MediaRadar Blog

3 Hot Trends to Watch in B2B Email Advertising

Programmatically sold advertising is expected to reach $725b by 2026, which would represent an increase of more than 75% from 2021. 

But despite digital’s dominance across social media, OTT, and other ecosystems, B2B email advertising is still a key cog in many marketers’ engines. 

According to MediaRadar’s data sample, nearly 6.3k companies spent over $287mm on B2B email advertising in the first half of 2023 across more than 400 B2B media outlets, including FiercePharma, Healio, and Travel Weekly. 

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Here are 3 hot B2B email advertising trends to keep on your radar for the rest of the year. 

1. B2B Email Advertising Has Widespread Appeal

Through the first half of 2023, advertisers in five categories—technology, professional services, B2B industrial, medical & pharma, and finance—collectively spent nearly $194mm on B2B email advertising (67% of the investment). 

B2B media: Email ad spend by category chart

Technology advertisers, for example, allocated $56.8mm to B2B email ads to promote their products and services, with software and information technology (IT) advertisers contributing 70% of the investment. 

At the same time, B2B industrial advertisers spent more than $37mm on B2B email ads, with the top advertisers promoting industrial machinery (18%), manufacturing (9%), and food (9%). 

For advertisers in the industrial sector, the sizable investment in B2B email comes in the wake of an overall reduction in ad spending during the uncertain economy. For instance, advertisers for industrial companies decreased spending by 33% YoY to $169mm through April 2023, while those promoting industrial machinery reduced it by 48% MoM (March to April). 

The overall reduction comes following a fairly strong year for B2B industrial advertisers. In 2022, nearly 25k companies across agriculture, energy, and industrial machinery spent $1.9b on digital and traditional ads, up by 4% YoY. 

Finally, advertisers for medical & pharmaceutical companies spent almost $33mm on B2B email advertising in H1. Unsurprisingly, pharma advertisers were responsible for 64% of the spending ($20.8mm) as they maintained their fondness for traditional advertising, highlighted by a $2b investment (from 190 medical & pharmaceutical companies) on broadcast and cable TV in Q1 2023.  

That said, this doesn’t mean healthcare advertisers are abandoning their slow-but-steady embrace of digital advertising—far from it. 

In 2022, advertisers for 572 pharma brands spent about $1.5b on video ads, while also opening their eyes to the benefits of influencers (also known as key opinion leaders) and their sway over younger generations who turn to social media for health-related advice

2. Email Is a Key Piece of a Holistic Advertising Strategy 

    B2B email advertising may be gaining traction in an increasingly digital world, but it’s not taking advertisers’ attention away from the fact that buyers aren’t mindlessly scrolling through their inboxes all day.

    Despite 18% (1.1k) of advertisers opting for an email-only strategy, the majority of them spread their budget across formats, including display, events, native, and magazines. 

    Email advertisers by number of B2B media formats chart

    For example, 1.1k advertisers paired B2B email advertising with one additional format. Of these, 35%, including RiXtrema (financial software), PRTalent (creative staffing), and Regenxbio (stem cell technology), went with B2B print publications (magazines/newspapers), illustrating that, for better or worse, there are still fully committed to traditional formats.

    Meanwhile, 29% of companies adopted a healthy mix of email and digital display ads, including Omega World Travel, Taycon Risk, and Datassential, while 22% tapped into email and events to woo buyers in their favor. The remaining 15% of advertisers mixed and matched B2B email ads with native ads, webinars/white papers, etc. 

    The mixing and matching of ad formats not only highlights the power of email advertising in 2023, but also the need for advertisers to diversify their media mixes and reach B2B buyers across an ever-growing and increasingly complex journey. 

    In fact, according to Gartner, 77% of B2B buyers stated their most recent purchase was very complex or difficult

    3. B2B Email Advertising Is Set to Soar

    It’s been more than three decades since email went mainstream, and over that time, it’s given ground to other means of communication. At the same time, email advertising has made room for programmatic advertising technology

    But email advertising, B2B and B2C included, is on the rise, and all signs point to its ascent continuing, especially as third-party cookies fall by the wayside, iOS 14 continues to make advertising on iPhones challenging, and the cost of digital advertising rises.

    And we’re already seeing the oh-so-slow shift away from digital formats. 

    According to a recent survey, annual spending on non-digital advertising is expected to amount to $306.8b by the end of 2023. While that would represent an increase of less than 1%, that amount is expected to rise by 2.5% over the next few years. 

    So far, consumer-facing companies are leading the shift back to traditional ads, with B2C service and product companies expected to dive into traditional advertising more than others. Ironically, the 28th Edition of The CMO Survey found that companies earning 100% of their sales online are making moves, too, predicting an 11.7% increase in traditional ad spending over the next 12 months (April 2022-April 2023).

    Still, it’s not hard to imagine B2B advertisers following their lead and including more traditional formats into their overall strategy, digital included. 

    An article by Christine Moorman, Megan Ryan, and Nader Tavassoli summed up the shift well: “Pundits have long predicted the demise of traditional advertising. However, it is alive and well and headed for growth for the first time in a decade. When used together, traditional and digital marketing can reach more audiences, build and keep trust, and motivate buying from consumers who otherwise might tune out marketing messages.”

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