8 Key Ingredients of a Successful Outbound Lead Generation Campaign

outbound lead generation campaignDifferent marketers swear by different recipes when cooking up outbound lead generation campaign strategies. Of course, that barely registers as news, since no two sales funnels are ever exactly alike, especially with today’s buyer-initiated paths to purchase. But while the specifics vary, the key ingredients pretty much tend to stay the same.

Today’s B2B buyers first reach out to a vendor only when they’ve already made it more than halfway (about 60% to 70% by some estimates) into the purchase process. Buyers spend a great deal of that time researching and learning about the solution on their own. When they finally talk to a vendor, they’re already close to making up their minds.

This shift in the purchase process places inbound marketing tactics (build it and they will come) as the default way to engage and nurture leads for most B2B marketers today. But, as Pardot explains, outbound channels can improve the targeting precision and accelerate results of inbound marketing initiatives. According to GetResponse, outbound helps inbound marketing with three main activities:

  • Promoting and distributing content
  • Building and cultivating relationships with your audience
  • Reengaging stalled or inactive leads

While each of these new roles requires its own set of strategies for success, outbound lead generation campaign results largely depend on being able to combine the following eight components in the right way:


1. Emails

Emails provide one key advantage no other channel can offer: personalized touches at scale. That’s why emails remain the workhorse of lead generation, with more than half of marketers saying emails deliver the highest ROI through:

  • Engaging and nurturing prospects through a mix of promotional and relational messages
  • Using email activity for lead scoring
  • Interacting with prospects at key points in the conversion funnel


2. Live Conversations

The role of outbound telemarketing, according to marketing attribution platform Bizible, now covers obtaining thorough prospect information and market intelligence. Successful outbound campaigns leverage telemarketing to uncover details (such as fit and purchase intent) directly from prospects in real-time. These insights can then be used to refine lead nurturing.


3. Social Media

Social media works well both as an inbound and outbound lead generation channel. It’s a great tool for reinforcing touch points made through other outbound platforms. Social’s outbound lead generation functions include:

  • Warming up and nurturing prospects through social selling
  • Promoting gated content through organic and paid media
  • Driving interest and awareness through forums, groups, and communities
  • Geo-targeted social search
  • Collecting market intelligence through social listening


4. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

As we’ve seen in a previous post, B2B marketers think that SEM or PPC is a great channel at capturing and engaging top-of-funnel leads. That’s because 90% of B2B buyers begin their purchase process with an Internet search. As a result, paid search and online ads can help you direct traffic to your campaign landing page.


5. Marketing Collaterals/Materials

Your outbound lead generation campaign needs a number of content pieces and marketing collaterals to bring the message to your target audience. These typically include:

  • Email templates/copies
  • Call scripts
  • Whitepaper
  • Case studies
  • Brochures
  • Landing page


6. Campaign List

The contact list makes or breaks an outbound lead generation campaign. It determines how many prospects you’ll reach as well as whether you’ll connect with the right people. To find out if your list is up to the task, make sure you work with a clean, up-to-date, and accurate campaign database.


7. Marketing Automation

A lot of outbound lead generation activities are best carried out through marketing automation. At the bare minimum, your marketing automation platform (MAP) should enable you to:

  • Integrate the various channels used in your campaign
  • Set customized actions based on specific triggers
  • Personalize and segment prospect engagement
  • Test, tweak, and track
  • Collaborate across your team


8. Outbound Team

Whether you assign outbound lead generation to a one-person team or to an entire department, your team needs to meet the following key requirements:

  • KPIs that not only measure, but drive results
  • Incentive scheme that rewards team members for both volume and quality of leads
  • Specialized skills in each outbound lead generation campaign area
  • Alignment with overall marketing and business goals
  • Training and learning opportunities


Conclusion:  The modern outbound lead generation program consists of many moving parts. It takes the right combination of people, processes, and platforms to make the most out of outbound initiatives. At ContactDB, we provide all eight key ingredients for a successful outbound lead generation campaign—from the database, to the team that will plan and manage the entire campaign for you.

Top B2B Demand Generation Tactics for 2018, According to Survey

B2B Demand Generation TacticsDemand Gen Report recently polled 160 marketing executives and found some interesting trends behind B2B demand generation tactics. Emails remain the number-one channel for engaging top-of-funnel leads, as well as converting mid- to bottom-of-funnel prospects. The survey also reveals that marketers now increasingly rely on “cross-channel” strategies in order to meet “more aggressive” revenue goals.

