To help you decide if and how email prospecting fits within your online marketing strategy, Blayzer’s 1901 Marketing team recently sat down for a brainstorming session.
Here are our top tips on “White-Hat” Email Prospecting for White-Hot Results.
The number one mistake marketers make with email prospecting is not properly defining goals for their campaign. Often, this mistake is rooted in overlooking the key differences between selling and prospecting.
We define prospecting as identifying potential targets for future selling efforts. This means our goals for prospecting email campaigns not only include benchmarks for direct responses and CTA conversions, but other behaviors such as opens, clicks, referrals, shares, and yes, even bounces. These metrics provide insight into a recipient’s likely level of interest and responsiveness, which can then be used to plan and execute targeted and efficient follow up steps. They are also powerful indicators of list quality, targeting opportunities, and overall market attitude toward your offer.
How do you define prospecting? Whatever your definition, it is important to bring everyone together on the same page with a singular set of relevant and realistic goals.
For all its creative flair, email marketing is still very much a data-driven tactic. Do a quick Google search for “average email open rate” and you’ll see that the web is bursting with marketing research and studies (…and reports and charts and graphs and infographics…) touting the latest and greatest “MUST-SEE” stats on deliverability, open, click, and conversion rates. One of the worst mistakes an email marketer can make is listening to all this noise.
Here’s the straight talk: the only marketing statistics that truly matter to your business are your own. Instead of spending time digging for numbers that may be as manipulated and airbrushed as a U.S. cosmetics ad, invest in tools, talent, and projects that will help you better understand and improve your own metrics.
Look, we’re all busy and our attention spans are growing shorter by the minute. Avoid the “tl;dr” curse by keeping your emails short and sweet.
When drafting the copy for your next email prospecting campaign, consider an alternative to your usual copywriter. Technical staff, accounting reps, or executives often have a more direct approach that is better suited for a prospecting or first outreach message.
Honesty is always the best policy in marketing. This is even more true in prospecting. Our best bet as marketers reaching out to new contacts is to be up-front and honest about your goals and your reason for reaching out. Let your recipient know why you’re contacting them. Here are a few immediate and important questions your message should clearly answer:
- Who are you?
- What is this about?
- Why me?
- Why should I care?
- What do you want me to do?
Ensuring that your prospecting campaign provides answers to these basic, yet crucial, questions will greatly improve your rate of response.
While email prospecting may be less common than other forms of email marketing campaigns, it’s far from an obscure tactic. Moreover, your prospecting campaigns are competing on the same inbox turf as other types of email, like newsletters, invitations, promotions, and transactional communications – not to mention their own flood of day-to-day business emails. You can rest assured that your message won’t be alone inside your target’s inbox.
To help you messages stand out among the competition, you will need to be persistent, but courteous. Blayzer sends our prospecting campaigns as a multi-touch series involving both email and phone touches. Timing and frequency are critical – you want to be noticed, but not in a negative light. Be considerate of standard industry hours, peak business times, and current events.
This one’s a no-brainer, but we are constantly surprised by how many marketers either haven’t learned the rules or just simply don’t follow them. It’s their loss – the mistake will catch up with them in time. For the rest of us, we need to know and follow the CAN-SPAM Act of 2005, no exceptions.
CAN-SPAM applies to, “any electronic mail message where the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.” To ensure compliance with CAN-SPAM’s regulations, all email newsletters, prospecting and nurturing drips, and other email marketing messages must exhibit the following characteristics:
Accurately reflect the sender of the message in the header information (From and Reply-to). The originating domain name, email address, “From”, “To”, “Reply-To”, and routing information for every campaign should align with the business and person you are sending from. For example, we fulfill this requirement by never using generic or fake “From” names (both in the display name and the email address itself); it is always a real Blayzer team member or an employee of our client’s business, sent from the correct business’s domain.
Use transparent subject lines. When it comes to subject lines, don’t play any games. Be clear and accurately represent the content of the message.
Identify the message as commercial in nature. Unless your list is opt-in or double opt-in, your messages must clearly and conspicuously disclose that they are advertisements.
Include the sender company’s address. Always include your address. We like to put it in either the email signature or the template footer where it is easily found, but does not detract from the message. The address you use can be a current street address, a post office box registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under U.S. Postal Service regulations. Just make sure it’s honest and accurate.
Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future emails. Be sure to clearly explain how the recipient can opt out of getting future emails, and provide a one-click link for doing so. Most major email service platforms append this information to your messages automatically, but you should always test to be sure before hitting “Send”.
Permit opt-outs for up to 30 days after you send your message, and honor opt-out requests within 10 business days. All opt out requests should be processed in both your master database and the email service platform’s built-in suppression list (if not using a blended solution). You must not charge a fee, require additional personally identifying information, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or clicking a single hyperlink as a condition for honoring an opt-out request. You may offer subscription reduction options to help maximize retention, but only alongside a single opt-out option.
Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. Sorry, but you can’t outsource accountability for your email programs. It is your legal responsibility to comply with the law. If a partner messes up, both parties can be held responsible.
Don’t harvest email addressed or use automated means to randomly generate addresses. Resist the temptation to horde or manufacture email addresses. It isn’t worth it, and it could land you in a world of trouble with the FTC.
Comply with your email service platform’s terms of service. Many email service providers have rules of use that go beyond CAN-SPAM. This is to protect their own reputation and ability to do business as well as those of their clients.