From where I’m standing, it seems as though email marketing has been the industrial sector’s unicorn—the strategy that’s proven effective time and again but evasive for many manufacturers or suppliers to get right. When digital marketers in our space see the success of our B2C counterparts, it seems obvious to jump into this channel and grab for that low-hanging fruit. While yes, that monthly newsletter checks the box of email marketing, how well does it aid the sales team by developing and delivering more qualified leads?

Generalized communication is difficult to motivate prospects with, as not everyone in your sales funnel has the same pain points. The good ole one-two of smarter email is to segment your list and utilize triggered emails when possible. Here’s the quick and dirty how-to for accomplishing it.

Give ‘em the hook: segmentation

Segmentation is the first step to upgrading regular email communication. It approaches messaging from the question of “who is this being sent to?” The greater the precision that you can answer that question, the better of an email you’ll be able to develop. Segmenting can be accomplished a number of ways but common approaches for the technical buyers in the industrial sector include:

By industry: If you’re supplying to multiple supply chains, there’s a strong chance each has specific considerations for the buying process of your product. Common topics here are regulation and organizational standards. While news of your latest certification may matter in the food processing industry, your automotive prospects may not be concerned.

By common problems your product solves: This topic may align with some industry-specific solutions, but may take that specificity a step further. If you’re adding new products to your inventory, specifying by applications can be more meaningful to individual leads than a wide-sweeping announcement.

By purchase cycle: Leads for contract manufacturers that are at the design phase have starkly different needs than leads at the vendor selection stage. Knowing where yours are at can define the resources you recommend to them.

Just before you go for the knockout and create 10 new segments, ensure you’ve considered feasibility of the segmentation plan. Gauge this based on your marketing team’s capacity and your CRM’s robustness. If the CRM hasn’t previously been updated with the data you want to segment by, check if there’s a relatively easy method for acquiring that information. Potential data sources include LinkedIn, internal data sources like an ERP or data warehouse, added fields on lead generation forms, or site behaviors in an analytics tool. The other consideration—the marketing team’s capacity—is based on existing marketing strategies and projects. Segmentation requires ongoing commitment to developing more than one newsletter email per month and will demand time to deploy successfully.

If there’s doubt, get your feet wet with a couple segmented emails according to characteristics like job title. There’s often overlap between job title and common problems or position in the buying cycle and job title can prove to be an efficient segmentation strategy.

Follow with the uppercut: triggered emails

Triggered emails are marketing automation at its finest. They create a segment of their own because they’re based on a small percentage of your email database that have engaged with your company in a specific way. Because of this, triggered email success stories are scattered across the internet, driving clicks, sales and great ROI.

Getting started is based on identifying what events trigger these emails. List all potential options—from a newsletter subscription or other form completion, to a disengaged prospect or a lead that gave you a business card at a trade show. While not all of these need to trigger emails, understanding the scope of opportunities can spur some ideas for individual emails or email series.

With each event in mind, the next step is to consider the goal of the email that follows that event. If you consider your most recent Amazon purchase, the follow up email provided confirmation that the purchase was made successfully and a link to the order page. The goal was to assure you that the order was received and in-progress. A similar mindset works for B2B ‘transactions’ as well. If a lead downloads a guide, thanking them for their interest and inquiring about additional questions may suffice.

Finally, consider the number of touchpoints that makes sense for an event or transaction. These triggered emails may best be served with a triggered workflow of a series of emails.

Taking the belt

Ultimately marketing aims to serve the sales funnel and the nature of email is nurturing leads from mildly aware to requesting a quote. Segmentation and triggered emails are smarter, more catered approaches to handling the touch points in between. If trying them out makes sense for your strategy but not your capacity, let’s chat. Consultations are always free.