Email marketing can be a highly effective marketing channel in generating leads. In fact, according to a 2016 survey by B2B Marketing magazine, email was ranked the No.1 channel for lead volumes, ahead of telemarketing at No.2.
However, despite the effectiveness of email marketing, buying cycles for most B2B businesses are long; it’s often anywhere between 6 months and 6 years that a company will change supplier or source an entirely new product or service.
Try to generate enquires. But also educate and nurture.
One of the benefits of email marketing is the ability to deliver your message to a high number of prospects at a low cost.
However, only a small percentage of prospects will actively be in the market now. And enquiries can only be generated when the prospect as at the right stage in the buying cycle.
So whilst emailing sales messages can generate powerful responses, if you continually just send sales messages, Buyers that are not in the market now will switch off to you completely – often by unsubscribing.
The key is to get the right balance between selling and marketing.
Build your brand and your reputation
Modern marketing is based upon sharing content of interest and value with your Buyers.
Email can be a highly effective way of distributing content that you have written; articles, how-to guides, along with industry news, contract wins or new services you have to offer.
If the typical buying cycle of prospects in your industry is 2 years, you will need to email your prospects regularly throughout this period; somewhere around every 2-3 weeks.
This should strike the right balance between creating and maintaining awareness, and filling their inbox every other day with trivial `news` such as the winner of last week’s inter-office pub quiz!
By building your brand, over time you will start to receive more inbound enquiries.
Capitalising on prospects that engage with your emails
Targeted marketing is about focussing energy and effort on prospects with the greatest propensity to be interested.
Prospects that not only open your emails but also click through to the read the full article, news story or find out more about your products or services will have a higher propensity to be interested than those that do not open your email.
One of the ways that traditional marketing channels have evolved is that often they are integrated with other marketing channels.
A simple way of getting the most from prospects that clicks through because of an email campaign is to follow up with a telemarketing call.
The same logic applies to telemarketing. Rather than simply cold-call a list or database, it is far more effective to invest some of your budget in good quality content and send an email campaign; then make a limited number of calls to those prospects that are interested.
Email design and layout
HTML emails are a way of making your content more visually pleasing. A common mistake though is to over-design the email.
Most people’s email client will automatically block images. So where possible avoid having an image at the top of the email, as when it arrives into your prospects inbox it will look considerably different.
Writing article teaser text (the text that is contained within the email that highlights what your article is about) is a skill in itself. Don’t just copy and paste the first paragraph or two from the article.
This teaser text needs to provoke thought, interest or challenge the status quo sufficiently to entice the prospect to want to read the rest of the article.
Develop your capability
Email marketing can be so much more than simply sending out email in a linear fashion.
A single first step might be to use an auto responder; for example, where the recipient clicks through on a link a follow-up email is automatically sent. This might be a sales message; it may be further content or information relating to what they have clicked on.
Data can be segmented into different groups, sending different types of messages to each group based upon a range of factors; their job function, industry, how well they have responded to previous emails.
Once you have started to master some of the basics of email marketing the next logical step is to look at marketing automation.
Marketing automation, as the name suggests, automates some of the manual tasks of changing which list or content prospects receive. Anyone who has segmented their email marketing data will tell you how much time is involved in the administration side of things.
Where marketing automation differs from email marketing is that there is a scoring system that allocates a `lead score` based not just upon opens and click throughs, but on each interaction the prospect has.
Each page they view on your website is tracked and scored, video views or downloading a whitepaper can be given a greater score, and automatically trigger the most relevant follow up.
Email marketing is no different to any other form of marketing or lead generation. Start small, think big. And test, measure and refine.