Email communication is a staple tactic used in B2B marketing. Research indicates that the practice of email marketing is still growing (see: http://bit.ly/e6G1KM) and only getting more sophisticated. I always recommend that businesses develop an email plan as part of their marketing strategy. I do so because I know from experience that email can be an effective marketing tool. If you don’t have an email plan you should work on developing one immediately. If you haven’t revised your plan in over six months you should do so immediately. If you haven’t assessed how well your plan is working – you guessed it – you should do so immediately. Of all the marketing activities companies engage in few can be implemented as quickly with as high an ROI as email.
Data documenting the effectiveness of email marketing is plentiful. For those of you who need to substantiate the trend for your management, start with:
- 72% of respondents to an Econsultancy survey in early 2011 described email’s ROI as excellent or good. Only organic SEO scored better (see: http://bit.ly/hWybjk).
- According to research conducted by the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing was expected to generate an ROI of $42.08 for every dollar spent on it in 2010. Email outperforms all the other direct marketing channels examined, such as print catalogs (http://bit.ly/hNtzHn).
- A MerchantCircle survey of over 8,000 local business owners in the US found email marketing cited by 35.8% as a Top 3 most effective marketing or advertising method. Only social network profiles and search engine marketing scored higher (http://bit.ly/fgbPgG).
- In Datran Media’s 2010 Annual Marketing & Media Survey, 39.4% of industry executives said the advertising channel that performed strongest for them was email. This was the top result (http://bit.ly/e6G1KM).
It is safe to say we know email marketing works – the question becomes how to implement it for your business. I will address the critical issue of SPAM tomorrow; today I want to focus on tactical considerations such as: who do you email?
There are basically four audiences or lists you can email:
- Current customers (including prospects & former customers)
- Your Social Media Network
- Subscribers to 3rd Party Newsletters
- Purchased Mailing Lists
By far the most receptive audience is going to be your current customer list. Make sure your emails sustain and enrich the relationship you already have with them. Your social media network should also receptive to your messages and your goal is to convert them to customers. 3rd party newsletter subscribers can be a great source of prospects but you must carefully select the 3rd party. Beyond the obvious concerns of ensuring the 3rd party is CAN-SPAM compliant, has a good reputation, and does not overlap with your list – you want to select a 3rd party that is a natural fit with your product or service. I recently matched a financial planning firm with a tax oriented CPA firm and they have both benefited from each other’s newsletters and lists. Purchased mailing lists require the most due diligence. Make sure the list is appropriate for your geographic area and other demographic criteria important for you. Before using the list ensure you’ve deleted all duplicates; recipients do not like to get duplicate emails from the same company – makes you look lazy.
The bottom line: use email it works – just make sure you have a plan and know who you are emailing.