BtoB

What are some dos and don'ts for engaging with customers/prospects in the summertime?

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Summer is not always a welcome season for marketers. Although b-to-c marketers may see an upswing in sales as consumers spend more on travel, food and entertainment, summer can be a challenging time for b-to-b marketers. Businesses postpone important purchasing decisions while employees take summer vacations, preferring to buy in the fall, when they are once again operating at full capacity. As a result, b-to-b email and social media marketing efforts often yield lower ROI and response rates in July and August than similar efforts made during other months. As a b-to-b marketer, however, you should not take a summer vacation from customers and prospects. Focus on building brand awareness so that when your contacts are ready to buy in the fall, your business is top-of-mind. Stay connected through email and social media with these tips:
  • Rely more on mobile. During summer, on-the-go business professionals are dependent on their smartphones. Make sure your emails are mobile-compatible and include compelling calls to action in subject lines to ensure your messages get high priority.
  • Be social. Business professionals may take a break from email when on vacation, but they still are likely checking in with social media outlets. Share your most important marketing messages not only by email but also on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Express yourself. Humanize your brand. Summer's casual nature gives you the flexibility to be more interactive, transparent and relaxed with your messages. On top of other content, for example, consider sharing with your contacts a team photo and wishes for happy, safe travels—or if you have an international office, share a little about the location and why it'd be a great place to travel to during the summer.
  • Test sending times. Don't assume that one distribution time is optimal for all seasons. Send messages at different times of the day to determine which works best for your vacationing audience.
  • Remain relaxed and patient. It generally takes two weeks for contacts to interact with business communications. Make sure that your offers and promotions are valid for an extended period of time.
Summer is not the time for b-to-b marketers to abandon email and social media marketing efforts. If you spend the season raising brand awareness, you will reap the rewards come fall. Jeff Revoy is chief product, marketing and strategy officer at iContact (www.icontact.com), an email marketing provider for small and midsize companies. He can be reached at jrevoy@icontact.com.
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