How to use email as your main customer source

There’s research which has been around for a couple of years which shows that in retail, customer acquisition by email is a close third behind organic search and pay-per-click advertising. That’s quite something, when you think about it. We’re talking new customers here, not selling to existing ones, the traditional strength of email.

Some companies are getting more new customers through email than any other source.

How is email being used to do that? It’s a spinoff from the rise of social media and content marketing. Online communities are used to promote a promise of great information and offers, which will require an email address to receive them. Prospects can receive this information for years before deciding to become a customer. It’s a long game, but it works.

Fine if you’re a camera retailer, you may be saying. With all their social media buzz, genuinely interested customers and ability to create special offers, it’s easy for them. But we sell blue widgets. There’s less to say about them; there are no special offers; I have far fewer resources; our prospect base is small; and I can think of even more excuses if you give me time.

Well, OK, if you’re not on board, I shan’t try to drag you along with us. But you could be the most widely-read publisher in your field in a couple of years time if you put your mind to it. I think that email can be an even more powerful tool in B2B marketing than it is in retail. Third-best source of customer acquisition? It can be the first.

First, you need to commit to a regular writing schedule. If you can’t do it in-house, we’ve set up several companies with this for £1200 a month. This gets you a really good monthly or fortnightly article.

Then you need an efficient emailing system (easy enough) and most importantly, complete buy-in to the idea from your sales department. Getting an email address for your excellent free technical monthly article should be the minimum target from every sales call. The list will build. Two years down the line, when the prospect actually needs new blue widgets, you need to be the company which has been sending those excellent articles every month – not the company which put a brochure in the post once upon a time.

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