When I talk about email marketing, the first thing most people claim is that they get too much email. While that's probably true, it's still one of the most powerful ways to engage potential customers.
When people mark email as spam, it's because they never asked to get the email and it adds no value to them. The definition of spamming is "send the same message indiscriminately to (large numbers of recipients) on the Internet." At first glance, you might think all email marketing is spam because you're sending to large numbers of recipients, and likely not all of the people on your list have opted-in on their own.
The key word to look at in the definition of spam though is "indiscriminately." It means "in a random manner" or "in a way that does not show care or judgment." Creating a customer-centric email strategy that focuses on adding value to the reader will have a much less likelihood of being considered spam.
Here are 5 ways to create a non-spammy email marketing program that effectively supports the sales process.
1. Think Like a Salesperson, Not a Marketer
Sellers and marketers are both tasked with generating leads and sales, but with one key difference: sellers communicate with prospects one-to-one, and marketers communicate one-to-many. Sellers have the advantage of having personal relationships with their customers and prospects, whereas marketers only know them from afar.
Your best sellers have a proven track record of success and know how to use knowledge of their prospects' personality type, inspirations, challenges, and lifestyle to guide them through the sales process.
If marketers think about their email lists the same way sellers think about their hot prospects, they should have similar success.
- Spamming is missing the human element of your email list.
- Email prospecting is treating email lists the same way sellers treat hot prospects.
2. Know Who You're Targeting
The last thing sellers want to do is waste precious time targeting prospects who will likely never buy. Good salespeople do some prospecting detective work before calling on an account to determine whether or not they're a good potential customer. They examine things like industry, annual revenue, location, job title, role, and more. If the prospect looks good, they move to the next steps. If not, they mark them as "unqualified" and move on.
Email marketers can do the same thing with their email lists: evaluate what criteria fit the ideal profitable customer and set up processes to separate the wheat from the chaff. Spending time focusing on clean, targeted, and segmented lists dramatically increases response rates.
- Spamming is emailing people willy-nilly.
- Email prospecting is regularly sending to a targeted list of potential customers.
3. Create Thought-Provoking and Relevant Content
Sellers are on the front lines talking to prospects every day and know the ideal buyer better than anyone. They know the core business issues their prospects face and have ideas on how to overcome them. They research who they're calling, then create personalized, unique messages to capture their attention.
Marketers communicate one-to-many, so individualized messages aren't possible. That said, it is possible to create a strategic content plan to a targeted group of people that share similar characteristics. Focusing on targeted messages to a segmented list gets better results than blasting the same info out to everyone.
- Spamming is emailing self-serving or irrelevant content.
- Email prospecting is communicating as a business peer that can help solve prospects' problems.
4. Be Helpful and Add Value
Savvy sellers don't go straight for the kill. They understand the buyer journey and provide timely and relevant information to help prospects through the decision making process.
At the end of the day, sellers and marketers are talking to real, live human beings. There's not much more to say than, "treat others as you want to be treated."
- Spamming is not understanding prospects needs and asking for the sale too soon.
- Email prospecting is being helpful and striving to add value to each interaction.
5. Have a Good Online Presence
Imagine if a seller met with a hot prospect looking like they just rolled out of bed. It wouldn't make a very compelling first impression. In B2B sales, the majority of customers visit the company website or social media profiles before making a purchase. The quality and usability of your online presence is critical for engaging potential customers. If prospects don't feel good about their experience with an organization online, they will leave and never return.
- Spamming is having a confusing, dated online presence that doesn't add value to the user.
- Email prospecting is making it as easy as possible to interact with and get value from the organization online.
Not all email is spam. When done thoughtfully and strategically, email marketing can be an instrumental resource for fostering the buyer-seller relationship.