Social media and mobile marketing are getting a lot of attention, but we believe B2B marketers need to remember the power of email. Email marketing is a great way to reach a defined audience. You can get a message to the right person, and save the printing and postage costs associated with surface mail. Technology makes it possible to tailor messages to recipients based on timing, interests and other parameters.
While there are many cool services B2B marketers can use to implement email marketing, to be successful you need to master three core aspects. And they require brain-power rather than technology.
1. HAVE A GOOD LIST
The success of any direct response program starts with sending your message to the right people. So the list you use is essential. Purchased email lists need to be evaluated carefully to ensure they’re good investments. There are some ideal sources of up-to-date, targeted lists—and some real duds—so be sure you know what you’re getting. (Or ask us.)
You may be better off creating your own list. If you have customer and contact records that include email addresses, those can be good fodder for your list. If your website collects names and emails from visitors, that also can be a source of names for email marketing. If you opt for creating a list, first ask the recipients’ permission to market to them. Sending unwanted emails can get you labeled a spammer.
2. MAKE YOUR MESSAGE COMPELLING
The first task of an email marketing piece is to get opened. That means the piece has to get past spam filters and have a subject line that’s interesting and relevant enough to pique the receiver’s interest. Most email inboxes are overflowing, and your targets may not have much time. Your email has to give the receiver a reason to open it. Different subject lines can be tested on small samples of your audience to see which one yields better open rates.
Once opened, the email needs to demonstrate that you have or know something that’s valuable to your audience. This should capture the recipients’ attention so they’ll respond to your offer. It’s critical that you know your audience well. Researching user needs and wants lets you craft a message that hits the prospects’ hot buttons.
3. MAKE THEM AN OFFER THEY CAN’T REFUSE
Email marketing is all about response. Be sure to offer something attractive to spur it. That “something” should have value to your target audience. Market research can help you define what that could be. For instance, engineers value information which could be packaged in the form of whitepapers, application stories, videos or presentations. These items all make good offers.
People are used to instant gratification so make fulfillment fast and easy. You can link to a landing page for the offer, gather basic information there and then email or download the piece. If you used a new list, capture names and emails of respondents. They’re yours now. If your email went to customers and contacts, note the individual’s response to the offer in your contact database.
We like email campaign follow-up to be tailored to the campaign and the respondent. If, for example, your email focuses on the problems of old-style widgets and your offer is a whitepaper on installing new-fangled widgets, your follow-up could be an email to respondents talking about the benefits of YOUR new-fangled widgets and asking if they want a sales rep to call. Those that say “yes” would get routed to your sales department.
Email marketing programs are quite measurable. Services like Constant Contact and MailChimp provide open and click-through rates, so testing of subject lines can be straightforward. If you run fulfillment through a landing page on your website, you can count responses. With good follow-up you can track all the way to sales.
Creative Communications Consultants, Inc. (CCC) is a business-to-business marketing communications agency. We specialize in providing strategic marketing communications thinking to marketers of industrial and commercial products who target B2B audiences.