We’ve written before about the benefits of email marketing: how it has the highest ROI out of all digital marketing channels, how email marketing can drive sales, and even about the open and click-through rates you should expect from your sends.
Today, though, I’d like to take the time to answer a question that we’re often asked as B2B marketers: how can email marketing work for consulting firms?
It’s a fair question. After all, it’s easy to see how email works for B2C companies (how many times have you clicked into an Amazon or Netflix email? Probably often enough for you to see why they’re valuable), but it’s not as easy to see how email marketing can work for consulting firms.
That’s because, for consulting firms, the sales cycle is longer, the service is more complex, and the benefits of the product may require a relationship, or at least nuance, to communicate.
So, how can consulting firms succeed at email marketing with these things in mind?
Let’s find out.
1. Set the Right Goals
Before you consider whether or not you can succeed at email marketing, you need to consider how you’ll define success.
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.
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. Provide Value – Be Consultative
In order to achieve any of these goals, you’re going to need to provide valuable content in your emails. The value of your content is what will drive opens, click-through rate to the website, and, ultimately, sales from your email campaigns.
This is where things get a little bit tricky for consulting firms. On the one hand, you have a fast track to providing value in your email communications.
You’re a consulting firm, and by definition, your value lies in your expertise. Of course you know how to provide value through communication. The question, however, becomes this: can you give away valuable expertise in your email content without diluting the value of your service?
Admittedly, this can be a difficult line to walk. 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 consulting firms in this article, will you still need our services?
Here’s what I’ve found, though – 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 sales. You’re giving potential customers tangible evidence that your services actually provide value.
Let’s say that a potential client is considering buying from you or from one of your competitors. Your competitor doesn’t make any of their expertise public, preferring not to dilute the value of their services. You, on the other hand, provide valuable consultative insights in your newsletter, showcase your expertise on a regular basis, and establish 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 more expertise up front.
3. Be Consistent
So, if you know what your goals are and seek to meet them by providing valuable content, you’re off to a good 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, correcting your spelling and grammatical mistakes before they come back to bite you. Each week, the service sends me an email that gives me a statistical analysis of my writing activity over the previous seven days – things like total words written, number of unique words used, and number of mistakes made.
Sure, the information in this email is valuable because it helps me to improve my writing, but a large part of the email’s value is also from 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. Honestly, I’d probably delete it – even if it contained the exact same information.
Because it shows up in my inbox each week, though, I know what to expect, and I look forward to opening and engaging with it.
It sounds simple, but, surprisingly, many firms neglect consistency. They’ll try an email newsletter a few times, fail to see an overwhelmingly obvious positive result 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 List
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the importance of constructing and maintaining a healthy send list. No matter how good your content is, if you’re not sending it to the right people, you’re wasting your time.
Here are a few tips to creating and utilizing a good email contact list.
- Grow it organically. Don’t buy contacts – they are almost never worthwhile. Optimize your website for conversions, and send your emails to people who are actually interested in what you have to offer.
- Trim the fat. Yes, it can be difficult to hit the delete button on 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 emails, then it’s time to admit 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.
- Segment your list. The more customized you can make your communication, the more rewarding 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 an older audience, or to an audience of past customers, or to an audience that opened your newsletter 75% of the time? Segmentation can help you provide more relevant messages that your audience will be more likely to engage with.
So, there you have it: four tips for you to use email marketing as a consulting firm. Now, get out there, share your valuable expertise, and develop relationships with potential clients. Put email marketing to work for you.
Want to understand more of the foundation to our approach? Download our ebook, The Expert Ecosystem, for an in-depth look at how sharing your expertise can generate leads.
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.