Customer loyalty as a sales success factor – email marketing in B2B
Published on 18 May 2009 | Author Stefan von Lieven0
Successful customer loyalty is a key in Business to Business (B2B) markets – especially in economically demanding times. In the search for efficient marketing methods for sales and customer retention, online channels continue to gain momentum. Leading these is email marketing with clear advantages such as speed, effectiveness and low costs. And the possibilities of email supported communication are not restricted to the classical newsletter. Customer acquisition and long-term strengthening of individual customer relations are becoming the focus.
The use of email marketing in B2B markets offers special incentives for companies. One of the most immediate advantages is the low cost. According to a current survey by Forrester Research, communication via email can save you up to 80% of the costs associated with postal direct marketing campaigns. This also applies to lead time. While a print mailing usually requires three months of preparation, email campaigns generally only need three to five days.
The potential of emailing, however, lies in the capacity of target-precise communication. The possibility of customised information results in low wastage. Relevance and subsequently success are therefore significantly higher. This is reflected by the response rates, which according to the Forrester Research study are four times higher than with postal mailings. Plus, the speed of the internet as a channel results in 80% response within the first 48 hours after sending the mailings.
This advantage by speed in the realisation and response, as well as the possibility of highly precise, customised information offers B2B companies special opportunities in email marketing.
Frozen food provider apetito, for example, uses email marketing in B2B for targeted information on new products and promotions across the catering sector. Hereby, different interests and preferences, as well as the position of the contact are taken into account.
Automation to optimise sales
However, email marketing has another important feature: it is automatable. To strengthen customer relations, many communication occasions can be used, which would be too costly with another means of communication. Typical examples are order and dispatch confirmations, invitations and reminders for events, status notifications and follow-up correspondence for servicing, confirmations after website enquiries, as well as reminders for service appointments and consumable materials. In addition to creating a positive impression of a good service, you also have excellent opportunities to attract the customer’s attention to the sales, e. g. of cross and upsells.
ICT service provider PC-WARE supports, for example, marketing operations for a comprehensive service and IT solution portfolio via email. In addition, email marketing also has its place in service communication with customers and employees – with information on software news and updates, specific IT topics and exclusive events. Invitations, reminders, confirmations of participation, event notes and follow-up correspondence can be defined individually or rule based, in order to be triggered automatically for an event or a date.
Email marketing in indirect sales
A particular application field of email marketing are indirect or decentralised sales. This is not about convincing a partner of one’s own product, but to put him in the position and state of mind to actively convince his customers. It is essential therefore, to offer the business partner the necessary sales support in the form of know how, arguments and incentives.
Pump manufacturer WILO uses email campaigns to provide professional tradesmen as intermediaries to the end client with targeted sales support – with great success. The long-term activation and information of intermediaries for sales promotion purposes supports sales and helps to turn resellers into partners.
Integration and serious approach as a precondition
The exhaustion of the potential of email-supported customer retention requires serious integration into the business process. Automated email marketing needs to be linked to the corresponding triggers.
Highly individualised communication cannot be created manually each time. Here, interfaces for ERP and CRM systems, as well as an understanding of the possibilities in the customer dialogue are in demand.
To construct this understanding, is another basic capability of email marketing. The possibility to determine, whether emails are read and clicked, does not only produce an effective success control of all communication, but can also turn into specific knowledge about clients and their individual interests. Together with the information from other touchpoints, a comprehensive understanding of the customer and the customer relation can be established.
“The potential of email-supported communication as a tool to create and strengthen B2B customer relations has not been opened up sufficiently, yet. In a phase of consolidation and reorganisation of market shares, companies now recognise the scope of working ECRM. This is because the precise knowledge of each individual customer relation is a strategic value, a functioning mechanic for the customer dialogue and a massive competitive advantage”, summarises ECRM expert and artegic CEO Stefan von Lieven.
Potential analysis uncover options
The application fields of email marketing are very diverse; B2B communication today is mainly run electronically. However, many of the opportunities email-supported CRM holds are still not explored to their full potential in many cases. Regarding customer loyalty and the acquisition of a competitive advantage, a lot more could be achieved and simultaneously costs lowered. A good step towards tapping this potential are workshops, where requirements and opportunities are compiled. This analysis of potential is, for example, offered by ECRM consultants artegic. Further, there are practical training sessions and user seminars for the startup and extension of email marketing, as well as software solutions for the creation, address management, sending and analysis of professional emailings.