Around 70% of B2B marketers say their demand generation budget will grow in 2018. That’s in response to higher sales growth projections for this year, as B2B companies target at least a 30% increase in revenues. As a result:

  • 28% of respondents report their organizations set revenue-based quotas for marketers (compared to 23% in 2017)
  • 30% of respondents say pipeline influence is the main metric to gauge marketers’ performance (up from 27% in 2017)
  • 73% of respondents rank lead quality as the number-one demand generation goal

With marketing increasingly being tied to revenues and in the face of ever-changing buyer behavior, marketers continue to refine their B2B demand generation tactics. Here’s what the Demand Gen Report study finds:


Top B2B Demand Generation Tactics

Findings from the Demand Gen Report study indicate that different tactics work best at different stages of the sales cycle. Around 68% of the polled marketers rank in-person events as the most effective tactic for generating qualified top-of-funnel leads, followed by webinars at 61%. Here’s what the complete rankings look like:

  1. Live Events (68%)
  2. Webinars (61%)
  3. Lead Nurturing (57%)
  4. Whitepapers (50%)
  5. Case Studies (50%)
  6. Videos (37%)

For the top-performing demand generation tactics at later stages in the funnel, case studies outrank other strategies as follows:

  1. Case Studies (73%)
  2. Lead Nurturing (63%)
  3. Live Events (55%)
  4. Webinars (54%)
  5. Whitepapers (47%)
  6. Videos (38%)


Top B2B Demand Generation Channels

Close to 3 out of 5 B2B marketers rank Emails as the most effective channel when it comes to driving awareness and interest in the early stages of the sales process. The complete rankings are as follows:

  1. Emails (59%)
  2. Search (56%)
  3. Website (51%)
  4. Social Media (44%)
  5. Online Ads (27%)
  6. Retargeting (19%)
  7. Content Syndication (17%)
  8. Telemarketing (14%)
  9. Direct Mail (7%)
  10. Predictive Analytics (2%)

Here’s how these channels perform when it comes to converting leads later on in the sales funnel:

  1. Email (81%)
  2. Website (50%)
  3. Telemarketing (45%)
  4. Retargeting (27%)
  5. Direct Mail (20%)
  6. Search (18%)
  7. Social Media (17%)
  8. Content Syndication (11%)
  9. Predictive Analytics (11%)
  10. Online Ads (6%)


Cross-Channel Strategies

Among the key takeaways from the Demand Gen Report survey is that marketers shift their preferences for different B2B demand generation tactics and channels at different points in the sales cycle. Search ranks highly (2nd) during the early funnel stages, but diminishes in importance later on. The same can be said of telemarketing, which the survey shows as a better channel for converting opportunities than as a tool for engaging fresh leads.

This indicates that B2B marketers understand when and how to use these different channels. Oftentimes, this involves combining these tools into a single, coherent strategy where each channel complements the others.

At ContactDB, for example, we use a multi-channel approach when doing demand generation campaigns for our customers. We leverage the scale and reach of email marketing to enhance live phone conversations with the target hand-raisers and use social media to reinforce these touch points.

It’s clear that B2B demand generation tactics are evolving, and it’s time for marketers to adapt.

Make Up or Break Up: Re-engagement email campaign Tips from the Experts

Re-engagement email campaignEvery email list has its fair share of inactive contacts, and every email marketer once in a while asks whether to hold on or let go. There’s unfortunately no easy answer when it comes to deciding what to do with disengaged subscribers. But with the right re-engagement email campaign, marketers can manage inactive subscribers more effectively.

According to Kissmetrics, inactive contacts make up as much as 60% of an average email list. Meanwhile, Return Path estimates that highly-engaged subscribers represent only around 24% of contacts. Having a large number of inactive accounts on your list drags down email deliverability, since low engagement rates tend to signal poor sender reputation.

Apart from causing deliverability issues, inactive subscribers also waste marketing resources. Most ESPs charge customers based on the volume of emails sent (which, in turn, largely depends on the size of your list). Paying for contacts that won’t convert into nurtured opportunities or closed deals clearly hurts your email marketing ROI.

But there’s more to dealing with inactive contacts than simply deleting them from your list altogether. It’s good practice to run a re-engagement email campaign to try and win back stalled subscribers. The campaign’s results will help you determine which contacts to keep and which ones to forget about.

