Yes, e-mail has presented challenges for marketers the last few years,
such as competing for attention in flooded inboxes and having
legitimate e-mails caught in spam filters. But the fact remains: in
business-to-business, e-mail still works.
Research from Datran Media shows that e-mail is still important for
driving incremental revenue, reinforcing a company’s brand position and
improving customer loyalty. In addition, few marketing tactics offer
the speed, low cost and measurability of e-mail. With these benefits,
it’s important to keep going with e-mail marketing.
Here are five practical tips to help you achieve continued success as an e-mail marketer.
1. Manage Your List
In real estate, the adage is location, location, location. In e-mail
marketing, it’s your list. An accurate and targeted list will increase
response rates and return on investment in e-mail marketing.
The most important part of list management is making sure the people on
your list want to hear from you. For example, people who opt-in to your
e-mail communications by using a sign-up form on your Web site or
product registration card are asking to hear from you. Opt-in means the
visitor is choosing to provide their e-mail address to you in
expectation you will send them relevant communications.
Focus your list management efforts in two ways:
Growing your opt-in list
Segmenting your list
You can grow your list in a variety of ways, including:
Add an opt-in form to every page of your Web site
Include an e-mail opt-in section on product registration or warranty forms
Initiate an outbound calling campaign to customers and prospects, asking permission to add them to your e-mail list
Include an e-mail opt-in check box on other Web forms such as for
white paper downloads (leave the box unchecked and let people make the
choice to opt-in)
Segmenting your list can help you craft more targeted messages for each
group. A simple segmentation tactic is to divide your list between
customers and prospects. You can also segment according to product
interest area, customer type or industry. If you have multiple audience
types, provide check box interest/industry choices on opt-in forms to
allow your audiences to segment themselves.
2. Be Relevant
The reason you perform segmentation on your list is to craft
appropriate, relevant e-mails that match with the interests and needs
of each group. Nothing can sink an e-mail marketing initiative faster
than sending information that your recipients don’t care about. It only
takes one irrelevant e-mail to cause all future e-mails to be ignored
or to have your audience opt-out.
If you are marketing to an audience of engineering, technical,
industrial and manufacturing professionals, you know they are
interested in detailed product information, technical specifications,
application ideas and other information related to their work. Develop
white papers, executive briefs, Webinars, data sheets and such to
capture their interest, while minimizing the corporate announcements
and press releases that have less value to them. Often, you can develop
material for one audience and re-purpose it for another audience by
changing some of the terms and language.
3. Deliver on Your Promises
When you offer people the opportunity to sign up for your e-mail
communications, let them know how often they will hear from you. Is it
weekly? Monthly? Quarterly? Is it whenever you have information that
will be important to them?
There is no right and wrong answer to the e-mail frequency question,
but there is a right and wrong way to handle the expectations of
customers and prospects. If you promise to publish a monthly
e-newsletter, then keep that promise. If you say you will send a
quarterly e-newsletter and occasional updates containing important
information, then do so. Of course, “occasional” is open to
interpretation, but more than a few times between e-newsletters is
probably overdoing it.
Frequency is directly related to relevancy. Perhaps the best way to
determine frequency is to develop a yearly editorial calendar with all
the relevant topics you might write about, then determine if you have
enough content for communicating monthly, quarterly or some other
interval. If you e-mail too often, your audience will begin to ignore
you; too seldom, and they will forget you. Find your sweet spot and
deliver on it.
4. Use E-mail to Generate Leads and Sales
E-mail is a great way to gauge interest and generate leads — from
customers and prospects alike. Use it to showcase your products and
services to a relevant audience. Even if you don’t have new products
or services to promote, you may consider sharing new or interesting
applications for your existing products. Make sure that you are
including calls-to-action, and not just sending snippets of news.
You can also use e-mail to offer an important white paper or to promote
an upcoming Webinar or other event you host. Link recipients of your
e-mail to landing pages on your Web site where they can register for
the event or access the white paper. This way, you capture names of
those interested in a particular topic and, depending on how your
organization is set up, can pass the information on to your sales team
or use it to further target your marketing efforts.
5. Look Beyond Your Own List
There are many potential customers out there who may be difficult for
you to reach, yet are good candidates for your products and services.
If they aren’t on your e-mail list, how can you communicate with them?
Try advertising in e-newsletters of respected third parties in your
industry. It’s a great way to gain visibility in new markets or with
hard-to-reach prospects and decision makers. The other advantage is the
publisher takes on the responsibility of developing content for the
e-newsletter; you only need to provide your advertising message.
Seek a reputable and proven e-newsletter partner, one with a large
circulation of opt-in readers, a demographic profile of its audience
that you can compare to your own target audience, strong open rates,
and flexible advertising options such as using images, different
placements in the e-newsletter, multiple linking options and reporting
For more information and more tips about how to achieve greater success
at e-mail marketing, read GlobalSpec’s white paper, “The Industrial
Marketer’s Essential Guide to E-mail Marketing.”