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What can B2B learn from the retail sector?

January 23, 2013

Which sectors use email marketing most effectively – and what can we learn from them? There’s a huge variation in the way companies use email as a marketing tool. Many B2C retailers – in particular some of the big fashion brands – have embraced it, making it a core sales channel. In the B2B sector, results are perhaps more mixed. So are there lessons B2B can learn from B2C? Absolutely. The approach to marketing might be different, but the same tactics get results in both sectors:

A simple message: B2C retail emails have very clear, simple messages. Whilst you may have rather more to say than ‘30% off this dress today’, the simpler you can make your message, the more effective you will be. Break down your information into key points, and identify a single message for each email.

Clear calls to action: B2C emails tell you clearly what to do next and make it easy for you to do it. When you send a B2B email, you probably won’t be asking people to ‘buy now’ – but you still need to decide what action you want readers to take and highlight it clearly to them.

Social sharing: B2C brands constantly encourage subscribers to share their offers. This is no less relevant in B2B, where you’re often addressing a group of decision makers rather than just one, and where word of mouth is one of the most a powerful factors in lead generation. Send messages worth sharing, and make sharing easy with a prominent ‘share with a colleague’ button.

Targeted list building: B2C lists tend to consist of people who have bought or specifically signed up for offers. That makes for a receptive audience. In B2B, you’re just as dependent on the quality of your list, though list building is harder and contact details are subject to constant change. We’ve found telemarketing campaigns to be a very effective way of building a strong list and keeping it clean.

Segmented data: Successful B2C emailers have segmentation down to a fine art. They target emails according to behaviour, buying history and demographic information. Segmentation is equally valuable in B2B. Identify what data will be useful in segmenting customers and prospects, and encourage sales teams to capture that data wherever possible.

So if you’re in B2B marketing are you really being as targeted, clear and effective as you can be? Next time you get that tempting lunch time email from ASOS or John Lewis, maybe see if there are some tips you can take from it.

Posted by Jenni Malley
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