So, how should you reach out to uninterested contacts? Here’s what the experts have to say.


Define exactly what “inactive subscriber” means

As MailChimp explains, the term “inactive subscriber” can mean different things to different marketers. But in general, a contact gets labeled as inactive in two ways:

  • Based on a subscriber’s activity (or lack thereof)
  • Based on time elapsed since last engaging with a campaign

It’s up to you how much lack of activity (opens or clicks in the last X emails) or time period to set as your criterion. The key thing to remember is that a lack of interaction doesn’t indicate inactivity right away (which brings us to our next point).


Segment inactive contacts into 3 groups

Now that you’ve chosen a yardstick to measure inactivity, it’s time to figure out what to do with contacts that meet the criterion. Campaign Monitor notes that inactive subscribers fall into 3 categories, each requiring a different re-engagement approach.

  • Never-Actives –subscribers who have never engaged, most likely contacts who signed up for a one-time offer such as a free download. Send a re-commitment email that lets them indicate their mailing preferences.
  • Dormant – subscribers who were once active but have now become unengaged. Send a series of nurturing emails that offer value (such as a relevant article or resource).
  • Customer Inactives – Once-active customers who no longer interact with any of your campaigns. Gradually ramp down your email cadence before asking the final question.


Craft a compelling re-engagement email

You already know that your past emails didn’t resonate well with inactive subscribers. That’s why your re-engagement emails need to look, feel, and sound a bit different from your usual campaigns.

For subject lines, HubSpot suggests spicing things up with a little personalization (such as the recipient’s name, company, or industry), as well as “asking for signs of life” with a relevant question.

AWeber lays out a number of guidelines in order to write effective re-engagement email content:

  • Find out why inactive subscribers signed up in the first place
  • Check whether you’re continuing to meet these expectations
  • Uncover any previous changes to your email strategy that may have affected engagement
  • Determine what to offer in order to pique their interest

To maximize response rates for your re-engagement email campaign, you need to include a clear, strong, and specific call-to-action (CTA). Whether you’re pointing them to a helpful resource or asking whether they’d still like to remain on your list, you need to make that action easy for recipients to complete.


Automate re-engagement, but humanize your response

Manually keeping track of subscriber inactivity works well when handling relatively small email lists. But when your contacts number in the thousands, the only way to do re-engagement email campaigns at scale is through automation.

SendGrid thinks that a huge part of your re-engagement campaign’s workflow should be automated. Tasks such as scheduling send-outs and unsubscribing contacts are best handled by machines, so that you stay focused on more exciting stuff in your email marketing program.

However, not all activities in your re-engagement email campaign should be set on autopilot. Responding to feedback and inquiries from your recipients are, for now, still best done by humans.



There’s still value to be had from trying to win back disengaged subscribers—that is, if you reach out the right way. So, build a robust re-engagement email campaign strategy using what we’ve talked about in this post.

5 Valuable Lessons from the Best Event Marketing Emails

5 Valuable Lessons from the Best Event Marketing EmailsMarketers rely on a lot of tools to drive live event attendance and conversions. But time and again, emails remain the top channel for achieving event marketing goals. Here’s how to get the most from your live events with the help of lessons drawn from the best event marketing emails.

On average, B2B marketers use a total of 5 different channels to generate buzz and maximize engagement for their live events. Recent research published by event tech provider Bizabo shows that email ranks as the top channel for promoting live events among 46% of B2B and 24% of B2C marketers.

Let’s look at what the best event marketing emails can teach us about crafting effective event invitation, promotion, confirmation, notification, and follow-ups.


1. Create a sequence of email touch points

Live events typically consist of three stages: pre-event, in-event, and post-event. You need to map out a sequence of emails to be sent out at each stage in order to maximize engagement.

Pre-event emails are crucial since they set the pace and determine the initial results of your live marketing project, while post-event emails are also very important since they directly impact your campaign’s conversion rates and ROI. That’s why we’ll talk about these points in greater detail later in this post.


2. Build anticipation and excitement

Apart from generating awareness, pre-event emails help boost attendance rates by building anticipation and interest well before opening day. At a bare minimum, your event marketing campaign needs to send out invitation, confirmation, and reminder emails.

Email automation vendor Delivra recommends the following best practices when doing pre-event send-outs:

  • Invitation emails – Sent weeks or months in advance (the bigger the event, the earlier the send-out) since potential attendees need time to secure buy-in from their boss.
  • Confirmation email – sent right after the recipient responds with an RSVP (best handled through email automation).
  • Reminder email – sent once daily 3 days before the event (including a final reminder sent 1 hour prior to event opening).


