Email Marketing is dead – Long live email selling!

Death_to_stock_BMX1_9_600A recent LinkedIn discussion on the merits of email marketing showed the massive polarity of responses.  On one side was heard:

  • I hate spam. I never read any email from anyone I don’t know
  • It doesn’t work – I’ve tried and failed
  • Email is dead anyway, numbers using email are declining. Social Media is the way forward
  • No one read our marketing emails that we’ve spent a fortune having designed

And on the other hand comments like these appeared:

  • Email is a great channel to find new customers
  • We mainly use email to retain clients
  • Our email strategy gives the highest ROI of any of our marketing

So what’s going on?  How can a relatively homogenous group have such different views on the effectiveness of email as a promotions and sales channel?

I believe the difference is between those that see email as a broadcast medium and those that seek to engage contacts by sharing knowledge and advice.  To differentiate the two, I have coined the phrase email selling to describe this second activity.

The difference is stark:

Email Marketing Email Selling
Designed emails with lots of HTML and pictures Plain emails, often short with limited or no design
Content talks about the sender “we’re great”, “we’ve got lots of clients”, “look at our services”, etc… The content is focussed on the recipient:  Useful knowledge; valuable advice and relevant stories
Everyone gets the same message Recipients are segmented and receive different messages and customised content intended to be directly relevant to them.
Messages often originate from the marketing department Messages are usually created with the involvement of sales department or other line of business users
Focus is on propagating brand and being “on message” Focus is on giving great value to the recipients
Fire & forget Regular engagement with further email or telephone follow up around the topic the recipient engaged with
Campaigns don’t evolve based on user behaviour New messages are created and targeted based on engagement with past content
ROI difficult to measure Known ROI based on a regular stream of new leads and closed sales

So next time you are thinking about your email strategy think email selling over email marketing.

Three reasons your sales team miss target

sales statsThere are many reasons a sales team can miss target.  The three that we come across most often are these.  Do you suffer from any of these?

Not enough leads

Sales people generally fall into one of two categories: those that love generating their own leads and those that don’t!  Most don’t.

The rare salesperson that is comfortable generating leads also tends to be poor at qualifying those leads into the pipeline.  This person has worked hard to get leads into the pipeline so does not want to just dismiss them if they don’t quite fit.  So you will often find their pipeline full of hopefuls that are never going to turn into business.

If you are lucky enough to have a salesperson that is good at generating leads, try switching them to only generating leads for the rest of the sales team and compensate this person for lead generated.

Should you not have this person in your team, dedicate resource and budget to generating good quality leads.  You can do this by hiring into your team or use an external business like Nett Sales to bring you a regular stream of new leads for your sales team.

Poor or no CRM

How do you track your sales prospects?  Can you identify all live prospects by sales stage, next action, predicted revenue and know why you lost and won every deal within a minute or so of being asked?

If not, you’re wasting time and working inefficiently.  This information and so much more can be at your fingertips without wading through spreadsheets or lengthy reports.

CRM vendors don’t really help as most systems are complex, fully of unnecessary junk and don’t let you do what you want to do – progress prospects through a defined process and know where you are with each one.

Nett Sales deploys CRM systems that actually work, supporting sales teams to achieve their goals and giving them the information they need when they need it.  Our CRM guru is happy to spend an hour on the phone with you helping you to get the most out of your current system.

No re-engagement of old leads

This is the biggest failing of every sales department we come across.  Of the leads that you worked on in 2015, how many turned into customers?  Maybe 10%.  What about the other 90%?  They had a requirement but the time was not right or they bought from a competitor or someone just forgot to call them back.

You don’t have time to call each of these leads every month or so – and you’d probably upset them anyway.  So enrol them into a regular “engagement” strategy where you share relevant and interesting knowledge, hint and tips with them so that when they are ready to consider a purchase, you are front of mind.

When we run these campaigns for many businesses, we will do them in such a way that we know which old leads are engaging with the campaign and so can identify these to your sales team to get back in touch.  Where we run these campaigns we often get another 10% to 20% of the old leads back into live sales situations within months.

You’ve already paid for these leads either with money or the effort of your team, so why not optimise the return on them?

You will also benefit from an integrated CRM system so that leads can be scored and tracked effectively.

Helping you succeed

Above are three areas where sales teams tend to fall down.  It’s relatively easy to fix all three of these challenges with the right help.  Nett Sales was set up 9 years ago to provide sales teams precisely this support – that’s all we do.

So please do get in touch if you want to regain control of your sales team and your life.

B2B Buyer Behaviour: how to convert more quality leads

Derek Singleton - Software AdviceDerek Singleton of Software Advice has recently written a report on B2B buyer behaviour by in which a study found 3 key findings:

  1. Call leads fast- really fast
  2. Tuesday- Thursday is the best time to reach buyers
  3. Don’t underestimate the opportunity around the holidays

The findings show that calling prospects straight away can significantly improve your ability to qualify leads generated from a campaign. Also, there are certain times of the year, week and day when you need to plan your in-house sales team’s capacity to maximize your ability to turn click-throughs into leads.

