The Buzz On B2B: Email Is Tops For Both Acquisition And Retention

Email remains the top tool for both retention and acquisition in B2B, but search may be coming up on the inside, judging by MeritB2B’s Q1 2021 Marketing Trends Report. 

Pre-pandemic, 66% used email for new customer acquisition, 59% utilized search and 52% direct mail. 

Since January 2020, 20% have added search, 17.5% targeted display and 10% email. Also, several tried webinars.  

“While search and email were already the two most popular choices, they actually grew in importance during the pandemic, with B2B marketers who hadn’t used these channels before dipping their toe for the first time,” the study states.  

For client retention, 80% used email pre-pandemic. Direct mail, a costlier investment, was second, utilized by 58% and search third, with 33%.  

Many brands experienced higher engagement, thanks to the shift toward digital. 



For example, 78% drew similar or higher email click-through rates. 

Specifically, 50% say their email click-through rate has been has remained about the same, and 28% that it is higher. Around 15% suffered a lower rate.  

75 B2B Marketers were surveyed in the month of Feb. (2/1-2/28)

"Email is a core channel for almost every vertical across our client base," says Chris Blohm, SVP performance marketing at MeritB2B." It is still relatively inexpensive, highly customizable, measurable, and works well both as a standalone and in concert with other channels."

Blohm adds, "The focus is always on audience, and email is a proven vehicle for optimized messaging to highly customized personas.

Meanwhile, 56% saw a similar or higher average order value, and 76% saw similar or higher customer and prospect engagement.  

But there was only a modest increase in individual channel use after the COVID-19 pandemic, with 12% adding email. 

When new channels were added, only a small minority — maybe 12% — added new budget, whereas 30% shifted money from existing budgets. The remainder said it didn’t apply. 

When will things return to “normal?”  

Almost 40% said they will restore their regular marketing spend in early 2022, and around 25% say they will do so in early 2021, while slightly less  way they will do so in second-half 2021 and even fewer in second-half 2022. 

“We’re seeing contact plans shift to allow for more touchpoints to dive deeper into inactive customers as the pandemic caused higher-than-normal levels of attrition that our clients believe may not be truly representative of their customers’ attitudes towards their brands,” states Andy Joyce, senior vice president of intelligence & analytics at MeritB2B.

MeritB2B surveyed 75 B2B marketers in February. The company provides business data, database products, consultative marketing services and campaign execution solutions with a focus on B2B. 

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