Have you ever had a spike in traffic you couldn’t figure out?
We got one small spike we did figure out. We wrote a guest post for Duct Tape Media last year. It appeared and we got a nice bump in traffic. We were glad for that, and then went on to the weekend and the next week came and we forgot about it and moved on.
Then we started getting another bump in traffic — and in sales — the next week. This one we couldn’t figure out. We checked our analytics and saw that much of the traffic was coming from a domain that we didn’t recognize. So we dug into it some more.
Turns out the mystery domain was the service provider that sent out the weekly email with Duct Tape Marketing posts. The blog post was a nice bump; the email was huge.
This was not an isolated incident. It happens every day, say publishers of B2B email newsletters.
“Email certainly delivers in terms of traffic,” says Graham Charlton, editor-in-chief at Econsultancy, a digital agency and training firm based in London with offices in New York and Singapore. Charlton and his team manage a staggering output of content every day, but it’s not posting the content that drives the best engagement. It’s their email, called The Daily Pulse, that does the heavy lifting.
“For the UK, we send this out between 8 and 9 a.m. and we see a spike in traffic around that time,” Charlton says, adding, “As a result, many of our posts are actually more popular the day after they are published. We seem to get more comments then, too.”
So it’s nothing fancy that makes the Daily Pulse successful. It’s just a nicely packaged recap of the content from the previous 24 hours in the form of a B2B newsletter.
Content is King. Email, however, is the best chariot the King has to get into the hands of readers.
We have solid examples of great B2B newsletters below, but the key to all of them is not the color of the fonts or the clever name — though design certainly needs to meet a minimum threshold of readability.
Great content produced regularly... that’s the key to making it all work.
The inbound marketing team at HubSpot recently published a checklist for generating effective email newsletters. Start there, and then when you need some examples of those who’ve gone this way before, come back here.
As you'll find in the examples below, top-notch B2B newsletters have a few things in common: They have great content, speak to their audience on a deeper level, and make it easy for their audience to engage with the content or the author. What are your favorite B2B newsletters? How do they stand out against the drone of emails you get every day?
Here’s a hefty marketing newsletter, published weekly. The March 1, 2014 edition is an eclectic collection that has:
- A how-to article for using QR codes with 10 great examples
- A podcast on “Bankable Leadership” by author Tasha Eurich
- Tips on inspiring, persuading, and motivating an audience
- A survey on how buyers evaluate professional service providers
- An infographic with a snapshot of small businesses on LinkedIn
- An opinion piece on the “eight touchpoints of a customer’s consideration phase”
What makes it shine: There’s enough nuggets of B2B marketing in this free subscription site to keep even a speed-reader occupied. Their archives go back to 2012 and there are 111 back issue newsletters just lying there begging to be read.
You don't have to be a paying member of the American Marketing Association to tap into their vast knowledge base. Create an account on the main site’s registration page and select from any or all of the following eNewsletters:
- Marketing News Exclusives -- A semi-monthly newsletter featuring breaking news, insights, and the latest “big ideas”
- AMA Today -- This week’s marketing news, insights, and commentary
- AMA Worldview -- This month’s expert insights from a global marketing perspective
- B2B Marketing -- A monthly news and information newsletter tailored to the needs of business marketers
- Marketing Health Services -- This month’s coverage of the latest marketing strategies, best practices, and insights in the health care marketing field
- Marketing Insights -- A monthly newsletter for those who need to make informed decisions based on analytics
What makes it shine: A depth and breadth of marketing insights in a variety of packages.
Small businesses are often using new tools these days to get a logo or a design project done. But they don’t need one all the time, so instead of just having a blog about logos, the Crowdspring blog and email that comes every two weeks with highlights of the blog focuses on topics that small businesses are always interested in.
A recent newsletter from Crowdspring included tips on reducing refunds, and listening to customers. Those topics are useful for small business even though they aren’t related to design at all.
What makes it shine: An understanding of the persona of the business operators interested in Crowdspring, and catering to that person as a whole.
Here’s a lively collection of marketing pointers and tap into a variety of news and insights from an outfit that has been around for over ten years. The February 2014 newsletter, for example, highlights the following marketing news nuggets:
- Effective April 9, 2014, Facebook is discontinuing its controversial sponsored ad stores, which previously repackaged your social media marketing notes and sold them without permission.
