BtoB

Question: What’s the best application of e-mail marketing for b-to-b when the e-commerce channel doesn’t apply to my business?

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Answer: Many organizations can’t or don’t sell products and services online. For them, the concept of driving sales conversions via e-mail to an e-commerce-enabled Web site makes about as much sense as leading a horse to a well instead of a river. These companies instead rely on their Web sites to educate interested prospects, cultivate inquiries and accelerate leads—and their best application of e-mail marketing is to do the same. Here’s how:

  • Answer inquiries. A non-e-commerce Web site is ideal for gathering and fielding inquiries. E-mail is used to respond to those inquiries with customized information, answer specific questions or, better yet, the all-important invitation to begin the sales process in the company’s channels of choice. For b-to-b marketers, that may mean setting phone appointments or initial meetings, or referring to a distributor or reseller.
  • Educate. What are the steps prospects must take in order to buy from you? Do they know what those steps are? What are the typical objections to a purchase decision? In the often complex and lengthy b-to-b buying cycles that involve group consensus-building or decision-making, it pays to address and overcome known objections early through proactive e-mail campaigns.
  • Accelerate. Once a prospect (or even a returning customer) is well into the sales funnel, there’s a special role for e-mail marketing and the premise is simple: Multiple communications channels increase response. E-mail regularly scheduled in conjunction with individual account exec or sales team contact will accelerate qualified prospects into customers. E-mail is also a route for conveying exclusive offers, incentives or limited-time deadlines that prompt open opportunities to close rather than linger indefinitely.
  • Build and sustain customer communication. Do you proactively reach out to customers to share news, announcements, and information of interest to them rather than you? E-mail is ideal for distributing information, yet too often that information is irrelevant to the audience; either it isn’t customized enough or is manufactured simply to fill yet another e-newsletter. Don’t push content solely for the sake of maintaining a particular contact frequency once a prospect converts to a customer if it isn’t useful, relevant, and engaging.

Karen Talavera is the owner of Synchronicity Marketing (www.synchronicitymarketing.com), an integrated marketing consulting firm specializing in e-mail marketing strategy, campaign development and education.

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