Association & B2B Marketers Take a New Look at Email
Ask most people how they feel about email marketing, and you’ll likely get a moan. Spam and cluttered inboxes have tarnished email’s reputation. In fact, there’s a growing contingent that will argue email in general is in its death rattle, that it’s merely a short matter of time before it goes the way of the pager or fax machine. Statistics tell a different story, however, and email marketing remains one of the most valued tools in a business’ arsenal.
As technology gives rise to new messaging options, some of that same technology also helps email perfect its craft and stay relevant in a business world consistently looking for the next shiny object. It may not be the newest or shiniest, but email – especially industry and trade newsletters – is hard to beat for reach and return on investment in business-to-business marketing. How so? Let’s examine.
Hitting the target
A key aspect of B2B marketing is being able to target a specific audience. Reaching your target audience is Marketing 101, and the “spray-and-pray” tactics of many business-to-community brands lead to a colossal waste of precious budget for B2B marketers. Perhaps few options offer the precise targeting of newsletters. Associations and industry groups are very specific assemblages. There’s no TV network aimed at packaging professionals or public service HR executives, for example. But a trade or niche newsletter brings together the very people you’re aiming to reach.
That specific audience we just discussed is receiving content that is relevant to them – often content they’ve subscribed to, content they want or even content they’ve paid for. These aren’t unsolicited, intrusive messages we’re talking about. Newsletter subscribers are a specific audience – your audience – that is involved, engaged and receiving the emails because they want them.
Fitting in with the natives
If you have any familiarity with digital publishing, you’ve heard the term native advertising. It’s actually a very old approach to marketing that is evolving as it finds digital vehicles to carry it. Association and niche publications are an ideal avenue for native advertising. You already have the target audience, now you can offer them your expertise. You know what your audience wants, so give it to them. Native advertising allows the opportunity to be a part of the newsletter content, not just something in the space around it.
Before digital communications, newsletters required layout, printing and distribution – all fairly costly endeavors compared to the ease of constructing an HTML document and hitting send. Let’s not reduce the hard work and skills it takes to design a successful email product, but turnaround time on trade and niche publications has been drastically cut. Moreover, creating a digital ad pales into comparison with crafting a TV spot, or more appropriately in the B2B realm, a complete direct-mail campaign. In other words, outside of the cost of the ad buy, productions costs are relatively minimal.
Taking it personal
One of the preeminent trends in all of email marketing is personalization. With the big data explosion, companies of all walks of life are learning how to cater to individuals instead of mass audiences. This allows publications to talk directly with readers and, in some cases, cater messages to them. This can and will continue to have a collateral impact on B2B email targeting. Not only is an association or trade group already a tightly defined group, the personalization capabilities of email can dice these into subsets, allowing even more tailored messages or promotions.
The metric system
Any good marketer wants to know how effectively ad spend is meeting its objectives. Metrics is one of the distinct advantages of digital advertising. Unlike direct mail or mass media, email has clear and measurable data available, allowing an ongoing and almost real-time view of just how an ad or campaign is performing.
Passing the test
Thanks to the low cost of digital ad production and the metrics for measuring its performance, testing and refining your campaign is not only an option, it’s a necessity. Combine that with email’s ability to personalize, and you can draw empirical conclusions about which approaches are working best, then update your campaign to take advantage.
It’s not news that the smartphone has become a necessary tool for business as well as personal life. And as those two become increasingly intermixed, email follows people everywhere they go. Different studies have shown that approximately half of emails are opened on mobile devices. As that share increases, emailers are adapting their messages for mobile devices. Responsive design allows content and ads to adjust to the device it’s on, increasing the odds of viewability. Many people anticipated smartphones would help fuel the demise of email, but on the contrary, email is simply leveraging elements of the smartphone to make it more valuable as a communications tool.
All in the family
Advertising in association or niche publications isn’t just about effective ROI. There’s a certain element of goodwill involved in the affiliation. Much like the real estate agent that supports local high school athletic teams, being a part of a small coterie of united members and followers puts an advertiser in good standing with that community. And that’s never a bad place to be.
Want to learn more about B2B digital marketing? Check out the MultiView Resource site.