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Posts Tagged ‘email’

The Holidays Can be a Great Time for B2B Email Marketing

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

With the holidays fast approaching, those of us in B2B marketing are probably wondering what kinds of email messages to send to our customers. We are not, after all selling a product that is going to make an appropriate gift, so there is little need for holiday promotions—indeed, they would seem a bit odd for a company selling data center services or enterprise software.

Chris Marriott at iMedia Connection suggests that B2B marketers maintain their visibility during the end of the year with engagement-heavy messages. He suggests sending surveys as one idea that will help your company gain awareness as inboxes get crowded with seasonal offers. The question of appropriate B2B email campaigns for the holiday season is also addressed in a blog post by Mark Brownlow at Email Marketing Reports. Quoting Linda Bustos, the post urges B2B marketers not to cut back on their standard messaging schedule at this time of year. Instead, marketers should keep their frequency the same, but change their message to a more lighthearted, less information-filled content model. Bustos suggests sending a Season’s Greetings message, as well as a lighter-on-content version of one’s usual newsletter.

End-of-year satisfaction surveys and seasonal messages are all great ways to round out your email program as 2008 closes. Nonetheless, I’d suggest looking at your audience and overall messaging strategy before cutting back on substantive content. Winter is a traditional time to regroup, think, and plan. If you’re in the technology space, your messaging likely includes a lot of educational content. Throughout the year, you produce white papers, podcasts, application notes, and other documents that your audience turns to in order to be well-informed. If they are technical staff, keeping up-to-date on new developments is important to them, but they often lack the time. When they are crazy-busy, your audience may only glance through all the technical documents you offer. Many of us take advantage of the slower time of year to do a lot of the reading we simply don’t have time for when business is hectic.

The quieter B2B environment during the holidays may provide just the opportunity for your audience to sit down and actually digest some of your more substantial reading. This may be the perfect chance for you to send out that longer white paper—now, when your audience might actually read it while sitting at their desks, instead of putting it away for later. There are fewer interruptions at the office over the holidays, and not everyone is partying 24-7. Test out at least one mailing this holiday season that contains an offer for a white paper or other educational document. In your email message, emphasize the key points in the document, and home in on the benefits of the topic. Underline how much can be learned from the white paper—if your readers are in the mood to expand their knowledge, they’ll respondyour message will stand out.

Although, for your audience, it might be best to keep most of your emails light over the holiday season, bear in mind that you might have an opportunity to reach out with great content that could be lost in the shuffle at a busier time of year.     
 

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Christina Inge is the marketing manager for Spinwave Systems, a Westford-based tech company specializing in energy management solutions. She also serves as marketing and public relations coordinator for the New England Quilt Museum. She has over ten years’ experience in communications for both B2C and B2B audiences.

Integrating Online and Offline Marketing

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

In his September 10 post Are You Too Much Online, Duct Tape Marketing’s John Jantsch cautions against being so enamored of Web 2.0 marketing channels that we forget about traditional channels that can still serve us well. Online channels are so cost-effective, Jantsch argues, that we can often put too much emphasis on them, at the expense of a fully rounded effort that integrates online and offline messages in ways that synergize both channels, for greater ROI.

Or perhaps worse still, I would add, forgetting to fully integrate our online and offline marketing, seeing the two channels as so disparate that we create divergent messages for each channel. As more and more channels become available to us, we need more than ever to work hard at ensuring that all our messages are saying the same thing.

When it comes to integrating online and offline efforts, email marketing programs face some challenges that are unique to the email medium. Email has unique capabilities, and limits, that make it so different from say, our websites or our trade show marketing, that we may see it as an entirely separate entity:

Image suppression: For email, integration can be especially tricky in the age of image suppression. Most of our other marketing efforts, both online and offline, depend on images: our website, advertising, brochures, are highly graphical. Even whitepapers are likely to be at least partially dependent on graphics for their overall message. Thus, most of your online efforts can have the same overall feel as offline messages, such as print ads. Unless you advertise on radio, email is likely to be your only channel where you can’t depend on any image, not even your logo, to convey your message. This makes it fundamentally different from your other channels, which makes integration that much harder.

The importance of the subject line: Emphasis on the subject line means that other aspects of the email sometimes receive relatively less attention. For offline efforts, we can rely on several elements to catch potential consumers’ attention, so we tend to view offline creative more holistically. For instance, print ads can catch consumers’ attention with not just images, but headlines and copy as well. Emails catch subscribers’ attention through that subject line, which means we tend to put so much attention to that line, that we may not view each email message as holistically.

Personalization: Even if you don’t personalize your email messages, your messages are still personal in a way that no other marketing medium is. Let’s face it, few people are likely to forward really good email marketing communications in the same way they might bookmark a website, or share a widget. They might forward a newsletter, but other messages are likely to stop with the recipient. We can take advantage of email’s personalization. We can have dozens of potential messages for different segments. This is a great thing, but it also makes email even more divergent from other channels, which again, makes us think about email differently.

The way we conceptualize email is simply not like the way we conceptualize other channels, both online and offline. This doesn’t mean that we can’t integrate it just as completely with offline efforts. If anything, email makes you get down to basics, thinking about what aspects of your branding can be expressed in just a few short lines of text. And this focus on the essentials is what integration is all about.

 

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Christina Inge is the marketing manager for Spinwave Systems, a Westford-based tech company specializing in energy management solutions. She also serves as marketing and public relations coordinator for the New England Quilt Museum. She has over ten years’ experience in communications for both B2C and B2B audiences. 

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The views and opinions on this blog are solely those of the contributors and do NOT necessarily reflect the official opinions of the Boston Chapter of the American Marketing Association.