59% of B2B marketers say email marketing is their most effective channel for revenue generation, so it should be somewhere in a B2B marketer's playbook.

With the number of emails sent per day looking to grow to 333 billion by 2022, it seems the opportunities to nurture and win business through email will only grow with this. 

If you’re looking to take email marketing more seriously, you may bring it in house – and that might mean considering investing in an ESP (email service provider). But with all the martech available, what capabilities do you need from your next system?

We’ve identified five key ESP capabilities which B2B marketers need to be making the most of. 

Dynamic content

In another blog on email marketing, we talked about how customers expect personalised content. You can use "Dynamic Content" to automate this.

Dynamic content is HTML in your email that changes automatically for each email according to the intended recipient.

Using such automation, marketers can deliver personalised messages.

An example that we’re all familiar with is changing the opening of your email to address a person by their name. Yet, you can go way beyond this, depending on the information that you have about your subscribers.

A personalisation strategy should consider:

  • job title
  • location
  • industry
  • number of employees
  • revenue

It gets really interesting when you start adding behaviour history into this.  

Using dynamic content is about separating who you’re sending a message to from what you send, and leveraging the data that you have at your disposal to deliver messaging that is personal and relevant to their particular circumstances and place in the buying journey.

Aberdeen Group found out that “personalised emails increase click-through rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10%”. Avari also found that dynamic content increases CTR by as much as 400%, depending on the industry.

Workflows

Workflow is an automation tool that is useful for personalisation, as well as for labour-saving for marketing managers.

Here, when users meet certain conditions they are sent appropriate follow-up communications according to their behaviour triggers, such as an email or a content download.

Workflows are important because they allow you to automate your lead nurturing process and customer journey.

You want to move prospects further down the sales funnel, so you create a series of emails that provide content and conversion opportunities targeted at various stages of the buyer’s journey. A workflow can not only set this lead nurturing process in motion but can carry your prospects through to the bottom of the funnel.

It’s all about efficiency. Mary Brown writes "This kind of automation eliminates the tedious (and mistake-filled) work of emailing prospects on an individual basis.” 

Think of how much time you’ll free up for the whole team if the process is automated.

(📷: Campaign Creators)

A/B (and even C) testing

A/B testing is another tool digital marketers have likely heard of, yet it seems it is often under-used.  

As a quick recap, here it's possible to send different versions of the same campaign, to sample datasets, to see which version resonates with the audience better. From these results, the best performing version is broadcast to the rest of the list.  

By doing this, you’ll be hitting the majority of your target audience with the most effective messaging and avoid your efforts going down like a lead balloon with your entire list if you've misjudged some content somewhere. 

Plus, by changing one variable per send, such as sender name, subject line, copy and design (remember: only one at a time!) A/B (and C) testing gives you valuable insights into what works best with your target audience. By continually testing and refining your content you can build upon each improvement to deliver better and better results.

A/B testing is not a new capability, but it seems it's often not used to its full potential. You should A/B test everything and anything you think could have a positive effect on your emails, from subject lines to the copy on call-to-action buttons. Here Campaign Monitor also tested different templates against each other to see which one works best and saw a 127% increase in click-throughs as a result.

Unique IP address

You should be aware of your IP address, as a shared IP address can be affected by other companies using the same ESP service. Good or bad email practice by yourself or others contributes to your IP address' reputation.

Email Vendor Selection says certain ESPs may choose to suspend your email sends at any time if they feel they could negatively impact the reputation of a shared IP address.

So if you value having more control over your IP address reputation, a unique IP address may be a capability to look into with a potential ESP.

One key element to jhaving an IP address is keeping it warm – that is, well used. Based on our experience, a company with its own IP address should be sending about 70,000-90,000 emails a day. This number may vary depending on who is advising you. If an IP address is not warm, it won’t be effective. Therefore, it's important to know your capability and bandwidth to see if an ESP is appropriate.

While you may not need your own IP address now, consider what might happen if your company grows and eventually wants its own IP address, so bear in mind future scalability during your ESP selection.

Analytics

It’s not enough to simply tell a client you’ve spent hours creating the perfect email that’s tailored to the perfect audience. So what?

To measure the effectiveness and ROI of your perfect email, you need effective reporting and analytics.

All ESPs should provide basic reporting tools for open and click rates. But even within these basic analytics tools, there are arguments for and against the impact of, for example, open rates. Tracking unique clicks is more important to look at when evaluating email performance. However, analytics should go further than this. As Email Vendor Selection points out, clicks do not guarantee a conversion.

Tracking activity after someone has clicked on an email is much more effective to see conversions, which most of the time is the end goal. And tracking after a click can ensure that your click/open is valid and not a bot clicking to check that the email isn’t spam.

Google Analytics is the go-to tracking tool for a lot of companies to track activity after a lead has clicked through an email, so ensure that this is configured properly and use UTMs for your links to give you an accurate picture of what links are driving traffic to your site and what's happening once someone has clicked through from your emails. 

Being able to track, test, adjust, refine are essential for improving the performance of your campaigns, proving ROI to the rest of the marketing team and the board, and of course it's a nice warm fuzzy feeling when you can see the results go up and up. 

Optimise what you already have 

This overview is only a sample of what ESP systems are capable of, yet we believe these five capabilities are key. 

You may already be using some of them, so perhaps the first step is to make sure you’re making the most out of what you have already, before investing in more capabilities and product upgrades.

If you’ve already done this though, and are looking at what’s next, it’s worth making sure some of these capabilities are on your wish list.