This is the first part of a three-part article about e-marketing.

About 20 years ago, the trucks of Classic Solutions Inc., which delivered janitorial and sanitary supplies to clients, traveled covertly, absent of any company logos.
“It was better not being that seen,” says James Creps, president of the Columbus, Ohio-based company. “It was better for your competition not to know where you were.”

But times have changed, says Creps, whose company began collecting email addresses from prospective and current clients about a decade ago. That practice has been the driving force behind the company’s success with email marketing and has ultimately “jump-started” countless conversations with clients.

“You want people to see your name and your face as many times as possible, and this is just another way of doing that,” says Creps.

Classic Solutions’ effort to use email technology to reach clients faced challenges early. Through trial and error and help from an outside marketing firm, though, the company began tailoring the messages more effectively through stronger marketing language along with graphics and links that led directly to the Web pages for specific products on the company’s e-commerce catalog.

“We went from a 5 percent click (rate) to almost 15 percent, so it has been pretty good,” says Creps. “Not all 15 percent would buy, but it would get traffic to our site, and, a lot of times, we would get an email and question about something else.”

Many clicks or long visit times on a jan/san distributor’s website are attractive, but distributors need to keep in mind that those metrics mean very little unless they generate sales, says Bob DeStefano, an online business-to-business marketing strategist. 

“My company’s tag line is ‘online marketing, bottom-line results,’ because we want to make sure that everything that we are doing is focusing on how we can increase sales and how we can increase profit,” he says.

DeStefano suggests that the first steps distributors take are to analyze exactly what their email software and marketing applications can achieve and work with their vendors to add functionality when necessary.

They then should consider a data integration initiative. A distributor should combine its email lists with its customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning databases to understand granular details about clients and their purchasing habits.

“It’s not an easy process, but it’s a rewarding process in the long run,” says DeStefano.

This data enrichment will allow jan/san distributors to then consider automating their email through their software. The email automation concept takes distributors away from sweeping broadcast emails to a more targeted approach with the intention to send out triggered messages based on specific client behavior.

Email automation software solutions also allow distributors to measure the effectiveness of targeted email campaigns through quantitative data, such as the number of emails opened, the number of times a link in an email is clicked and how a user behaves on the website. Some software even grades the client in terms of its behavior.
“It’s so we can gain a good understanding of what’s working and what’s not,” says DeStefano. “It really allows distributors to close the loop.”

next page of this article:
Maintain A Personal Touch With Targeted Email Marketing