B2B Email Marketing

A huge misconception about email marketing is that it is a marketing strategy primarily for business to consumer (B2C) sales. While its main focus is to elicit a buying response, its ancillary benefits include improving customer retention and loyalty by continually updating consumers on a company’s latest product offering. However, does this ultimately mean that business to business (B2B) sales can’t benefit from a proactive email marketing campaign? Absolutely not!

When used properly, email marketing can help a company reduce its inventory counts of outdated and obsolete products. It can also isolate key decision makers, increase inventory turnover rates, and improve cross selling of complimentary and “me-too” product lines.

In terms of inventory, the intention is to free up capital by giving customers the first shot at liquidation sales. Much like B2C environments, using B2B email marketing in sales is an inexpensive marketing strategy, and one that helps lower a company’s customer acquisition and retention costs.

However, success with B2B email marketing relies upon customer “buy in”. After all, there is a difference between SPAM and a focused email campaign. One is random, while the other is focused and specific in its purpose. Here are five essential email marketing tips and strategies for companies operating in business to business industries:

  1. Focus Sales on Decision Makers: Email marketing allows you to deliver a tailor-made message to key decision makers. Your campaigns can provide essential product data to engineers, project managers and field-service technicians, while providing a different message to business owners. One message appeals to an engineer’s need for high quality products (ones with strong cost-per-use benefits), while another appeals to a business owner’s need to lower warehouse management and operational costs.
  2. Direct Sales Approach: Email marketing is similar to a direct sales approach, one that eliminates middlemen and unnecessary markups. The direct sales strategy is used by stalwarts such as Dell computers. It’s one that allows companies to reduce pricing directly to end-users. As a B2B enterprise, your end-users are your customer base. While your company isn’t necessarily eliminating a middleman, you are still improving sales resources by providing customers with consistent product and sales updates. In essence, your email campaign will build upon itself. Each update provides new product information and reduces the time your salespeople spend selling.
  3. Back-End Rebates: This approach relies on using a reward and incentive plan to illicit buying responses. These reward programs encourage consumers to go out of their way to make a purchase. Each additional purchase puts them one step closer to a rebate on their account. The rebate program is different from a “two-for-one” strategy. Instead, back-end rebates focus on accrued volumes over time. Once the customer reaches the volume threshold, they are immediately rewarded with a rebate on their account or a discount on future orders. In the case of liquidating certain inventory counts, your company could offer incentives for customers to make purchases by using their rebate towards existing discounted inventory.
  4. Cross Selling and Upselling: Each campaign can provide insight into product offerings, or help customers who are looking to upgrade their purchase. Your company can use discounts, price reductions, and special deals to illicit a buying response. This will either allow you to sell complimentary product lines, or upsell existing orders when using B2B email marketing.
  5. Core Competency Platform: Today’s customers are often looking for more than just a deal. They are looking for a partner that can provide valuable insight into the market and its future. Your email campaigns can become the perfect platform to showcase your company’s core competencies, industry knowledge, and most importantly, its business knowhow. By all means, use email marketing to sell product. However, be willing to provide more than just a product. Focus on providing a service, one that gives your customer base a reason to see your company as a trusted advisor in its field.

Running a B2C or B2B email marketing campaign is never a onetime affair. It’s a constant feedback loop, one where each campaign’s success is edited and improved. Using this inexpensive platform can provide an incentive for customers to purchase, while showcasing the company’s core competencies to promote their industry knowledge. Each campaign should provide new information, increase sales, improve customer loyalty, and reduce your customer acquisition costs.