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Maribeth Ross, Vice President of Marketing, NetProspex
NetProspex is a business-to-business (B2B) email and offline data services company with more than 37 million B2B contacts in its database. Maribeth Ross, NetProspex’s vice president of marketing, spoke with eMarketer’s Kris Oser for the B2B Perspective series about using content for lead generation and customer relationship building.
eMarketer: Email is arguably the oldest type of communication on the web. What are some new best practices for lead generation through email marketing?
Maribeth Ross: Email marketing is a strong, solid foundation of a B2B marketing program, but … a new use of email might include a marketing automation system that’s fully integrated with your website, where you’re tracking the behaviors of your visitors on [your website] before you even know who they are.
Once you start to understand the things that they like, you begin to serve up content that you think they’re going to like. Then, you serve up meatier content in exchange for some information from them. You don’t ask them to fill out a gigantic form, but rather to tell you their title and industry, for example.
A good practice in emailing that person once you’ve obtained their email information is to continue the theme that they have begun with you with their interactions on the website.
eMarketer: How do you get the recipient to read the contents of the email?
Ross: What you put above the fold on the top of the screen is very important because you want to capture their attention right away.
“If I am a recipient, I’m not going to open something that I think is a product pitch.”
There are a lot of schools of thought on this, and the way I think about it is if I am a recipient, I’m not going to open something that I think is a product pitch. The recipient is going to ask themselves, “What’s in it for me?” The answer to that question can’t be, “We have a great product.” Nobody wants to invite themselves into a sales pitch.
eMarketer: Isn’t that the thinking behind content marketing in general—that you’re giving the recipient something of value to help them do their job better?
Ross: Absolutely. Buyers are getting savvier. And the advent of the web has really provided the opportunity for buyers to do a lot more self-serving of information and make some early assumptions about companies that they’re interested in potentially engaging with, either from emails that they receive, or doing research on the web, or in social circles, or other networks. That is really what drove content strategy to become such a hot topic today.
eMarketer: What has changed for companies doing CRM mailings, and what do you think will change going forward?
Ross: A trend that I’ve seen in B2B customer-oriented marketing is taking a personalized approach. Once you have permission to have that relationship with the customer, you want to make sure that you protect it. So what you’re going to send them is highly relevant content that is highly personalized.
One of the best practices I’ve seen associated with that is making sure that any customer communications come directly from either their account manager or assigned salesperson. You can still send it out through your marketing automation system, but you want to make it look like it came from an individual, [as opposed to] a larger email program sent to many people.
“A trend that I’ve seen in B2B customer-oriented marketing is taking a personalized approach.”
eMarketer: Do you have a best practice on how often you should contact a customer with content?
Ross: If the product is a technology product and you can tell when people use it to do certain things, and tailor your sends to be associated with their timely behaviors, that means you’ll be sending them more relevant content.
eMarketer: What would you say is the underlying best practice in content marketing?
Ross: When it comes to marketing here at NetProspex, I always encourage our marketing team to think like the buyer. Put themselves in the shoes of the buyer and really figure out whether it makes sense—if the timing makes sense, and if the content is important enough to put in front of them.
A longer version of this interview is available to eMarketer corporate subscribers only.