Bed Bath & Beyond has been emailing me 20%-off coupons for the past two years. These emails are typically ignored; I hadn’t visited a Bed Bath & Beyond in at least eight years. Well, last month, their efforts finally paid off. A certain someone convinced me higher-thread-count sheets were a necessity so my first instinct was to print out the coupon and head over to the nation’s largest supplier of bed linens.
Bed Bath & Beyond proved that consistency is key when it comes to email marketing.
Now we’re not advocating that you start sending out coupons for 20% off your contract manufacturing services, but we do recommend regularly sending your customers useful emails as a way to remain top-of-mind when they are ready to buy.
But what should you include in an email marketing program? Industrial-specific inspiration is tough to find as most of the more innovative examples come from retailers. We did the legwork, though, and joined email lists for dozens of manufacturers and distributors so that we could provide some examples of the five types of email every industrial marketing program should feature.
1. The Plain-Text Email
Plain-text emails are exactly what they sound like — plain text. No pretty graphics. No fancy fonts. While plain text emails are rather, well . . . plain, they should absolutely be part of your industrial marketing program.
Why? Because all email clients and mobile devices can easily handle plain text. There’s no formatting issues to worry about or accessibility issues to tackle. In fact, many newer devices, such as the Apple Watch, will only display plain-text versions of emails. If your email is coded entirely in HTML (pro tip: always include a plain-text alternative with your HTML emails), it won’t display on these devices.
The other reason you should use plain-text emails is that many people prefer it. A recent survey by DIY themes found that 55.1% of respondents preferred their plain-text email because it was “much easier to read” and “clean.”
However, the same article goes on to say that plain-text emails generally fail to get recipients to take actions — e.g., download whitepapers. Which brings us to our next email type.
2. The Primary-Action Email
When you send an email, you typically want your customer to do something — e.g., download a PDF, fill out your contact form, participate in a survey, etc. The more actions you ask your customers to take, the less likely they are to take one.
This example email from Matrix Tube Service to the right has a single purpose: to get customers to download Matrix’s white paper. Distractions are kept to a minimum; the only clickable button is the giant red “download the white paper” button.
If you’re trying to drive readers to download or sign up for something, it’s important that your call-to-action buttons provide clear directions. Generic buttons with phrases like “go” or “learn more” are less likely to be clicked.
Another best practice is having multiple calls-to-action that do the same thing. For example, in addition to including your clickable button, you might turn the text “download our white paper” in the body of the email into a hyperlink. MarketingProfs found that a combination of text-based and graphic-based links is best for increasing conversions.
3. The Newsletter Email
Today’s industrial marketing requires producing tons of useful content. Industrial customers crave information in the form of blogs, press releases, case studies, white papers, etc. — and hopefully you’re delivering it regularly. But emailing your customers every time you produce a new piece of content can overwhelm them and lead to unsubscribes.
Enter the e-newsletter.
An e-newsletter is your opportunity to provide a concise digest of content you’ve recently produced. Your e-newsletter is not meant to tell full-length stories; it’s intended to provide short, easy-to-scan summaries that will drive people back to your website. We recommend that every industrial marketing program include an e-newsletter that goes out at least once a month.
4. The Promotional Email
It’s mind-blowing how many distributors don’t advertise promotional offers from the manufacturers they represent. Most manufacturers even create graphics and promotional materials for this very purpose. There’s simply no excuse.
Promotional emails are also one of the easiest types of email to create. They don’t require a ton of copy; simply state the offer, explain how customers can redeem the offer, and let them know when the offer expires. Make sure to provide a sense of urgency that entices the reader to act quickly. The longer the email sits in their inbox, the less likely they are to act on it.
5. The Survey Email
It’s easy to guess what customers are thinking, but it’s infinitely more effective to ask them directly. Surveys are excellent tools for collecting useful information that will help you improve customer experience.
Don’t include the actual survey in the email. Instead, explain why you’re conducting the survey, highlight what customers receive for participating, and provide a link to the survey. Tools like Survey Monkey allow you to create quick, free surveys that you can link to from your email.
Evaluating Your Email Marketing
There’s no one size fits all when it comes to integrating email intro your industrial marketing program. Some of these emails may work better than others depending on your audience and industry. Moreover, it’s important to test and study the performance of your emails by trying different subject lines, link placements, lengths of copy, and headlines.
Think you have your email marketing together or want a better sense of how your industrial marketing program measures up in general? Test your mettle by taking this 11-question quiz to measure your knowledge of email marketing and all the other crucial aspects of integrated marketing.