The report suggests that if you call a lead within 5 seconds, the odds of qualifying them are 29% higher than if we call within 5 minutes.

Derek Singleton says “Our report shows that when a buyer contacts us directly for information—requesting a price quote or product demo, for instance—there is a significant benefit to calling that buyer right away. “It was amazing to see that if we call a buyer within 5 seconds of converting, we qualify that buyer at a rate 30 percent higher than our average qualification rate.”

At Nett Sales we think this research is definitely valid. We aim to follow up a message as quickly as possible by tracking who has clicked and opened the message. We follow up with a call to find out what prospects thought and how relevant it is to their needs.

The research also highlights leads that come in Tuesday through to Thursday qualify at twice the average qualification rate for other business days.

This makes sense and is something that we at Nett Sales already endeavour to follow. Calling prospects on a Monday or Friday is not as successful as the rest of the week, as these are day’s people of most likely to have off and be away from the office.

The week before Christmas is surprisingly active for conversion and qualification rates.

This may come as a surprise to some businesses, as you may think that in the run up Christmas and other holidays, businesses are starting to wind down and are not thinking about B2B buying. But during Christmas and New Year many companies and looking to allocate their budget and have the time to read emails and research online.

Derek Singleton gives some valuable advice by saying “Of course, it’s also important to understand that not every buyer deserves a call right away. If a buyer contacts you indirectly—by completing a form to download a whitepaper, access video content, or view other gated material—then you should consider nurturing, rather than calling, the lead. As sales and marketing professionals continue to compete for the attention of B2B buyers on the Web, understanding their online behaviour will be critical to success. Hopefully our data helps provide a fresh perspective for online B2B buyer behaviour.”

If you would like to read the report in full for more details, follow this link. 2013 Online B2B Buyer Behaviour Report. If you would like to learn more about what Nett Sales does and how these principles from the report can help you gain more sales more quickly contact our team on 01672 50 50 50.

Is the customer really in charge?

customerRobert Craven is soon to release a new version of his best-selling book “Customer is King” introduced by Sir Richard Branson. We have taken a fresh look at this book and put into practice Robert’s advice to help us and our clients.

Robert’s advice has made a big difference to our business as well as our clients’, so much so we have been blogging the results as we go.

What Robert says

The modern business’s secret, is that the customer runs the show. And the biggest secret today is that ‘the customer is in charge’. The other secret is that it’s harder to deliver good customer service than ever before, as customers are more demanding.

The reason that businesses were and still are so excited about the web is the belief that ‘the customer is in charge’ It would appear that the consumer, at a retail level or commercial level is taking charge. This is the power of the internet and its associated technologies.

Clearly, most customers do not feel ‘in charge’. You can use this to your advantage. Think how easy it can become to stand out from the rest when you really do put the customer in charge. Customers have been told that they should be in charge and yet they rarely, if ever, feel as though they are in charge. So see what happens if you put them in charge.

Applying this to Nett Sales

Nett Sales helps its clients get more customers. We work closely with our clients to create compelling campaigns using a blend of email and telephone work to ensure we pass our clients well qualified leads that they can turn into customers.

Robert’s advice has helped us to recognise that our customers like to be in charge and make their own decisions. This has prompted us to be very transparent with our messages and allow readers to click on the links that interest them.

For us the early stage of every campaign is very important. One of the steps that we have recently introduced is an outline schedule at the beginning of a campaign explaining how things are set up and will work. Once the campaign is up and running we arrange quarterly reviews and monthly telephone catch ups to meet customer expectations and keep everything on track. If you would like to learn more about how a typical schedule works, follow this link.

We have worked with each of our clients to recognise the features and the associated benefits for their products/ service which we have used in telephone follow-up calls. This has helped up pass more hot leads to our clients.

Are you looking to do something a bit different with your marketing? Want more sales and to engage more customers? Contact us on 01672 50 50 50 for a friendly chat and to discuss your requirements.

When email frequency gets REALLY annoying

Ilogmein‘m a big fan of LogMeIn.  It works well and gives me great control of desktop PCs from an iPad.  I’ve got the free version and naturally the company are keen to get me to sign up to their Pro package and send me special offer emails to encourage me to upgrade.

BUT… how many “last chance” emails do they need to send me?  I’ve counted 5 in 2 days, which seems more than excessive.  Not to mention factually incorrect – surely it should be “only four more chances to save…” etc 🙂

I don’t know how many more times I’m going to be offered a last chance as I’ve now unsubscribed and they have had their last chance to influence me.

Am I going to uninstall their product and use TeamViewer?  No.  But I won’t be hearing from them again and doubt I will spend money with them.

So think carefully about what impact repeated offers will have on your subscribers.

The TRUTH about email subject lines

If you are in any way involved in email marketing, you will KNOW that the subject line is vital to the success of your email campaign.  And all the stats prove it.

