More than 400 B-to-B marketers converged on Chicago last week to participate in the Direct Marketing Association’s annual B-to-B conference. Yes, as you might have guessed, Internet marketing was the number one topic of discussion. Here are the top five take-aways our reporter got from the show:
1) The Internet has completely changed the face of direct marketing. Yahoo’s Direct Response leader Jerry Shereshewsky said "After 30 years [in DM] I've reached the promised land." He’s super excited about mass customization or "customization to the level of one."
2) Effective marketing *must* combine offline and online components. Thus, marketers must understand how to design a website that is engaging, brand preserving and easy to use; how email marketing works; and, how to tie these online efforts to offline campaigns. (Whew!)
Think “integrated.” This means all of your marketing and corporate communications -- including your letterhead and space ads -- should include a Web addresses as automatically as you include phone numbers.
3) Technology has changed significantly how customers are acquired, converted and retained and how leads are generated, qualified and maintained. CRM and PRM (Prospect Relationship Management) and how they are more efficiently enabled by new software, email, etc. were hot topics at the show.
The Word: Keep up to date on technological trends - use new technologies properly and you will not only save money but be able to communicate (and continue to communicate) more effectively with more people than you ever have before!
4) Russell Kern, reknown DM guru and President of Kern Direct Marketing, suggested "downstream feeding through email" as a way to turn someone on-the-fence into a client.
Your best bet -- start an email newsletter for each of your different major prospect groups. Add an opt-in sign-up form on the part of your Web site they visit. Plus have your sales team ask key prospects if they’d like to be on the list. A friendly, useful, newsletter can help you turn prospects into sales.
5) Email marketing is VITAL. Key to success: apply lessons marketers have already learned from winning business-to-consumer campaigns. These include:
- Don't ever spam anyone. Obtain permission to email someone before you send them anything.
- Be wary of rented email lists. Many people will claim they have an opt-in list when actually they don’t. Be sure to only rent through a reputable broker such as Postmaster Direct or YesMail.
- Short copy that cuts to the point works far better than traditional long copy.
- Test, test, test. Email marketing should be tested just like direct mail. Never drop a major campaign without a test cell or two (or four!)
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