3. Revisit your subject line strategy

There’s sadly no hard-and-fast rule that spits out irresistible email subject lines. But with careful tracking and testing, it’s possible to tweak your subject line strategy to get better inbox placement and open rates for your event marketing emails.

Event Technologies analyzed 1.25 pre-event and post-event emails and found that:

  • 44 out of the top-performing 50 pre-event emails (according to open rates) mentioned the event name in the subject line.
  • 40 out of the top-performing post-event emails also mentioned the event in the subject line.
  • Pre-event emails whose subject line included the event name had an open rate of 24% vs 18% for pre-show messages whose subject line made no mention of the event.

Aside from naming the event in the subject line, it’s also good practice to indicate a specific call-to-action (CTA), e.g., “Visit us at DMA 2017 &THEN – Booth #1234”.


4. Look for sources of conversion friction

One thing that sets the best event marketing emails from the rest is that they provide a seamless experience for your recipients, from email open all the way to landing page conversion.

According to Kissmetrics, anything that gets in the way of this conversion journey is friction. There’s clearly a lot of points in your recipient’s clickpath where friction can slow down or hamper conversion. Here’s a quick rundown of a few places to closely keep an eye on:

  • Email copy – Is the copy short and easy to read?
  • CTA – Does the CTA stand out? Does it clearly specify the action?
  • Design – Is the design responsive?
  • Social sharing – Does your email make it easy for people to find and connect with you on social media?
  • Landing page – Does it seamlessly transition from the email? Are the landing page copy and CTA consistent with the email?


5. Plan your follow up ahead of time

Should you try to reconnect with your event attendees after the show? Of course, by all means. But following up requires more than just sending out a quick email. Like pre-event emails, post-show follow ups need some careful planning:

  • Prepare a prompt and personalized follow-up plan
  • Carry out the follow-up over a series of nurturing emails
  • Start following up 1-2 days after the event; don’t wait until 2 weeks
  • Offer different possible nurture paths
  • Make sure to reference a specific activity at the live event
  • Be careful about adding event leads directly into your marketing database


What other live event marketing email best practices do you follow?

Email Deliverability Best Practices: How to Authenticate Your Emails

How to Authenticate Your EmailsIf you’re seeing low or declining deliverability rates, chances are your sender reputation isn’t exactly up to snuff. There’s a ton of factors that ISPs check when determining sender reputation, and one important aspect is the sender’s email authentication setup. This needs to be a critical area of focus in your email deliverability best practices.

Email authentication helps ISPs prevent forged emails from reaching their users’ accounts. In other words, it’s a way to prove that an email you sent really comes from you (not some sender pretending to be you). From this, it’s easy to see why your email deliverability best practices should also include sender authentication.


How Email Authentication Works

Email authentication allows ISPs to properly identify the authenticity of emails their users receive. When a receiving server gets an incoming mail, it verifies whether the message really did come from the sender. To do this, it checks for specific pieces of information in your email and DNS records.

According to SparkPost, the email authentication process varies from approach to approach but typically consists of the following steps:

  1. A business or organization that sends emails establishes a set of authentication policies.
  2. The email sender configures its mail servers to publish and implement these policies.
  3. The receiving server authenticates an incoming email by referring to the sender’s policies.
  4. The receiving server accepts, flags, or blocks the incoming email based on the results of step 3.

In the next section, we’ll go into steps 1 and 2 in greater detail, plus outline the specific ways to set up email authentication.


How to Set Up Email Authentication

We’ve seen that email authentication affects sender reputation which, in turn, impacts email deliverability. To set up authentication for your email marketing program, follow these quick steps:


Step 1: Use SPF and DKIM authentication

Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) are authentication protocols stored in the sender’s DNS records. These contain the “pieces of information” we briefly mentioned earlier that ISPs use to check an email’s authenticity.

Simply put, SPF and DKIM prevent the bad guys from impersonating you as the sender. The details can get a little hairy, but the important thing to keep in mind is that without SPF and DKIM, there’s no way for ISPs to be sure it’s really you who’s sending the email.


Step 2: Record all your sending IPs

The sending IP address is the numeric label that uniquely identifies every sending source you use. It serves as the passageway through which emails are sent to your recipients. You need to let ISPs know all the sending IP you use (including those of your email service provider).

