Borrow best ideas from b-to-c e-mail strategies

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The business-to-business marketing world tends to follow the business-to-consumer segment. Marketing trends get their start with consumers; and those strategies and technologies—when they mature and, in the case of technologies, are more affordable—are adopted by the b-to-b industry. However, not everything b-to-c is applicable to the b-to-b market, especially when it comes to e-mail marketing, said Kevin Mabley, senior VP-strategic services at Epsilon Data Management, a marketing services company. Mabley provides this list of three “borrowable” b-to-c strategies to help you boost e-mail success.
  • ?Swap a campaign mentality with a customer-centric one. B-to-c marketers have been doing behavioral marketing for years now, and although many business marketers are using this strategy as well, they still think of marketing in terms of campaigns, Mabley said. “When we release our quarterly “Marketing Trends” reports, we find that the companies that overachieve those benchmarks are the ones that get away from the campaign mentality. "How did that big push go?' "Did the coupon have good click-throughs?' Marketers need to start thinking more about the customer and less about companywide campaigns,” he said. B-to-b marketers are actually in a better position to do this because they have so much more customer data, Mabley added. “You know your customers more intimately. We joke and say the b-to-b marketer's e-mail list is short and fat—smaller, but with lots of data.”
  • ?Create a companywide marketing strategy. In the b-to-b world, contacts are still overwhelmingly “owned” by the salesperson or field representative. E-mails go out companywide, but customers get plenty of touches from the salesperson or rep as well. This puts companies in danger of sending e-mails out too frequently, and it also weakens branding and messaging. “It's really important to implement a cohesive strategy so decisions aren't being made out in the field,” Mabley said. You can still provide that salesperson-to-customer personalization, but let your e-mail program or ESP drop it into e-mails that are designed and created by marketers, who probably understand best practices better than your salespeople.
  • ?Map your communications to the customer buying cycle. B-to-c companies are careful to send e-mails that take the customer buy-cycle into account. They combine e-mail and website metrics so they can send messages and do real cross-channel marketing. B-to-b marketers, however, tend to send lots of e-mail without considering relevance—especially during this recession—as a bid to boost company awareness. “Watch for triggers or interaction points you can act on,” Mabley said. “Cross-product purchases, for instance, are a really good indicator that you've got a high value, high-touch customer who needs one type of messaging. You always want to be thinking proactively rather than reactively.”
  • Originally published April 9, 2010
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