small business marketingThere’s more to business-to-business marketing than telesales and direct mail marketing. In order to effectively and efficiently advertise your goods and services, you must be sure you’re effectively targeting your ideal markets and reaching the right people—the people who can make or influence buying decisions.

That’s why email marketing is quickly becoming a go-to avenue for marketers. “The channel mix in B2B marketing is moving away from direct mail marketing and telesales,” says Dennis Behrman, Associate Vice President of Product Management for Equifax. “Instead of the basic pulling of big lists and simply working your way down, email and digital marketing allow for a much more targeted, precision-based approach, even at a large scale.”

Why consider email marketing for your small business?

It offers a better return on investment. According to the Direct Marketing Association’s 2012 Response Rate Report, email marketing is by far the most cost-effective form of marketing. For every $1 spent, marketers saw $28.50 in sales as opposed to $7 for every $1 spent on telemarketing and $1 for every $1 spent on direct mail marketing efforts.

“Think about your own responses to advertising you receive in your mailbox versus the offers you receive via your work email,” Behrman says. You likely receive more relevant offers via email than those in the mail, he notes. “In general, the overall marketing trend is toward email and digital.”

It gives you access to stronger contacts. When you send out mass mailings or reach out via telesales, it’s not guaranteed that you’re targeting the right people, and the investment required to improve your targeting through those channels results in a lower ROI “If you run a staffing or temp agency, you sell to people in human resources, not people in facilities management, finance, or CEOs,” Behrman says. “In that case, you might want to reach out specifically to directors and VPs of HR at your desired company.”

By setting up strategic email marketing campaigns that target specific audience with appropriate messages, the return on your marketing investment improves. Certain emails can be geared to HR reps, while others can be geared toward job-hunting consumers who might make use of your temp agency’s services. Plus, you can contact all the people in those different groups for a fraction of what it would cost you were you to use direct mail marketing.

It creates a more comprehensive marketing plan. “There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to B2B marketing,” Behrman says, and you don’t need to abandon your other marketing efforts in favor of an email-only plan. “We advise customers to learn about email marketing, integrate it, and test it as part of their current program.”

When your organization’s digital prospecting activities—like email, social media, and Web content campaigns—is tightly integrated with your targeted markets, the results (response and conversion rates) are powerful. When they adopt this approach, some companies may find that the ideal channel mix is 60 percent email, 20 percent print, and 20 percent telesales is most effective. Others may find that a different ratio works best.

It gives you a competitive edge. Email prospecting can help you “find an edge without shrinking the scale and scope of the market,” Behrman says. “You do this by targeting the right people, not adjusting the market, to get that precision.”

Take, for example, a local voice, Internet, and data provider. That small company might not have much of a chance against a larger one when competing for the business of local bars and restaurants, but it may have a much better chance in providing services to local government offices and businesses. With targeted messaging marketed to the right people, it’s easier for a business to see where its edge lies with both other businesses and consumers.

In order to effectively and efficiently manage your data, including emails, names, and phone numbers, you may want to consider enlisting the help of an email prospecting product. These products can help ensure you’re working with the most current data, and they can help you segment your data by target market.

While there are challenges that come with email marketing—keeping your data fresh and integrating new information with the data you already have, for example—the return on investment makes it an avenue worth considering.