Spamalot! Your Email Marketing Effort

A lot of what you read about email marketing, even at great sites like, is geared either to B2C marketing or to very large enterprise engaging in the B2B sale that have sizable budgets and manpower.

Email Marketing

As an emerging technology company you should be engaging your prospects using outbound email marketing but you need to do so in a way that husbands the limited time and money you have available.   If you are working on a shoe string, you can use inexpensive emailing software you install on a computer or you can move things up a notch and use any of a number of excellent services such as MailChimp, ConstantContact or VerticalResponse.  These services are pretty sensitive about CAN-SPAM act – designed primarily to regulate B2C activities –  and so may give you a hard time if you are working with a new list you have built yourself.

Four Components

There are four components to a solid email marketing program, to wit:

  1. Prospect list
  2. Content
  3. Schedule
  4. Segmentation

First you need a list of prospects in your target verticals.   You should have a good sense for the size and type of company you are targeting and the titles that you want to go after.  When building a list, ask y0urself: “Who is going to want to hear my message, who has the pain that I help take away?”  Be honest with yourself and keep your list focused: as amazing as your offering is, it is highly unlikely that the C suite in Fortune 100 companies will care about what y0u do.  Much better to work with a 5,000 name list focused on the titles and departments that offering helps than a 50,000 name list that casts the net way too wide (and ticks off the 45,000 people who receive your email and perceive of it as spam.)

You can build your own list, using offshore services that manually scrape contact information from company web sites, buy names from services like Jigsaw (now owned by Salesforce), NetProspex or demandbase, or rent lists from publishers that focus on harvesting opted-in names through trade publications.  Any of these method is fine and none are perfect:  deliverability rates vary, but can be as low as 70%.  Additionally, lists get old fast; you should assume that 20 – 30% of the names in your list will go stale every year.  Plan on refreshing your list regularly.

Content is the core of your marketing effort: offering your targets meaningful, high quality information that addresses issues they have as they try and do their job every day is key.  You can generate white papers, or shorter versions of these I call white notes,  bring in subject matter experts to opine on specific topics, sharing leads you generate with them, or use your blog as a platform to develop and disseminate ideas.  Good quality content will increase the probability that the prospect, when she receives your email, will click through and sign up for you offer, or, in the worst case, reduce the probability that she clicks “unsubscribe”.

Content Mapping

Your content should be mapped to a schedule, using a major theme as a guide: emails with offers to prospects should go out regularly, every 3 (a little tight) to 6 weeks.  This is all about consistency – your prospects are likely to only glance at your email for a nano second – sometimes without opening it – and it may be the fourth or fifth email that catches their attention enough for them to take action.  I don’t have the space to go into details here about email design – there are whole chapters of books written about this –  but suffice it say that care needs to be taken in crafting your emails.  Think about how you scan email: you are more likely to engage if the email is  brief, to the point and lacks hype.

After you have your email marketing program up and running for a few months and you have some data on how folks are responding to your offers, you can begin to segment your list, focusing specific messages on subgroups.  As you develop more focused content for specific subgroups in your list, you should generate much higher yields.

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