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Take a tip from your B2B brethren's emails

Take a tip from your B2B brethren's emails Bill Nussey

It's not easy to be a B2B or a B2C marketer these days. Both sides are struggling to grab attention and keep it while also seeking new ways to drive revenue and prove their worth. A recent Silverpop survey revealed that the two groups have more in common than just these challenges and can learn quite a bit from each other.

For example, both groups use email marketing as a core tactic to reach customers and prospects, but B2B marketers might not implement the most sophisticated email tactics. And B2C marketers might not fully understand how the once traditionally B2B techniques, such as contact scoring and marketing automation, can help them develop deeper and more personal relationships with their customers and potential customers.

To examine how each of the two groups can benefit from implementing tactics once considered reserved for the other category, let's start by looking at how B2C marketers can take segmentation to the next level.

Being relevant from day one
What B2C marketer doesn't already understand the importance of relevancy? Hopefully, not many, but they might not yet have mastered the art of delivering highly relevant messages from day one. More marketers are offering preference centers during the registration process, and the information this process uncovers can be invaluable. But there are only so many questions you can ask a new subscriber before you run the risk of appearing too intrusive or too time consuming.

Another way to learn about subscribers' interests is to listen to what they are telling you -- even before they have opted in to your email program. Sophisticated web tracking capabilities allow B2C marketers to monitor a site visitor's behavior and then connect that behavior to the person's email address at the moment of registration. Imagine, for example, how impressed a consumer who has "told" you (based on the pages of your website he has visited) that he is interested in family-friendly cruises will be when the very first email from your company highlights this specific topic. With more than one-third of B2C marketers who responded to Silverpop's survey indentifying "improving analytics to strengthen campaigns" as a top marketing goal for 2010, this would be an excellent place to start.

Scoring engagement 
Segmentation means different things to different marketers. For some, it may be a big step forward to simply divide a list into two or three segments based on specific interests or attributes. But, more savvy marketers understand that this "one-size-fits-most" strategy is just the tip of the iceberg.

According to Silverpop's survey, 49 percent of B2B marketers score prospective customers on their likelihood to purchase, but only 36 percent of B2C marketers follow suit. Consumer marketers who take advantage of sophisticated contact scoring tools like those implemented by B2B marketers can distribute messages tailored to each recipient's unique interests and needs. But, instead of focusing only on the intent to buy, these marketers might want to rank their recipients based on their level of engagement. Marketers could consider an individual's open and click rates, social sharing activity, time spent on the company's website, and recent purchases to not only determine how likely they are to make a purchase (or a repeat purchase) but also how likely they are to move from customer to lifetime fan and help spread the message as a brand ambassador.

In addition to continuing to implement best practices such as lifecycle campaigns and transactional messages, B2C marketers with more comprehensive contact scoring abilities can develop more targeted campaigns for their most engaged recipients, helping to harness the power that only a third-party brand or product advocate possesses. At the same time, more granular scoring methods can also help identify those who might be feeling a bit disconnected, and campaigns can then be initiated to re-engage them with your brand. These tools allow you to lead recipients down very individualized paths based on what their behaviors tell you about their specific needs and interests. 

Delivering highly targeted campaigns
So, you may agree that collecting more information and delivering a deeper level of segmentation makes perfect sense -- on paper. But how, with fewer resources and more demands, can you add this level of detail to your campaigns? Leverage proven B2B marketing automation techniques and technologies specifically designed to make marketers' jobs easier.

Campaign builders that feature drag-and-drop functionality can help B2C marketers develop targeted campaign workflows based on contact scoring data and execute them through multiple message tracks. These highly personalized campaigns can even be designed to adapt to the actions of each customer over the course of their lifecycle based on their interactions (or lack of interactions) with messages and related landing pages. For example, if a recipient doesn't open your first or second message, the campaign can be automated to send him or her a very different third message than one designed for someone who has been engaged all along -- perhaps a more enticing discount or even a message asking for more information about their particular interests. 

B2C marketers have long struggled with finding the best way to leverage all of the data they are collecting. And the answer might have been there all along. By leveraging a number of tried and true B2B lead management and marketing automation techniques, B2C marketers can take their programs to the next level -- turning potential customers into paying customers and even lifelong fans.

Bill Nussey is CEO of Silverpop.

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Bill Nussey is the president and CEO of Silverpop, a provider of permission-based email marketing solutions, strategy and services. Ranked as having the highest business value and richest feature set by JupiterResearch in 2004, Silverpop was also...

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