Email & Marketing Automation ..be careful ¡

Email, which in itself is something quite intimate – often consisting of people’s private email accounts – leans toward the scalability of mass media when coupled with email marketing tools and marketing automation.

Leaflets have been the most effective method of disseminating ideas in a scalable way since the invention of printing in the Renaissance period.

In the 70’s when digitization and revolution of personal computers and electronic mail was developed promptly took over as the king of personal scalability.

The possibility of reaching customers in a personal way while also having the scalability to reach hundreds and thousands of customers or potential customers at once at almost no cost truly changed the game.

email was the game changer that allows to individually reach many for the cost of one Click To Tweet

One of the earliest documented successes in commercial email use was in 1978 when Gary Thuerk of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) launched a sales proposal to about 400 customers via ARPANET (which was the precursor to the internet), which resulted in about 13 million dollars in sales of DEC products.

This story is interesting because we are talking about email marketing before email was truly widespread. It caught my attention on a personal level because in 1995 I worked for DEC and used an internal system of isolated internet mail. He, Thuerk, was one of the big internet giants, responsible for dozens of the most important innovations in current technology and marketing, and his disappearance from the top of the charts is a lesson in the importance of maintaining a constant adaptation to emerging technologies.

DEC was one of the big internet giants, responsible for dozens of the most important innovations in current technology and marketing, and its disappearance (absorbed by Compaq first and then both by HP) is a lesson in the importance of maintaining a constant adaptation to emerging technologies.

In fact, apart from that story, there are few others of overwhelming success of first adopters who used new technology to sell in all sectors, from brokers to realstate where the phrase “they became millionaires” is the common factor.

And so when a disruptive technology emerges, those who manage to adopt it in their business processes get an unprecedented advantage over others.

Those who adopt a disruptive technology obtain an unfair advantage Click To Tweet

Email, apart from being a personal communication method whose main purpose now in the business world is as a vehicle for sales and customer follow-up, is still incredibly cheap to scale up. It costs practically the same to email 10, 100, or 1000 people.

And, naturally, it is precisely this scalability and affordability that have attracted so many to use it until they ruined it.

Marketers ruin everything, as Gary Vaynerchuk states so succinctly.

It has been abused so much as a medium to captivate your attention that it is now restricted in many countries as to who you can legally contact for business purposes.

  • The use of email is prohibited as a means of commercial communications when clients have not expressly and voluntarily signed up to receive communications from a business. Businesses cannot go emailing everyone en masse. It’s not an excuse to say it was not an email intended to conduct business or that it was sent to a customer with whom you have constant contact. If you do not have explicit proof that authorizes you to send commercial propaganda, you are in fact in breach of the law.
  • It is also a saturated channel, both by the number of promotional offers and by the situation of most users with many more subscriptions and messages than they can actually read in the space of many lives.
  • That conditions its effectiveness; the success of an email (Click Through Rate) is very low – between 1 and 2.5% consistently between different industries and customer segments.
  • Even if you were much better than others and had double or triple success rates comparatively in your industry, you would still be leaving about 90% of your targets unreached.
  • No one admits to spamming, but when we have an event, a launch or whatever it is that we want to communicate, we send messages to those who have not requested it because, let’s face it, is so easy.

 

We talked about how cheap it is to scale to 1000 or 10,000. Although sending an email to 10 costs the same as 100, in theory, in practice the management of tracking the recipients, bounced addresses, knowing the legal obligations, and providing means to unsubscribe for those who wish to do so, are expensive in terms of time.

This reality has helped create an entire industry with a wide range of email marketing tools in order to tackle this increasingly complex task.

Now, obtaining emails from potential customers is also rather affordable. However it can get very expensive if you dive into purchasing databases of pre-qualified contacts.

The email of any person is readily accessible and easily obtainable, so is acommodity Click To Tweet

It is a commodity that I believe will eventually be free. This alarms the privacy advisors and is effectively a topic to keep in mind, but the important thing for you at the sales level to consider is whether you are legitimately helping the customer, or doing damage to your brand by emailing en masse.

