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Make your b-to-b e-mail campaign a success

Business professionals have simple needs when it comes to receiving your marketing e-mails. They want to know how your products are made and how they are marketed. They want to know the details of new products, of course. And often, marketing e-mails contain valuable statistics.

But e-mail recipients won't automatically open b-to-b e-mails, no matter how they hunger after the kind of business intelligence you want to provide. With that in mind, here are four e-mail marketing tactics that will help you be a trusted source of information for customers and prospects, and the envy of your competition.

Be a b-to-b e-newsletter publisher. Don't limit your e-mail to simply promoting your products or your company. Instead, treat your readers as insiders. Give them exclusive inside information about market trends, new processes or related products (not necessarily yours).

And don't assume your audience knows everything you do. You can recycle or reprint valid information from the past or provide extensive links to other sources. And when you use industry jargon, always provide a link to the term's definition, because people change jobs so often today, at least a third of your audience may be newcomers who aren't sure about terms.

According to MailerMailer, 74% of all e-mail opens occur within the first 24 hours. Since a few recipients will open your e-mail weeks later, however, make sure your Web-based images, links and landing pages remain accessible. Above all, make your recipients want to open your next newsletter to learn more and to easily forward it to colleagues to share what they have learned.

Leverage the knowledge of top executives. C-level executives in any company make high-level decisions that can affect decisions on spending millions of dollars. To reach these decision-makers effectively, it may be useful to survey them to provide a valuable report to the industry.

Of course, trying to get these busy executives to take 15 minutes to complete a survey presents two problems: Much of the information they have is highly confidential, and they aren't usually in a position to accept anything of monetary value as an incentive for participating in a survey. So what can you do?

You might try setting up an executive advisory panel. Begin with a simple e-mail that says, "You are invited to participate in a business study." Spell out what the executives will get in return for their time investment. The most effective reward may be providing an executive summary of the research findings so the survey-taking executives can access information from other top executives.

To further ensure the survey takers' attention, the invitation should come from a C-level executive at your own company. It will seem like two senior executives talking to each other, not a researcher asking questions. When the survey is done, send a summary of the results to the respondents with a thank-you note. The results of this survey could be one of the most valuable e-mails you send all year, as well as building a close relationship with the C-level executives who participated.

Know how your e-mail looks in a preview pane. Across the board, b-to-b marketing subscribers use preview panes to survey and triage their inboxes. After looking at the sender and the subject line, these readers peek at what is in e-mail you've just sent before actually opening it. This view can make or break your whole campaign.

Suggestion: Design the top left of every e-mail with the preview pane in mind. If you have a big colorful ad there but nothing relevant to their interests, the subscriber will likely delete the e-mail and move on.

Create mobile versions of your messages. The percentage of business professionals who regularly read e-mails on their mobile devices is more than 37%. It is essential, then, that any b-to-b e-mail message also be optimized with a version for the mobile screen.

For your mobile edition, include only a small version of your logo. Content should be easy-to-read text that can be scanned quickly. And include a link to the full edition of your newsletter so readers can check it out on their desktops.

Many executives today use their smartphones to scan and delete e-mails. If you have a weak message, busy executives will delete your messages quickly while they attend to other matters. If, however, you have something interesting to say that shows up in the first three sentences, your e-mail may get saved for later review.

Arthur Middleton Hughes is senior strategist for e-mail marketing company e-Dialog, and is the co-author (with Arthur Sweetser, VP-marketing for e-Dialog) of "Successful E-Mail Marketing Strategies: From Hunting to Farming" (Racom Communications, 2009). He can be reached at

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