Email marketing is a complicated subject for field service businesses. You are not an eCommerce market and, let's face it, most of your customers aren't going to be impulsive young people looking for the next click-bait deal. Field service clients tend to be homeowners and business managers who need serious service and expect a serious level of professionalism. This doesn't leave much room for sensational marketing tactics, but then, you're not a sensational business.
But this also means that traditional marketing approaches aren't going to fly for your brand or your customers. At least not the way most businesses use them. This is especially true when it comes to how you write and conduct your email campaigns. Your customers don't want to be inspired to impulse buys because things like HVAC units don't break 'on impulse.' Your goal, instead, is to inspire customers to remember to call you when they need you and to keep up with their maintenance schedules. This requires an entirely different approach to email marketing.
The Multiple Mailing List Approach
One of the email marketing tactics that is currently revolutionising the way digital marketers think of their job is the idea of having multiple mailing lists. It's a known fact that not all customers want the same amount of contact or even the same content from the emails they get from any particular company, and this is a particular issue with field services.
While some customers will still enjoy getting regular updates and alerts on your latest monthly deals, most neither want nor need to be reminded of your company until their regularly scheduled maintenance date is looming on the horizon. Instead of sending the same regular updates to every customer on your list, the key to building a truly effective mailing list (one in which the emails get read) is to allow each customer to define when and how they want to receive emails from your company.
By offering several mailing list options, customers can ask for the information they want rather than simply receiving whatever your marketing team deigns to send. This is outbound marketing at it's finest: in the spirit of inbound marketing.
Important Updates Only
The first category of customers we'd like to talk about is also likely to be your most common - People who only want to receive an email when you need something from them or have a message that is immediately helpful to their lives. These customers tend to be the ones who expect and provide the most professionalism in interactions. They are less likely to want to chat on the porch, but more likely to give you a serious positive review online for good service.
Treat your taciturn customers well because, for field service, they are most likely to be your bread and butter. For these clients, you can earn their respect and appreciation by never sending them a spurious or marketing-oriented email. Not one, not ever.
Emails to clients that only want important updates should contain purely functional, necessary, and very concise content. This should include logistical coordination, information gathering, and invoices for any upcoming or recent appointments, along with a single reminder one month before their next scheduled maintenance. If you mention a deal, only do so as a courtesy to let these customers know that they qualify for a monthly opportunity within the month of their regular appointment.
Constantly Remind Me
Then there are the business-like clients who have their lives a little less under control. These are more likely to be homeowners than business managers, though certainly, some businesses will be more interactive than others. The mailing list step-up from only sending the most important updates should include customers who want you to help them keep their maintenance on track. They may also be more interested in the occasional juicy deal that could result in a slightly earlier or later maintenance than usual.
Customers who want reminders may be forgetful, busy, or generally absent-minded. They don't want to risk missing a maintenance appointment, but their schedules tend to get away from them. These customers can and will benefit from a reminder system that would work for a teenager. Let them know three months ahead, then two, then one. When the appointment is scheduled, let them know a week ahead of time, then two days, then the morning before you arrive.
Because these customers likely see overall more business emails in their inbox, it may also be safer to send them a few friendly promotional offers or a little taster email halfway between their maintenance schedules just to say hello and offer a reminder digest. Be concise with these customers, but also feel free to be a little more conversational.
Special Deals? Yes Please!
Then there are clients who will be interested in a regular supply of promotional content. While rarer than the 'just business' types, these customers are likely to have a reason for their welcoming attitude to promotions in their inbox. In terms of field service customers, you might notice that they have multiple facilities to take care of, and therefore, a regular update on field service deals is more helpful to them than it would be for others.
If a customer volunteers to receive your regular promotional emails, this doesn't mean they want daily junk. In fact, you are more likely to stay out of the spam box if each of your promotional emails is almost as concise as your standard updates and maintenance reminder emails. Remember that as a field service business, your promotions don't have to be sensational, merely practical and persuasive.
Let your mailing list customers know in the most efficient way possible what deals you have available and how they could benefit. This is not only easier to read on a mobile phone, but it also shows that you value customer time. Work with your marketing team to ensure that your promotional emails reflect a professional brand attitude without taking on the frivolity of classic marketing styles.
Key Accounts: Custom B2B Opportunities
Many field service businesses find themselves working with other businesses to provide services for several facilities or other regular service needs. You don't need us to tell you that these are your top clients, and the way you email them should reflect that. Instead of putting these customers on one of your general mailing lists, take the time to build a unique email schedule and, in fact, unique content that will help them do their jobs better.
This might include special deals for business clients, an offer that happens to coincide with one of their several maintenance schedules, or even industry alerts like appliance recalls. Treat these customers more like you would a business partner, and they will happily continue to work with you for a long time. There is nothing more important than nurturing return a good return customer, and businesses that need your service frequently are among the best.
Choose-Your-Own Email Options
Our final option is one that is growing significantly in popularity, which is to let your customers choose exactly which emails they want to get. Once you have striated your mailing lists and, therefore, effectively separated one type of email from another, this is easy to do. Your emails should be sorted roughly between 'necessary,' 'reminders,' 'industry news,' and 'deals' depending on what you tend to write and send out in the first place.
Each category should be opt-in except for the necessary category, which should be visible, but non-optional. This way, customers who want both frequent reminders and your latest offers can sign up for that while customers who want one, the other, or neither can arrange for this as well. Allowing customers to choose for themselves saves you the trouble of trying to intuitively sort them yourself, but it does require customers to have a sign-in account on your website so that their preferences can be managed.
You may also want to provide a frequency adjustment for both the reminders and deals categories (or your version of same). For reminders, customers might even want to choose the specific intervals at which they'd like to be reminded and, if you support multiple communication channels, how they would like to be contacted.
As for deals, this is a more delicate arrangement because not all deals will apply to all customers. Depending on your specific services, consider splitting deals between 'homeowner' and 'business owner' or 'single property' and 'multiple properties.' Deals may also be best handled in proximity to a scheduled appointment. Customers may only be interested in seeing deals that are likely to relate to their regular maintenance costs, or they may choose to see all deals within three months of regular maintenance, or deals all year for their own reasons.
It is no longer practical to send the same emails to every single customer throughout the year. Just as you wouldn't send one customer a reminder for someone else's maintenance schedule, you probably also don't want to pester your taciturn customers or neglect customers who want more reminders and opportunities. By customising your email lists either with separate lists or mix-and-match self-selection, you can optimise your email efforts and ensure that you don't wind up in the spam box. For more great field service marketing tips, contact us today!
Further Reading on E-Marketing
What Should Know About Digital Marketing Automation
How to Nurture Your Leads and Boost Engagement
5 Ways E-marketing Can Drive Ecommerce Website Sales
Email Marketing Tips: 5 ways to Craft the Perfect Message