It is affordable in terms of cost of tools or cost per email, but the real cost is the damage you can do if you send irrelevant emails.

When easily 90% of those you email did not want what you are selling at the moment, you are really only bothering them.

This is a damage that goes unnoticed to you unless your emails start being marked as spam, which can then increase the likelihood that further emails will be directed straight into the spam folder by Google. Which could mean that later, even emails directed to a single person and not part of a campaign could likely end up also going straight to the spam folder, and unseen by your prospective client.  

spam is like branding but times -1, it slowly damage your brand Click To Tweet

And while it may seem like spending money on qualified lists of leads by a service provider will surely mean you’re taking a step in the right direction by forking money over, these companies that create the “optin” databases have no incentive to take care of your customers’ opinion of you in the market at large – their aim is only to squeeze databases as much as possible to maximize their income. At the cost of your own reputation, if need be.

Email Marketing TRENDS – Drip Mailing & Marketing Automation

Email marketing remains as one of the main mediums in sales and an industry in constant evolution. Established suppliers and new players are battling to go one step further, to move the needle ever slightly higher in optimized ratios.

The essence at the sales level is still how to get better response rates. Outside the “art” of writing copy, there are two approaches that we can summarize simply with “quantity” and “quality”.

DRIP MARKETING

One of these trends is called Drip Marketing, referring to a constant drip, which gives us an idea of where the efforts are directed. It is about getting more results by sending more of the same.

The aim in drip marketing tactics is to get more responses to your emails by simply upping the amount of sent emails over a period of time. Quite literally a numbers game.

The underlying principle, according to a series of studies, is that the modern buyer requires between 8 and 12 interactions to arrive at a sales meeting/conversation.

About 80% of salespeople stop at two or less attempts. The first attempt to make initial contact (this is where 60% of salespeople stop) and afterward usually only one attempt more (the other 20%), where they try a follow-up message the likes of “I had sent you something but I did not see a reply, what’s up?” If they see no response from their second message, there is quite often no more insistence from the salesperson or marketer.

But it turns out that other studies have shown that if you keep sending more messages, there is a greater percentage of your list that ends up responding, which looked at as an individual piece of data is certainly positive, yes? Actually, it’s debatable.

But a greater persistence will differentiate us from the vast majority of sellers and that in principle is positive, isn’t it? That’s debatable to a lesser extent.

Modern email tools allow you to orchestrate a chain of messages over a period of time, with a cadence that you choose (3, 7, 14 days, etc.) so the targets can eventually react to one of those, in which case you would switch to “another” chain according to their response.

Taking as reference the amount of tools that offer these functions, as well as my own experience with them, this method is being adopted by salespeople and marketing teams in more aggressive sectors, where the advantage of differentiation is canceled out quickly and the advantage of greater persistence offers them a higher rate of success.

However, I think it is very controversial when you plan on winning by wearing down your customers. It’s a rather dubious tactic.

The problem is that once you receive 7 emails of the same nature, it increases the frustration level of many prospects. By the 3rd or 4th email it becomes obvious that some kind of automation is being used and while some start to think, “I should respond to this seller who takes so much interest in me”, it is more than canceled out by those who think, “this company does not value my time very much”.

And while you may think it is a problem encased in not much fuss from those who are annoyed, it can certainly create a hostile feeling towards the brand and create a tsunami of spam complaints. It just isn’t a good way to do business.

A personal anecdote that surely has happened to many: after ignoring the first 4 emails of a web analytics tool, on the 5th or 6th email, and seeing as I work in this field, I decided to respond and explain that I did not think it appropriate to receive so much insistence with the same message, and suggested alternatives to the annoying company pitching their product relentlessly.

