Ten Top Best Email Practices for Building Product Marketing

12196229744_b32db1c881_zEmail marketing continues to be a vital component of the building product marketing mix, but in order to succeed, you need to follow best practices to optimize email deliverability. 

If you are like a majority of business marketers (68%), email marketing is core to your marketing efforts. According to Madison Logic, more than 122 billion emails are sent every hour.

By using the analytics built into most email marketing software, you can thoroughly test and analyze results. The most common metrics you should look at are open, click-through and unsubscribe rates.

The industry standards for B2B email:

  • Open rate: 11-15%
  • Click-through rate: 2.1-5%
  • Unsubscribe: .11-.2%

Given the fact that email marketing is such an important part of your building product marketing effort, follow these top ten best practices to help boost the overall results of your email campaigns.

  1. Use capital letters to lift engagement.
  2. Punctuation is unnecessary.
  3. Increase open rates using personalization: Users are 22% more likely to open when addressed by their first name. 
  4. Keep character count to 50 or less (according to MailChimp).
  5. Don’t use salesy words – be clear.
  6. Focus your messaging on the promise of the subject line.
  7. Pose a question to increase interest and the call-to-action of the viewer and to encourage click-through.
  8. Use color! Orange and red are optimal choices for the color of your call-to-action button.
  9. Test! Test! Test! Improve your campaign’s performance metrics by conducting A/B testing. Test with a sizable audience to ensure statistical significance.
  10. Optimize your site for mobile.

Designing for today’s devices is becoming more important as mobile adoption rates continue to increase at a rapid rate. Be sure to design your message using basic HTML that will adapt easily to a diverse range of email clients.

Also make sure your main messages are in the email text, not just in graphics. The first line of your email should be plain text with a link to a landing page that works well for web and mobile browsers.

PHOTO CREDIT: Per Chris via Flickr

Five Ways to Take Charge of Your Reputation in Building Product Marketing

Reputation_4365875125_e0dfbbb87f_zYou can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do. – Henry Ford

In any industry, personal reputation matters. In building product manufacturing, it’s important because to close the deal and get the order, your customer has to have confidence that you can deliver.

Great reputations don’t just happen. They result from deliberate actions. They are built over months to years, based largely on your actions but sometimes on your words as well. Once an opinion has been formed, it is very difficult to change that perception. Below are five things you can consistently do to build a great reputation for your building product company.

Online Monitoring.

Monitoring your brand-related conversations can help you identify the places your customers and prospects are talking about you. It will also make you aware of brand sentiment. If it seems you need to improve your building product brand’s reputation, there are lots of tools available that make this an easy task.

Ask for Feedback.

Reviews play a significant role in the online space. Since users trust other users more than businesses, reviews can provide credibility to your building product business and help move your prospects down the path to purchase. Users have become accustomed to giving reviews on all sorts of products and services, and although you can’t force someone to leave one, you can ask them politely.

Be Nice.

Getting back to the basics of simply being nice does wonders when it comes to everyday reputation management. Needless to say, it goes a long way both online and offline. No matter how well your company is managed, there will always be a customer who is irritated by an experience. In cases such as these, keep “the customer is always right” top of mind by acknowledging the customer, apologizing and taking steps to make it right.

Be Helpful. 

A great way to build your building product brand’s reputation and authority is to provide genuine value to online conversations with your customers and prospects. Luckily there are many opportunities in the online space in which to do this such as your company blog, Q & A sites and social networks.

Engage in the blogosphere. 

Maintaining a good business blog can help you manage your online reputation better because, basically, a blog is a reflection of your building product brand. It therefore gives readers the opportunity to learn more about it by telling them who your company is and what you have to offer, among other things. In many cases a blog gives your customers a chance to express their thoughts about your building products as well as your business in general.

Photo credit: F Delventhal via flickr

The Power of Being a Social Building Product Marketer

The_power_of_beingBuilding product marketers who want to help drive the social media conversation and turn customers into evangelists will need to truly understand the nuances and landscape of this medium. 

Lookup a definition for social media and you’ll get a hundred different answers. Ask a group of marketing professionals and you’ll get a range of responses, from it being an advertising and marketing tool and others that tout its ability to position brands.

The one definition that I prefer to use is; social media is an online platform for interaction, relationships and networking. I believe this is social media in its purest and simplest form and, therefore, it’s very important to remember when developing strategies to engage your building product customers.

Effective social media is by, for and about your customer. And it cannot be delved into lightly. It demands a deep understanding of the cultural and social dynamics that drive this media form.

Social media shouldn’t be thought of as another channel to complement traditional media. It should be thought of as a platform for your entire customer experience, and in turn your entire marketing mix. More and more so it is becoming the primary way your customers experience your building product brand.

