Every once in a while, some marketing prognosticator predicts that email marketing is on the decline, nearing the ninth inning, no longer effective. My response: not even close. Why?
86% of business professionals prefer email over other ways to communicate. 59% of B2B marketers rank email marketing as their most effective revenue generation channel. And for every $1 invested in email marketing, $44 in new revenue is generated.
But just because you send and receive email doesn’t mean you’re ready to plan, manage, and optimize an email marketing campaign.
With that in mind, what are some of the most important email marketing best practices for colocation data centers (and companies that sell to data centers)?
Most marketing generalists misuse email marketing as a traffic generation and lead generation tool. Big mistake. However, email marketing is best used for nurturing existing leads, sales cycle acceleration, and customer retention.
Many marketing generalists mistakenly believe that it's OK to import their LinkedIn contacts into their email service provider (ESP) or marketing automation (MA) provider account. Not only is this a terms of service (TOS) violation nearly 100% of the time, it potentially exposes the sender to legal liability (not legal advice! check with your lawyer for specifics), and almost certainly harms your email sender reputation.
Many also make the exact same mistake when obtaining a list of trade show attendees as part of their sponsorship or booth rental. There's a world of difference between sending an occasional, heavily-personalized one-off email vs. subscribing someone to a newsletter or nurturing sequence without permission.
What to Look For In an Email Service Provider
For effective email marketing, data center providers and companies that sell to data center providers will almost certainly need to subscribe to an email service provider.
When evaluating the dozens of different email service provider options, consider looking at how each stacks up with regard to:
Training and documentation
Mobile responsive templates
Send time optimization, especially by time zone
A/B split testing
Zero tolerance for abuse -- especially with shared IP addresses
CRM and/or e-commerce integration to support closed-loop reporting
Behavioral workflow automation based on website activity
Support for forms and landing pages
Suppression list support
For many companies in the data center, cloud services, or mission critical industries that need their email marketing campaigns to accelerate sales cycles (lead nurturing) and help onboard new customers (retention/customer marketing), in many cases an email service provider (ESP) is too light of a solution. The company really needs marketing automation (MA) that also takes care of email marketing, so traffic generation, lead generation, sales cycle acceleration, and customer retention data is all in one centralized platform.
Many small companies are way too concerned about the software costs and spend way too little time thinking about the labor/payroll/consulting costs, and the impact of email marketing on the company's bottom line with revenue generation. When used correctly, email marketing campaigns should be at least as profitable as your highest performing sales reps.
Metrics That Provide the Best Insight
Email marketing success should never be evaluated based on superficial vanity metrics like clicks and opens.
For savvy email marketing professionals working on full-funnel revenue generation SMART goals, conversion actions are a much more solid way to evaluate the success of an email campaign.
Maybe you're trying to drive awareness stage leads into the consideration stage by promoting a webinar or breakfast seminar. So you measure registrations.
Maybe you're trying to accelerate consideration stage leads into decision stage leads and sales opportunities. So you measure tours booked initially and shortly thereafter, sales opportunities generated.
The key to email success: you must understand your buyer personas and their buyer's journey stages. So every one of your emails is either accelerating leads into sales readiness or delighting customers, so they become your promoters and brand evangelists.
Signs That You’ve Outgrown Your Current Email Marketing Platform
Email marketing should always support a company's revenue generation goals. If your email marketing strategy doesn't support this, it's time to upgrade your strategy, talent, and technology to better address the company's true growth needs.
Besides buyer personas and buyer's journey mapping, well-rounded email marketers need to also be well versed in landing page optimization and lead generation, as well as CRM integration, marketing ops, sales ops, and closed-loop reporting.
Email Marketing Trends That Will Impact Colocation Data Centers (And Companies That Sell to Data Centers)
What does the future hold for email marketing as a sales acceleration and customer retention channel?
Getting to the inbox will continue to get more difficult. Reputation -- both email and more generally website authority and social footprint -- will become increasingly important.
Segmenting out for graymail will go more mainstream as marketing generalists wake up to the reality that unengaged contacts are actually hurting deliverability.
There will be more cross-channel campaigns between email marketing and social media. More marketers will experiment with uploading segmented lists for targeting in paid search and paid social at various stages of the funnel (both for retargeting and reconversions), as well as targeting lookalikes.
Send time optimization driven by AI will become more widely adopted. And especially popular for any business that sells across time zones.
Behavioral emails will become more common as digitally-savvy chief revenue officers pressure their marketing teams to deliver real-time alerts on key trigger events (ex: pricing page view by known contact) that their sales teams can pounce on.
The Bottom Line
While many in the data center, cloud services, and mission critical industry misuse email marketing as a traffic generation and lead generation (basically spamming people), email marketing should primarily be used for nurturing existing leads and onboarding new customers.
In this post, you learned why email marketing is alive and well, what features to look for in an email service provider ESP), features that distinguish one ESP platform from another, metrics to track, outgrowing your ESP, and the future of email marketing.
What’s been your most important email marketing best practice that you’ve discovered along the way? Let us know if the Comments below.
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