This is achieved through what’s called a reverse DNS record. Reverse DNS records do the opposite of what normal DNS records do; they return the name associated with a given IP address. Without a valid reverse DNS record, many ISPs will block your emails.


Step 3: Put it all together

Reverse DNS records, SPF, and DKIM are the three basic DNS entries to help ISPs authenticate your emails. Once you’ve already set all of these up, here’s how to put them into action:

  • Create your authentication record on SPF and DKIM, then publish them
  • Configure your mail server to sign outgoing mail with DKIM
  • Test your DKIM, SPF, and reverse DNS records


Step 4: Use a genuine, personal From name

The final step doesn’t involve anything fancy, but is arguably the most important one. Make sure that your emails’ From line contains an authentic name of a person. Avoid departmental or role-based addresses like marketing@xxyzcompany.com. You want to build a personal relationship, so it pays to start connecting on a personal level.



Now start building your sender reputation with these email deliverability best practices in mind. The main takeaway is that being authentic doesn’t end with email verification protocols. It’s all about building a long-term relationship with recipients.

4 Things to Do Right After You Buy a Contact Database

Things to Do Right After You Buy a Contact DatabaseSo you’ve got yourself a new contact list. Now what? Bought lists help you reach your growth targets faster—that is, if you’re able to set it up the right way. Today’s post goes over four steps you should follow right after you buy a contact database. These activities ensure that your list works as expected or, even better, exceed your targets.

In a previous post, we talked about the five situations where it’s okay to buy a contact database:

  • Your solution solves a real pain point or problem.
  • You’ve clearly identified your target prospects.
  • You’re targeting a high turnover industry.
  • You don’t have the resources to build a list at scale.
  • You’re expected to deliver results in the near-term.

If it makes sense for you to buy a contact database and you’ve invested in one already, then there’s a few things you need to straighten out first before using your list right out of the box.


1. Clean the bought list thoroughly first

Even though your list may come from a reputable database provider, you can’t take any chances when it comes to data quality. That’s why you need to thoroughly scrub and validate your bought list before putting it to use.

  • Scrub invalid addresses, spam traps, and distribution email addresses
  • Remove (hard) bounced addresses
  • Verify and update records

List cleaning tends to take up time and resources, so it might be a better option to let a third-party data cleaning services company do it for you.


2. Build your sender identity and reputation

To improve email deliverability, you need to convince both your recipients and ISPs that you’re someone they can trust. The idea is to let them know there’s a real person behind the email and that you’re really who you say you are.

  • Personalize your sender name
  • Use SPF, DKIM, and DMARC tools
  • Try out sender score and certification services
  • Warm up a new IP or use a dedicated sending IP

Using a bought list means you’re likely reaching out to most of the contacts for the first time. This underscores the importance of building your identity and reputation.


3. Ask contacts if they want to stick around

Most list vendors tout their products as opt-in, permission-based, or anti-spam-compliant. But, unless you’re deeply familiar with their data collection and QA practices, it’s better to err on the side of caution and carry out a double opt-in campaign, where you ask contacts for permission.

Here’s a quick rundown of how to run a double opt-in campaign after you buy a contact database:

  • Do a thorough data scrub (see step 1)
  • Prepare your free (value) offer
  • Craft an opt-in confirmation email
  • Build the landing page
  • Re-confirm with a thank you email

It’s okay if you encounter a lot of unsubscribes after your double opt-in campaign. Aside from staying compliant, this is one way of cleaning your list for better deliverability and engagement.


4. Reach out, engage, and respond

Bought lists translate to cold outreach. But that doesn’t mean your first interaction with the contacts should be icy, too. In order to maximize response and/or conversions, be sure to:

  • Personalize your cold emails beyond ‘Hi [FirstName]’
  • Segment your list according to buyer personas
  • Offer educational content (whitepapers, webinars, articles, etc.) related to the contact’s job title or industry
  • Start a nurturing campaign with follow-ups and multi-touch cadence

These best practices should help you avoid getting the cold shoulder from your cold prospects.



When you buy a contact database, you need to put a few things in place before using it in your campaign. Keep these four steps in mind as you start growing your pipeline.

How to Personalize Cold Emails Beyond ‘Hi [FirstName]’

How to Personalize Cold Emails BeyondMost people (and ISPs) mistakenly lump cold emails as junk mail. One proven way to ensure your cold emails don’t end up in the spam folder is to personalize your message. Today’s post provides a step-by-step guide on how to personalize cold emails beyond the usual “Hi [FirstName]” tactic—and to do this at scale.

