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B2B E-mail Marketing Pro-Tip: Understand Your Sales Cycles

B2B marketers who link email marketing with their buyer's journey for lead nurturing will have more success than sending "batch and blast" emails.

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When used properly, email marketing is one of the most powerful weapons in a B2B marketer’s war chest.

Email marketing is more scalable (and less intrusive) than telemarketing. It’s also more personalized and interactive than direct mail. Plus, it’s cheaper and more measurable. Sure, it’s not the only marketing communication tool you use, but it’s one of the most important.

The problem with email marketing, however, is that many companies still view it as a stand-alone tactic. Some marketers and business owners are thinking to themselves (and saying) “let’s do some email marketing,” as if they want to shake the revenue tree to see what easily falls off.

Often, the impulse is to push some unwanted sales messages or company news out to an email list. “Let’s get our name out there.” The problem boils down to the fact that companies still want to sell their way instead of letting the customers buy their way.

That creates a real disconnect because the way people buy is changing. Dramatically.

A Corporate Executive Board study found that B2B buyers are at least 57% through their purchase research before they first contact a seller. Many of the buyers are up to 70% through their research before reaching out to possible vendors.

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With buyers doing so much research before first contacting the seller, companies are using content marketing to insinuate themselves into that first 57% of the buyers’ research.

And that is where the really smart email marketing is taking place these days. It is the glue that is holding together the online sales process. Done right, email marketing can be the lubricant that greases the wheels of your lead nurturing machinery.

The best way to approach email marketing is to align it with your sales cycle. And the first meeting you should have is with your sales team to talk about the process your leads and customers go through before buying.

For instance, what kinds of questions are prospects asking the sales team? What are their biggest pain points? How long is the sales cycle? Once you have answers, you’ll want to do a content audit to make sure the information on your website is providing answers the questions your leads want. This process is known as content mapping.

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If you have multiple buyer personas, you’ll want to do what makes email marketing even more effective: segmentation. When a prospect fills out a landing page form, ask for information that will help to put them in an appropriate buyer persona segment so that subsequent emails will be more relevant and helpful.

Then, analyze what content your leads are downloading most and think about what they need next. As you start to see patterns, you can then begin to offer proactive answers that can guide them through their research and speed up your sales cycle.

This process of offering your digital hand to prospects to guide them through their research cannot be done without email marketing. And to make your email marketing most effective, you should use marketing automation software.

This enables you to engage and personalize each email communication to your prospects. If you are able to personalize each stage of the sales cycle your lead is in based on their what behaviors they take on your website and the needs of each persona, your email will be enormously effective.

photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc
Douglas Burdett
Douglas Burdett
The Principal and Founder of Artillery, Douglas Burdett is a former artillery officer and Madison Avenue ad man. He also hosts The Marketing Book Podcast, where he interviews authors every week about the latest in modern marketing and sales.
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