Can you sell textile products to other companies you (hopefully) already sell to consumers? Although it is expected to subdivide between business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) models, these two are only sometimes mutually exclusive. And it is about more than just the scale of your textile business or shipment coverage. The top difference between selling to people and corporations is marketing your products through email marketing.
In the B2B business segment, email is one of the leading channels for promoting your products. But you must be smart. Just because people read work-related emails at work doesn’t mean company executives will decide to do business with you. On the upside, companies consist of people, so you will still be marketing to people, not some abstract, faceless organizations. And you can convince these people if you keep the most effective B2B email marketing practices in mind.
How to effectively segment leads?
Careful segmentation is the key to successful marketing, regardless of the business segment or industry. The main challenge when targeting the B2B industry is how multi-layer proper segmentation can get.
First, you must create a list of companies interested in buying your textiles. For a young and relatively new company, contacting Prada or Ralph Lauren makes little sense, so you can start with sites like AngelList to get in touch with startups in your niche.
Or, even better, you could use professional contact databases that support individual and bulk contact searches by industry, company title, location, and other parameters. This way, you get a list of international textile companies from Fibre2Fashion to Eclat Textile. And, you also get access to employee email addresses, even those of the top management! Now, how do you keep segmenting this list? There are two main segmentation layers: company niche and employees’ roles.
Segmenting by company specifics
This one is relatively simple; some companies specialize in custom-made evening gowns, while others manufacture military uniforms. For some, the main focus is bedroom linen; for others, auto upholstery. So, you narrow down companies that could be interested in the fabrics you offer. That is your first segmentation level:
- Silk for evening gowns.
- Cotton for bed linen.
- Wool for Scottish quilts.
Are there any other specific criteria that apply to you and your potential partner’s textile niche?
And after that, the fundamental responsibilities of email marketing specialists begin!
Segmenting by employee roles
Each company will have different tiers of employees involved in the decision-making process. You can’t just fill out a contact form on a corporate website and hope the CEO will get back to you with a billion-dollar-worth order. Instead, you should start engaging all relevant employees and informing them about your products.
Keep in mind that you send different generic emails to every staff member. It’s important to distinguish between people who:
- Initiate new product acquisitions. Depending on the company’s size and structure, those could be customer relations, marketing, analytics, or acquisition departments. These people do not have a final say in which deals will be signed and which not, but it’s up to them to generate ideas for further business growth.
- Use or work with the products. These people will work directly with your fabric: designers, tailors, etc.
- Allocate budgets. This tier may include anyone from the CFO responsible for the whole company’s budget or department managers negotiating deals and contract costs.
- Make final decisions. These will be top-level executives or heads of departments.
Besides, there are people in administrative positions who control the overall information flow within the company and other indirect influencers that may affect the decision-making process. Anyone within a company who does not fit into the four tiers described above is either an administrator or a chance influencer. These groups respond to different types of promotional materials, leading us to the next point.
What to focus your email content on?
Consumers love sales, discounts, and free perks, but what do all these different corporate representatives like? The golden email marketing rule in the B2B niche focuses on facts, product guides, industry reports, revenue analysis, etc. But, of course, each decision-affecting segment has its preferences.
Initiators and users often have a very similar mentality. Even though they belong to different departments (i.e., production and business development), they are most open to trying new materials. So, they respond well to ease of use and innovation features. In the case of fabric, that can be anything, from durability, ease of cleaning and drying, water and wind resistance, overall look and feel, whatever applies. Regarding content form, they are usually interested in product demos, case studies, and other reports that demonstrate the fabric’s main benefits.
People who make decisions and allocate budgets are mostly focused on the financial aspects of potential collaboration. For them, it is essential to understand how easy it is to work with certain textiles and how much profit this work can result in. How necessary will the final product be for its end users? How much is the average market cost? The production cost? To appeal to this group, you should focus on customer testimonials, surveys, cost analysis reports, and anything that highlights the product’s eventual ROI.
Finally, a group of company employees does not belong to any distinct category but may still influence the decision-making process. Still, they work along some of the above decision-making groups, and their interests usually align with the interests of their respective group. For example, a business developer’s assistant will mainly be interested in how nice and easy it is to use a new textile type. But a sales assistant will better respond to the fabric’s competitive price.
Besides the content materials that work for the ‘use’ and ‘profit’ segments, you can also engage this ‘indirect influencer’ group with newsletters and other reports showcasing your product’s unique features.
How do you format emails for conversion?
Finally, once you’ve identified your recipients and their motives, there is the matter of email structure. Here are some quick tips to wrap it all up:
- Keep your emails short and to the point. Nobody loves a boring read.
- Use images to show what you’re selling. The ‘show don’t tell’ principle works in B2B just as well as in B2C.
- Create catchy subject lines. This is the main chance to hook your reader and the part that often underperforms.
- Optimize for mobile. Work-related emails are only sometimes read from computers, you know.
- Give people a chance to unsubscribe. Don’t hide this option. It’s just bad manners.
The last tip is always to remember that B2B marketing takes time, usually more time than reaching individual consumers. When you advertise your textiles to individual buyers, the decision-making timespan for separate consumers is relatively short. With other businesses, many decision-making steps and procedures are involved, not to mention different people influencing the state of this process. But the rewards to reap are also more tempting. The sheer order amount and profits from scoring a new business customer can be more significant. So why not give it a try?