As a marketer of building products, it’s up to you to lead the organization in creating your brand’s social experience that delivers twofold: value to your customers and helps meet business goals.

Being social can serve a variety of purposes:

  • Distributing content and building reputation (Lowest engagement)
  • Customer service and support (More engagement)
  • Managing influencers who are driving conversation around your brand (High engagement)
  • Turning customers into brand evangelists (Deepest engagement)

In order to get the most out of your social platforms, you first have to understand how your customers will benefit from participating in your social conversations. And in order to understand this, you need to know what the primary drivers are for people to use social media:

  1. Self-expression and sharing (B2B translation: Exchange of information and expertise)
  2. Making and connecting with friends (B2B translation: Professional networking)
  3. Getting attention (B2B translation: Improve standing with management and colleagues)

Your social media program needs one, two or all three of these benefits to truly be successful. The more you are able to connect with your customer emotionally, the more time he or she will spend with your building product company and connect more deeply with your brand. If you are not providing at least one of these, you aren’t harnessing the true power of this medium.

PHOTO CREDIT: photo by Gellscom on flickr

Five Digital Aha’s for Marketing Building Products in 2014

AhaKeeping up-to-date with digital trends and strategies from thought-leaders and veteran marketers will help you hone your current marketing skills and fill your sales pipeline with viable leads. 

Online Marketing Institute recently hosted a series of webinars featuring seven leading experts in the B2B digital marketing sphere. Tips, tactics and strategies were presented from thought-leaders in the areas of social media, marketing automation, content marketing, big data and mobility. If you missed it, I’ve provided five aha’s from the all day event:

1. Content marketing has changed B2B forever. Traditional B2B marketing efforts like basic brand advertising and trade show participation aren’t working as well anymore. Content marketing is dominating as the marketing vehicle for building product marketers.

2. Content marketing should satisfy three stages of the buyer’s journey. Content creation and marketing should be more informational and less advertorial in nature. To be sure you aren’t spinning your content creation wheels and getting nowhere, build your content strategy around your goals:

  • Lead generation: focus on content that prompts registration or email downloads such as whitepapers and ebooks
  • Establishing your company as a thought leader: produce regular blog posts and create reports that will establish your business as a trusted resource
  • Increase brand awareness: produce engaging content such as guides, infographics and videos that are informational to your prospect and include your company’s branding

3. Content can mold leads into brand advocates. Customers who get it are worth a lot more than those who don’t. This is why it is critical to move a prospect from unaware to aware with your content. A customer who is loyal to your building product brand is less likely to shop the competition and more likely to refer you to others.

4. Find success with content, reach and paid advertising. The crucial combination of producing quality content, optimizing for organic reach and spending on promotions is necessary to see results with your social efforts. 

5. Don’t be corporate, be human. One of the toughest challenges building product marketers face is being human with your audience. B2B marketing messages tend to be indifferent, dull and over-promotional. Take note from marketers in the B2C space who more effectively resonate on an emotional level.

Online Marketing Institute’s B2B Digital Marketing Essentials for 2014

Photo credit: Tetsumo via flickr.com

Four Challenges Killing Your Building Product Marketing ROI

medium_3290848259Content creation has become essential in lead generation and building product marketers who understand the challenges are able to create a stronger brand visibility. 

A Content Marketing Institute report revealed that the top content creation concerns among marketers are:

  • Producing enough content. Even though as a whole marketers are producing more content across a wider spectrum of formats, producing enough content remains the top challenge. But it’s not just about quantity. Are you measuring your building product content marketing web traffic and identifying better-quality sales leads? It’s more important for you to provide quality content that engages and compels your prospects and customer rather than churn out as much copy as you can.
  • Producing original content. Creating original and engaging content is another big challenge for building product marketers. While it’s understandable, you should be able to develop engaging media by using an editorial brief that outlines your target audiences’ interests. Using it as a filter for content will allow you to bring your building product brand’s unique perspective to life.
  • Lack of resources. One of the more common challenges among content marketers is limited staff and budgets. It continues to be a growing concern for many marketers because they simply don’t have the money or talent to produce content in house. One way to work around this issue is for the marketing team to share the responsibilities.
  • Ineffective ROI measurement. Measuring ROI and producing strategic content are challenges that prevent wider use of content marketing practices. The inability to evaluate metrics is an acceptable struggle, however content analytics should be a driving force behind your campaigns. If you don’t know where to devote resources that will impact the bottom line, how can you invest more?

Read the entire Content Marketing Institute report: 2013 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends.

Photo credit:  cambodia4kidsorg via flickr

Content Marketing Tactics That Ensure Success in Building Product Marketing

medium_7196460482Understanding the tactics of successful B2B marketers to drive awareness and recruit new customers can help building product marketers finesse marketing goals. 