Cold emails remain the workhorses of B2B marketing. They’re a good way to start building a relationship with prospects, influencers, and business partners. Sadly, cold emails continue to get a bad rap from people and ISPs alike. That’s because a lot of marketers misuse cold outreach to send out bulk, unwanted, and irrelevant (read: spam) messages to unsuspecting recipients. Although cold emails are, by nature, unsolicited messages, it’s how they’re being used that turns them into spam.

There are several strategies for improving the chances of your cold emails reaching the right recipient’s inbox, but personalization is demonstrably one of the most effective. Applying personalization tactics that really increase your emails’ relevance improves deliverability by:

  • Avoiding bulk, generic email blasts, hence preventing setting off spam filters
  • Improving engagement rates (opens, clicks, replies, etc.), which also boosts sender reputation
  • Minimizing spam complaints, which also improves sender reputation

Of course, personalization does have its downsides, one of which is that it requires time and a lot of research. But personalizing your cold emails pays off. That’s why we’re sharing this short practical guide on how to personalize cold emails at scale.


Step 1: Create personas for your target audience

Personas help you precisely define who your target recipients are. With personas, it’s much easier to accurately target and segment your audience. If you haven’t yet identified personas for your target recipients, Marketingprofs suggests building ideal buyer profiles with the following info:

  • Role in the buying process
  • Fears and challenges
  • Drivers and motivators
  • Organizational goal and priorities
  • Problems and issues


Step 2: Build your cold email list

Now that you’ve identified your target audience personas, you’re going to use the generated profiles for finding contacts to include in your cold email list. If you already have an existing email contact database, the process involves simply filtering the list using the profiles’ attributes.

If you don’t yet have a current list to fetch records from, you can either gather the contacts through your own research or work with a third-party list vendor.


Step 3: Find relevant and relatable info for each recipient

IT’s now time to get your hands dirty. This step involves doing some (mostly) manual, tedious research. The goal here is to mine pieces of information specific to each recipient that you can then mention in your cold email copy.

Sales engagement platform provider PersistIQ recommends the “3 takeaways in 3 minutes” approach when determining what personal details to include in your research. The idea is to start with 3 personal facts about each prospect you can gather in 3 minutes. Each of these pieces of information should help you connect with that particular prospect. These include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Current location
  • Work history
  • School or university
  • Mutual connections

Other personalization snippets include:

  • Website
  • Blog post and articles
  • Company news and announcements
  • Social media posts

Append some or all of these pieces of prospect data onto the cold email list you generated (or acquired) in step 2.


Step 4: Craft the personalized email template

In the previous step, you gathered relatable prospect information for each recipient. Now, it’s time to write the email template (or templates) where the relevant personal facts will be inserted.

While we all have our own cold email writing styles, here’s a quick rundown of email personalization best practices to keep in mind:

  • Try to mention one of the personal facts on the subject line
  • Start the body by pointing out another relatable fact
  • Segue into the main portion of your message
  • End with a clear call to action



Personalized emails tend to produce better engagement rates (26% higher open rates, 14% higher CTRs, and 10% conversion rates). Not only that, personalization tends to boost deliverability and inbox placement, especially for cold emails. So, before doing your next cold email outreach, try a little personalization first.

Why You Need to Rethink Your Email List Segmentation Best Practices

Email List

Find out why most email list segmentation best practices no longer meet the demands of today’s email marketing landscape.

There’s no shortage of email list segmentation best practices to go around. In fact, a quick Google search for ways to slice and dice an email list gives 19,700,00 results. But a great deal of these readily-available tips falls somewhere between marginally useful to totally obsolete. That means your segmentation strategy is probably due for a little overhaul. Here’s why.

In case you haven’t noticed, both B2B buyers and their buying cycles have changed. B2B prospects are now almost 60% into the decision-making process before reaching out to a vendor, and they’re doing a ton of research and learning about a product or services largely on their own. Old static segmentation models can no longer account for the dynamic, self-determined behavior that today’s prospects tend to display.

That’s just one area where traditional email list segmentation best practices fall short. You need to reconsider conventional ways of segregating email contacts because:


  1. Everybody’s doing it.

You really can’t gain any decent competitive edge from following traditional email list segmentation best practices. Practically, most B2B organizations segment email lists according to some basic combination of demographic, firmographic, and firmographic attributes.

