Just about every industrial company uses email marketing. The number-one marketing tactic in the industry is email marketing using in-house lists. It makes sense: email is effective. It also means you have stiff competition for getting your audience’s attention. But by employing a few best practices and some innovative thinking, you can set your company apart from the competition using email. Here’s how.
Be consistent—There are two angles to the consistency story. The first is that you want to maintain a consistent theme, look and message style in your email communications. This will help define and strengthen your brand. If every email looks different and the writing style varies, your audience can get confused. They may not understand what your brand represents.
The other half of the consistency story is that you should deliver on your promise. If a customer subscribes to your monthly e-newsletter, then they should get an e-newsletter every month, around the same time of the month. If you’re running a drip campaign to nurture leads and your plan calls for a touch every three weeks, then keep up the pace.
Conversely, don’t email prospects more than you say you will. They will get annoyed and will be more likely to ignore your emails, to opt-out, or to report your company as a spammer.
Segment your lists—The best way to get your audience’s attention is to send relevant emails on timely topics your audience cares about. But unless you sell only one type of product to one type of customer, it’s hard to be relevant to your audience without segmenting your list and customizing emails for each segment.
The more data you have for the entries in your email list, the more segmentation you can do. On the simple end you can segment by customer/prospect, or by type of product purchased, or expressed interest. More sophisticated segmentation might be by buyer type, such as an economic buyer interested in return on investment, an analytic buyer interested in solving a problem, and a technical buyer interested in making sure a product works within the customer’s environment. Another segmentation strategy might be based on lead score, if you use a scoring mechanism.
For each segment you create, you must also create custom content that resonates with that audience. Is it more work than a one-size-fits-all e-newsletter? You bet. But better results should make it worth the extra effort.
Use email to surprise them—Okay, so this one might seem to contradict the consistency rule about not emailing more than you say you will. But sometimes it’s okay to be innovative and send out an unexpected email.
Consider these ideas: A personal note from an executive thanking a customer for their business or a prospect for their interest. An email containing important news that’s pertinent to everyone who has an interest in your company. An email to a customer you have not heard from in a long time, simply asking how they are and if you can do anything for them. These emails are best sent only on an occasional basis.
Add the extra touches—There are a number of ways to make sure your email goes the extra mile and demonstrates your commitment. Make sure your emails are based on a responsive design so they render well and can be easily read on any type of device. Provide a link to let recipients view the email in a web browser if they prefer. Add features such as “forward to a friend.” Always provide a way for your audience to reply or respond to your emails. These extra touches are important and can help you stand out from competitors who might not be as thorough in their email marketing efforts.
Try different email vehicles—No matter how good an email marketer you are, at some point you’ll bump up against the limit of your effectiveness if you only send email to your own internal lists—even if you follow all the tips listed above.
Have you considered advertising in an industry e-newsletter targeted to the audience you want to reach? Appearing in a third-party e-newsletter offers a number of advantages. Your company can be associated with another strong and relevant brand in the industry. You can connect with hard-to-reach audiences in different markets and geographies. And if you work with an expert media partner, you can benefit from their advice about placement, frequency, messaging, and also receive comprehensive reports about the performance of your advertisement. It’s another way to separate from the competition.