Interviewed by a marketing magazine - this means I must be very famous indeed ;-)

Technical PR, Engineering PR, Industrial PR, Manufacturing PRI was recently interviewed by a marketing magazine on the subject of e-mail marketing. I thought you might like to read my replies to their questions, which naturally came by e-mail...

What sort of content is most appropriate to e-mail marketing?
"Most forms of B2B direct marketing have a simple imperative - to generate sales enquiries. Let us put aside for now those companies wanting to influence different stakeholder groups. Just as in any other form of direct marketing your sales message must be clear and most companies get this right. However, the sales message must be complimented correctly with the right reason for buying. You need to communicate the value you add to your product or service effectively, not just the fact that buying today gets you fifty per cent of your next purchase."

For instance, if you are a wholesaler, your messages should be plain, simple and look cost effective. There is very little point unconsciously communicating to your customers that you spend all their money on flash marketing. Viking Direct is great at getting the right balance in this sort of e-mail. However, if your USP isn't price or no fuss delivery you might be able to afford to be a little more creative. For instance, a design company or marketing services firm might take a more innovative approach, couching the sales message in industry comment or humour for instance."

What form should it take?
"Again, the form of your e-mail or SMS should be a direct reflection of the values you adopt. However, there are a number of other issues to consider here as well. Firstly, there are plenty of firewalls that will keep out HMTL based e-mails on principle. So you might want to consider the kind of e-mail practices your clients adopt. If you primarily sell to banks and law firms, there isn’t a great deal of point in investing in HTML because you can guarantee their IT departments will be ahead of the game. However, if your market is SME companies you could consider some graphical wizardry. Having said that, it's always wise to produce two versions of the newsletter, one in plain text the other in HTML, so that your recipients can opt for one or the other. The key to effective e-DM is always recipient choice."

It could also be worth reflecting the brand of your newsletter in a Blog. You can even use the some of the same content in both. However, Blog writing has its own set of rules if its going to be effective as part of a corporate marketing campaign, so it is worth doing your research first.”

What laws do I have to abide by?
"The main thing to consider is how you got hold of an e-mail address or mobile phone number in the first place. The EC Directive on Privacy and Electronic Communications is quite clear on the fact that you cannot communicate with potential customers without their prior consent. As a result, the old tactics of ‘getting a student in’ to scan Web sites for for contact details should be long gone. You must have obtained the address via a reputable supplier (who will have received consent beforehand) or collected the recipient’s permission along with their business card.

You should also supply either a double opt in or single opt out unsubscribe facility. That is to say that your recipients must either first say they want to receive the mail by responding to an invitation or they must have the facility to easily unsubscribe themselves.”

Finally, your must include the sender's details. This sounds like a no brainer to most B2B marketers, after all you want the recipient to get in touch! However, I am aware of companies coming unstuck with viral marketing on this very point."

Richard Stone

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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