At Constant Contact, we love to feature customer stories. As the year comes to a close, we decided to check in with customers we had interviewed about a year ago to see how their organizations had fared over 2012.

On Tuesday, we talked to two nonprofits about their experiences with email marketing over the past year.

Today, we feature Yarbrough Transfer Company, a trucking and transportation service, and Gourmet Coffee Service, a coffee supply company.

Trucking Right Along – Yarbrough Transfer Company

When we last featured Yarbrough Transfer Company, Vice President Mike Chaudron said the transportation business had been experiencing about 20% growth over the past two years.

Email marketing was a relatively new tool for the company in 2011 and Mike was excited to experiment with it in 2012.

b2bemailexample1Where’s your business compared to where you were last time? How has the economy affected you?

We’re in the exact same place. We saw two big years of growth during the economic recovery, when we grew 20% each year. That was huge.

We’re closely related to the construction industry, which had suffered in 2008 and 2009. Things stabilized in 2010 and 2011 and now we’re out of crisis mode.

I think that’s because of our business decisions during the economic downturn: we retooled our business, instead of sitting back and doing nothing. We revamped our technology and hired talented, new employees.

What significant successes and barriers have you seen over this year?

Email marketing has continued to be successful. We send a newsletter about three or four times a year, because we limit it to the times when we really have newsworthy or interesting items.

If we don’t have anything like that, we don’t send. We don’t feel like it’s mandatory to follow a schedule. We’ll notify customers of any changes to the business, laws, or technology, and that’s worked well—our open rate is always around 30% and our click-through rate is good, too.

What do you have planned for next year?

We’re probably not going to make any significant changes in marketing, because what we’re doing is working. I think we’ll see sustained growth, but not the same kind of growth we saw.

I’m predicting ten, fifteen, or even twenty years of slow, stable growth, as opposed to the spikes we saw in 2010 and 2011.

Has your use of Constant Contact changed over the year?

I don’t think so. We’re still fairly new to it, since we just started in 2010.

Part of our less frequent use is because of the nature of the business. We’re not a retailer or consumer-oriented. Our customers are only moving equipment when they have to, so we’re not trying to motivate them to buy.

Our main goals are to keep our name in front of the customer and educate them about our services, so when they do need us, they’ll think of us.

Bringing Coffee to Companies – Gourmet Coffee Service

Gourmet Coffee Service is a supplier of coffee machines, pantry supplies, and other goods to offices across California.

When we last talked to Vice President of Marketing Bob Tullio, he said that Constant Contact was the reason for $100,000 in new revenue for 2011, since the company started using email marketing at the end of 2010.

A year later, we were wondering if that story had stayed the same or if things had changed.

Where is your business compared to where you were around this time last year? How has the economy affected you?

We’ve experienced excellent growth in 2012. A lot of that has to do with the improving economy in Southern California. When hiring goes up, we’re very positively impacted.

b2bemailexample2

Also, when employees are hired, employers are interested in upgrading the amenities in the office. That’s where Constant Contact emails have been effective—when businesses are interested in enhancing product selections.

I don’t have a concrete number for growth, but Constant Contact is still definitely a contributing factor to six-figure sales. What email marketing has done is streamlined our marketing program, improved our image with clients, and enabled us to be more effective.

What barriers have you seen over the past year?

In 2012, I’m asking myself, ‘How do I stand out again?’

This is a pattern I’ve seen over the last fifteen years. In the late 90s, we were one of the first in the industry to do PPC (pay-per-click) ads. We tried to stay ahead of the curve with web aggregators and the SEO space. Since we were one of the first, we had a big competitive advantage.

The same thing is happening now to our email and social media marketing efforts: there are more competitors in the space using those tools and the room is starting to crowd again.

So, we have to find a new way to stand out.

What do you have planned for next year? Do you predict a lot of growth?

We have to do everything better. There’s just not enough time in the day right now, which I know is a poor excuse. I’m investing in personnel to manage and maintain social and lead development as a primary task.

We have sixty employees, but no marketing assistant to maximize everything we do, to enhance our content and maintain our Facebook Page.

I’m predicting absolute growth in 2013. We’re making a greater commitment to sales and marketing than ever before. The more that you do, the harder it is to do well. That’s why the bottom line is investment in personnel.

Would you say your use of Constant Contact has changed over the year?

There hasn’t been any change to how we use Constant Contact. We still use samples to get people interested. Our strategy hasn’t changed. We’re still doing weekly giveaways on Facebook and getting new emails from there.

Is there anything you’re planning to do differently?

We need to take better advantage of Constant Contact’s training and seminars. We’ve wanted to attend, but never done it in the past. We also want to look into the webinars.

Looking Ahead

What we can see from both of these businesses is that while they’re sticking to the best marketing strategies, they’re also willing to change things when it suits the company’s needs.

Over the past year, Mike Chaudron discovered that a practical approach to email marketing works best: now, he only sends out emails when he has information he knows his client will want to read.

Meanwhile, Bob Tullio of Gourmet Coffee Service noticed that 2012 brought a slight dip in customer engagement. So, he’s taking steps to bring the company’s online marketing to the next level by hiring new employees and looking into educational resources.

As businesses look ahead to 2013, it can pay off to look backwards. Don’t just ask yourself what worked and what didn’t—ask how it worked and how you could make it work even better for the New Year.

Want to learn more about how B2B organizations can use email marketing? Check out [Q&A] How Can B2Bs Use Email Marketing to Effectively Generate Leads