This article was originally published in Sales and Marketing Magazine on Jan 24 2018.
Surrounded by Snapchat filters, chatbots, and virtual reality, email often gets compared to its newer counterparts, which is like comparing Fred Flintstone’s foot-powered car to a Tesla. But unlike the Flintstones’ favorite mode of transport, email has adapted and endured. And from my experience helping businesses grow their sales pipelines with qualified leads through email, I’ve seen it continue to prove itself effective.
It remains, in fact, the primary method of getting business done when parties can’t meet in person. The estimated number of business-related emails exchanged each day is set to hit 269 billion by the end of 2017, and that number is estimated to grow by at least 4 percent on average each year for the next four years. Unless something catastrophic happens to make email go the way of the dinosaurs, it seems unlikely to go anywhere.
How Email Has Stayed Alive
Those business-related emails span both in-house and external communications. Despite chat platforms such as Slack gaining popularity, most companies still rely on email to discuss formal matters and companywide decisions. Unlike chat options, email enables workers to segment conversations by topic, regardless of who is involved. And according to HubSpot’s research, 86 percent of businesspeople prefer email when it comes to work-related communication.
Email’s role in vendor and customer-facing communication was cemented long ago. A full 72 percent of American consumers reported to MarketingSherpa that email is their preferred communication channel for business matters. Regardless of how much a company might try to step away from email in favor of project-based communication or real-time customer service platforms, email continues to be the most reliable option given its widespread use.
All of this intel makes it easy to see why 80 percent of marketers surveyed for Salesforce’s State of Marketing Report last year agreed that email is a core component of their business models. But email marketing is easy to do poorly — and increasingly difficult to do well. Any decision maker at a company with more than $5 million in annual revenue gets an influx of solicitation emails every single day.
With so many people attempting to reach these decision makers via email, you need to pull off a concise, catchy, and thoughtful email to break through all the spam and achieve a level of trust – and maybe even earn some of their time.
Making a Big Bang
If you can find someone’s email, you can send him a note no matter who you are or what you want from that person. This accessibility is both an opportunity and a challenge. Even with personalization, the open rate for personalized emails last year was a mere 18.8 percent — and that’s way above the 13.1 percent open rate for emails with no personalization whatsoever.
With cold calling, there’s always the risk of receiving a falsely positive lead who agrees to a meeting or a follow-up simply to get you off the phone. But with email, it is much easier to be honest and direct. People are busy: If they aren’t compelled to answer your message, they are not going to reply, let alone agree to speak with you further. Emails give prospects enough space to be straightforward, which can be a surprisingly big deal in the modern world.
Still pedaling with your feet, struggling to keep up with the electric cars of the marketing world? Here’s how to maximize your lead generation and reap all the rewards a well-worded marketing email can offer.
1. Speak directly to your audience.
No matter whom you’re addressing, make sure your message is tailored to them. This segmented, tailored content approach in email earns 58 percent of total revenue. If you’re reaching out to a CEO, know what her focus is for her business goals and her company, and toss in a mention of her recent thought leadership.
Reaching out to a chief technology officer for a referral? Be direct. Show that you know exactly what you’re talking about. You can’t write one email and expect it to have the same impact on all 57 employees at a company you’d like to work with. Know who your audience is, and speak directly to that person.
2. Cut to the chase.
Be honest and direct with your message. Tell your recipient exactly who you are, why you are reaching out, and what you are looking for. If you expect them to be honest with you, you have to be willing to make the same effort.
People are busy — they will respect your candor, and you might be surprised by how willing people can be to get right down to business. “But what about Millennials?” you might be asking. “Aren’t they killing everything, including email?” Turns out Millennials might like email as much as they like avocado toast: An Adestra study revealed that 73 percent of Millennials still prefer email for business communication, and 68 percent of teens are carrying on this preference.
3. Make your words count.
Be clear and concise. This is probably the trickiest part of email: Companies have trained each other to speak about traits such as integrity, customer service, and commitment to quality when asked about what the company does and how it is different from the competition. But these traits don’t differentiate you at all — everyone should be focused on integrity.
Skip the small talk, and instead explain very clearly why recipients should care. Do you have 20 years of experience working with their industry? Do you have industry relationships that help you offer a 12 percent market discount? Do you have technology that is new to their space? Let them know. Don’t spend all of your energy on being clever and eye-catching — or worse, predictable. Focus on being clear.
Email is no easy platform to execute perfectly. There are at least 50 areas of email you could focus on to improve your email prospecting results, but these three are key. Email isn’t going extinct anytime soon — don’t let the results it can give you die out, either.
We’ve combined our learned best practices into our ebook how to triple your sales meetings with cold email: