We have discussed before the advantages of email marketing: how it has the highest ROI out of all digital marketing channels, how email marketing can drive sales, and even what open and click-through rates you should expect when you send.
This time, though, we answer a question that we’re frequently asked as B2B marketers: how can email marketing work for IT firms specifically?
It’s a fair question. After all, it’s easy to see how email marketing can be successful for B2C companies (how many times have you clicked on an Amazon or Netflix email?), but it’s not as easy to see how email marketing can work for your IT firm.
This worry makes sense for IT firms. The sales cycle is much longer, the service is more complex and technical, and the benefits of the product may require a relationship, or at least nuance, to communicate.
That being said, it is possible and many IT firms have figured it out.
Let’s find out how.
1. Define Email Marketing Campaign
Before you consider whether or not your IT firm can succeed at email marketing, you need to consider how you’ll define success. When your campaign ends, how will you know if it worked?
Not only will defining your goals help you to determine whether or not you’re succeeding, it will also help you to tailor your entire strategy accordingly. The lessons learned from email analytics can be useful in other aspects of your business.
Here are a few categories of metrics to consider:
- Email performance (open rate, click-through rate) – How well are your emails performing? Are they being opened and clicked?
- Website analytics (site visits from email, time spent on pages) – Are your emails driving traffic to your website?
- Dollars in Sales – Are your emails generating actual sales? You’ll want to look into attribution models, but using last interaction is one easy way to start.
2. You’re an Expert – Provide Value Through Emails
In order to achieve any of your goals, you’re going to need to provide truly valuable content in your emails.
The value your content provides is what will drive opens, click-through to your website, and, ultimately, sales from your email campaigns.
This is where things get a little bit tricky for IT firms. On the one hand, you have a fast track to providing value in your email communications.
As an IT firm, your value lies in your expertise. Of course you know how to provide value through communication. The question, however, is this: can you give away valuable expertise in your email content without diluting the value of your service?
Admittedly, this can be a difficult balance. I get it. As marketing consultants, we wrestle with this balance, too. If I tell you everything you need to know about email marketing for IT firms in this article, will you still need our services? Maybe not.
Here’s what I’ve discovered, though, through years of experience – it nearly always pays to lean on the side of more value and information, not less. (This is one of our philosophical underpinnings here at New North. You can read about it in more depth here.)
Look at it this way: by sharing some of your expertise, you’re laying the foundation for future leads and sales. You are providing potential customers tangible evidence that your services truly provide value.
Let’s say that a potential client is contemplating purchasing either from you or from one of your competitors. Your competitor doesn’t make any of their expertise public, as they are concerned about diluting the value of their services. You, on the other hand, constantly provide valuable consultative insights through newsletters, showcase your expertise on a regular basis, and have established your firm as an industry thought leader. Who do you think the potential client is likely to trust – and, ultimately, to buy from?
Probably the company that demonstrates expertise up front.
3. Remain Consistent with Email Marketing
So, if you have defined your goals and seek to achieve them by providing valuable content, you’re off to a great start. What’s the next step? Being consistent.
I love the email that I get every week from Grammarly. Grammarly is a browser plugin that tracks your writing, catching your spelling and grammatical mistakes before they come back to bite you. Each week, they send an email that gives an analysis of writing activity over the previous week – things like total words written, number of unique words used, and number of mistakes made.
Sure, the information in this email is of value because it helps me to better my writing, but a large part of the value is due to its consistency. If this email were to be sent at random intervals, I would be surprised whenever it turned up, and I wouldn’t have a relationship with it. To be honest, I would probably delete it – even if it contained the exact same information.
Because the email shows up in my inbox each week, though, I know what to expect, and I look forward to opening and engaging with it. Because they are weekly providing me value, it becomes habit.
It sounds very simple, but, too many companies neglect consistency. They will try an email newsletter a few times, but fail to see an overflow of leads right away, and stop. Or, they fall into a pattern of sending sporadically, whenever they get around to it.
Remember, email communication is about developing a relationship, and the best relationships are consistent. If you send every few months at random intervals, you aren’t fostering a relationship through email marketing – you’re just shouting at random.
Provide value, and provide it consistently. Your engagement and the return you generate will steadily increase.
4. Work on Your Email List
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the significance of building and maintaining a healthy email marketing list. Regardless of how valuable your content is, if you’re sending it to the wrong people, you’re wasting your time.
Here are a few tips to creating and utilizing a good email contact list.
- Grow it organically. Do not buy contacts – they are almost never worthwhile. Instead. optimize your website for conversions, and send emails to people who are genuinely interested in the services you have to offer.
- Trim the fat. Yes, I know it is painful to click that delete button on hard-earned contacts – but sometimes it’s necessary, especially if you’re using an email service provider that charges per contact (ie Hubspot, MailChimp). If a contact hasn’t opened your last ten or so emails, then it’s probably time to accept that they’re not going to open your next one. This will help to increase your credibility as a sender, and it will make sure that you’re getting an accurate read on stats like click-through and open rates. On top of that, you will save money.
- Segment your list. The more customized you can make your email marketing, the more rewarding and valuable it will be, both for you and your customers. What variables matter to your business? Would you speak differently if you were speaking only to a younger audience, or to an audience of past customers, or to an audience that clicks on your newsletter 75% of the time? Segmentation can provide more relevant messages that your audience will be more likely to engage with.
So, there it is: four tips for you to maximize your email marketing efficacy as an IT firm. Now, get out there, share your valuable expertise, and cultivate relationships with potential clients. Put email marketing to work for you.
Want to understand more of the foundation to our approach? Download our free ebook, The Expert Ecosystem, for an in-depth look at how sharing your expertise can build a lead-generation machine for your IT business.
Are you ready to get started with email marketing today? As an email marketing company in Maryland, we love helping clients around the world put this high-ROI channel to use. Get in touch with us online or at 240.575.5887 to find out what your campaign could look like.
We look forward to speaking with you.