But how long should your subject line be?  Well there is a strong body of evidence to help you here:

Econsultancy shows in this article that shorter subject lines are best:

mailer_mailer-blog-full

But then Email Audience says longer subject lines are best:

how_long_should_your_subject_line_be

… Confused?  Well just to finish off, Mailchip guru John Foreman says subject line length means absolutely nothing:

Graph11

As J0hn says “As your subject line gets longer, nothing happens. Cheers.”

So that’s cleared things up then.  There are three schools of thought, one promoting short subject lines, one longer subject lines and one neither.  So what I would urge you to do if you want to get your subject line working for you is to go back and read the detail of all three of these articles because they all really say the same thing in the end: “your audience is made up of individuals and will respond like individuals.  Figure out what interests them and what they respond to and give them more of that”.

5 point checklist to select the right sales system for your business

footprintsIt is more important than ever to seek out practical, impartial advice to ensure that you choose the right system to match your business needs. Nett Sales is a ‘user’ of these systems, rather than a vendor. As such we can provide you with all the help and support you require to select the best software and system vendor for your business.

Here are 5 tips which will help you select a sales system that meets the needs of your business:

  • Build a selection committee from the decision makers within your business
  • Interview stakeholders from all levels to gather their system requirements
  • Document your requirements in particular anything which is specific to your business
  • Agree project objectives and deliverables
  • Research the marketplace and engage with vendors early in the process

How Nett Sales can help you?

It is more important than ever to seek out practical advice, which is why Nett Sales has teamed up with  a number of vendors and brokers.

Nett Sales offers impartial advice to ensure that you choose the system that matches your business needs, rather than just what that specific vendor offers. You can get all the help and support you require to select the best system for your business. And if you’d like independent advice on selecting the right system for you, email us at enquiries@nett-sales.com or call 01672 50 50 50.

The perfect email

It’s not often that I get the perfect email – one that beautifully illustrates all of the various different points we go on (and on) about in designing effective emails that sell.  But I got one this morning!  And here it is.

So let’s look at this from the top…

  1. SpigenSubject line.  Arguably the most important part of the email, the subject line should entice the recipient to engage with the message and, if you are not viewing the content in your preview pane, to open the message. Fail.
  2. Sender name.  Different commentators argue that the sender name is now more important than the subject line in getting engagement.  At least this sender has included an alias but just the company name???  Surely something a bit more personal…  And take a look at the email address.  I don’t know about you, but that does not look to me like someone I know or would want to trust.
  3. Sent to.  I’ve not got the first clue who =?utf-8?Q??= is, but I don’t know how to pronounce it and I certainly don’t answer to it.  Is this personalisation gone wrong?  Who knows.  big fail.
  4. Content.  Finally!  Lets have a look at the message… Oh well.

Careful how you segment your database

crewI received promational emails from Crew Clothing today.  I’ve bought from them regularly, so straight into my inbox – great let’s have a look.

But for some reason I’m on their mailing list twice and to one email address they are offering me 15% off and the next 20% off PLUS free delivery.  Just makes them look a bit foolish…

So, before you test messages to different parts of your mailing list, check that you have de-duplicated on something other than email address – mailing address or phone number would be good.

Why marketing sometimes fails

What Robert Says

customerThere are many different reasons why your marketing might fail.  Robert Craven has identified 2 seemingly obvious and simple reasons in his best-selling book “Customer is King”. First he suggests that by focusing on the needs of the customer above the needs of the business you will have long term loyal customers. ‘If you’re going to fall in love try not to fall in love with your product. Rather, try falling in love with your customer, because then you will do all you can in your power to keep them happy, and they’ll appreciate it in the long-run’.

Secondly he identifies that we are living in a culture where everything is increasingly the same and that your business must try to be different, otherwise why should people bother to buy from you? ‘Blandness and sameness seem to have become the trademark of our time and yet it takes so little extra to make a product or service genuinely personalised or individualised.’

Applying this to Nett Sales

Nett Sales helps its clients get more customers. We work closely with our clients to create compelling campaigns using a blend of email and telephone work to ensure we pass our clients well qualified leads that they can turn into customers.

Robert’s advice helped us to help our clients to focus on their customers and potential customers rather than their own products.  So we run campaigns for our clients that help their customers – either by sharing knowledge or offering advice, hint or tips.

What does this process look like?  After sending out an email message for a client, we analyse the click through rate to gauge interest. We then call the prospects that have engaged with the message, not to sell to them or tell them how great our product/service is. We simply ask for feedback on the message they have received and ask how it is relevant to their business now. We have a conversation with the contact and listen to their response to understand their needs and wants.

Contacts that are ready for a conversation with our client are passed to the client as leads for follow up.

The concept of putting the customer’s needs before our own has been essential to helping our business grow. We build strong relationships with our clients which in turn builds a strong relationship with their customers and prospects. And of course our clients get great new customers from the campaigns – which always helps!

Are you looking to do something a bit different with your marketing? Want more sales and to engage more customers? Contact us on 01672 50 50 50 for a friendly chat and to discuss your requirements.