Delta Faucet Directs E-Mail Flow

Getting close to the customer is most marketers’ goal.

But for many business-to-business (B2B) marketers, there’s often a go-between involved: a distributor, reseller, or advisor who has the closer relationship with the client. This can create an e-marketing challenge since the e-mail’s sender line is so important to getting e-mail open.

Should the e-mail come from the larger company with a well-recognized global brand or the intermediary who’s actually in touch with the client?

Delta Faucet solved this conundrum by creating what e-mail marketing manager, Kim Biggerstaff, calls “on your behalf” e-mail.

Delta doesn’t have a direct sales force. Instead, it has a group of sales managers who work with independent sales agencies who act as manufacturer’s reps. These sales agents call on wholesale plumbers, builders, architects, designers, and other wholesalers in their geographic region.

Since the sales agent actually call on clients, Biggerstaff decided the e-mail messages should be sent by them, not Delta.

To preserve the Delta branding and ensure the messages are on strategy, Biggerstaff creates the e-mail messages herself with the help of her agency, Ohio-based Hanson Inc. and her e-mail service provider, ExactTarget.

She works on creating a “really beautiful e-mail that is very much on brand, on strategy” and locks in all the main components, except for an area of personalization for the sales agent. Here’s a typical “on your behalf” e-mail.

The sales agencies choose the e-mail messages they want to send out, import their own list of contacts from their local market, then add a custom paragraph or signature. The e-mail messages are sent out under their own names, such as marketing@salesagency.com. The product branding is accomplished in the subject line.

Any responses go directly back to the sales agency itself for follow up. However, Biggerstaff is able to track open and click-through rates, which are both above industry averages, and beyond the results Delta usually achieves. The open rates are one and a half times the industry average, and the CTRs (define) are three times the industry average.

To find out whether the e-mail messages generated revenue, Biggerstaff had to rely on anecdotal feedback from the sales agencies, which was more difficult to pin down.

But the feedback she did receive suggests a very successful campaign. One sales agency reported an e-mail opened the door to a new client and generated a six-figure sale. Two other sales agencies wrote orders from new clients who had never bought Delta products before. In addition, Biggerstaff received many calls from sales agencies that told her they loved the e-mail campaign.

The “on your behalf” e-mail messages were originally sent as a test and proved beyond a doubt to Biggerstaff that her hunch was correct. Customers would rather hear from a sales agent they know on a local level rather than a global manufacturer.

In essence, the message seems to be: “Think globally, sell locally.”

Send your “Best of 2006” B2B case studies to Karen for future columns.

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

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