As distributors shift resources away from field sales and into inside sales and digital platforms, many are also investing more in digital marketing to drive qualified leads, engage existing customers and grow share of wallet.
Email marketing should be a key part of that strategy, as it often has the highest ROI of any marketing channel. What’s more, as Jonathan Bein of Real Results Marketing has found in his research with MDM, B2B customers really do want to hear from you.
But despite its potential, email marketing still gets a bad rap thanks to companies not doing it right. To get the most from email, avoid these five common mistakes:
1. Inconsistency. Audit your email marketing plan. Are you sending email messages on a regular basis – ideally, weekly or biweekly? As long as the messages are relevant, your customers won’t mind more frequent messaging. You want to remain top of mind so that when they are ready to buy, they will think of you.
2. Irrelevancy. Don’t let sales pitches dominate your email messages. If a customer isn’t ready to buy, you’ll just annoy them. Make sure you’re providing value with every message you send. Strongly consider segmenting your list and tailoring messaging to improve your relevance. Get ideas that go beyond just product features by talking to your customer service or sales teams, as well as to key customers. Ask yourself: Why should my customers care about what we’re sending them?
3. Trying to do too much. Don’t clutter your email messages. Simple is good. Embrace the “less is more” philosophy. That doesn’t mean you can’t include a long list of products or features, but make sure it’s well-organized and cleanly designed.
4. Not prioritizing subject lines. If you spend hours crafting the perfect message, but no one opens it, you won’t get the ROI you’re looking for. Your subject line is critical. Themes that typically work: urgency (Sale ends today); numbers (3 reasons to buy xyz widget); questions (Why should you attend xyz event?); testimonials (Why your peers use xyz product); and hot topics. Avoid all caps and too many exclamation points. And don’t forget to test a variety of subject-line approaches to see what works.
5. Not tracking results. Numbers matter. If you’re not tracking already, start with open rates, click-through rates and revenue that can be tied directly to that message, if relevant. Sometimes just a little change, such as using a button instead of a text link, can make a big difference in the success of your emails. As a benchmark, Constant Contact reports the open rate for manufacturing and distribution companies is on average 15.2 percent. The average click-through rate is 8.2 percent.
Email marketing is, of course, just one component in your overall go-to-market strategy. One great resource for understanding what customers are looking for from their distributors in the buying and shopping experience is the report What Customers Want: A Distributor’s Guide to Customer Buying & Shopping Preferences, found in the MDM Store.
Lindsay Konzak is president of 3 Aspens Media and the former editor of MDM. She founded 3 Aspens Media to develop marketing and research-driven content for companies in or serving the distribution and manufacturing industries. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.