As Account-Based Marketing (ABM) continues to accelerate as a preferred growth strategy for businesses, the tools available for ABM teams to communicate with a prospective account continues to expand as well.

One tool that has long been preferred among marketers is marketing email, so it's no surprise marketing email is often included among the tools leveraged by ABM teams.

As you begin building your ABM playbook, it’s important to keep in mind that marketing email is a highly regulated form of communication. As a result, you need to be careful when using marketing email as part of an ABM strategy. It's also important to only send to opted-in and engaged contacts to protect your sender reputation and avoid deliverability issues in the future. 

When is it OK to Use Marketing Email to Communicate with ABM Targets?

Simply put, marketing email should only be used to communicate with contacts who have given your brand verifiable permission to send them marketing emails.

By now, this is the best practice for Inbound Marketers and should be the same for those practicing ABM.

A large part of ABM revolves around identifying good-fit prospects and proactively reaching out to them. The idea of limiting what tools can be used to communicate with prospects may seem like an unnecessary hindrance, and as a result, some ABM teams may attempt to ignore this best practice. But while it may be easier in the moment, sending marketing emails to people who haven’t opted in will ultimately cause more trouble than it’s worth.

Sending marketing emails to prospects who have not opted-in to receive them may tarnish your relationships with these individuals. Unless the contact has asked to receive marketing emails, alternative communication paths (such as one-to-one email) should be used to communicate and continue to build your relationship with that individual and their company. Adhering to marketing email best practices will not only help you maintain your brand’s sender reputation, but it will also ensure that you don’t risk losing trust or risk being penalized for your email behaviors by local privacy legislation.  

Can ABM Hurt My Marketing Email Sending Reputation?

A sender’s reputation is used by inbox service providers (ISPs), like Outlook and Gmail, to help identify if an incoming email is coming from a reputable source. Ultimately, inbox providers are looking to ensure you receive only emails that belong in your inbox.

Each inbox provider uses different algorithms to determine if an email should be accepted and where the email should be placed post-delivery. Typically, sender reputation takes into account factors such as spam complaint rates, bounce rates, and email engagement (opens, clicks, etc.).

Access Your Marketing Emails in HubSpot

As you might imagine, the likelihood of someone marking an email as spam increases significantly when marketing emails are sent to someone who has not consented to receive them. Email bounces increase significantly when a marketing email arrives at an address that hasn’t requested the communication. Outside of spam complaints and hard bounce rates increasing, a contact who hasn’t opted-in will be less likely to even open let alone engage with your mail.

Receiving negative email engagements, like spam complaints, low open rates, and hard bounces, will quickly tarnish your sender reputation and future marketing emails may not reach the primary inbox. Once an ISP has started filtering mail to a spam folder, this will make delivery more difficult to all contacts using that ISP, even those that have opted-in. Low  open rates will snowball into additional sender reputation problems that can take months of hard work to recover from.

Email marketing can be a powerful tool for ABM teams if used correctly, but when marketing emails are sent to contacts that have not provided proper consent, your business will see this behavior negatively impact your sender reputation. 

Is This a HubSpot-Specific Policy or Standard Across Email Service Providers?

This is a standard requirement that every reputable Email Service Provider (ESP) adheres to, including HubSpot’s competitors, to discourage sending email to contacts who have not consented (i.e., opted-in) to receive them.  

You can read more about Prohibited Email Actions in HubSpot’s Acceptable Use Policy. Other ESPs should have their own acceptable use policy outlined on their website.

How Should I Communicate with My ABM targets When I Can’t Use Marketing Email?

The good news is marketing email is just one of many communication channels available for ABM.  Even better, marketing email will be there waiting as a tool to use once a relationship with your target account’s contacts have been established and consent has been provided.

For those just starting their outreach efforts, good communication tools to consider utilizing include phone calls, direct mail, social media outreach (e.g., LinkedIn InMail), targeted podcast/webinar invites, targeted ad campaigns, and the creation of customized web pages tailored to the needs, questions, and concerns of accounts.

Remember, one-to-one email is not the same as marketing email.  If your business wants to use HubSpot’s tools for direct outreach but hasn't yet received consent to send marketing emails, encourage your ABM Team to build templates or sequences aligned with the needs of your prospects.  Ideally, these one-to-one emails will provide prospects with a link to a landing page where they can provide consent to receive marketing emails. 

ABM is a great way to identify, target, engage, and close your highest-value accounts. To have the greatest chance at long-term success with this strategy, it's important to maintain the best practices associated with your preferred toolset. These practices help both you and those you are communicating with receive wanted correspondence. Marketing emails are a powerful way to communicate information to contacts who have requested marketing emails from your brand, but marketing emails is only one of the many tools you can employ for your Account-Based Marketing strategy.  

Want to join the conversation? Head over to the HubSpot Community and get involved.

Originally published Apr 12, 2021 8:00:00 AM, updated April 12 2021