B2B is a tough industry for automated emails, primarily because corporate email systems function much differently than the standard email providers. Your reputation may be the cream of the crop with Gmail or Yahoo, but this means nothing in the eyes of corporate filters.
Unlike B2C marketers who typically send emails to contacts with standard Gmail and Yahoo domains, B2B marketers’ lists are full of businesses whose domains are specific to their brand name. This means that instead of only needing to clear a handful of filters, B2B marketers have to meet a unique qualifier for each individual domain in their email list, which could easily number in the hundreds.
Here are some insights on how to improve your B2B email placement.
How do I know if I’m having a B2B email delivery problem in the first place?
There are a few telling signs, but the most obvious are a low open rate or low response rate. If these are lower than expected, it may not mean that the B2B recipients are choosing not to open your messages, but rather the messages aren’t making it to their inbox in the first place.
If you’re trying to uncover which individual businesses aren’t receiving your emails, you can also examine the open rates of individual domains. If you’re seeing unopened emails to a particular domain, it likely has a stricter filter applied. In some cases, you may have subscribers working at the same business all report they didn’t receive your email, which is also a clear indicator.
What do I need to know about corporate filters?
Let’s start with two of the more common corporate hosting providers, G-Suite (previously Google Apps) and Office365 (MS Outlook). Smaller businesses are likely using one or the other. These providers function a bit more like your typical non-B2B consumer address; although, mail is still handled with an added layer of scrutiny. Making sure you’re keeping your list squeaky clean by pruning inactives and sending only to engaged users will provide the best chance for delivery to these providers.
Larger enterprise businesses will likely be using the big guns such as Barracuda, Proofpoint or Symantec for an added layer of filtering. To improve placement with these providers, engagement falls to the wayside and content needs to be the key focus.
To understand the level of filtering of the business you’re trying to reach, you’ll have to think outside the box a bit. For example, if you’re marketing to financial businesses, you can assume they have high levels of restriction on the emails they allow. These businesses are targeted more frequently by spammers who are trying to get sensitive information. Emails with many images, tons of links, and any sort of promotional language will fail to get past these filters.
What can I do to improve my chances of bypassing filters?
In addition to ensuring your emails don’t contain many images and links, improving infrastructure is especially important for B2B email. This means putting your own protocols in place that tell your email recipients that you’re verified and trustworthy. This is the equivalent of using your fingerprint to get into a building — it’s unique to you, and it speaks for itself.
If you use Ontraport’s shared IPs for your email marketing, you’re all set with this. Ontraport uses two of the main protocols — DKIM and SPF — and has a stellar reputation.
However, if your mailflow is consistent enough, you may want to consider investing in your own dedicated IP. Sending over dedicated IPs from a domain that has DKIM, SPF, and DMARC implemented is as good as it gets for email authentication.
You can also ensure you’re following email delivery best practices for how you format your content and set up your email system.
Lastly, encourage your contacts to whitelist you to help bypass any filters. This should be done on your first welcome email or on the thank you page of any opt-in form you use.