Making Industrial E-mail Marketing More Relevant

E-mail marketing to a house list continues to be the top marketing channel for many industrial companies and manufacturers according to Trends in Industrial Marketing 2011 from GlobalSpec. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that industrial marketers are very happy with the results.

The biggest challenge in e-mail marketing faced by industrial marketers, besides not enough resources, is getting their subscribers to pay attention to their emails when everybody’s inboxes are already overflowing with messages. Keeping e-mails relevant has become the key factor in proving their worth in industrial marketing.

In this post, I’ve listed the major areas to focus on if you want to make your industrial e-mail marketing more relevant and productive.

E-mail List Hygiene

Maintaining your list’s hygiene should be at the very top of every industrial e-mail marketer’s “To-do” list. If you are using an outside email service provider (ESP), at the very least, they should provide automated subscription management – one-click opt-ins and opt-outs, manage hard and soft bounces and suppress “do not contact” names so you don’t accidentally email them again.

Other areas of concern in list hygiene include:

  • Adding new contacts from a tradeshow and/or a new salesperson. Make sure you do not inadvertently add a contact that has opted out of your list in the past.
  • Check any rented list against your house list. Make sure you purge all names from your new list that may be in your existing “do not contact” list. Watch out for a high level of opt-outs or SPAM complaints from rented or bought lists. These people have not given you explicit permission to receive your marketing e-mails regardless of what the list broker may say.
  • Do a regular merge/purge of your in-house list. A good way to do this is to match it with your sales cycle. The longer the cycle, the less frequently you will have to do this.

Better Segmentation, More Relevance

List segmentation is probably second only to relevant content when it comes to making your e-mails relevant to your target audience. Your list should be segmented into at least two broad categories – prospects and customers. Each segment should receive different e-mails.

You can refine your segmentation by demographics, website interactions, product lines, purchase history and length of time on the list to mention just a few ways to slice and dice your list for better relevance.

I see too many marketers in the industrial sector that still use a “batch-and-blast” e-mail marketing strategy. There are significant hidden costs associated with irrelevant emails, including:

  • High number of opt-outs leading to significant churn in your list.
  • Poor conversion rates and low ROI from e-mail marketing.
  • Damage to your reputation as an e-mail marketer and as a company.

Personalized Content

Instead of thinking of your e-mail marketing as a series of campaigns for pushing out your messages, become more customer-centric. Think about what is important to them.

Try to make the content of every e-mail that you send out answer the “What’s in it for me (WIIFM)” question from the customer’s perspective. Better list segmentation leads to a deeper understanding of your subscribers.

Look beyond open and click-thru statistics from your last e-mail. You need to tie together web analytics and your e-mail marketing in order to get a complete picture about subscriber behavior. (See my earlier post, “Add Google Analytics to Emails and Gain B2B Lead Generation Intelligence”)

Using dynamic content is a very good way for sending out highly relevant e-mails that closely match personas, needs and roles.

Even though it is more complex than standard HTML e-mails, dynamic content is well worth it as it creates highly personalized emails with information, offers and calls-to-action that very closely match the subscriber’s needs. You send out a strong message to them that you understand their needs and leads to better engagement with a higher probability of conversion.

Refer to my post, “Boost Email Relevancy With Dynamic Content.”

Integrating Social Media and Mobile

Even though work-related usage of social media is low among industrial professionals, it is here to stay. You cannot ignore it completely. It is smart to empower your subscribers to spread the word among their fans and followers. (See Social Media with Email Marketing – is it the Super Combo?)

Same goes for mobile marketing. By that I don’t mean only smartphones; you have to start thinking about your e-mails being viewed on iPads and other tablets.

Need examples of effective industrial e-mail marketing? You’ll find two of them in my post, “High-Performance Email Marketing for Attracting and Engaging Industrial Buyers.”

Visit my company’s website if you need help with your industrial e-mail marketing.

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