By John Kennedy on 2017-04-15 13:29
Relevancy has become a key part of today’s digital marketing strategy, according to a study by MarketingSherpa, four out of ten email subscribers reported that they’ve marked emails as spam simply because they found their content irrelevant.
As a business trying to attract website visitors to fill your sales pipeline means being able to convert visitors to become valued subscribers. As a business your focus is to then distribute valuable, timely and relevant content to nurture these subscribers as leads through their buying journey toward a sale.
Realistically most new leads won’t be quite ready to buy; they may be just starting out on their buying journey and are more likely to be doing research and information gathering. Email is one of the most effective ways for you to nurture and assess these leads as they pass through the different stages of your sales funnel.
When done correctly, email marketing serves as an effective way to get contacts to download relevant content, send targeted offers to convert leads, and keep existing customers engaged.
And according to Econsultancy, "Three-quarters of companies agree that email offers "excellent" to "good" ROI,” .
With emails, you can nurture a deeper, one-on-one relationship with your target audience. By personalising content and taking the time to deliver something the email recipient might appreciate. Building trust with your customers by providing relevant, and timely information that helps the reader do their job better - rather than seeing email as a way to earn money through "quick wins".
And as Neil Patel from Quicksprout says, "...email subscribers are amazing for your engagement rates.. email subscribers “drive 41%” of Quicksprout’s blog comments..."
Segmenting Your Emails
When your email arrives in a readers inbox, they have two options: open it or delete it. If your email is not properly optimised, chances are it will be deleted and seen as a waste of time.
There are a number of ways to make sure that your email has a fighting chance to be opened and read. You need to assess you subscriber’s lifecycle stage (where are they in the buying journey), are they already on a membership list the deems your approach inappropriate, or any information in their contact records that presents the most relevant subject lines, content and preferences?
Segmentation allows marketers to execute a more effective lifecycle marketing approach. Who somebody is (Buyer Persona), and where they are on their buyers journey are two of the most important segmentation tactics.
Why Do We Need Buyer Personas?
Only 30% of content marketers according to the Content Marketing Institute believe that they are effective with the content they create. So for your content to have an impact it has to be written with a person in mind to visualise who and why that person will want to read and share your content.
Research has shown that buyers are increasingly relying on internet searches and content from authority sources to make buying decisions, with up to 74% of B2B buyers according to Forrester using this content online to make a purchase offline.
A well drawn up buyer persona will provide an outline on the motivations, challenges and purchase preferences of a prospect.
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional character created as a picture of an ideal customer, built around insights and common patterns of behaviour. These audience profiles are commonly "pen portraits" including avatars and fictional names that help us visualise the buyer.
However, Personas Are Only A Starting Point
Personas have been around for a while, but they’re growing in popularity because businesses are beginning to shift to an inbound strategy. There is now a higher customer expectation of an interaction that is both relevant and personalised. A buyer persona helps sales and marketing to understand what people want and how to interact with them based on their preferences.
Identify Your Ideal Buyer Profile
Before you can identify potential buyers, you need to define your Ideal Buyer Profile. The ideal buyer profile defines which companies are a good fit for what you offer and which ones are not. The buyer persona defines the different buying patterns of people within your ideal buyer profile that you are going to target.
In a B2B context, here are some questions to consider when defining your ideal buyer profile.
- Company size?
- Geographic locations?
- Attributes of your buyer’s customers?
MailChimp is a great resource for email marketing and its insights on the effects of List Segmentation on Email Marketing Stats show that “across all segmented email campaigns,” they performed markedly better than their non-segmented counterparts.
Inbound marketing is all about getting leads to come to you, "attract or pull" marketing - rather than the more traditional outbound marketing pushy and noisy approach. Segmentation is key to assisting you send the right person the right message at the right time. Doing email marketing the inbound way means focusing just as much on the context of your message as the content you deliver.
You can create an email masterpiece, but if it doesn’t work on your subscribers then it will be deleted, wasting time, effort and an opportunity to interact.
Some Of The Pitfalls To Avoid With Your Subscribers Are:
1. Not having a clean and up to date data base
2. Defining a segment by "gut feel" rather than research
3. Not analysing the performance of your data based against appropriate goals
4. Basing your ideal buyer profile on out of date data
5. Assuming all your customers want to interact with your company in the same way
6. Timing is critical - not knowing how long is the sales cycle, are you mailing too soon or too late?
7. Not comparing performances of your emails to find the most effective ones
8. Not employing a "closed loop" approach to marketing where you can continually learn and refine what you do
When you can guage where your email subscribers are in their buying cycle, you will know the type of emails to send them. After all, you wouldn’t want to send the same email to an existing customer that you would to a sales prospect that you are just getting to know - they both have different needs to address.
Here’s how to determine where your email subscriber fits into a buying cycle:
• Awareness stage: Your prospect realises and expresses that there’s a problem based on their symptoms
• Consideration stage: Your prospect labels and clearly defines the issue at hand by exploring lots of different sources of information
• Decision stage: Your prospect determines a possible solution or approach to solve the problem and needs now to compare and assess different vendors
These three categories are perfect starting points for segmenting your email list.
GDPR And The Impact On B2B Email Marketing
Over the coming year, one of the biggest challenges facing B2B marketers will be the implications of the new EU GDPR data privacy legislation. With the regulation coming into effect on 25th May 2018, there is still a lot to do to get ready.
Organisations that store and/or process EU consumer data must employ strong measures to protect the personal data they store and process, regardless of where they as a company are located. If your company is found to be in breach of the regulations you will face steep penalties and may be fined up to 20 million EUR or 4% of annual global turnover.
As a marketer now is a good time to assess your current marketing programs where you engage with your customers, especially your email strategy, blog subscriptions, e-newsletters, landing pages and forms, calls-to-action, etc.
The largest concern for most marketers about GDPR is consent. Proving that your contact has double opted-in. You must be able to show that you got the consent, stored it properly and have an audit trail. If your contacts are silent or you take inactivity as a yes, this would be non-compliant.
You will not in the future be able to send to a B2B contact an unsolicited email for marketing, so now is a good time to get into the habit for asking for a double opt-in for consent to communicate with your contacts.
We will not be able to replace the need for legal advice, and this blog cannot be used as legally binding advice. It is important that you discuss GDPR and its implications for your organisation with appropriate legal advisors.
Emailing can be one of your company’s most powerful marketing tools, so it’s essential that every email you send is optimised and segmented. By doing this, you’ll increase your open rates, click through rates, and engagement.
If you need to prepare your marketing strategy or planning for your transformation to digital marketing, download our free fully customisable PowerPoint templates below:
Don't forget now to start preparing if you have not already for the new EU GDPR regulations on data privacy. The better prepared you are now, the more you will be able to take advantage of the situation next year.
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