The seller’s response was to say that he did it because it worked (which is likely true) and then in the same email with is description of why he does it and providing a weak apology, he again tried to sell me his product. This, in addition to the frustration of receiving 6 emails already, basically confirmed that the seller was a jerk. He didn’t even try to qualify what I might need,  which made me develop a bit of a hatred towards this tactic from the viewpoint of a customer and a very negative feeling towards his company. I suppose this was not his goal but some people are just outright oblivious to people perceiving them negatively with this bullying-type marketing strategy.

MARKETING AUTOMATION

Another approach is to improve the ratios, which improve the quality or relevance of the messages. In plain English, we’re personalizing the communication so that it is relevant to the person who receives it. Important points to consider are:

  • Don´t repeat the same message over and over again. Don’t try to close the sale in the same email that you’re introducing the product. And while it sounds obvious, it happens quite frequently, as I described above. Rather, elaborate a series of templates for each type of client with points of interest and approaches to the client’s possible pain points.
  • Don’t use just one medium (such as email). Instead, diversify the possibilities with various social networks – comment on posts, send invites, combine direct messages on LinkedIn and Twitter with email.
  • Segment by interest. Define the chains where you send a certain type of content according to their response to it. This not only increases effectiveness but minimizes the “repetition” of your email rotation.

 

This segmentation is the basis by which to automate any marketing – to have a wealth of scenarios where one can capture the interest of the prospect and help him to evolve (be nurtured) until he is ready to close the sale.

It is essential to have those profiles of interest based either on profile characteristics or on the prospect’s behavior (Behavioral Segmentation).

In summary, automation marketing platforms work by assigning points (scoring) for actions done by visitors to your website such as downloading documentation, visiting a page several times, or entering a specific page (such as price information).

Most of these platforms recognize visitors and some can customize the content that is offered to a visitor on, say, their second visit.

This does not come pre-packaged in a software program where you press a button and it works exactly as you wish, but rather requires some decent amount of preparation work.

The cost of implementing these platforms is not only the monthly license fees, but the installation and deployment –  sometimes more significant.

It’s more important how prepared you are as an organization than the brand of software you use to accomplish these tactics.

The harsh reality is that despite paying the price of the installation, Marketing Automation Platforms do nothing for you by themselves – it all depends on you.

You have to attract your prospects for it to really take off. It is not economically feasible to do it with advertising, but in any case, the whole concept of Inbound Marketing and Marketing Automation starts from a content base, which you yourself should be creating. Therein lies the real cost in time and effort.

The most important objection to Marketing Automation platforms for lead generation is that they don’t actually generate leads.

marketing automation platforms are not for lead generation but for lead nurturing Click To Tweet

The Marketing Automation works on those who have already visited your website. Those who already know you. Those you’ve already attracted.

Think in your case how many, in terms of percentage of your total universe of potential customers (addressable market), actually visit your website; 30% 10%? 1%? Even less if you are a new entrant in a market and whether you are just beginning to make yourself known in a new segment.

And not only work only with those who have already visited your web anonymously, but with those who identify themselves by leaving their email in exchange for a piece of information or to subscribe to information or coupons.

more than 98% of web visitors do not leave their data, identify your leads before¡ Click To Tweet

So, 2% of 1% of your market is 0.002% of your overall market.

If you can potentially reach 10,000 companies, we are talking about using the software to sell to a grand total of 2 companies. These numbers may sound very pessimistic, but they’re not.

This is because MA solutions come from the world of B2C, with websites of well-known brands receiving hundreds of thousands of visits a month from consumers. There, of course, the numbers work because of quantity, but in B2B they do not.

So then if you work with market companies (B2B), can you not apply any of this customization and automation?

We will see in the last chapter that a new trend has emerged called Account Based Marketing that allows you to customize by account and even by person. This allows a much greater capability for the B2B world.

According to a reference provider of account based marketing (ABM):

“Fewer than 1% of leads generated by traditional MAPs turn into customers, whereas marketers using ABM are averaging 20-30% leads-to-customers”.

NEXT: Inbound (I): Social Media Marketing & Employee