Who are you?

An email has a couple of seconds at best to catch the readers attention before it is deleted or ignored.  Conventional wisdom was that recipients checked the email in this order:

  1. Subject line
  2. Sender
  3. Email body in preview

But I would argue that the first thing most people now check is the sender.  We all get so many emails that the sender name tells us more than anything else about the email.  So when I receive and email from this sender, what do I think:





Clearly not a “listening business”!  Delete.

So, be creative when sending your emails, don’t just put a name in the “from” box, give a hint of the benefits of reading more or use some special characters – within reason…

Who’s reading your email?

ThiefWithLaptopThere has been a major shift over the last few years away from local ISP based email towards the likes of Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc.  These services give easy access to your email wherever you are, on your phone, at work and at home.

We certainly notice with our email marketing campaigns that there are lots more email addresses ending @gmail.com, etc…

And there are many companies taking advantage of Googlemail’s ability to assign their own domain name to a group of gmail accounts and effectively use googlemail as their corporate email server.

So, what’s the problem?

Well, since the NSA came clean about Prism last week, it’s now clear that the US Government and possibly the UK Government too has been snooping on email from all these main Internet Service Providers with pretty much unfettered access to our email.

I don’t know how you feel, but I’d prefer that my business email remains unread by anyone but the recipient and myself.  As soon as open access is offered, it inevitably gets abused way beyond the initial remit.  In this case the fight against global terrorism.

So, what to do?  For a business, either set up your own email server, or far better use a specialist email hosting provider based in the UK and using a UK data centre, although you can find other hosting options online, at sites as Armchair Empire that give you the best options for hosting your websites.  For an individual, find a UK based ISP and use their email – plus.net are pretty good, but others work well too.

Engaging telephone conversations in channel sales, not just telemarketing!

We have all been there, when we need more sales and hot leads.  What most of us do is pick up the phone book and start calling potential customers telling them how good we are and how amazing our products are.

What is the usual outcome? You will sit there listening to answer phone messages for half of the day, or get hung up on as the customer doesn’t know who you are and are not interested in what you are selling at the moment.

What do you do then? Exhaust all contacts in the phone book? Is there are simpler way? – Yes.

Nett Sales has developed a system for you to share knowledge, build relationships and get more sales.  See the Process in Action here. We believe in building relationships with potential customers by writing to them about products they may be interested in.  We will continue to communicate with customers, so they will begin to trust you and when they are ready to buy your products, you will be the first company they think of. (Building trust)

You may think why don’t we call the potential customers once we know that they have read the email and/or clicked through to the link? There are many different reasons why customer’s may read the information we send them. They are actually interested in the products you can offer, they are interested but not at the moment, or they are not interested at all and have clicked through to the link out of boredom. Nett Sales will ask the potential customers some qualifying questions to ensure that only hot leads are passed to your sales team to turn into sales. Read more about this here.

When it is time to call potential customers, what is the best approach? To tell them how great you are and what you can offer to them, or to have a conversation with them.

We have found that customers are more responsive to someone who calls to ask them some questions about what we have sent them and how interesting they found the information. This will help you build trust with the customer and learn more about them and their needs. Customer’s will appreciate this and think ‘this company is different to the others; they care about me and not just about getting another sale’. By getting this type of response from the customer, you would have gained a long-term and loyal customer.

We all know that generating sales have become increasingly more difficult in the current economic climate. From experience it is proven that email marketing is one of the most effective periods of generating leads and turning these into sales. See this example if you aren’t convinced. If you want to know more get in touch.


How to cut the cost of working your long list by phone

In the days before the internet, or, to be more precise, the evenings, working in telemarketing involved being handed a dog-eared script – which you absolutely had to stick to, unless you wanted to get fired then and there – and being told to work your way through the names on a page torn out of the phone book.

And a very long list it was, too.

How much in the way of double-glazing was sold that way, who’s to say – but I’m willing to bet it wasn’t a lot, since I speak from experience.

