In my last post, I gave an overview of three top ways to bring value to B2B customers using e-mail marketing programs.  Now I will go into a little more depth on the first technique which is to segment your customers and develop highly targeted programs based on their needs.  To demonstrate this, I will use the hypothetical example of a medical supplier who is selling a wide range of medical equipment and supplies across North America.  The example will demonstrate how the company will segment its customer list to develop targeted e-mail marketing programs.

Company X (the medical supplier) sells medical supplies and equipment to its list of loyal buyers.  Some buyers use Company X as their main supplier while others use it for specialty items such as X-Ray machines or other hospital equipment.  Company X has been gathering data of client purchase behaviors and has accumulated a detailed database of all its purchasers sampled below.

Company X: Client Purchase Details

  1. Medical Center Client: Dr. Lancôme purchases Gloves, Gels, Testing Equipment at  bi-monthly for a value of $15,000
  2. Medical Center Client: Dr. Stevens purchases Cleaning Products, Sanitizers, needles, and a stethoscope monthly for a value of $18,000
  3. Hospital Client: Dr. Ankles purchased an X-Ray Machine, X-Ray Accessories and Protective Equipment last year for a value of $300,000
  4. Hospital Client: Dr. Pharma purchased Ultrasound Equipment and Accessories last year for a value of $200,000

( Note that this is a hypothetical list;and is being used for the sole purpose of demonstrating a clear differentiation in purchasing patterns which will be used to develop client  segmentation)

So…how would Company X segment this list to develop e-mail marketing programs that brings value to these buyers?

As you can see above, there is a clear difference between the purchasing habits of the hospital buyers and the medical center buyers.  This difference appears in the amount spent, the products purchased and the frequency of their purchase.  Because of this difference, Company X decides to use two Segments.  Segment A: Medical Center Clients and Segment B: Hospital Clients.  (Segmentation in this case could also be done by purchasing frequency or average amount of purchase as all three methods would yield the same result).

The next step is to identify the needs of each segment and develop unique programs for each

Segment A: Medical Center Clients

The purchasing habits of Segment A: Medical Center Clients demonstrate that there is a higher frequency of purchases which require less research and are less expensive than the purchases of Segment B.  The needs of this segment are to acquire their supplies at the lowest possible cost and on-time. Knowing this, Company X can attempt to simplify the purchase process using an e-mail marketing program similar to the examples below.

  • Monthly Product Promotion: This promotion will be based on commonly purchased products of this segment. The monthly promotion will bring value by offering savings on products commonly purchased by the clients to help save them money.  Furthermore, this promotion can benefit Company X by creating additional loyalty and enticing the clients to purchase more or more frequently.
  • Monthly Order Form: This order form will give the clients the option to order through e-mail.  Company X can send a monthly order form with all the available products relevant to the clients purchasing trends.  This simplifies the process for the client by allowing them to order by the click of a button.  It also provides a reminder to the client that it is time to stock up.  Company X can also include a feature monthly product only available through online order which will encourage new product trials.

Segment B: Hospital Clients

The purchasing habits of Segment B: Hospital Clients are different from the Medical Centers.  This segment is using Company X as a supplier of heavy medical equipment and accessories.  Furthermore, this segment has a lower level of frequency.  The marketing programs that were used for Segment A will most likely not be effective for this segment.  Instead, these clients might opt in for a more in-depth and informative style of e-mail marketing.  Information on important industry innovations and tools to enhance their medical services could be shared to provide value added to the marketing campaign.  Two examples of email marketing programs that would be attractive to Segment B would be:

  • Monthly Medical Newsletter: This newsletter would showcase important industry news and innovational products (offered by Company X).  It would serve to educate the buyer about new technologies and could significantly affect the next purchase.  It is important to ensure that the monthly newsletter stays true to its original purpose and keeps the information relevant and current.  This is important for Company X to maintain its credibility and keep the clients interested.
  • Quarterly Relevant Product Information: This program would notify clients of relevant products that can complement products already purchased from Company X. The e-mail can give clients “how to” information while promoting product extensions.  This ongoing communication would bring value to customers by educating them about the products they purchased while teaching them how to get more out of them.  In the end, Company X will benefit from this communication by enticing trials and encouraging purchases of product extensions.

Summary

As you can see, this basic example demonstrates how segmenting your client list for e-mail marketing programs can bring additional value to customers and increase sales.  Each segment receives its own custom marketing program while Company X builds credibility and its relationships by giving valuable offers to their clients.  The final key to success for these programs is to include the “opt in” option for the program which further reinforces that the client wants to receive the information.  Next week, I will look into the importance of relevant information in e-mail marketing programs.