Web Exclusive: Three B-to-B E-mail Communication Strategies
As B-to-B sales often aren’t as discount price driven as consumer sales, e-mails to a business audience can’t necessarily tout the latest promotional offer. Myriad other sales channels complicate the situation, making the decision of what and how often to e-mail even more perplexing. Following are successful e-mail communication strategies from three B-to-B catalogers and how they decide what kind of e-mails to send.
The two-year-old e-mail marketing program at this scientific equipment catalog generally is coordinated around specific events, such as catalog mailings or buying cycles, says Lynn Homann, VWR’s director of marketing communications. “If we’re selling into the food and beverage market and they’re doing grape crushing for wine,” she notes, “we make sure we target the products and the audience appropriately for that time of year.”
Homann adds that VWR e-mails not just for sales, but for awareness. “We don’t assume, just because we’re sending an e-mail out that it has to have a specific return based on dollars,” she says. “There’s obviously a soft value of making people aware of services and products.”
Mid America Motorworks
While this auto parts cataloger markets to both consumers and businesses, it only recently segregated its e-mail database to market differently to each, says Ed Coffin, director of catalog and Web marketing. “We’ve just started to send out targeted campaigns focusing on specific new products to our dealer network,” Coffin says.
By focusing e-mail efforts on specific products, Mid America has been able to increase its inventory turn considerably. “Previously, if we took a product and invested in marketing it, it took about a year before we turned that inventory,” Coffin says. “Now with e-mail, we find we’re reordering halfway through the year.”
Coffin says that 75 percent of the e-mails he sends are product announcements, with just 25 percent featuring discounts or other offers.
Carolina Biological Supply
A few years ago, this educational lab science supplies cataloger stopped mailing the print newsletter it established in 1927. In its place, the company segmented the content from the newsletter and began e-mailing it to different customer groups, says Dan James, vice president of business development.
While the e-newsletter still focuses on lab safety and science teaching tips, James notes that promotions and offers are included as well. The promotions, however, usually are aimed at driving sales for the following year. “We want to make sure we’re keeping the teacher aware of new products or things we’ve had but they hadn’t thought of using,” James says. “That’s done in anticipation of their planning for the coming year; that they might think of us and a particular product while they’re planning.”