With Thanksgiving behind us and the holidays directly ahead, now’s your best chance to plan your email campaigns for 2017. In my view, the key to successful planning begins with leveraging lessons learned over the past year. How has your audience or subscriber list changed? What messages have resonated the most with them? And where are you seeing the most ROI?
Here are four things B2B marketers need to know now to prepare for email marketing success in 2017:
- Your ideal customer: The key to getting new customers starts with knowing the customers you already have. What companies do they represent? What are their roles within their organizations? If you didn’t create or peruse this list at the end of last year for 2016 marketing campaign planning, do so now. If you did, how did your customer or prospect list change over the last 12 months? Did you uncover any new customer industry verticals over the last year? Did your customer roles change? With this data, you can clearly define your ideal customer and the corresponding market to target in 2017.
- Their preferences: With your target market defined, you’ll need to clearly understand their preferences. For example, I’ve written previously about the necessities of reaching the emerging millennials market. If you’re targeting small or midsized businesses (SMBs), there are other nuances to keep in mind. Whether you’re targeting CEOs, financial managers, IT leaders, marketers, restaurant owners, doctors, lawyers or others, you need to invest the time to know them well, either through research, examining their previous purchasing patterns or preferences – or by asking them through product registration, online forms, surveys or other means. Once you know your target market’s preferences, you’ll understand how to best reach them, and the types of messages to which they will best respond. And don’t feel you are done if you did this once or long ago; how did their preferences change over the last year or two?
- 2016 email campaign results: In preparing for 2017, now is the time to look back at your email campaigns of the last 12 months to ascertain what worked best and what didn’t. I’ve talked about A/B testing before; now is the time to review the results and implement the “winning” tactics or elements going forward. What messages or calls to action (CTAs) yielded the best responses? Subject lines? Days and times sent? With your 2016 email results, you can use this data to create optimal campaigns in the coming year.
- How to acquire customer acquisition data: To accelerate customer growth and ensure that business goals are met, many companies turn to email acquisition data. But doing so from the right source is essential to success. Select a provider who specializes in email and in helping companies grow their businesses. Going directly to the owner/compiler of the data—as opposed to a list broker—will give you more flexibility, such as the ability to license targeted data for unlimited use over a specified period of time. The licensing model offers significant cost and accuracy advantages over a one-time use model. As you get started with your email data provider, share your ideal customer data and existing customer preferences with them (i.e. steps 1 and 2 above), as well as any other research or demographics you have discovered. Communicate your marketing plan to them, and indicate where email plays a role. They may likely present opportunities for synergy or email data use that you may not have considered. Finally, for all B2B email data, be sure to obtain a written email data quality guarantee of at least 90% from your provider. If they do not offer this, do not do business with them.
The bottom line is, don’t shoot in the dark when it comes to your email campaigns. Lack of planning can lead to poor email marketing results, or worse, can annoy your customers and prospects with off-target messages that will be ignored, or even complained about. December is the time to get your homework done. Study what’s worked and what hasn’t, and map that to your organization’s goals for the New Year. Bam! You are now set up for email marketing success in 2017.
Outward Media’s accurate, targeted email data can help you achieve better email marketing ROI, and convert more prospects into customers. Ask us how. Also, take a look at our complimentary new e-book on building a successful B2B email marketing database.
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