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.