By Rebekah E. Donaldson
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If your company regularly emails a newsletter to prospects, customers, partners, and colleagues, you’re taking advantage of a powerful marketing tool.
However, it’s not enough to send out material and hope for the best. You also want to make sure that your targeted B2B email marketing effort generates more sales.
How to create e-newsletters that drive sales
First, I recommend using an email service provider that enables you to measure things like:
- Percentage of recipients opening the newsletter
- Which elements are the most popular, and
- How much time readers spend with each topic
Monitoring these stats allows you to fine-tune later editions with targeted content that keeps interest in your newsletter high.
“The information we push to sales from our e-newsletter program gives us the ability to have probing conversations with our clients around what they are interested in, and see where it leads in terms of new orders,” says Gia McNutt, chief executive officer of SOS, based in Loomis, California and a top regional provider of advanced communications solutions for business.
People will look forward to your newsletter as a valuable resource, and the information you glean by measuring their responses can be used to feed leads to your sales team.
- When a reader shows deep interest in a particular product, you’ll know to call them to follow up.
- Tracking – and then targeting - their strongest interests can help you upsell existing customers, strengthen your relationships, and generate more referrals.
6 tips for engaging folks with a newsletter
1. Keep content focused on reader needs
Even customers not ready to buy yet will stay “warm” if they are getting information that helps them.
2. Work around a theme
Aim for a handful of elements each month, organized around a feature article that provides fresh, useful perspective on a topic your audience has shown it care about. Over the course of a targeted email marketing campaign, content could include:
- Customer success stories
- Announcements of workshops and other educational events
- Profiles of staff members (See an example)
- Reader responses to previous issues
3. Offer something original and genuinely valuable
As in, in-depth original content capturing your expert perspective, or a compilation of hard-to-find industry statistics, or a copy of a report that has sold out. (See an example) Depending on the stage of the relationship, you might offer to consult with the client/prospect free of charge regarding a custom solution. Whatever it is, it needs to be something that readers can’t stand to pass up -- and something delivered quickly when the reader responds to your invitation.
4. Strive for two-way communications
Invite readers to give their two cents through public comments or feedback emailed to you privately. Above all, when a reader speaks up, immediately engage with them in a personal way. Follow up if need be with a message signed by their area rep and including that person's direct telephone number.
5. Invite reprints
To create a ‘ripple-effect’ with your published articles, invite readers to reprint the newsletter articles, with permission and proper credit. You’ll be helping readers who need to pass along valuable information within their organizations or memberships, and you’ll benefit by allowing readers to become an additional distribution channel within your targeted email marketing campaign.
Once you know which features appeal to which readers, consider segmenting the audience. By providing targeted content likely to appeal to each cluster of recipients, you create more opportunities to engage and ultimately drive sales.
Targeted content leads to higher click-throughs
How do you know if the newsletter is performing well?
One email service provider I've worked with says the number of people opening the e-newsletter tends to be tied to how well the recipient knows the sender. Whereas click-through rate is nearly always tied to the content.
“It’s extremely powerful to be able to view what your clients and prospects are interested in,” says McNutt. “Recently, members of our team were preparing for a teleconference with a tough customer. I could see from the newsletter data that this customer had shown deep interest in a customer success story we ran in our most recent newsletter issue. I was able to arm our team with this knowledge, and they say it helped them enormously in getting ready for the call. They also said that the customer seemed impressed by what they had read. As a result the call went great and our relationship with this customer is stronger than before.”
By enhancing your sales team’s knowledge of client and prospects' interests, your targeted email newsletter program can help your company:
- Upsell existing customers
- Generate more high-quality sales leads
- Convert more sales leads into sales
- Strengthen the bond with existing customers and other contacts
- Enhance referrals
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