- 74% of consumers prefer to receive commercial (business) communications via email. (Merkle)
- 91% of consumers check their email daily (well of course they do!) (ExactTarget)
- 66% of consumers have a made a purchase online as a result of an email marketing message they received. (Direct Marketing Association)
- Email marketing has an ROI of 4,300% (Direct Marketing Association)
The problem with email: you’re doing it wrong
When it comes to email marketing, all too often it’s defined as “let’s do an email blast.” Messages are simply blasted out to an entire list without any targeting, without any personalization, without any nurturing, without taking into consideration and employing any of the sophisticated email marketing tactics that are available to marketers today. And you know what? That’s almost as bad as not doing email marketing at all. Because when you just send email blasts, without developing a whole strategy around what you’re doing in that channel and integrating it with everything else you’re doing in other channels, you’re barely scratching the surface of what email marketing can deliver for you in terms of results.
Want to know how to cut that out and start doing it right?
Buy-in from senior management: wrestling for a budget
One of the biggest challenges that B2B marketers face is convincing senior management to allocate a budget for the right kind of email marketing technology. In order to do that, you’re going to have to do your homework, present a case for the budget you think you’ll need for your email initiatives, and show examples of how you’re going to be ablet to use this technology and smart email marketing to drive growth and profitability. Another great part of your argument should include information on what your competitors are doing (or not doing) with email marketing. This will either present the opportunity to develop a competitive advantage for you and your company or it will inspire your C-suite executives to not lose out to the competition – either way, it should be an important part of your budget pitch.
Understand (and rise to) the challenge of great copy
Great content drives everything in the world of business today and when it comes to email, that’s especially true. Even if you are successful at getting the budget you need for the email platform you want, if you don’t have a solid content strategy in place, based on your business goals (i.e. customer retention, customer satisfaction, lead generation, lead nurturing, etc.), your efforts are doomed from the get go. Understanding your B2B customers and prospects, knowing what they want and need, delivering it by way of compelling content (which includes written content as well as rich media content) and getting them to take the desired actions – that’s what successful email marketing is all about. Great copy drives that, every step of the way, so make sure you’ve got either the right team in place to develop your email marketing content strategy or find a consultant to work with who can help you nail that.
With any B2B email marketing initiative, part of your goal should always be to be building and growing your list. And as your database grows, you’ll need to streamline the process of segmenting your database. Segmentation is a key part of success when it comes to lead generation in general and email marketing in particular. Automating your email marketing efforts based on customer preferences and customer behavior allows you to serve your customers and prospects more effectively, to know and understand their motivations and triggers, and to ensure that your content can reach them at the exact time they need it in order to compel an action on their part. Email marketing without marketing automation is a bit like driving a car without any idea where you’re going – that wouldn’t make any sense, now would it? So know that they go together, and develop your strategies accordingly.
Understand the importance of data integration
If you’re not measuring the impact of your efforts, you’re not marketing. It’s as simple as that. And that’s where many B2B marketers are missing the boat. Connecting your email to your CRM is imperative. You might read this and nod, but I can’t tell you how many conversations we’ve had, often with enterprise level companies, who aren’t connecting email with their CRM – and it’s flat out crazy. So do this, please. The only way you’ll know what’s working is by integrating everything into your CRM and then analyzing your data.
Realize that mobile optimization is critical
With m-commerce on the rise at the rate of more than 68% over the course of the last year, it should come as zero surprise to B2B marketers everywhere that mobile devices and smartphones are already the most common platforms for consumption of content. Marketers must understand this and develop their email marketing campaigns (and everything else they do) with a mobile first mindset. Half of all emails sent are opened on mobile devices and more than 70% of consumers report that if an email isn’t optimized for mobile, they don’t read it. If that’s not something you and your email marketing team are laser focused on, well, you should be.
Growing your database
Growing your database should be the number one goal of B2B marketing teams, no matter what the size of your business, no matter your industry or niche. Unlike social media friends and followers, you own your database—and it’s one of the most important assets of your business. Everything you do, online and off, should be with a view toward how that particular effort or campaign or initiative is going to help you build and grow your list. And this all goes back to one thing: knowing your customers and prospects, knowing what they want and need, giving that to them in ways that make them want to opt in for more. And opting in for more means trading their email address for whatever it is you’re serving up. Focus your marketing strategies on this, and in creating compelling content that will help them do what it is they care about and want and need to do, and they’ll gladly opt in. Do more of this in your marketing efforts and less talking about how great you and your company are, and you’ll see an impact on the growth of your list in no time.
Reward them: learn how to develop and build a loyalty strategy
Existing customers are exponentially more valuable to just about any business than new customers. Part of your email marketing efforts should be devoted to creating a loyalty strategy that rewards and incentivizes customers in some way and keeps them happy and coming back for more—and this is as true in the B2B space as it is in the B2C space. But all too often, B2B marketers forget about rewarding customer loyalty. The more you can do this, the more you’ll serve them, the more you’ll sell to them, and the more business they are likely to send your way. And that? That’s a win for everyone.
Bottom line, email is, without question, one of the most effective, most valuable ways for B2B marketers to connect with customers and prospects. But you need to understand that email today isn’t a ready, fire, aim, undertaking. Email can be highly sophisticated, if you want it to be. It’s an art and not something that just anyone understands and that not just anyone on your marketing team can execute properly. For best results, email should be targeted, personalized, segmented, and mobile optimized. Email is without question by far the best way to connect with your customers and prospects and taking the right email marketing approach can help you create a bond of loyalty that will make your customers come back to you again and again. Learning the best way to use email to further your marketing goals might be the most effective marketing weapons in your arsenal today and for days to come.
What are you doing with your B2B email marketing efforts? Where are you seeing gains? What are you learning as a result? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Some of the resources cited here are from Dotmailer’s report: Building Customer Loyalty Through Email Marketing. If you’d like to read it, registering yourself to download this report