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3 Marketing “Best Practices” That Aren’t Always the Best Practice

Chris HubbardBy Chris Hubbard

Everyone wants to do what works and avoid what doesn’t.

That’s why the concept of following best practices is so ingrained in business. Top performers follow recognized best practices because they are proven to work. Maybe I am a skeptic but when it comes to B2B marketing, I think it’s smart to have a healthy dose of cynicism.

dilbert-best-practicesFor example, these three maxims are often touted as best practices, but I don’t think they are, at least not in a lot of cases.

Best Practice 1. Use short subject lines in email campaigns.

The logic behind this is that subject lines that are too long will be:

  • cut off after a certain numbers of characters (truncating after 60 characters is typical).
  • too long to hold the interest of time-crunched prospects already bombarded by marketing messages.

That makes sense for consumer marketing but not always for business to business, where people are working rather than “playing.” In the B2B environment, to attract attention, it helps to be very specific in the subject line about the value you’re offering—even if it takes a more than 60 characters. A short subject line that doesn’t make it clear why a prospect should spend their time at work reading your email probably won’t perform as well.

Besides, sometimes a truncated subject line can entice a click to find out what the rest of the value proposition is.

Best Practice 2. Target your B2B marketing at C-suite executives for the best results

At first this makes sense. For many business transactions the approval to buy is going to have to come from the very top so why not aim at the C-suite or other senior-level executives.

While the C-suite may have the final sign off, the primary influencers around the B2B purchase research process has changed over recent years. Many purchase decisions are in the hands of middle management and if you are not marketing to them, you will be missing out.

Best Practice 3. Purge old email addresses out of your database.

Ok so we are kind of cheating with this best practice. If you are regularly emailing your database, you should be cleaning up bounced email addresses as they occur. Marketing Sherpas research shows that B2B data decays at a rate of 2.1% per month. This is an annualized rate of 22.5% which basically means almost a quarter of your names will expire each year.

However if you are an irregular email marketer you shouldn’t disregard the older email addresses simply because they are older than a year. Re-engagement campaigns can help you to find hidden gems in your database. The key is to use smaller segments and make the email content as relevant as possible.

The Bottom Line

Best marketing practices aren’t wrong but they aren’t universal either. That means you need to task your marketing team—whether internal or external—with evaluating each “best practice” relative to your situation.

What seems to make sense might not make sense at all.

One Red Bird is a B2B marketing services provider that specializes in helping companies increase their sales by changing the way they do marketing. Chris Hubbard is One Red Bird’s Head of Content. Visit www.oneredbird.ca for whitepapers, videos and other resources.

Image Credit – Dilbert.com

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