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email marketing for manufacturers

Email Marketing for Manufacturers—Engage With Engineers and Industrial Professionals

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Think email marketing for manufacturers is passé and is no longer effective? Think again!

Granted, open and click-through rates have declined over the years. However, it is still one of the top-performing industrial marketing tactics. You don’t have to take my word for it.

“Email marketing emerged as the top option for manufacturing and engineering marketers in 2021.” (Source: 2021 Marketing to Engineers Survey published by

engineers prefer email marketing

“The top four owned-media platforms that manufacturing marketers used in the last 12 months were their organization’s website, email newsletters, email, and blogs.” (Source: Manufacturing Content Marketing – Insights for 2022 published by the Content Marketing Institute).

Manufacturing marketers prefer email marketing

Other surveys and research studies I’ve read have reported similar findings about email marketing for manufacturers.

Email newsletters are very popular with engineers

Tried and tested e-newsletters are still popular and an essential source of information for engineers. “89% of engineers subscribe to at least one e-newsletter. 55% subscribe to receive at least three e-newsletters in their inbox.” Those numbers are down slightly from last year. (Source: 2022 State of Marketing to Engineers published by TREW Marketing and GlobalSpec).

Those numbers look great, but there are challenges. Chief among them is getting your marketing emails delivered to their inboxes. It is not an easy task getting past sophisticated spam filters. They are more likely to whitelist you if you gain their trust by offering valuable content that is relevant to them.

In general, email is the preferred communication channel with industrial buyers. The same report found that 53% of engineers prefer their initial interaction with a salesperson to happen via email. 25% would prefer a phone call. In-person meetings are still less desirable, with only 8% selecting this as their preference. The pandemic has likely had a lasting impact on communication in the industrial sector.

Importance of email list hygiene and subscriber growth

Google email list hygiene, and you’ll get back 172,000,000 results. So there are plenty of online articles on this topic. I see no point in repeating all that information here. I want to address two common issues I’ve seen in manufacturing email marketing.

Over time, you’ve collected emails from various sources—newsletter sign-ups, trade shows, networking, and existing prospects and customers. However, people move to other jobs and change their emails. Therefore, you must regularly merge and purge your email lists to keep them current. This is a tedious process to do manually but necessary for the success of your email marketing campaigns. There are companies out there who offer list hygiene services. It could be well worth the money.

Another common problem I’ve come across with industrial companies is the size of their lists. They tend to be small. Needless to say, growing your list with new subscribers should be one of your goals in industrial email marketing. However, it takes time to grow your list organically.

The tendency is to rent an email list from one of the several list brokers to get going with email marketing quickly. Just be aware that rented lists tend to perform poorly compared to in-house lists.

Check to ensure the “Subscribe” button on your website still works and is connected to your email marketing service provider. I’ve seen industrial websites with links that are broken or go nowhere.

Find the right partner for email marketing for manufacturers

One strategy I have seen work successfully is partnering with the right industry portal, publication, or professional association. Many of them publish niche newsletters that they send to a captive audience eager to learn new information and have permission to receive emails.

Ride their coattails, so you don’t have to worry about finding the right target audience and being compliant with spam regulations. You don’t have to go it alone.

You will gain several advantages with the partnering strategy.

  • Instant access to engineers and industrial buyers in a niche that you want to target
  • Expand your reach with new contacts who are not in your email list
  • Gain exposure to new industries and global markets

This strategy has a downside. You don’t own those contacts until someone visits your site after receiving your email and signs up for a content download or another call to action. So, creating well-designed landing pages with relevant and valuable offers is essential for good results.

One last thought, stay away from the old ways of “batch and blast” email marketing for manufacturers. They are just not effective anymore with an industrial audience. You’ll do more harm than good to your reputation.

Achinta Mitra

Achinta Mitra calls himself a “marketing engineer” because he combines his engineering education and an MBA with 35+ years of practical manufacturing and industrial marketing experience. You want an expert with an insider’s knowledge and an outsider’s objectivity who can point you in the right direction immediately. That's Achinta. He is the Founder of Tiecas, Inc., a manufacturing marketing agency in Houston, Texas. Read Achinta's story here.
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