A new report from Content Marketing Institute reveals that social media is an essential platform for generating new business. Building product manufacturers can use this statistic, among other key findings from the report, to hone in on a strategic content marketing plan. Some of the other B2B marketing insights include:

  • 93% are using content marketing
  • 44% have a documented content strategy
  • B2B content marketers use an average of 13 tactics
  • 76% are sharing video via social media platforms
  • In-person events are rated as the most effective tactic
  • LinkedIn is the most widely used social media site to distribute content (91%) and the platform the majority of B2B marketers consider to be most effective
  • Slideshare, Google+ and Instagram have experienced the biggest surges in use over the last year
  • 58% plan to increase their content marketing budget
  • 73% have increased the amount of content they are producing over last year
  • 86% have someone who oversees content strategy
  • 95% segment their content in at least one way

One of the more intriguing insights from the report is the fact that 30% of marketing budgets are allocated to content marketing. Nearly one third of marketers’ entire budgets is devoted to content. You know as well as I do that when marketers put that much faith in a tactic, it has to be influencing the bottom line.

Even though brand awareness is still the top organizational goal for content marketing, sales lead quality and web traffic are the top success metrics for content.

Read Content Marketing Institute’s entire report, The State of B2B Content Marketing in North America.

If you prefer, view Brightcove’s infographic on the key findings of this year’s B2B content marketing research.

 Photo credit:  gforsythe via flickr

Three Steps to More Effectively Evaluating Your Building Product Marketing

three_steps_internets_dairyBuilding product marketers who truly understand their customer path to conversion are better at measuring the value of their marketing channels and executing strategies that improve ROI. 

ROI is a calculated value and, therefore, the answer will only be as accurate as the data being used in the formula. How your company approaches ROI depends a great deal on your company’s strategy for marketing building products. According to Harvard Business professor Michel Porter, there are three types of strategies:

Cost leadership. If your company focuses on direct response advertising, then it uses a cost leadership strategy. Direct response is fairly easy to measure and, therefore, your company’s ROI should be fairly straightforward.

Focus.  If your company is focused on a particular market segment and has a limited marketing budget, then it is most likely employing a “focus” strategy. These types of companies are usually either regionally focused or cater to a particular type of customer. Also, the ROI equation is a bit more simplified for a company with a focus strategy.

Differentiation. If your company is using a differentiation strategy, then your marketing efforts are more intensive than companies using other strategies, because your success depends on your customers believing that you offer better building products than your competitors. In order to accomplish this, your building product brand has had to build passion and desire among its customer base. This is a strategy that can be very profitable because customers are willing to pay a premium for brands they trust.

As the complexity of the customer path continues to evolve and expand across multiple touch points, the ability to attribute sales to specific channels is becoming increasingly challenging. In order to establish appropriate ROI for each channel, building product marketers need to understand the influence of each in the customer’s path to conversion.

Three key steps that help effectively attribute ROI:

1.  Identify key touch points. Customers navigate through a series of touch points in their buying journey. They may start with reading an online review, then search online to compare prices and end by having found a site that offers cash back on purchase. In addition to the online channels, their intent may have been triggered by traditional (offline) media, like a print advertisement or television commercial.

It is important for building product marketers to understand the key touch points involved in your customer’s buying journey in order to ascertain the value offered by each. 

2.  Track and measure touch points. Third-party tracking systems will allow you to monitor cross-channel activity, with the goal being to uncover the multi-channel paths that most effectively drive conversions. The path your prospects and customers follow and how they interact with each touch point is key in being able to move to the next step.

3. Understand the value of each touch point. Whether your company uses a multi attribution or value attribution strategy, the key to improving ROI is to know where the most valuable paths to conversion occur. When you understand this, you will be in a better position to understand the value of sales and tie it back to an effective return on investment.

To learn more about Michael Porter and his achievements, click here.

Photo credit: internets_dairy via flickr.com

Three Key Moves to Up Your Building Product Marketing Game

8995072084_accdb78957_k 3 movesBuilding product marketers who have a documented content strategy can raise awareness and increase impressions on social media. 

Simply being present on social media is no longer enough. When you are plotting your company’s course in the social waters, there are three key moves you can make that will create a successful strategy.

1.  Build brand awareness. While it’s a good idea – and easy – to set goals for your social media marketing campaign based on how many people click  through to your site, you might consider employing impression-based strategies for a portion of your ad budget. The goal here is to have your brand seen by buyers you will eventually approach for sales. Prospects of your building products who use social media are far more likely to purchase a product or service they have seen in their social media feeds, advertisement, etc. If you are attracting positive attention by sharing helpful information and insights, it doesn’t go unnoticed. When a potential buyer sees your brand pop up on their social media radar, it prepares them for when you reach out to them.

