Home  › Email › Email Marketing

How a B2B E-mail Marketer Can Survive the Holidays

  |  November 17, 2010   |  Comments

Five tactics to consider as you finish this year's mailings.

Black Friday is lurking just around the corner. At this time of year, I am frequently asked what a B2B e-mail marketer should do during the busy holiday e-mail season, when customers are often more focused on their personal shopping than a company's newest widget.

It's a valid question. How do you compete in an inbox crowded with 50 percent-off savings offers and holiday-exclusive consumer deals?

As always, my answer is "relevance dictates frequency." If you have a message that is relevant to your customers during the holidays, you should mail. If the message isn't relevant, you shouldn't mail.

How do you know if your message is relevant? Consider the following tactics as you finish this year's mailings:

Focus on Event-Based Mailings

Certain events should always trigger an e-mail response, no matter the season. An e-mail message confirming a purchase or newsletter opt-in or welcoming a new e-mail subscriber is always highly relevant and should always be mailed.

Other opportunities which always call for a speedy e-mail message:

  • Following up after a whitepaper or product trial download
  • Sending support material after a salesperson's phone contact
  • Responding to a request for information on your website.

E-mail follow-ups to phone conversations and in-person meetings are excellent opportunities to continue nurturing the customer relationship with additional valuable information.

Thank your customers for visiting your trade show booth, calling customer service, stopping at your office, or meeting with a salesperson. Offer content that provides more detail about what was discussed during that contact.

Continue Behavior-Based Mailings

Newsletters that leverage Web analytics behavioral data by dynamically featuring articles or news items that reflect the customer's browse behavior are always relevant.

In the B2C online retail world, many retailers have captured potentially lost sales by e-mailing customers who abandon carts during the purchase process and inviting them to come back and complete the transaction.

In the B2B world, tracking when a customer spends a significant amount of time browsing specific content pages, views a Webinar, or downloads a whitepaper or trial can help you identify those who are "in market" for your product or service.

Similar to following up on abandoned carts, several of my clients have seen huge success in following up with relevant messages based upon these tips.

The best approach is to delay the follow-up for at least two to three days after the customer's site visit to lower the "Big Brother" effect where customers might feel as if you are tracking them too closely.

Also key to this strategy: cap the frequency of these messages to avoid sending this content too often.

Stay Focused on the Customer Lifecycle

Important events related to the typical customer lifecycle and purchase process are also natural opportunities for highly relevant triggered e-mails during the holiday season.

Request for proposal responses, contract renewals, pricing changes, and the anniversary of their first purchase are all relevant contacts. These messages can contain notices of pricing deadlines, upgrades or service offers, or a sincere thank you for their continued patronage.

Communicate News Important to Your Subscribers

Any news that might affect the customer's account or relationship with your brand is also highly relevant for a holiday season mailing. Any turnover should prompt an immediate message. Consider sending an e-mail when the company changes a value-added reseller, salesperson, or service provider.

Another relevant message reviews what the customer has purchased in the past year and provides updates on eligible upgrades, new products, and a current list of account or customer service contacts.

What to Avoid

Remember to always answer your subscriber's question: "What is in it for me?" Don't send a generic "Happy Holidays" e-mail that doesn't include valuable information for subscribers to your entire customer database.

Although you send this message with the best of intentions, your subscribers might not deem it relevant, especially when they are cleaning out crowded holiday season inboxes. They will either ignore it or, worse, unsubscribe.

A well-intended holiday greeting should not cause you to lose the ability to market to your customer via e-mail in the future.

The Last Word

Your B2B holiday e-mail strategy can be effective if you always remember to mail only when your message is truly relevant to your subscribers.

Continually putting yourself in your subscriber's shoes and answering their "What is in it for me?" questions will allow you to identify accurately which messages to mail and which messages to avoid.

When you succeed, you will continue to have a high-performing e-mail program during a season that many consider a dead zone for B2B e-mail marketing.

ClickZ Live Toronto On the heels of a fantastic event in New York City, ClickZ Live is taking the fun and learning to Toronto, June 23-25. With over 15 years' experience delivering industry-leading events, ClickZ Live offers an action-packed, educationally-focused agenda covering all aspects of digital marketing. Register today!

ClickZ Live San Francisco Want to learn more? Join us at ClickZ Live San Francisco, Aug 10-12!
Educating marketers for over 15 years, ClickZ Live brings together industry thought leaders from the largest brands and agencies to deliver the most advanced, educational digital marketing agenda. Register today and save $500!


Mike Hotz

Mike Hotz is a senior strategic consultant for Responsys, working with clients to design, develop, and execute cross-channel digital marketing strategies that contribute to their cross-channel digital marketing success. As an industry veteran, Mike has worked in e-mail marketing since 1998, designing, building, and executing e-mail and multichannel direct marketing strategies focusing on increasing customer engagement, nurturing leads, supporting sales organizations, and driving revenue for companies such as CDW, OfficeMax, Grant Thornton, and Digitalwork.com.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get ClickZ Email newsletters delivered right to your inbox. Subscribe today!



Featured White Papers

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce
This Magic Quadrant examines leading digital commerce platforms that enable organizations to build digital commerce sites. These commerce platforms facilitate purchasing transactions over the Web, and support the creation and continuing development of an online relationship with a consumer.

Paid Search in the Mobile Era

Paid Search in the Mobile Era
Google reports that paid search ads are currently driving 40+ million calls per month. Cost per click is increasing, paid search budgets are growing, and mobile continues to dominate. It's time to revamp old search strategies, reimagine stale best practices, and add new layers data to your analytics.




    • GREAT Campaign Project Coordinator
      GREAT Campaign Project Coordinator (British Consulate-General, New York) - New YorkThe GREAT Britain Campaign is seeking an energetic and creative...
    • Paid Search Senior Account Manager
      Paid Search Senior Account Manager (Hanapin Marketing) - BloomingtonHanapin Marketing is hiring a strategic Paid Search Senior Account Manager...
    • Paid Search Account Manager
      Paid Search Account Manager (Hanapin Marketing) - BloomingtonHanapin Marketing is hiring an experienced Paid Search Account Manager to...