My series on E-mail marketing for B2B discussed strategies for bringing value to the business relationship.  When I started the series, I mentioned that three best practices for bringing value to B2B customers using E-mail was segmentation, delivery of relevant/consistent information and feedback.  Having discussed the first two, I will now discuss feedback. Because the B2B customer life cycle is much longer than that of a B2C customer, it allows the marketer greater opportunity to acquire feedback.

Encouraging feedback is the least obvious of the three best practices.  This is because it indirectly brings value to customers through service improvements and not through content.  With customer feedback, you are better equipped to improve your products or service.  Encouraging feedback also helps to build trust with your customers demonstrating that your company cares about their input and needs.  It makes your customers feel important and closer to your company.

Encouraging feedback through E-mail will require extensive planning. It is important that you embark on this type of program with a long term objective and strategy (What information do you want, how will you use it, and how will you acquire it?). Be prepared to implement and track a program over time to truly reap the rewards of customer feedback.

Encouraging feedback can take place throughout the customer life cycle.  Therefore, when you employ your feedback strategy, make sure to adhere to the previous best practices of B2B E-mail marketing (Segment, Relevant/ Consistent).  Feedback will only be effective if you request it through an active E-mail program that already has the trust and attention of the reader.

Now let’s take a look at ways to request feedback from your Customers at various stages of their life cycle

Upon Initial Customer Acquisition:

  • The marketer can welcome the new customer with a selection of E-mail programs.  Allowing the customer to initially select which program he/she feels would be most beneficial to them; the marketer can examine trends and tastes of the customers.    Here are examples of choices that can be offered.
  • Industry Whitepaper
  • Feature Products and Promotions
  • Online Order Form
  • None

Throughout the B2B Customer Relationship:

  • Throughout the Customer relationship, the marketer wants to discover the success of their product/service.  An online survey can be linked to monthly E-mail communication.  When you already have your customers trust and attention, they are likely to participate in your survey trusting that their insight will get them better services.

In the End of the Relationship:

  • Thank them for a great journey and request their feedback on the overall customer experience.  Learn from them in order to implement strategies that will help better retain customers.  If you managed a strong business relationship with your customer, chances are they will respond and provide valuable feedback to your company.

As you can see, Email marketing can be extremely valuable for B2B marketing.  By conducting an honest two way communication that is consistent and relevant for your customers, you can discover all the positives and negatives about your business and improve your offerings.  The key to success is to respect your E-mail list and deliver a program that really gives value to your customers.  Don’t just E-mail to E-mail.  Always have a strong strategy to make sure your E-mail program doesn’t become a bust.