2.  Highlight your expertise. Building product social media users turn to sites like LinkedIn and Twitter to read the news and keep up with the latest trends in the industry. In a nutshell, they turn to these channels to learn from others. Leverage this by positioning your building product brand as a valued contributor of information while at the same time augmenting your visibility among potential buyers. This also allows you to directly communicate with them without the pressure of selling.

3.  Make contact for sales. Generating sales is your campaign’s ultimate goal, so making direct contact will need to happen at some point. Social media marketing is a great way to follow through and establish genuine connections with your potential buyers. Be sure you are targeting businesses you’d like to work with and finding them in the social media channel in which they are strongest.

Photo credit:  Daniel Y. Go via flickr.com

The Importance of Branding in Building Product Marketing

shutterstock_1018067652_BrandingIn a sea of numbing sameness, noise, parity and dullness, branding can lift your building product marketing to a whole new level by creating a true, strategic competitive advantage.

As a manufacturer of building products, your company focuses on making your products smarter, smaller, more cost effective and reliable than your competition. Like many manufacturers, it is continually finding ways to improve and add services so it can provide your customers with satisfying experiences. In order to stay alive and even flourish in the highly competitive building-product segment, this is understandable.

But what is your company doing to truly differentiate your building products and be relevant to your customers and prospects? 

There isn’t any significant difference between the various brands… They are all about the same. The manufacturer who dedicates his advertising to building the most sharply defined personality for his brand will get the largest share of the market at the highest profit. – David Ogilvy, the “Father” of advertising

This is where brand comes in. And brands do matter in B2B marketing. Many owners and marketers in the building product manufacturing segment want to dismiss the notion of branding. I wholeheartedly believe it’s because they don’t understand what branding is at its essence. It may be due to the fact that “branding” has become one of the most misused, misunderstood buzzwords in marketing.

Ask 100 marketing professionals to define “branding” and you’ll get 101 different answers. Some believe its reputation. Others define it as what people think when they see your logo. These definitions aren’t wrong, they’re just too narrow and represent an external-only view.

Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services and it differentiates your offering from your competitors.

Branding is a strategic tool that can help you cut through the chaos of the building products market, get noticed and connect with your customer and prospective customers in ways that matter.

When you have a strong brand, you help your customers make good choices in today’s confusing, complex and risky marketplace. 

By developing strong and consistent communication, your company’s brand has the ability to generate hidden assets that give them distinct advantages. This is what is referred to as brand equity and it is a form of wealth that is closely related to what your accounting department would call “goodwill.”

 Photo credit: Daniel Y. Go via Flickr

Do More with Data in Building Product Marketing

Close-up of business documentsBuilding product marketers who are not focused on lead generation metrics and don’t have an actionable data plan in place are potentially losing sales opportunities.  

In a report from Monetate via an infographic, 87% of CMOs report that capturing and sharing the right data is critical for effectively measuring ROI. If you are like many building product marketers, you struggle to do this well. The report reveals, though, that you aren’t alone.

  • 45% of companies don’t use data to personalize their communications
  • 42% aren’t able to link data to an individual customer
  • 39% say their company’s data is collected too infrequently
  • 36% have “lots of consumer data” but “don’t know what to do with it”
  • 33% are confident in their ability to make decisions based on new data

Demographics, transactional history and customer survey results top the list of the types of data marketers are collecting. And just over half are collecting customer opinions and attitudes.

Be sure to not go overboard when you are collecting the right information on your building products prospects. Don’t rely so heavily on the discovery phase that you bombard your leads with extensive forms and qualifying questions. If you do this, you will end up losing your prospects before they get past discovery.

Four steps you can take to revamp your strategy for collection and use of data:

  1. Compile metrics from all of the sources: social networks, website analytics, blogs, display ads, email promotions, etc. Gathering from all of these places will ensure you are capturing the most accurate portrait of your customers.
  2. Assign the role of data management to one person. This will help streamline the collection, storage and retrieval processes. To get more from your data, you should create a point person who can help your company undertand and act on the information.
  3. To use data successfully, you must share and analyze it. Whatever you have to do to breakdown the barrier of sharing data, do it. Work across different departments with key players to understand and generate insights from your data.
  4. Connect the dots. You may need to dig deep into certain aspects of your metrics in order to understand the big picture of your customer trends and behaviors. Know what your data goals are from the start so you can keep this in mind when reviewing your metrics.

The Monetate report, The Marketer’s Guide to Actionable Data, was featured in a recent MarketingProfs article.

Photo Credit:  Minerva Studio via istock