000s, the capability to send massive volume of emails exploded, giving businesses the opportunity to scale their email strategy like never before.
This was the beginning of a new era for email marketing.
Now, cold marketing emails have amongst the lowest conversion rate of any channel, as people simply receive so many—on average over 100 per day. Between the clutter of spam and promotional emails, it’s become impossible to rely on the strategy alone to create positive engagement with recipients that convert to new business.
As someone who’s both sent and received bad emails, I think it’s important to callout that email will always be a crucial component to keep the spokes of a business moving. However, I also think it’s important that go-to-market professionals should be aware and up-to-date of strategies to improve the performance of their email marketing efforts.
When I was tasked with creating a newsletter coming from the Postal brand, I immediately knew I had to find a way to consistently engage subscribers in a unique way that grew brand awareness and our audience.
I had to think outside the inbox.
The objective: launch a B2B newsletter that gains organic traction and brand awareness
The ever-so-typical floating “Subscribe” button on the side of a blog or banner of a website was exactly what we wanted to avoid. We wanted to create a B2B newsletter and community that spurred inbound interest, so we could focus on publishing quality content without worrying about a promotional plan.
After researching newsletter deliverability in our marketing automation platform, HubSpot, I landed on Substack by the recommendation of a colleague. The simplicity of Substack is what appealed to me off the bat, and our three person marketing team (at the time) agreed it would be the best tool to manage a community.
However, with thousands of newsletters in existence, creating one that captivates B2B professionals who already have a million other distractions seemed impossible.
The play: build anticipation by giving away unique items with Postal MagicLink in each edition
People love free stuff.
This shouldn’t be a secret to anyone, and given that the Postal Marketplace has some pretty incredible items, I knew we had to lean into giveaways to generate interest and engagement for this newsletter.
Postal MagicLink was the tool I used that bridges the challenge of sourcing a gift and then manually sending to a recipient. It’s a way to send any item from the marketplace by creating, copying, and pasting a link—an email marketers dream to manage and approve giveaways for their recipients.
The first publication of Making The Quarter was released in June 2021, and featured a hot sauce giveaway along with an invitation to our annual B2B Block Party. The subject line: “Free hot sauce, a party, and more…”. This in a resulted 55% open rate and a 27% click rate.
The following are a few more subject lines and items we gave away:
Subject Line: Hot B2B Summer Giveaway: Brigadieros chocolates from Obrigaderia
Subject Line: Events SZN is here Giveaway: Coffee beans
Subject Line: Umm, how is it already September? Giveaway: Caffeine gummies from Mocca Shots
Subject Line: Opp-tober Has Arrived Giveaway: Gift cards to Taco Bell
* Postal Pro Tip: The sole purpose of your subject line is to get recipients to open your email. From there, your content is what converts. Don’t include a lower funnel call-to-action (CTA) in your subject line, but rather use copy that incentives people to open your email—for instance, a reference to your giveaway or a seasonal pun.
In each edition of the newsletter, we made sure to primarily feature content from a guest contributor as opposed to pushing our own. This gives readers unfiltered digest from someone who’s day-to-day is authentic and relatable, as opposed to one-sided messaging that ends with a CTA to try a product. You can read all of the publications here.
Additionally, we offered subscribers invites to exclusive events that included kits containing a variety of fun items. For instance, we gave away 5 seats to our Opp-toberfest virtual event that came with beer and snacks to enjoy throughout the duration of the event.
Between the giveaways, guest spotlights, and the occasional event invite, our newsletter eventually became a publication that people recognized as a positive notification in their inbox; perhaps inducing a similar feeling as when you receive Gusto’s payday email.
The impact: >50% average open rate, 17% average click rate, and 400 inbound subscribers in less than a year
In a little over a year, our subscriber list organically grew to over 400 subscribers, and we averaged an open rate of over 50% and a click rate above 17%. For the first year of launching a new B2B newsletter, I’d consider this successful growth and engagement.
With the average email open rate across industries sitting around 21% and click rate around 10% (Mailchimp), consistently publishing newsletters that yield double these metrics should be an eye-opener for any content strategist or demand generation professional.
Lastly, it’s important to note that one of the main objectives of our newsletter was to gain brand awareness. This is a more top-of-funnel (and harder to measure) goal than launching a newsletter to increase the number of form fills on a blog or website. Organizations who use their brand newsletter as a redistribution channel for content that exists on their website are missing the audience that knows nothing about their product offering.
That being said, it’s important for email marketers to understand the place of brand newsletters within the buyer’s journey. If you want to obtain similar engagement metrics, it’s vital to have insight into the motivations behind your audience and what they’re looking for.
The takeaway: integrating the offline channel with your email marketing strategy will double engagement rates
Without offering intrinsic value in your email, it’s easy to land in spam along with the other 99%. Offline marketing is a proven strategy that gives email marketers an upperhand to break through the noise.
If I could have done one thing differently over the last year, I would have looked more into cross-promoting with notable thought leaders in the space, as well as other influencers. However, given my resources and bandwidth, the best I was able to do was cross-promote with our featured B2B professional. Now that Making The Quarter only goes out 4 times a year, I will focus on this area more to continue growing awareness of the brand and community.
Doubling your email performance metrics isn’t as difficult as it seems—get started with Postal Engage and learn how easy it is to take your open and click rates to the next level.
Rich is a B2B marketing enthusiast with a passion for storytelling through relatable content and memorable experiences. Rich was one of the first founding team members of Postal when he started as an intern in 2019 and now holds the Content Marketing Manager role.