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For many B2B businesses, email is an important channel for marketing to customers and potential customers. And, in many respects, B2B companies have opportunities to use email to build relationships in ways that B2C companies can't.

Yet relationship building is hard, and despite the opportunities email provides as a channel, many companies fail to take advantage.

So how can companies use email to build stronger relationships with customers and prospective customers alike? Here are five tips.

1. Segment

Segmentation is an important part of any successful email marketing effort, and that's particularly true when building B2B relationships using email. If your company sells software, for instance, chances are you'd want to send a different email to a CIO than you would a technical lead responsible for deploying and maintaining your solution.

2. Make it personal

B2B email lists are often much smaller than their B2C counterparts, and that provides an opportunity to make emails more personal than is often possible in the B2C world.

Personalization can take many forms. When dealing with existing customers, emails can be tailored based on the type of product or service a customer has purchased in the past, or could feature the customer's account manager as the sender. For prospective customers, information frequently gathered during signup, such as industry and company size, can be used to deliver more relevant content.

3. Don't just sell

At the end of the day, most marketing initiatives are expected to directly or indirectly drive sales, but when it comes to email marketing in a B2B context, that doesn't mean that you should be selling all the time. Email can be a great channel for offering customer assistance with products and services they've already purchased, or to provide free advice to potential customers.

4. Demonstrate your knowledge, skills and capabilities

B2B purchasing decisions are often more complex and considered and that means that the messages you deliver via email will probably need to be more thoughtful if they're going to produce the desired result. No "Buy one and get one for 50% off!" or "Free shipping!" offers here. The key to producing a compelling message: know your customers, what problems they have right now and how your products and services can be applied to solving them.

5. Don't leave it all to your list

Email marketing isn't just about your list. If you want to build stronger relationships with customers and potential customers via email, taking the time to send direct messages is a must. For all the effort many companies put into producing content for email marketing campaigns, sometimes a simple "How are things going?" from an account manager can do far, far more to build a long-lasting relationship.

FUNNEL, Econsultancy's B2B marketing conference, is taking place on 13 November at Emirates Stadium, London. You can see the agenda and register at funnel-marketing.com

Patricio Robles

Published 11 September, 2012 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2379 more posts from this author

Comments (4)

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Tim

Excellent tips. Totally agree with all points and particularly point five. Direct messages allow for that personal interaction and goes along way.

almost 4 years ago

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Thomas Vanhoutte

Making things personal always helps.
Some great tips, thanks a lot.

almost 4 years ago

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Liz Allen

Great advice - I'd add one more suggestion in there that's worked out well for us. We were sending out a newsletter to everyone who'd ever subscribed, and getting 20 - 30% open rates.

We took some advice and decided instead to send it to the 30% who consistently opened the newsletter rather than to the full mailing list.

This has had a positive effect on the deliverability of all of our emails, because the ISPs can see that our open rates are much higher than average.

Equally because we're not emailing the 70% as regularly, they seem more open to hearing from us on the occasion that we do.

Hope this helps!

almost 4 years ago

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Kelly McIvor

Liz- great work on segmenting your list into those interested enough to open your more frequent emails and those who you should email less often. I like it!

almost 4 years ago

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