Do a relevance check before you send.
‘Tis the season. Retailers and e-tailers alike are hitting consumers’ inboxes with holiday shopping deals, and research indicates that nothing is more relevant than discounts, coupons and free shipping. Business-to-business companies are also email-active at year-end. Two emails that I received recently prove that relevance matters just as much in B2B emails—especially when it’s missing.
The first email was from a consulting firm. I’ve known the partners for years. The email started with good intentions: “As a CPA, you know the importance of year-end tax planning.” Trouble is, I’m not a CPA, and the partners know that.
The second email was from a business owner, whom I’ve also known for many years. His email invited me to learn how to sell by attending a breakfast for entry-level salespeople.
Both of these companies are effective in their in-person business development efforts. Yet both companies undermined their efforts with a “spray and pray” email approach, treating their mailing lists as a generic collection of addresses and not as a profile of individual customers, prospects and referral sources.
When it comes to meaningful communications, relevance trumps quantity. Sure, it’s easier blast out an email to everyone, but why take chances with your carefully cultivated, hard-earned business relationships? Here are a few ways to check the relevance of your emails before you hit Send.
Segment // Customer and prospect information is a database, not a list. Take a clear-eyed assessment of the information you are currently collecting. If you have the basics of names and means of contact, begin developing additional, sortable fields to your data. Essentials for marketing and business development support include:
- Title/role in the company
- Demographic information
- Customer vs. prospect vs. referral source
- Active vs. lapsed
- Industry/area of specialization
- Acquisition or referral source
- Frequency information (such as last point of contact, last purchase, amount of purchase)
Tailor // Adjust your communications for relevance to each segment of your customers, prospects or referral sources. With a little tailoring, the intro to the email received as a CPA could have been adjusted to recognize my relationship with the company. One option might be, “As a consultant whose network includes CPAs, we value your insight.” The email content could then have been tailored for relevance to me as a potential referral source.
Share // Providing relevant content reinforces your relationships and leads to sharing, which expands awareness of your company. Encourage your recipients to share segment-relevant content by adding a “Share with Your Network” link in the primary block of content.
According to the London-based Earnest Agency, 72 percent of business-to-business buyers are very likely to share useful content via email. This holiday season and into 2016, give your customers and prospects the gift of relevant content. It’s a gift that will help to grow your business.