Occasionally, some marketing prognosticator predicts that email marketing is on the decline, nearing the ninth inning, and no longer effective. My response: not even close. Why?

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86% of business professionals prefer email over other ways to communicate. 59% of B2B marketers rank email marketing as their most effective revenue generation channel. And for every $1 invested in email marketing, $44 in new revenue is generated.

But just because you send and receive emails doesn’t mean you’re ready to plan, manage, and optimize an email marketing campaign.

With that in mind, what are some of the most important email marketing best practices for colocation data centers (and companies that sell to data centers)?

Biggest Colocation Email Marketing Misconceptions

Most marketing generalists misuse email marketing as a traffic and lead-generation tool. Big mistake. However, email marketing is best used for nurturing existing leads, sales cycle acceleration, and customer retention.

Many marketing generalists mistakenly believe importing their LinkedIn contacts into their email service provider (ESP) or marketing automation (MA) provider account is OK. Not only is this a terms of service (TOS) violation nearly 100% of the time, but it potentially exposes the sender to legal liability (not legal advice! Check with your lawyer for specifics) and almost certainly harms the email sender's reputation.

Many also make the same mistake when obtaining a list of trade show attendees as part of their sponsorship or booth rental. There's a world of difference between sending an occasional, heavily personalized one-off email vs. subscribing someone to a newsletter or nurturing sequence without permission.

What Data Center Marketers Should Look For In an Email Service Provider

For effective email marketing, data center providers and companies that sell to data center providers will almost certainly need to subscribe to an email service provider.

When evaluating the dozens of different email service provider options, consider looking at how each stacks up concerning:

  • Tech support
  • Training and documentation
  • Segmentation
  • Personalization
  • Mobile responsive templates
  • Send time optimization, especially by time zone
  • A/B split testing
  • Reporting
  • Zero tolerance for abuse -- especially with shared IP addresses
  • CRM and/or eCommerce integration to support closed-loop reporting
  • Behavioral workflow automation based on website activity
  • Support for forms and landing pages
  • Suppression list support

For many companies in the data center, cloud services, or mission-critical industries that need their email marketing campaigns to accelerate sales cycles (lead nurturing) and help onboard new customers (retention/customer marketing), in many cases, an email service provider (ESP) is too light of a solution. The company needs marketing automation (MA) that also handles email marketing. Hence, traffic generation, lead generation, sales cycle acceleration, and customer retention data are all in one centralized platform.

Many small companies are too concerned about software costs and spend too little time thinking about the labor/payroll/consulting costs and the impact of email marketing on the company's bottom line with revenue generation. When used correctly, email marketing campaigns should be at least as profitable as your highest-performing sales reps.

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Metrics That Provide the Best Insight

Email marketing success should never be evaluated based on superficial vanity metrics like clicks and opens.

For savvy email marketing professionals working on full-funnel revenue generation SMART goals, conversion actions are a much more solid way to evaluate an email campaign's success.

Maybe you're trying to drive awareness stage leads into the consideration stage by promoting a webinar or breakfast seminar. So you measure registrations.

Maybe you're trying to accelerate consideration-stage leads into decision-stage leads and sales opportunities. So you measure tours booked initially and, shortly thereafter, sales opportunities generated.

The key to email success: you must understand your buyer personas and their buyer's journey stages. So every one of your emails is either accelerating leads into sales readiness or delighting customers, so they become your promoters and brand evangelists.

Signs That You’ve Outgrown Your Current Email Marketing Platform

Email marketing should always support a company's revenue generation goals. If your email marketing strategy doesn't support this, it's time to upgrade your strategy, talent, and technology to better address the company's true growth needs.

Besides buyer personas and buyer's journey mapping, well-rounded email marketers also need to be well-versed in landing page optimization and lead generation, as well as CRM integration, marketing ops, sales ops, and closed-loop reporting.

Email Marketing Trends That Will Impact Colocation Data Centers (And Companies That Sell to Data Centers)

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What is the future of email marketing as a sales acceleration and customer retention channel?

  • Getting to the inbox will continue to get more difficult. Reputation- email and, more generally, website authority and social footprint- will become increasingly important.
  • Segmenting for graymail will go mainstream as marketing generalists wake up to the reality that unengaged contacts hurt deliverability.
  • There will be more cross-channel campaigns between email marketing and social media. More marketers will experiment with uploading segmented lists for paid search and paid social targeting at various funnel stages (both for retargeting and reconversions) and targeting lookalikes.
  • Send time optimization driven by AI will become more widely adopted. It is especially popular for any business that sells across time zones.
  • Behavioral emails will become more common as digitally-savvy chief revenue officers pressure their marketing teams to deliver real-time alerts on key trigger events (ex: pricing page view by known contact) that their sales teams can pounce on.

The Bottom Line

While many in the data center, cloud services, and mission-critical industry misuse email marketing as a traffic generation and lead generation (basically spamming people), email marketing should primarily be used for nurturing existing leads and onboarding new customers.

In this post, you learned why email marketing is alive and well, what features to look for in an email service provider ESP), features that distinguish one ESP platform from another, metrics to track, outgrowing your ESP, and the future of email marketing.

 

What’s been your most important email marketing best practice that you’ve discovered along the way? Let us know in the comments below.

And if you want to be the first to know about new reports, events, podcasts, and blog posts like this, subscribe to the Data Center Sales & Marketing (DCSMI) Update Newsletter.

Learn more about Colocation Data Center Providers and Go-to-Market Strategy (GTM) for Growth.

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