Dec 21, 2010

What b2c tactics can benefit b2b marketers?

Engaging customers and prospects with relevant communications is essential to marketing success. By combining marketing automation technologies often used by business-to-consumer marketers with sophisticated email tactics, b2b marketers can better establish a rich dialogue with individual prospects and customers.

Here are three b-to-c tactics that b2b marketers can incorporate into their programs to more strongly engage with contacts and drive revenue:
Use segmentation techniques. Consumer marketers have long used advanced segmentation techniques to improve relevancy. Simply segmenting your list will put you ahead of other b2b marketers, especially since only one-third say they are “very likely” to use email list segmentation to target a prospect's stage in the sales cycle, according to MarketingSherpa's “2010 Email Marketing Benchmark” report, which surveyed 1,493 email marketers.

Another smart move is to segment email campaigns by user behavior. Because actions speak louder than words, segment a list by separating those people who, for example, downloaded a white paper from those who did not. With this knowledge, you might then want to send the first group a message for a related webinar. For those who opened your initial email but didn't click, send a survey requesting more information about their interests so you can improve relevancy going forward.

Follow deliverability best practices. A well-crafted email message is only valuable if it lands in the recipient's inbox. All email marketers are faced with the challenge of getting through the spam filters of major Internet service providers (ISPs), but b2b marketers have the added task of getting through corporate email filters, their anti-spam firewalls and email blacklists.

You can improve deliverability by employing some simple tools. For example, by using inbox preview, you can see how messages will render when viewed in leading email clients, helping prevent broken messages and formatting errors. Also, you can use the SpamAssassin free spam-filtering program to examine and score a message for spam violations before it is sent. Then, you can edit accordingly to help ensure the messages aren't wrongly flagged as spam.

Also consider inbox monitoring to determine if your message is getting to an inbox or being redirected to the junk or bulk box. And don't forget to obtain a dedicated IP address, one used only by yourself and your company for sending email. The alternative, a shared IP address, can negatively affect your delivery rates, since inappropriate sending by one company can reflect poorly on all others using that shared address.

Test for content optimization. No matter how well you think you know your prospects, you can never be sure how they're going to respond to your emails unless you test. But despite these benefits, b2b marketers lag behind b-to-c marketers when it comes to testing subject lines, offers or other calls to action, and the effectiveness of creative copy and layouts. The good news is that marketing automation technology enables you to do more testing than ever more easily than ever.

Given the challenging marketplace, b2b marketers need to employ all the sophisticated tools and tactics available to them. And that means employing the techniques that consumer marketers are successfully using.

By using advanced segmentation techniques, following deliverability best practices and testing for content optimization, marketers can help cut through the clutter that is overwhelming buyers and engage with them in a way that will drive new levels of loyalty and revenue.