Taking a page from b-to-c

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Marketing technologies and techniques typically emerge in the b-to-c world, making their way to b-to-b marketers six to 12 months later. Some never make the leap because of b-to-b's longer selling cycles and smaller list sizes. There are some things, however, that may seem too b-to-c, but have real promise for the b-to-b market. Michael Kelly, co-founder of Clickmail Marketing, a reseller ofr email marketing software and services, suggested these three tips to get started:
  1. Add a click-to-chat link to your email. Click-to-chat came of age on consumer retail sites, and for good reason. It gives customers instant access as well as answers to their questions, shoring up sales. B-to-b marketers can provide the same service to customers and prospects who may have similarly pressing questions, Kelly said. "You don't even have to staff it yourself. You can outsource it or implement a click-to-call that goes directly to your salespeople."
  2. Use cookies to spur email offerings and sales. Consumer marketers will often send emails out about abandoned shopping carts, offering discounts and upsales based on Web behavior. These emails often prompt customers to complete their orders. B-to-b marketers can do the same and gain similar results. Kelly said marketers should take a two-pronged approach. First, use failed internal search terms to dictate email offers. So for instance, if someone searched for but couldn't find "widget abc" send them an offer and a link directly to the correct page. (And it should go without saying that marketers must improve SEO as well based on that information.) "Send them an email acknowledging that they may have been seeking some information and that you saw there might have been a problem with the site. Ask them, "How can we be of service?' " Second, use simple browsing data to add content to regular emails related to whatever the last thing your customers were browsing for, he said. "It's just simple scripting and code that queries the database and adds something to the end of an email about the last thing that your recipient was doing on your site," he said. "It's about generating a desired behavior and giving subscribers more of what they are actually looking for."
  3. Create a customer loyalty newsletter. You've probably received your fair share of loyalty emails from your favorite consumer brands, but do you have one for your own company or products? If not, you are missing out, Kelly said. "Set a volume threshold or time period, and create a newsletter just for those customers who fall into those parameters," he suggested. "You can use that newsletter to provide early information about upgrades and new offerings, but you can also use it to send out special offers just for your best customers." Kelly said to make sure those on that list are suppressed from your regular list so you're not overmailing. In addition, make sure everyone on the list is truly a top customer, he said. "Your oldest customer may not be your best customer."
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