- During 2013 Google squashed over 350 million bogus or bad AdWords from marketers and advertisers. Google gurus aren’t saying why the ads had to go, but the most likely reasons are violation of AdWords terms, using all caps or multiple punctuation marks or deceptive URL practices.
- Twitter now allows marketers to employ their own lists of customer email addresses for retargeting them on Twitter. Marketers can also use their own CRM database records stored with an ad partner.
What makes it shine: Tips that are useful, quick, and timely.
Founder Gino Wickman is an entrepreneurial guru and author of three B2B manuals: Get a Grip, Traction, and Decide! Subscribe to the EOS newsletter for weekly updates, pointers, and entrepreneurial inspiration.
Two examples from the EOS Worldwide March 2014 newsletter:
- “How to Have World Class Meetings” -- Wickman acknowledges that meetings can actually be work- and time-saving if done correctly. This piece links to a video in which he presents his philosophy, psychology, and inner workings of the “EOS Level 10 Meeting.”
- “6 Key Drivers of Success” -- Author Dan Wallace summarizes a New York Times article “Management Be Nimble.” Newsletter subscribers can either read the entire article or see Wallace’s short take on answering a reader’s question, “In your experience, do these six ‘success drivers’ make sense?” Hint: Yes, they do.
What makes it shine: Gino is focused on entrepreneurs exclusively, so all the content ties into that.
Organizations need to stay ahead of the learning curve to remain compliant as well as agile. The Sh!ift "Monthly Tips and Tricks" email newsletter is a great resource for your trainers, and it's free. Sign up for a free membership and get top-notch online training guidance.
Here are two March 2014 offerings:
- “Avoid Learner Overload: Five Rules for eLearning Course Design” -- Your trainers need to remember that an eLearning course misses the mark when it begins to overload the learners. This piece gives sensible and simple design guidelines and basic rules to follow to avoid saturating learners and improving the learning experience.
- “6 Most Important Things You can Do Before Developing an eLearning Course” -- Designing an eTraining course is as much an art as it is a craft. The art is in the ritual of preparing your design approach -- scoping the course, setting your deadlines, etc. The craft is the expertise involved in bringing it all together.
- Download their free eBook “How to Create Winning eLearning Courses” and get enrolled in this informative BtoB monthly newsletter.
What makes it shine: It’s nice when a newsletter doesn’t take itself too seriously, but still is packed with helpful info.
But wait, there’s more. Here are a few more worth a quick look for inspiration:
7) Lab Manager
Lab Manager serves a niche market of science lab managers, but that doesn't mean their emails are dull. In fact, each email is small enough to glance through in a second, but full of detail to make you want to linger for information, new research, and deals on tools of the trade.
Creative Market is part graphic designer shop, part how-to for the rest of us. Their emails give a little bit for the graphic designers of what's new to their craft, while the other half of the email is dedicated to how you can use the graphic designs in your craft. The most interesting thing is that they have these laid out in two side-by-side columns so you can see how they interrelate.
Promotional gear for your business doesn't seem like it could make a very exciting newsletter, but 4Imprint has managed to make every week's newsletter interesting. They are full of innovative ideas on how to market using the gear and specials.
Elite Business Magazine hails from the United Kingdom. Their newsletters are full of interesting business perspectives, leadership thoughts, and entrepreneurial wants. While this newsletter caters to the venture capitalists of the UK and some parts of Europe, the information and offerings within pertain to a wider audience of business owners around the world.
The Middle Finger Project is a refreshingly non-traditional take on marketing. Each newsletter is designed to remind you to put your most brazen self forward to stand out amongst the crowd. They remind you that different really is good.
12) Research Gate
Research Gate has a publicist that puts out a newsletter for journalists to keep them abreast of brand new research. The newsletter itself is barebones, but it is “link heaven” for those that like to follow refreshingly new stories.
13) Owner Magazine
Owner Magazine's newsletter is another one of those barebones emails that stands out for its content and presentation. Chris Brogan speaks from the heart about how to run an effective business. The unique touch at the end is a simple reminder that if you want to speak to him, all you need to do is hit reply. This personal touch makes the newsletter stand out where images would have to do the talking.