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Questions for OgilvyOne’s E-Mail Marketing Director

  |  April 20, 2005   |  Comments

As promised, Jeanniey Mullen answers readers’ tough e-mail questions.

Over the past two weeks, we received an influx of insightful, intriguing questions for OgilvyOne’s email marketing director, Jeanniey Mullen. The questions proved Mullen’s theory business-to-business (B2B) marketing is a whole different ballgame. Today, she takes a swing at answering some of the toughest queries.

What key elements relating to design, mailing frequency, list size, and so forth should be considered with B2B mailings?

Mullen: Great question! There are four key questions you should answer when designing your B2B email program. These answers will guide your approach:

  • What are the key characteristics of your highest value customers (HVCs)? Are they CEOs with a staff of over 10,000? Or CTOs, who must reduce overhead? This answer is important because your email copy only needs to be relevant to your HVCs. The 80/20 rule still applies in B2B email, and the HVC audience will have a real effect on your results.

  • How will your offer/product/service make your key target client look good at work? Once you know your audience, define your message. Only a few of us would work if we didn’t have to. And most of what we do at work is so we can realize something as a result -- a "nice job" comment from your boss, a promotion, a raise, or a sense of personal accomplishment. I’ve never met a working professional who did something work related just for the fun of it.

    Copy must speak to what will best motivate your HVCs. Copy should be personal, relevant, and, most of all, short. Highlights drive interest, and interest drives clicks. Clicks enable reporting-driven findings, and the findings in turn produce more relevant content for every communication.

  • What’s the best time to email? Again, think of your HVC feature set. Telling you Mondays at 9 a.m. EST is best won’t help you get travel executives’ attention when they need info on Thursdays at 2 p.m. PST for their weekly competitive updates. It also won’t work for any organization operating outside the U.S. Their day is almost over by 9 a.m. EST.

    Find the competitive sweet spot and test the day before and two days after. Sound crazy? Maybe. But a little advance knowledge often allows your target audience to use your email as a thought-starter to help prepare for the next big meeting.

  • What is the email’s end goal? This is a business question, but an absolutely critical one. It’s a chicken/egg thing. Is it better to get more people to half-qualify themselves or fewer people to fully qualify themselves? The answer lies in your long-term marketing plan.

Strategy is great, but give me some specific benchmarks for opens and clicks.

Mullen: For unique opens, because of the false opens preview panes provide, shoot for 35-55 percent. Out of this assume only 60 percent of this group actually reads the email. Also, expect open rates in general for B2B to decline over the next year, as new Outlook versions will eliminate the false open rate readings.

Clicks are totally dependent on the mailing type. In general, 8-11 percent is a good goal.

I have no list; and my niche market is small. How do I build an email list?

Mullen:This is a tough question without more specifics, so the answer is a bit general: establish trust. I’ve seen two channels work the best in this scenario.

One approach is to try advertorials in targeted, popular, third-party email newsletters. These may be a bit expensive, but they’re worth it if your target audience is very niche. People who read these publications on a regular basis trust the content. Working with one of these partners often helps you break through the trust barrier.

The second approach is to offer incentives to your sales force to get them to capture and share prospect info with you. Often, the sales team has approval to message to the best leads but is hesitant to share this info with the marketing staff. Building trust with this group can go a long way.

Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.


Karen Gedney

Karen Gedney, an award-winning creative director and copywriter, shared her insights as a ClickZ Experts contributor from 2000 through 2009. She was known for her successful track record of achieving high e-mail response rates for Fortune 1000 companies and leading organizations. She died Nov. 16, 2010.

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