Sunday, April 05, 2009

Top 10 Triggered B2B Email Marketing Campaigns

One of the themes for marketers in 2009 is “doing more with less”. While some marketing teams are facing cut backs and spending freezes or reductions, they still need to hit their goals which may include generating X number of leads, Y amount of influenced pipeline and/or Z amount of influenced sales. A key part of “doing more with less” is automating your email marketing campaigns. While many may label this as “lead nurturing”, it goes well beyond lead nurturing. It’s at times like this when you need a bounce in your step and powerful tools that will make it easy to keep you engaged with customers and prospects but allow you to leave work at a reasonable hour.

After reading Ed Henrich’s excellent article on ClickZ Top 10 Triggered E-mail Programs to Build Relevance, I wanted to take a more B2B slant on it but as you’ll see, many of the triggered email programs apply to both B2B and B2C. By triggered email campaigns, I mean an email or a series of emails being sent based on an action of a contact in your database, by their inaction or by their state (for example, a new customer). Here are my top 10 triggered email marketing campaigns:

  1. Transactional Messages. Transactional messages or autoresponder emails are some of the easiest and most beneficial campaigns to setup. By transactional email, I’m referring to the automatic email that you receive when you sign up for a newsletter or download an e-book. The open and click-through rates are typically much higher for these types of emails as the web visitor has engaged with your organization and almost expects to receive something in return.

    In addition, Michele Linn over at Savvy B2B Marketing recommends that “instead of providing an immediate download of the offer (e.g. white paper, webinar, etc.), send an email with a link to it”. Therefore, the transactional email becomes more than just a record of a transaction but the offer itself. This is recommended for a number of reasons as it provides a greater assurance that the email provided will be legitimate, makes it easy for the recipient to forward the document on and acts as a bookmark to easily find the document at a later date. Here is a perfect example: A web visitor finds your pay per click ad on a Google search results page and clicks on it. On the ensuing landing page, they are able to download a relevant white paper after filling out a short form. Instead of providing the white paper on the confirmation page after the form is filled out, send a link to the white paper in an email. This ensures that you get the most of out your paid search campaigns.

    For more information on autoresponder emails, see my post “Email Autoresponders 2.0 in B2B Marketing”.

  2. Welcome email campaign. While an autoresponder may be part of a welcome email campaign, this type of campaign typically includes 2-3 emails sent over a period of 2-3 weeks and should have different messaging.

    With some marketing automation platforms, you can automatically check to see if the contact is a new one to your database after they have filled out a form. If it is a new contact, send that person an email that acknowledges that they are a new registrant and provide information on what they will receive and when they will receive it. You should also include a link for them to update their email subscriptions and their profile.

    Follow up emails that are part of the welcome email campaign may include sending the latest newsletter, or key videos and/or documents based on the information provided. Some organizations use welcome email campaigns to gain additional information on the registrant for better segmentation – something we call “progressive disclosure”. The key to this campaign is to demonstrate to the new registrant that it was worth it to provide their information and build a long lasting relationship.

  3. Event/webinar campaigns. This is fairly obvious one. When someone signs up for an event, send on the event information to the registrant via email. One item often overlooked is automating the entire event registration and follow up process. A fully automated event contains the following emails:
    -First invite
    -Second invite to those that didn’t respond to the first invite
    -Reminder email for those that registered a day before the event
    -Reminder email for those that registered on the day of the event
    -Follow up email thanking those people that registered and attended
    -Follow up “sorry we missed you email” to those that registered but didn’t attend.
    -OPTION: If an event has size restrictions, have an automated email sent when capacity has been met and send another automated email to those on the waiting list if additional room was made available.

    When setup correctly, this type of automated process can save the marketer countless hours as the lists are automatically generated and emails are sent as per the schedule set up ahead of time. For more tips on improving your webinar campaigns see Paul Teshima’s excellent post Four Practices to Increase Webinar Effectiveness.

  4. Inactive or Dormant Lead campaign. By inactive, I mean a contact in your database that has not responded to an email or visited your website within the last six months. I’m not referring to a lead that sales forgot to follow up on but this program may include those contacts as well.

    Similarly to your welcome program where you had unique messaging based on their “new contact” status, you’ll want to customize your messaging for those contacts that have not demonstrated any recent activity. The key here is for your marketing automation platform to automatically feed these inactive contacts into a campaign that will fire off these targeted emails. If you have to manually mine your database for these “inactives” or pay someone to do it, you are not “doing more with less”.

    These types of emails can include the following:
    -Special offer that re-engages the contact
    -Survey that asks the contact what type of information they would like to receive
    -Notice that if they don’t respond, they will be removed from regular communications.

    I’ve seen campaigns that flag contacts as “inactives” and removes them from receiving "regular" emails but if these inactive contacts demonstrate any activity, the inactive flag is removed and they set to receive regular email communications.
  5. Customer service survey. Automatically send out a follow up email after a customer service case was closed asking for feedback. This is again a simple idea but often overlooked. This type of campaign can prevent issues from boiling up.

  6. Renewal reminders. If your product or service is subscription based, automatically enter key customer contacts into an email campaign that sends auto email notifications that their contract is about to expire at the 90, 60 and 30 day mark prior to the renewal date.

  7. Trial tips. If your product includes a limited free trial, enter contacts into a trial campaign that will send targeted emails throughout the trial with value add materials that encourages the lead to take the next step in the purchase process.

  8. New customer program. For new customers that have purchased your product or service, enter them into an email campaign that introduces them to your product as well as your company. Your product may have been purchased by a select few but will be used throughout the organization. Having a “new user/customer” campaign can help people that aren’t familiar with your product get better acquainted.

  9. Education programs. By education programs, I’m referring to the traditional lead nurturing campaigns. This is typically a series of emails sent over a period of time that helps keep your company top of mind for potential customers. While I’m not going to focus on the substance of these emails, I will indicate how these campaigns are triggered. These types of campaigns can be triggered by:
    -Sales reps entering leads into a nurturing program via a trigger in your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) database. Many CRMs are fully integrated with a marketing automation platform which easily allows for these types of campaigns.
    -Lead Rating not being high enough. If a lead is deemed “not yet ready to be sent on to sales”, they can be automatically added to a lead nurturing campaign with the goal that they lead will eventually raise their hand to indicate they are ready to be engaged.
    -Activity/User interests. As an example, if a certain link was clicked on an email (or not clicked on), a contact can be added to an email campaign that will send on more targeted information. Another example is when a web visitor was looking at a page or series of pages on your website, automatically send them a follow up email that provides additional information with a call to action to speak to an expert that can answer any questions that they may have had. Ed Henrich referred to this as a “browse program”.

    It’s these types of automated email campaigns that when set up properly can produce tremendous results. The key to this is ensuring that you are measuring the outcomes of these nurturing campaigns. See my post “Lead Nurturing - How to track ROI?” for more details.

  10. Reference Program from Net Promoters. This was an idea I brought up to my own company but it took Ed Henrich to remind me about it. If your organization runs a Net Promoter survey, send an automatic follow up email to those that are “promoters” asking them if they would act as references

These are my top 10 triggered email campaigns but this is by far not a full list. Having the right tools allows you to create highly customized automated campaigns. I hope that you found this useful and please let me know of other automated email campaigns that you may have deployed and how they fared.

Chad H.




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