While these are fairly effective as starting points for slicing and dicing lists, these strategies have attained such mainstream acceptance that it’s hard to differentiate your campaign and generate above-average results solely on these criteria.


  1. Buyers evolve faster than profiles.

As marketers, we’re painfully aware that data decays at a rate of at least 2% per month. But there’s more to marketing data going stale than contacts’ job titles or addresses changing.

The modern B2B purchase journey’s nonlinearity means that prospect behavior doesn’t remain constant or predictable throughout the process. This is why segmentation models need to take these changes into account in order to be useful.


  1. Traditional models don’t do a very good job at personalization.

Most email list segmentation best practices were developed when mass targeting was still the norm. That was why these models relied mostly on broad categories and aggregate groupings of prospects.

With today’s decision-makers expecting a relevant, targeted experience, sending out emails that only make use of superficial personalization (first name, industry, company names, etc.) simply isn’t going to cut it.


These are a few of the main reasons why email list segmentation best practices need to evolve. The bottom-line is that the marketing landscape has changed. Traditional ways of doing things aren’t that helpful or effective anymore. So, keep up and stay ahead.

Top Email Marketing Benchmarks of 2017 (and How to Do Better in 2018)

In a few short days, we’ll be starting another email marketing year. But before we do that, let’s first look back at 2017 and see how well email marketers collectively performed. Even more importantly, let’s use these email marketing benchmarks as guideposts to do better in the upcoming year.

Today’s blog entry compiles key 2017 email marketing benchmarks from Delivera, MailChimp, Inbox Marketer, and SignUp.to. The numbers cited here describe 2017’s email marketing campaigns in terms of oepns, clicks, bounces, and other metrics, plus some actionable tips to help you improve in each category. Let’s dive right in.



While there’s some variation in the actual number, our data sources all seem to agree on the average email marketing open rates in 2017:

  • The average open rate is 31.92% for all industries (Delivera).
  • On average, overall open rate was recorded at 24.79% (SignUp.to)
  • Open rates increase to 28.8%, up from 25.9% in the past year (Inbox Marketer).
  • On a per-industry level, open rates ranged from 15.2% to 28.4% and averaged 21.8% (MailChimp)

This year, the following tactics resulted in better-than-average open rates:

  • Subject lines less than 50 characters long resulted in 58% open rate (Adestra).
  • The open rate for personalized emails is 1.4 times higher than generic ones (Statista).
  • Segmentation results in 14.3% higher open rates (MailChimp).



In two of the references we used, the findings indicate overall higher click-through rates for the year (although the number widely varied):

  • Overall, CTRs incrementally increased by 0.8 percentage points, averaging 5.8% (Inbox Marketer).
  • Average CTRs across all sectors were reported to be 3.57 percent (Delivera).
  • CTRs came in at 4.19% for all industries (SignUp.to).
  • Depending on the industry, CTRs ranged between 1.25% to 5.13%, averaging 2.62% (MailChimp).

Here’s how email best practices enhanced CTRs of email campaigns:

  • Trigger emails generate 2x higher CTRs than traditional emails (Super Office).
  • CTRs for segmented emails are more than 8x higher than non-segmented emails (Super Office).
  • Subject line personalization improves CTRs by 17.36% (MarketingSherpa).



While CTRs measure the number of clicks over the number of emails sent, the click-to-open rate (CTOR) expresses the number of clicks as a percentage of the total opens. That’s why CTOR is a better gauge of email engagement.

SignUp.to finds that average CTOR is around 11.88% (SignUp.to). Meanwhile, Smart Insights recommends aiming for a CTOR between 10% to 15%. If your campaign is underperforming in terms of click-to-opens, follow the below tips:

  • Write short and clear subject lines.
  • Keep your copy between 50 to 125 words long.
  • Make sure your call-to-action (CTA) stands out.
  • Close with a specific option and end with gratitude.


Hard Bounces

Email marketers remain very effective at keeping hard bounces in check. According to Inbox Manager, bounce rates remain low at just 0.9% across all industries in 2017.

MailChimp’s industry-level email marketing benchmarks report shows that hard bounce rates vary from industry to industry, with a minimum of 0.7% and a maximum of 1.2%.

