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B2B Email Marketing: Still THE Killer App!

Aug 17, 2007
Email marketing is far from dead, no matter what the so-called experts say. In fact recent software applications are putting the power of Fortune 500 companies in the hands of Main Street businesses - leveling the playing field at last.

There are challenges to be sure, such as creating and maintaining an opt-in list - so you won't jeopardize your company's good name and your established goodwill in the marketplace. Delivering the message you want to the people you want to receive it - perhaps a special offer for people renewing their service contracts that's only available to people beyond the first year after purchase. And properly managing responses so the right actions are triggered automatically!

But finally these issues can be handled cost effectively, so it's not the big guys who are the only ones in a position to control email marketing anymore.

Here are three of the benefits of B2B email marketing - besides the obvious, that it is cheap, immediate, and interactive.

First, in the world of B2B your target prospect is probably at their desk 12 hours a day - or carrying their Blackberry or other handheld device - so you will most likely reach them immediately - as soon as the message is sent.

If they trust you (the From:) they'll open your message the same day it's sent. If the first message they see (the Subject:) is compelling they'll read it. You just can't compare this to any other form of communications.

Second, email integrates seamlessly into your total marketing campaign. You can use it to convert known suspects into prospects by getting them to request information relevant to your campaign message - perhaps moving them along the buying cycle to prospect. Follow up email can be used to qualify them and even turn them into 1st level customers. Now, when your sales people contact them by phone of for that matter in person - they are contacting a customer not making a cold call.

Third, In business virtually everything is about marketing. Your email newsletter and other regular communications for example. By imbedding links in your regular email that lead to special offers, limited availability opportunities etc. each time you touch a prospect or customer becomes a bit of a marketing opportunity.

The key to success in b2b email marketing is your list and it can be a challenge to build an opt-in list of email addresses and then manage them in such a way that the list grows not shrinks.

One way to build a list that grows is to ask permission before putting people on the list. Successful marketing in the 21st Century will be permission based marketing. The days of intrusion marketing are over, some marketers just don't know it yet. Be the first company you know to adopt the strategy that will guarantee that people will be happy and prepared to hear from you.

You no doubt have the phone street addresses of your customers. When the completed forms in the recent past you probably asked for their email address as well. Be careful how you use it. Only you and your relationship with your customers will tell you if it's OK to add them to your email campaigns, without their specific approval.

If you're like most business people I know, you will be better served with a service that completely automates the entire email marketing process. One that collects the email address and the other information you're looking for, sends the right email messages to the right people on the right list, and then handles the responses - with little additional overhead, and without having to take someone off the floor to do it all.

And finally you'll want a service that allows people to be included in various kinds of scheduled mailings at the time they are added to the list - or as they move through the sales cycle. For example a prospect requests inclusion on an announcement list for a product scheduled for future release. Once released and they purchase the product they would be automatically removed from that list - so they will not keep getting announcements for something they've already bought.

And if the new product has add ons they can be systematically reminded of them and removed when they purchase them or turn them down. And in either case reminded when their warranty is about to expire so they'll automatically renew it.

Marketing is not just about getting the first sale - it's also about converting suspects into prospects, prospects into buyers and buyers into key accounts. B2B email marketing is the killer app for the 21st Century - the early part at least, when it is done with permission and precision.
About the Author
Wayne Messick is an investigative reporter whose web site offers nearly three hundred Internet marketing articles to help you grow your business. The email marketing solution his company uses is described here.
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