1. Identify the correct target group and contact person
E-mails need to get through to the right contact person, so it is better to send personalized mails. Mails sent to a general company address (such as email@example.com) often end up unread in the virtual wastebasket. The relevant recipients or target groups can be selected according to socio-demographic, personal, or behavioral criteria. An example of a target group made up from the B2B sector may be companies from the automotive supplier industry, with more than 20 employees, in German zip code areas 1-4, MDs and Marketing Managers as contacts, and who are involved in import/export.
2. Only send e-mails with permission (permission marketing)
If you send an e-mail newsletter for commercial purposes, you need to observe a number of framework conditions, as unwanted and unsolicited e-mails (spam) may harm the image of the sender company, they may have legal repercussions, and can ultimately result in lost profits. In e-mail marketing, it is absolutely essential that a company has the user’s permission to send mails (permission marketing).
There are various ways of achieving this. For instance, the customer may subscribe to an e-mailing list on the company’s website (“opt-in” procedure). If you want to be extra sure, you can send a second mail to the e-mail recipient, asking for further confirmation (known as “double opt-in”). The double opt-in also protects the subscriber from being added to a mailing list by someone else. To be absolutely sure, companies should additionally check their e-mail addresses against a mailing blacklist or Robinson list (e.g. www.robinsonlist.de). E-mail addresses listed there indicate the express will of an individual not to receive any unsolicited advertising via e-mail.
3. Take the interests of the target group into account
When sending e-mail messages, companies need to pursue clear objectives and sort main arguments and supplementary sub-arguments into a hierarchy. Any unnecessary information should be left out and the text should be as brief as possible, well laid out, and clearly structured. The e-mail can be enhanced by references to current exhibitions, trade fairs, or organized events. The recipients’ interest should be aroused as soon as they read the subject line, as many Internet users select e-mails purely on the basis of the subject line text. Incidentally, the e-mail benchmark report by Emarsys mentioned in section 1 of this text attributes higher opening rates in e-mail marketing not to an increased acceptance of this form of advertising, but to better worded subject lines.
4. Correct language and formal considerations
There’s no second chance to make a first impression and engender trust in the recipient. Mailings, whether in the B2B or B2C area, need to be drafted carefully in terms of form and language, that is, their spelling and grammar must be accurate. Yet many mailings are still worded in the wrong register (too chummy, too brash), are riddled with spelling mistakes, and have sloppy formatting.
It is also important to give the recipient the choice between HTML and text formats because some companies and public authorities do not permit their staff to receive HTML mails due to the increased risk of viruses. Before sending a commercial newsletter, you should always double check that the links do in fact point to the correct content or topics. There is nothing more irritating than to receive a commercial e-mail that contains links that point into digital oblivion instead of the correct content.
5. A central address database
All addresses and data for e-mail marketing should be stored in a central location in order to avoid duplicate addresses, thus preventing multiple mailings to an individual and reducing costs. The e-mail data should be linked to the master data, and means of enhancing and qualifying the data should also be integrated. Ideally, enhanced addresses will provide information about concrete buying intentions. This is also the basis for segmentation and individualization. Addresses that are permanently unreachable should be automatically stripped out (bounce management). Similarly, it should be possible to block unwanted recipients via a blacklist.
6. Reporting and success monitoring
E-mail newsletters that are sent regularly and provide incentives for recipients to react to them have higher success rates. In order to measure this, links in the newsletter guide users to your own website. Link tracking enables behavior to be monitored right up to the customer’s (potential) purchase. As well as the click rate, the opening rate and the unsubscribe rate for newsletters can also be measured. Both of these provide information about users’ acceptance of this form of advertising (see also points 3 and 4).
7. Reply to incoming e-mails quickly (response management)
Like telephone inquiries, customers expect a prompt response to e-mail inquiries (as opposed to an inquiry via regular mail). You should therefore ensure that e-mails received as a reaction to an e-mail marketing campaign are answered immediately by the respective recipient. The following response times can be used as a rule of thumb: up to 24 hours later = optimal; up to 48 hours = adequate; longer than 48 hours = bad.
SAP’s mySAP CRM, for instance, incorporates integrated e-mail response management which companies can use to automatically generate personalized responses for each recipient for incoming mails or forward them to a call center for further processing. Additionally, further information such as inventory lists, account balance, delivery data, and contact history is used to create individual and prompt responses to customer inquiries. This supports cross-selling and up-selling techniques and ensures greater customer satisfaction.
Smaller companies can now use the enhanced CRM functions of SAP Business One to produce and compare up-to-date cost-benefit analyses of sales and marketing activities. This enables campaigns to be optimized and adapted at any time and developments and trends to be identified at an early stage. Additional report options include contact management and sales analyses.