How Distributors Improve Customer Retention A common rule of thumb in distribution is that it…
Email Marketing: Quality or Quantity?
Distribution sales teams using SMP are surprised how quickly they see a return on investment from email marketing. The ROI from email marketing is typically higher than almost any other marketing investment. Part of the reason for that is the tight integration SMP has to your ERP system. This makes it very easy for your marketing and sales teams to build dynamic and highly-targeted lists right inside of SMP. That means it is easier than ever to reach every customer and contact in your ERP system without having to upload third-party lists or manage clumsy spreadsheets.
So now that you can reach each of your existing contacts with one-to-one campaigns and e-blasts, how do you extend that power even further?
It’s a question we get very often – should I focus on expanding the size of my email list or should I focus elsewhere?
Most marketing teams put a lot of energy into expanding their lists. After all, they already know the power of SMP’s email marketing and it is simple math to expand their reach with larger lists. Yet, as simple as the math might be, actually acquiring those lists is a challenge. If you’ve been in business in your markets for a few years, you probably already know most of the power buyers in your area. Buying lists can often backfire unless you work with a very reputable – an probably pricey – list consultant. Building your own house list of new contacts is an important, but often slow moving tactic.
So as you move into 2018, we’d like you to consider quality over quantity, both in terms of your contact and email lists as well as in terms of your messages.
Quality of Your Email List
Building out your email list should be more about quality than quantity. Take a look at your list building strategies at the beginning of the year to think about where you want to get new contacts and how you will spend time cleaning your lists.
Unfortunately, simply buying your way into lists is not the best strategy. First, if you can buy the list, so can your competitors. You run the risk of adding your name to the list of companies who are currently bombarding a particular set of emails with untargeted messages. If you don’t have the permission of the contacts you are emailing, you might frustrate your contacts.
It may seem counterintuitive to actually take the time to remove old contacts or carefully profile your lists, but a clean list leads to better results in the long term. You’ll be less likely to attract the focus of spam filters and you’ll avoid any brand damage from being associated with spammers.
Here are some ideas to help you maintain list quality.
- Make sure you craft a one-to-one style message to a profiled list. Luckily, SMP makes it very easy to profile your lists (see the next section below).
- Make it easy for your customers and prospects to add their email when they want to. You can add subscribe buttons to your website, train your counter people to ask for emails and follow your contacts on social media.
- Give contacts an incentive for giving you an email. Opportunities like training events, new promotional brochures, vendor lunches or coupons can be email magnets.
Carefully Profile Your Lists
With SMP, you have a single system to manage all of your contact and email lists. You can quickly build static or dynamic lists. A static list is a list that doesn’t change based on behaviors and attributes. A dynamic list can change depending on buying behavior, customer type or any other attribute. And of course, if you attend a trade show or have a new list from another source, you can import ad hoc lists any time. SMP allows you to keep them separate or combine them with any other existing list.
Profiling your lists is about reaching the right contact with the right message at the right time. Personalized messaging boosts your response and makes your customers feel engaged. Even if they don’t respond, they know that you understand their particular needs.
Where do you start? SMP makes it easy to profile your lists in a number of ways:
- Consider the type of buyer. You want to treat regular customers differently from infrequent customers. You might send product recommendations to recent buyers because you know what they are currently purchasing while you might send discount offers to lapsed customers to get them back through your doors. Because SMP integrates to your ERP, it is easy to profile lists based on their purchasing behavior.
- Look at basic profile information. Even something as simple as segmenting by size, location, industry or other attribute can make your email more successful. Don’t send air conditioning emails to contractors in Minnesota in January.
- Compare purchasing trends. SMP makes it easy to create a list of customers who should be buying complementary products or taking advantage of training but aren’t. Sending them a personalized message about those products won’t even seem like a marketing message but will be viewed as great customer service.
Up the Quality of Your Email Content
At the end of the day, even if you have the highest quality lists and you carefully profile them, if you send a bad message you won’t succeed. Too many distributors start crafting their emails by thinking about what they want to sell or promote. Your customer doesn’t care what you want to talk about. You need to take the time to understand what they need to hear, what they might be struggling with and how you can add value to their business. Don’t just blast out mindless promotions.
Adding value doesn’t have to be hard work. Here are some quick ideas to make your emails more valuable to your customers.
- Exclusivity: Customer like feeling special. Now that you have carefully profiled lists, you can make specific offers that make them feel like part of an exclusive club. Provide training content based on purchase history. Give subscribers special discounts that they cannot get anywhere else. Issue exclusive invitations that only certain customers receive.
- Specificity: SMP makes it easy to quickly analyze your data to find connections that your customers wouldn’t otherwise make on their own. Make a list of people who make a lot of orders with a few lines each. Then, show them how they can consolidate their purchasing for lower cost and higher convenience. Make a list of people who shop only one brand and give them an incentive to broaden their purchasing habits. With SMP, you can create these kinds of lists on the fly in a matter of minutes, so you have no excuse for not providing specific offers to the right contacts.
- Differentiation: Do you customers understand what makes you different, or do your emails look very similar to your competitors’ emails? Make sure you put your differentiation front and center with reminders about service levels, training, deliveries, value adds, kitting and more. Stand out even more by making your emails different. Instead of sending out a flyer, send out a video. Instead of sending a, “checking in,” email send them a fun quiz.