Wither email marketing? Web users spent an average of 4.6 hours a week on social sites in September, compared with 4.4 hours on email, according to the recently released TNS “Digital Life” survey. While still a workhorse for b2b companies, e-mail marketing is getting increasingly stiff competition for mind share from social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Follow the Lead recently spoke with Eric Groves, senior VP of global market development for email marketing firm Constant Contact, about how b2b sales and marketing executives can enhance their email marketing campaigns to compete more effectively for prospects’ time and mind share.
Follow the Lead: In dealing with delete-happy prospects, how can b2b sales execs improve their email open rates?
Groves: In a word, content. The challenge is to deliver something into someone’s email box that they actually look forward to reading. If you’ve built your list well, now it’s about trying to give [prospects] reasons about why they should buy from you and that’s all about educating and sharing your knowledge about the industry, trends and things going on in a way that makes your audience smarter and make it look to you as an expert. All too often, people think, ‘I’ll just send en email, pitch an offer and get a response.’ One of the downsides of that is you do get a response, and so it continues this behavior of promote, promote, promote, but eventually people tune out and people tune in to emails that make them smarter.
FTL: How can b2b sales execs work more effectively with their marketing counterparts in terms of creating content to improve their email marketing efforts?
Groves: A lot of it is listening to your customers and engaging them in a dialogue. One of the best ways to get great content ideas to build upon is to get regular feedback from your customers about what their challenges are and, if you’ve positioned yourself as an expert in a field and have a vibrant group of customers that you’re starting to share information with, ask them what some of the things they’re challenged by and start a flow of communications.
FTL: What are some of the ways that b2b companies can meld social media tools with email marketing efforts?
Groves: B2b sales and marketing execs need to recognize that it’s a three-step process. First, create once, publish often. When you send out a campaign you should archive a copy of it (which turns the campaign into a Web page), post a snapshot of the content on your Facebook page, and even send out a “tweet” about it (if you have a following on Twitter). All should be linked back to the home page. Second, add a share bar on your email campaign so that your readers can “like” or retweet your campaign. Third, provide a destination for discussion; going social means starting a discussion on your blog, community site or Facebook page as a destination for where the discussion should occur. Pick one and ask your readers to share their opinions.