Social media may get a lot of press these days, but e-mail marketing is alive and well in the industrial sector as an effective channel for communicating with customers and prospects. However, the inboxes of industrial professionals are more crowded than ever. Many e-mails are deleted without being looked at; others never make it past spam filters. If you want to capture the attention of your audience, make sure you know these five new rules of e-mail marketing.

1. General is out, specific is in
It’s not enough to send your entire industrial audience the same e-mail communications — unless your audience is completely homogenous, which is highly unlikely. To be relevant to your audience, you must send specific e-mails, personalized to their needs and interests. This takes more effort, but will deliver better results.

To get more specific, segment your e-mail list. You can do this in a number of ways, from simple to complex. Here are some ways to segment your list:
• Products owned or services used
• Customers or prospects
• Markets (geographic or industrial sector)
• Behavior (based on the types of links clicked on or offers accepted)
• Job role

Once you segment your list, you can create e-mails with content targeted and relevant to the reader. Another way to get specific is to personalize e-mails using the name of your recipients in the subject line or in a greeting in the body of the e-mail. Also, try personalizing the ‘from’ line by having the e-mail sent from a person’s name that your recipients will recognize, such as their account rep or a company executive.

2. E-mail marketing service providers are affordable and dependable
There are a multitude of e-mail marketing service providers that can provide expert services at a reasonable cost. If you are still going it alone on e-mail marketing, you might want to consider using a service provider.

E-mail marketing service providers can perform a lot of the work that will increase the effectiveness of your e-mail communications, including:
• Managing relationships with ISPs to ensure the deliverability of your e-mails
• Offering spam checking tools to improve your e-mails before sending
• Providing integrated social tools for sharing e-mail content on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites
• Offering a large portfolio of e-mail templates that can be easily customized to your brand
• Reporting on statistics that allow you to easily track the performance of e-mail campaigns

3. E-mails must be optimized for different devices
Users are in the habit of accessing e-mail anytime, anywhere — from home and work and on the road. From desktop computers, laptops, tablet computers, and smart phones. And there are dozens of e-mail programs in use, from Microsoft Outlook to Gmail, Yahoo and others.

Now you must optimize your e-mails for reading in different programs. A good practice is to have a link at the top of your e-mails allowing users to access a web page version of your e-mail in case the content does not render well in their program. You may also want to consider optimizing e-mail for viewing on small screen devices as well as for larger screens.

4. Testing is timeless
E-mail testing is not new, but it is more important than ever if you want to continually improve the effectiveness of your e-mail marketing efforts. You can test various components of your e-mails and make adjustments based on what you learn to increase your results in terms of click-throughs and conversions. It’s best to test one variable at a time so you can measure the impact of that specific change.

Key variables to test in e-mails include:
• ‘From’ line and ‘subject’ line
• Day of week, time of day for sending
• Number, placement, and type of links
• Call to action
• Layout and use of graphics

5. Implement new tactics to connect with hard-to-reach prospects
No matter how much effort you put into growing your opt-in e-mail list, there are still a multitude of potential customers out there that you are not able to reach because they haven’t heard of your company or you haven’t met them yet.

One way to connect with these potential customers is to advertise in third-party industrial e-mail newsletters that your audience reads. You can place advertisements that promote your products or brand and drive prospects to your web site for conversion purposes. Another advantage of e-newsletter advertising is that the publisher handles all the work of list management and e-mail deliverability. Look for a publisher with expertise and a respected reputation in your specific market. Check out GlobalSpec’s industrial e-newsletters here.

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