Many people are quick to say that email doesn’t matter anymore, and many manufacturing companies are ready to believe that it will not work for them. Of course, we think that’s not quite right.
What is dead is buying lists and blasting strangers with a not-so-subtle sales pitch. If those messages even make it past the spam filters, the recipient is almost guaranteed to be annoyed.
When email marketing is done right, however, it can be a powerful tool for building relationships with B2B customers.
What Email Marketing Really Is
When most people think of email marketing, the first thing that probably comes to mind is spam. On the other hand, we all get marketing messages in our inboxes every day that we’re happy to read and engage with.
Whether it’s a how-to video for a product we’re considering or a discount on a future purchase, we welcome these messages without hesitation.
Maybe that’s because we don’t really think of them as marketing. They’re just helpful information from trusted brands about things we’re genuinely interested in.
When you think of email marketing in those terms, it starts to become clearer why manufacturers should get in the game.
How Email Marketing Helps B2B Manufacturers
The primary benefit of email marketing for manufacturers is the ability to create and maintain relationships. Once a customer or prospect has shown interest in a product and provided you with their contact information, you’ll be able to keep the information flowing.
As you help people research and make buying decisions, you’ll also be building trust and showing people that they can count on you for answers. Here are a few more reasons to give email a try:
More than just using a form to stick someone’s first name in the message, email personalization is about understanding why people came to you in the first place and what stage in the buying process they are in. Then, you personalize the messages they receive based on their needs.
Don’t let that idea spook you! When we say “automated,” we don’t mean automatically sending out hundreds of thousands of emails in an instant. Instead, the idea is to set up paths for prospects and customers that automatically generate messages based on their activity.
For example, if someone has supplied you with an email address in exchange for a white paper on a particular product, this would automatically trigger a follow-up email in a couple days that’s related to that product.
Or, if someone has recently made a purchase, an email might automatically go out shortly after with helpful tips and tricks for using that product.
When it comes to marketing strategies, email is one of the most affordable out there. That’s because you’re not spending a ton of money on ad space or printing costs. Instead, you only need to dedicate the resources to developing your strategy and crafting the messages.
After that, it’s all about checking in with the results of your efforts and making small changes along the way based on feedback.
Email Marketing for Lead Nurturing
When prospects express interest, you can create “drip” campaigns that send a steady, but reasonable (and welcomed) drumbeat of key data, cool tips, helpful reminders and other similar “touches” at critical points in your sales process.
Cross Selling and Up-Selling Existing Clients
You know what your existing clients have purchased and you know why – thus you are in a great position to use this knowledge to sell them on new or related products and services, or to encourage them to upgrade the systems they have.
Think about your own inbox for a minute. If you are like the majority of people who do any business online, then you welcome and appreciate useful, helpful informational emails from your business associates, vendors, etc. – even if those messages are explicitly advertisements or sales pitches.
You don’t welcome messages from people who you don’t know, even if what they are offering is something you need. Email remains a conduit for trusted information.
Among the large community of people who already have a trust relationship with you, it is an absolutely outstanding tool to extend, support, and monetize those relationships.
Email Marketing Lists for B2B Manufacturers – 9 Great Tips on How to Build Them
1. Offer something of value
Promote enticing content—news, blogs, e-books or how-to tutorials—and ask visitors to provide an email address to access or download it.
2. Add a sign-up box to all your forms
Feedback forms, online event registration forms, “contact us” forms should all include a sign-up box. But keep it unchecked by default. Just because someone’s contacting you doesn’t automatically mean they want your emails. Invite them, don’t kidnap them.
3. Put it in your footer
Make sure your footer includes both a button for signing up and a reason: “Sign up now for subscribers-only coupons and specials.”
4. Hold a contest with a giveaway
People will trade their email address for a shot at a prize. Promote a fun online contest through all your channels and have entrants sign up with their email address. (Be sure to announce the contest results and give a shout out to the winners.)
5. Make it part of the purchase process
A paying customer is your best audience for future communication, so include a sign-up button in the purchase process. (And follow up with a welcoming email relevant to the purchase they just made.
Was it a blender? The next email ought to be your “Protein Smoothie of the Month” blog.)
