When you consider all the messages that appear in your inbox every day, it’s easy to think that nothing your company sends out will even get opened, let alone read. However, many manufacturers use email marketing to generate new enquiries, nurture existing contacts or reconnect with old customers who have gone cold.
Emailing businesses who you know have a specific interest in what you offer (because they downloaded a tech spec sheet from your website in return for their email address for example, or because they have bought from you in the past) will produce better open and click-through rates than emailing a cold list. This doesn’t mean that purchasing email lists of businesses in your target market doesn’t work, but don’t think potential customers are sat waiting for your email to land either.
If a company has never heard of you before they won’t engage until you build more credibility and familiarity with them, even if they have an active need for your product or service. This is why email marketing should be run to a regular schedule and as a long-term strategy alongside other marketing activities. If a buyer only puts a large contract out to tender every three years, for example, you want to make sure they have been receiving your email for twelve months running up to that date.
Emailing businesses who you know have a specific interest in what you offer will produce better open and click-through rates than emailing a cold list.
What should I send?
Your email marketing has two jobs to do. The first is to build familiarity and credibility with a contact by giving them something of genuine interest to read that proves your expertise. If you segment your email list by industry, for example, you can publish relevant articles and videos, or showcase innovative solutions to problems that people in that industry will relate to.
The second job is to highlight who out of your thousands of contacts are showing an interest in your company. This is why you should never give someone all the information they need in an email, only give an introduction with an invite to click through to your website to read more. This is key, because software like MailChimp records who clicks on the links in your email, building a picture of who’s showing a specific interest that you may want to follow-up directly with. You may find that contacts that you haven’t spoken to for years are interacting with your emails suggesting there may be an opportunity to re-engage.
(Above) An example of a manufacturer using email marketing to raise the profile of their sales people
When should you send your email?
There’s a simple answer: send it at the time that your client wants to receive it. Some businesses might respond better if you schedule your emails for out of hours for example, because people who are on the tools all day spend the first couple of hours of the evening online, re-ordering materials and catching up on paperwork.
Run tests to see what time of day your specific market sector responds to the best. If you deal with several different industries, or have very distinct customer segments, send different emails to each. Test different subject lines using ‘A/B testing’ (professional email software can do this for you) which means sending half of your emails with one subject line and the other half with another to see which gets the best open rate.
A member of your own staff can build and test emails to pre-set templates without you having to rely on an outside agency to manage your email marketing.
If you put a letter in an envelope and post it to a business, you have no idea what happens next. Sending an email from your own desktop is no different. Email marketing software (such as MailChimp or MailJet) gives you a report on who opened it and if they clicked on any links you included.
Professional email software will also rank your contacts by how they are interacting with the email you send them, as well as automatically handling unsubscribe requests. And because the interfaces are so user-friendly, once it has been set up a member of your own staff can build and test emails to pre-set templates without you having to rely on an outside agency to manage your email marketing.
Remember that any marketing will only get you 90% of the way to a sale. Successful email marketing is all about relationship building; over a period of time, you should use email marketing to educate a contact on what you offer whilst proving you are an authority on it. Then when the time is right for them to buy, you are already at the front of their minds and leading their buying decision before they start calling your competitors.
But once your email system shows that someone is highly-engaged, don’t be afraid to reach out to them. Connect with them on LinkedIn, put your brochure in the post or just pick up the phone and have a conversation.