At the core of most B2B marketing is the belief that there’s a problem that needs solving, and the product being marketed is the best solution for it. But, since we know buyers will enter a sales cycle, do their research, and then engage with sales somewhere further into the process, we can’t just state our case so plainly; we have to build a reputation over time. If 65% of B2B buyers say emails shape their view of a brand, how do we help them view us as problem solvers?
We can draw inspiration from the offline world, in the way we view people we know. How does someone become a trusted friend and advisor to us, and what qualities shape our perception? Let’s consider a few that might fit the bill.
A trusted advisor (i.e. problem solver) is:
Thoughtful and empathetic
Objective and consistent
Delightful and inspiring
We can create this impression in our brand over time by infusing these qualities into our email content.
Thoughtful and Empathetic
A trusted advisor hasn’t necessarily been in your exact position before, but they can relate to the difficulty of needing a problem solved. In light of that, they won’t waste your time with trite refrains—they’ll give their most thoughtful and relevant advice based on their experience.
In sending an email, we know that we’re sending content to someone (instead of them coming to us for it). We’re asking them to take time out of their busy day to look over what we’ve sent, or hoping they’ll give it a once over when killing time. In any case, content scannability is crucial. We know that newsletters tend to be skimmed, and value has to be immediately apparent. By using clear headlines, short paragraphs, and bulleted lists (when appropriate), readers can gauge relevance quickly. For long-form or more in-depth content, include a link to the article or file, so that readers can engage then or save it for later.
Even if it’s not a relevant email at that time and gets deleted, you still made a positive impact by giving the reader the value up front. Content that’s hard to skim leaves the reader feeling as if their time isn’t valuable to you.
Objective and Consistent
We can “read between the lines” when a friend isn’t being honest. We value the pairing of objectivity and consistency when making decisions, because we know our emotional involvement can cause us to be short-sighted. “Give it to me straight”, we’ll say (and mean) — but we’ll also raise an eyebrow if we get advice we know they’re not putting into practice themselves.
Being too subjective and using excessive marketing jargon hurts your brand’s credibility and often imposes a cognitive burden on readers. Be clear, honest, and factual. Being “clever” can work if it aligns with the personality of your brand, but it should never come at the cost of clarity and usability.
Further, make sure you avoid frustrating users by linking to landing pages or blog posts that aren’t mobile-friendly. If even one person receives your emails on a mobile device, you risk inconveniencing them by making your content difficult to consume in their context. It’s also important to ensure that your branding is consistent between your email design and your content, as the only surprises you want your readers experiencing are positive ones.
Again, even if the email isn’t relevant at that time, readers recognize clear, objective content. They’ll know they can come back to get the facts from your content any time, on any device — easily.
Delightful and Inspiring
Finally, we expect to be inspired by problem solvers, and delighted by their insights. It keeps us coming back for fresh solutions whenever we experience difficulties. Even Intuit believes delight is a main driver of their “Net Promoter Scores”, keeping the customer first in every effort.
Every interaction a reader has with an email can be a positive experience when it’s apparent that the reader comes first. But, if each email is crafted thoughtfully and objectively, the stage is set for pure delight when the content is read thoroughly for the first time (or second or hundredth). That’s when true thought leadership occurs, and when it really matters.
Don’t settle for decent emails. Make your brand a memorable pleasure for current and future customers by building a reputation as a trusted problem solver.