6. Add QR codes to any print material
We are a screen-loving society, so put a QR code on your print ads, postcards, posters, and product packaging and invite people to sign up for your email. (This also helps you track the reach of whatever the QR code was printed on.)
7. Do it in person
Bring a laptop for on-the-spot subscriptions at offline events like trade shows, conferences or community events, or make a simple sign-up sheet available at your booth (don’t forget the pens—printed with your logo and URL, of course).
Send a quick “thanks for stopping by” to verify the address and confirm the opt-in.
8. Invite your blog audience
Add a checkbox to the end of all your posts, including guest posts. (Pssst: scroll down.)
9. Target your subscription types
Your subscribers won’t read what doesn’t interest them. Creating targeted lists focuses your messages per audience segment and enhances those relationships. If you’re a sporting goods store, your fishing aficionados want the blog on the hottest new lures.
Your marathoners? They’ll click on the top ten tips for pre-race nutrition. Give them each what they want.
B2B Manufacturers: Tips to Increase Email Deliverability and Open Rates
Having a good sender reputation is key to getting past the spam filters, so protect your reputation by carefully tending to your list and avoiding these pitfalls:
Too many bad addresses
Bad addresses cause bounces; bounces make you look like a spammer. So clean up your list: immediately delete any addresses that bounce and remove any inactives. (Save the inactives for a later, separate enticement to become active again.)
Spammy subject lines
Subject lines that contain too much punctuation, spacing between letters, or certain phrases or words can look like spam. Both the spam filters and your readers’ own natural spam radar block iffy messages, so be careful in crafting your subject lines.
There are several exhaustive guides online—our favorite is from HubSpot—that can help you avoid certain words and phrases that you might not have suspected were spammy.
People will sometimes hit the Report Spam button if they can’t figure out how to unsubscribe (and if they don’t think the unsubscribe process actually works). So make your unsubscribe button easier to find and use than the Report Spam button.
In it, give users ways to manage their preferences and the frequency with which they receive your messages. If they still want to unsubscribe, let them. It’s better to let a subscriber go than to risk a spam complaint.
Increase Email Open Rates
Congratulations! You’ve made it past the filters and you’re in the inbox! But look around—you’re among dozens of emails waiting to be read. Let’s hope you’ve done some of the following things to get noticed.
Time it right
Though most promotional emails are sent out in the morning, that’s not necessarily when customers are acting on them. According to a report by Retention Science, an e-commerce customer retention company, 28.5% of email conversions happen in the morning, 38% in the afternoon, and 27% in the evening.
Further, 26% occurred on Tuesdays and 26% on Fridays. (The days and times with the worst conversion rates? Late night and Saturday or Sunday.)
Make yourself recognizable
Your customers need to know you before they’ll open your emails, let alone buy from you.
Be sure to start out right and send a “welcome” email to new subscribers, not just to confirm they opted in but to make them glad they did: a short message with useful and unique content or an exclusive (but not aggressive) offer.
Having a personality in email is important, too: Adopting a unique tone and style helps readers connect with and remember you.
Also key: keep your brand—your email “from” name consistent. If readers have to stop to think about whether they know you, your message will be bypassed.
Use irresistible subject lines
Most readers scan their inbox and weed quickly. Your subject line has to pique their curiosity enough to want to click it.
Make subject lines concise but inviting, and be clear about what’s inside: subscription information, exclusive deals or helpful tips.
Go beyond trying to beat your competitors’ deals and engage customers with emails that focus instead on how you make their shopping easier, more fun and more rewarding.
Highlight your customer service features, like your wish list and rewards programs, and make it easy to order. A prominently placed countdown to shipping deadlines can be helpful, too.
Give, give, give
Reward readers with something of value in every email: news they can use, tips that make their lives easier, or exclusive perks for email friends only.
Like the bell for Pavlov’s dog, your message in the inbox ought to start mouths watering.
Building Relationships Using Email Marketing for B2B Manufacturers
Although much of the email process can be automated, it’s still an excellent tool for bringing in new customers while keeping the old ones happy and coming back for more. The key is to think of it as keeping in touch, not a one-and-done thing.
Over time, people will grow to trust you and your brand. Then, when it’s time to make a purchase, you’re the one that comes to mind.
Stop ignoring email marketing and start building new relationships. If you need help creating your strategy, contact New Perspective and we’ll get started right away!