Live from DMA06: B-to-B, B-to-C Require Different E-mail Creative

Oct 16, 2006 7:11 PM  By

(Direct) San Francisco–Business-to-consumer and business-to-business e-mail campaigns require vastly different creative tactics to drive the highest response, according to a study released yesterday by e-mail service provider Silverpop.

For example, Silverpop found that b-to-b e-mail recipients were much more likely to respond to an all-text e-mail than their b-to-c counterparts.

In a study of 612 e-mails sent by 430 companies, Silverpop found that image-rich e-mails sent to consumers generated a 7.1% average click rate, while all-text e-mails generated an average 4.7% click rate. In contrast, all-text b-to-b e-mails generated an average 5.4% click rate compared with a 3.5% average click rate for e-mails that contained an equal amount of text and images.

Another difference between the two types of campaigns: the location of the offer. “Surprisingly, the location of the offer in b-to-c e-mails really didn’t matter,” says Silverpop CEO Bill Nussey. “Whereas in the b-to-b world, if that offer wasn’t in the top half of the e-mail, above the fold, the numbers showed a significant drop off in response rates.”

In another surprising finding, b-to-c e-mails featuring newsletter-style layouts generated a 7.1% average clickthrough rate — the highest of the seven styles Silverpop monitored — while postcard layouts, a consumer-marketer favorite, generated a 6.2% average click rate.

Nussey says he finds it interesting that companies will spend millions of dollars figuring out how to optimize the layout of their Websites but a comparatively minuscule amount on optimizing the usability of their e-mails.

“There’s nothing about an e-mail message that makes it less responsive to layout and creative,” he says. “In fact, you could argue that in e-mail it matters more. If I go to your Website, I’m going to give you a minute or two. In an e-mail, you better get them in three or four seconds.”

The study is available at