BtoB

How b-to-c tactics can benefit b-to-b marketers

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Engaging customers and prospects with relevant communications is essential to marketing success. And by combining marketing automation technologies often used by business-to-consumer marketers, with sophisticated e-mail tactics, b-to-b marketers can better establish a rich dialogue with individual prospects and customers.

Here are three b-to-c tactics that b-to-b marketers can incorporate into their programs to more strongly engage with contacts and drive revenue.

• Use segmentation techniques. Consumer marketers have long used advanced segmentation techniques to improve relevancy. Simply segmenting your list will put you ahead of other b-to-b marketers, especially since only one-third say they are “very likely” to use e-mail list segmentation to target a prospect's stage in the sales cycle, according to MarketingSherpa's “2010 E-mail Marketing Benchmark” report, which surveyed 1,493 e-mail marketers.

Another smart move is to segment e-mail campaigns by user behavior. Because actions speak louder than words, segment a list by separating those people who, for example, downloaded a white paper from those who did not. With this knowledge, you might then want to send the first people a message for a related webinar. For those who opened your initial e-mail but didn't click, send a survey requesting more information about their interests so you can improve relevancy going forward.

• Follow deliverability best practices. A well-crafted e-mail message is only valuable if it lands in the recipient's inbox. All e-mail marketers are faced with the challenge of getting through the spam filters of major Internet service providers (ISPs), but b-to-b marketers have the added task of getting through corporate e-mail filters, their anti-spam firewalls and e-mail blacklists.

You can improve deliverability by employing some simple tools. For example, by using inbox preview, you can see how messages will render when viewed in leading e-mail clients, helping prevent broken messages and formatting errors. Also, you can use the SpamAssassin free spam-filtering program to examine and score a message for spam violations before it is sent. Then, you can edit accordingly to help ensure the messages aren't wrongly flagged as spam.

Also consider inbox monitoring to determine if your message is getting to an inbox or being redirected to the junk or bulk box. And don't forget to obtain a dedicated IP address, one used only by yourself and your company for sending e-mail. The alternative, a shared IP address, can negatively affect your delivery rates, since inappropriate sending by one company can reflect poorly on all others using that shared address.

• Test for content optimization. No matter how well you think you know your prospects, you can never be sure how they're going to respond to your e-mails unless you test. But despite these benefits, b-to-b marketers lag behind b-to-c marketers when it comes to testing subject lines, offers or other calls to action, and the effectiveness of creative copy and layouts. The good news is that marketing automation technology enables you to do more testing than ever more easily than ever.

Given the challenging marketplace, b-to-b marketers need to employ all the sophisticated tools and tactics available to them. And that means employing the techniques that consumer marketers are successfully using.

By using advanced segmentation techniques, following deliverability best practices and testing for content optimization, marketers can help cut through the clutter that is overwhelming buyers, and engage with them in a way that will drive new levels of loyalty and revenue.

Bill Nussey is CEO of online marketing company Silverpop (www.silverpop.com). He can be reached at bnussey@silverpop.com.

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