Broadly speaking, B2C is the activity of a business servicing end consumers with a product and/or service, a consumer being defined as a buyer of products that are not business related. These products include food, clothes, houses, phone services etc. An easy example of a B2C transaction would be a person buying shoes from a retailer. The transaction that leads to the shoes being available for purchase, that is the buying of the leather, rubber and laces as well as the sale of the shoe from the shoemaker to the retailer, would be considered a B2B transaction.

When it comes down to it, a B2C email marketing campaign is most likely to be assessed by sales, which means it’s successful if it results in a purchase.

Some of the most effective B2C email marketing best practices include identifying the most opportune time to send messages, aiming to increase customer loyalty, using promotional offers in transactional emails and using surveys to gather data about customers.

Looking at them in more detail, the following top 8 results were established according to a 2010 B2C worldwide marketer’s survey on best practices:

  1. 51% of marketers identify when the best time is to send emails. This will differ depending on your target audience, but it is a practice that has been thoroughly tested, and knowing the right time to send your message can have a huge impact on the results of your campaign.

  2. 38% of marketers include promotional offers in their transactional emails. Just ensure that the promotional aspect does not eclipse the importance of the information in the transactional email, the promotion should be a by-product, not the main focus of your message.

  3. 29% of marketers include links to social networking sites in their messages and newsletters. This goes a long way to building and maintaining more of a personal relationship with your customers, which in turn will ensure that your messages get shared with others and your products and services get recommended.

  4. 43% of marketers gather customer data through surveys. There is no denying the value in conducting a survey with your customers or potential customer’s; it helps you know more about them and what they want from you. Try to keep the questions short and relatively straightforward, remember that you can always send out another survey at a later stage to get additional data. Focus each survey on information that you need at that point in time.

  5. 24% of marketers triggered offers based on recipient activity and how often they do or don’t make purchases. Those who make frequent purchases are rewarded and those who haven’t made a purchase recently are prompted to do so, often with a once-off discount or coupon.

  6. 24% of marketers focused on behavioural targeting. What are your customers buying, do they always buy the same thing and is there any pattern that can be established? Campaigns based around this data are highly targeted and therefore appreciated by your customers.

  7. 20% of marketers implement life cycle campaigns. It’s a good idea to have a separate targeted campaign for those who purchase frequently, infrequently or haven’t purchased anything in a while. Sending the same email to everyone regardless of purchase history makes customers feel as though you aren’t taking notice of their actions, or you don’t appreciate the purchases they do make.

  8. 3% of marketers distribute cart abandonment messages. This is done to prompt customers to return and complete a purchase and the practice often sees positive results. In 2011, this practice is set to increase, and with good reason. The messages should be highly personalized and sent out very soon (with hours or a day or two) after a purchase has been abandoned.

As far as effective B2C subject lines are concerned, there are a number of best practices you can utilize that will help your email not only land up in the inbox, but go a long way to increasing the chances of it being read. Subject lines are a vital component of your email marketing message and neglecting it will almost certainly have a disastrous effect on the overall success of your campaign.

Your subject lines should be:

  • Short. Keep them at 35 characters or less, which makes them easy to read and ensures that the whole title shows up in the preview pane.

  • Consider the “WIIFM” (What’s In It For Me?) factor. Put yourself in your customer’s position, would you open the email with the subject line you have just drafted? What words would tempt you to open an email? How would you react to what is written in the subject line?

  • Be upfront and tell it like it is. What exactly are you offering, promoting or selling? One of the most detrimental things you can do is to mislead your customers and the only thing you will achieve by doing this, is their subsequent distrust of you and any emails you send in the future. It’s just not worth it.

  • Add that personal touch and include your customer’s name, it will give the impression that you are speaking directly to them and almost everyone enjoys that type of attention.

  • Test, test and test again. You should have a few subject lines that you can put through the paces and track to see which is most effective, which you can then apply to the rest of your campaign.

Although B2C email marketing is not as widely considered as B2B marketing, the value of attending to your customers in the right manner and treating them with individual respect will guarantee that your company and brand name is trusted and respected in return.  It’s worth putting in the time and effort to ensure that your B2C email marketing campaign is as good as it can be.

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