To keep your hard bounce rates within acceptable limits, try out the following:

Use a double opt-in list signup method

Keep your list spotlessly clean

Verify each contact in your list

Work with a data scrubbing and maintenance company



While averages and aggregate numbers give us a quick way to compare and evaluate our campaigns, keep in mind that these headline values oftentimes don’t tell the whole story. That’s why we need to go past these top-level email marketing benchmarks to find out what’s really going on. In that sense, the best reference metrics will always be your own campaign results.

Happy New Year!

How to Avoid Email Deliverability Issues During the Holidays

How to Avoid Email Deliverability Issues During the HolidaysThe holiday season is in full swing. Aside from crowded stores and endless checkout lines, the inbox gets particularly busy this time of year, too. In fact, people receive 1.5 times more promotional emails during the holidays than at any other period. This brings all sorts of email deliverability issues that can drag down campaign performance.

As Kevin Senne over at Oracle Marketing Cloud explains, ISPs tend to tighten their grip on incoming mail during the holidays. That’s because mailbox providers slow down the rate of email arrivals to deal with the seasonal deluge. Naturally, this throttling has an effect on both if and when emails reach a recipient’s inbox.

While these email deliverability issues largely bother senders of promotional emails, every marketer who wants to get in touch with prospects or customers during the holidays isn’t immune from these problems.

That’s why we searched the Web for practical tips and best practices to help you avoid holiday-induced deliverability headaches. Let’s take a look at what we learned:


  1. Keep your list spotlessly clean

As you’re making your email list, and checking it twice, you might want to have someone recheck it thrice. The first step to your recipients’ inbox starts with the list. Squeaky-clean lists help keep email deliverability issues at bay.

That’s because clean lists tend to give you lower bounce rates, which in turn improve your sender reputation. The better your reputation becomes (in the eyes of ISPs), the better your deliverability gets.

While there’s no shortage of tools and techniques you can use to do some D.I.Y. list cleaning, most sources we dug up strongly recommend working with a third-party data cleaning service provider for best results.


  1. Stick to your current sending IP address

If you’re thinking that switching over to a new IP address will give you better deliverability for your holiday campaigns, then you’re in for some very rude awakening. Deliverability expert Return Path cautions against changing your sending IP address, especially during the holiday season.

Using a brand new IP does let you start out with a blank slate, but it’s going to take a while to “warm up” a fresh address and earn the trust of ISPs. Building your sender reputation from scratch isn’t going to happen overnight, and the process will be much longer during the holidays when throttling and stricter spam filters are in place.


  1. Watch your mailing frequency

Return Path also warns email marketers not to abruptly increase their sending frequency in the run up to and during the holidays. The biggest mailbox providers keep a close eye on any sudden spikes in send-out rates, slowing down or stopping incoming mails from senders who step on the gas too quickly. In many cases, this can permanently harm sender reputation.

To avoid potential email deliverability issues from sending out too much mail during the holidays, most references we found suggest consistently maintaining your usual email frequency. Other sources also point out that, if you really want to increase your email volume, you need to slowly and gradually increase your frequency over several weeks ahead of the holidays.


  1. Wear your authentication badge at all times

Another way to improve deliverability is to use SPF, DKIM, and DMARC authentication. These are tools that tell ISPs you’re someone they can trust. While enabling these items won’t guarantee deliverability (nothing does), they’re a crucial component of building and maintaining a good sender reputation.

As marketing automation provider Real Magnet describes, these three authentication systems allow you to improve your emails’ deliverability and credibility. They implement protocols that verify your domain as the sender, which is something that affects ISPs’ decisions to accept or reject incoming mail.

Enabling all three tools helps guarantee your emails make it into the inbox, as well as protect your emails from spoofing.


  1. Focus on the recipient, not the campaign

Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, and other mailbox providers use engagement metrics (opens, clicks, spam reports, unsubscribes, etc.) to determine if your email should end up in the inbox or spam folder.

That’s why avoiding email deliverability issues also means improving how your emails engage your readers. From the subject down to the closing, your email needs actionable copy and compelling design.

We went over some effective tips to write engaging emails in a previous blog entry. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Use a catchy subject line
  • Make the copy easy to scan and skim
  • Keep it short and strong
  • End with a clear CTA
  • Place main takeaways and CTAs at the top
  • Divide text into sections
  • Use contrasting color schemes
  • Format everything for easy skimming

With these steps, your holiday email campaign will surely minimize, if not avoid, email deliverability issues. From the ContactDB team:

Happy Holidays!