Using E-mail to Enhance Customer Interactions

Internet Retailer magazine suggests using email offers to multiple ongoing customer interactions. It's a great approach however, for the business-to-business marketing professional it leaves some challenges.

In the business-to-business world you may not only have the email of just the decision maker, but also purchasing, even lower level staff. This is why list segmentation is important to your email marketing efforts.
Increasing the number of meaningful customer interactions with each of these people is important for customer loyalty, so how do you provide a relevant message for each group? Most often lower level staff care about specials, purchasing cares only about account details, and decision makers want insights.
Of course, you'll always have double-opt-in acceptance for email campaigns and buying compliance for order related email updates. However, be sure it's easy for reader to get off lists they don't want and on to lists of value.
Use an opt-down strategy (as suggested by Sheldon Gilbert of Proclivity Systems in the article above) that gives readers an option to get off some lists, while staying on others.
This means your list unsubscribe needs to be meaningful, allowing a modification of an email subscription. List services I use, Aweber Communications and Thirdsphere Hosting's Automation Station both support this kind of segmentation. The key is to make list management simple.
Other points of value include how and where you segment your lists. Segment lists by type of interest, decision making criteria, topic interest, or even per list of request. Because I don't believe your B2B firm can survive only online, be sure to tie your permission based marketing to postal lists (and in leads captured from any other media you use.)
Now that you have segmented your list, then send relevant communications (notice I didn't say marketing messages) that provide value to your readers. For effective business-to-business email marketing, you'll benefit from periodic invitations, soft sells, or solo emails that drive to a landing page. Outright selling in your email communications may turn off your reader.
Dropping a few postcards or letters in an email series gets you around SPAM blocking software while conveying the value of your message. You still need to worry about mail rooms, but postcards increase the tactile value of your email efforts.
In future lessons I can expand on this topic. E-mail can provide a good ongoing point of customer interaction, however, for the smart business-to-business marketer email will be in addition to existing efforts.
© 2008 JWH Consolidated Inc, All rights reserved.

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Justin Hitt
A business analyst who specializing in sales generating marketing copy. Author, copywriter, and publisher of newsletters that help clients transform business relationships into profits guaranteed. More than 20 years of experience with technical writing, sales copy, and lead generation. Reach him by Fax at +1 (877) 486-8461