And that’s because the script was pretty much about trying to sell the total stranger at the other end of the line on the idea of being visited by a double-glazing salesman.  And back then, they had a reputation for persistence.

So, in short, there you were, with no flexibility in the way you interacted with someone whose dinner you’d just interrupted, trying to get them to agree to something they didn’t want in the first place – at your very first – and only – contact.

All in all, if that particular telemarketing outfit was getting paid on a commission-per-appointment basis, then it’s very likely they were losing money hand over fist.  They had to hire the office space, get some second-hand desks, install those phones, copy that “sales” script and somehow acquire a sacrificial phone book.  Oh, and of course, there was the small matter of paying supervisors and staff – of whom there was a very high turnover indeed.

Maximum effort, minimum results.

But now, in this digital age, some people are still putting in a huge amount of effort when it comes to their B2B telemarketing, and still paying through the nose for far too few results.  OK, so phone books are pretty well a thing of the past, because it’s a simple matter to source names and numbers online these days, but you can still end up with a long list that’s very long indeed.

And if it’s possible to get past their gatekeeper and through to anybody on that list, rather than trying to establish a relationship, those people are trying to sell them straight away on their service or product.

How much more effective would it be for them if their initial call was looking for an expression of interest in what they could provide -something quick and easy as in “May we send you an email giving you more information for you to look at, at your leisure”?

If the answer is yes, then it’s time to start establishing a relationship via email – hardly the most expensive messaging medium on the planet.

And if the answer is no, well, there’s always the next name on that long list.

Why trust built relationships are important to your business

Trust is one of those things that your business cannot survive without. Unfortunately, it is also one of the hardest areas to develop effectively. You can buy yourself the flashiest website, sell the best products in your industry and deliver the slickest, most faultless customer service imaginable. But without trust between you and your customers, you still won’t sell. Why is this, and why are trust built relationships important to your business?

What is trust?

Without a doubt trust is the one thing that has a huge influence over our decisions in life without anyone really being able to put their finger on what it is. Ask 100 people what trust means to them, and you’ll almost certainly get 100 different answers. Trust is the difference between getting a lift home and choosing to walk. Trust is sharing secrets. Trust is handing over cash with the confidence that you’ll get a return on your investment. And in business, trust is the difference between making a sale and losing another prospect.


Trust in the buying process

We all have our own ways of evaluating the trustworthiness of a company before we choose to do business with them. Some of us will look for independent reviews on the internet, others will ask friends for advice. The more astute may check the company’s credentials in terms of business registrations and licenses. Being able to trust in a business is what makes us decide to buy, or in some cases not.

Take, for instance, those businesses that are founded on a review and feedback system. Amazon, for example, or eBay. Consumers know that they can buy with confidence if the person or business they are buying from have enough positive feedbacks from past customers, and that is why this system works.

In a Nielsen survey from 2009, respondents cited recommendations from friends, consumer opinions online and editorial content such as newspaper articles as much more important factors in evaluating trustworthiness than any of the forms of paid advertising available. The good news about this is that these types of PR are the cheapest to implement; the bad news is they are also the most difficult.


Does trust equal sales?

So we know that positive PR, and the right type of PR, can directly influence the level of trust your customers perceive in your brand. However, the critical factor that will put trust high on the agenda of your business is whether it directly influences sales.

According to marketing professors, Morris B. Holbrook and Arjun Chaudhuri, who have researched extensively on this subject, the answer is yes. These experts conclude that brand trust results in both purchase loyalty and a loyal attitude to the brand, which has positive impacts on sales figures. Additional research by Mext Consulting shows that:

  • 83% of consumers will buy more of your products if they trust your brand
  • 81% will recommend a trusted brand to their friends and contacts
  • 47% will pay a premium for the brands that they trust

In summary, trust not only leads to greater sales right now, but will also secure your business a loyal following for long into the future, and that organic growth through word of mouth and social recommendations that your customers value so highly. To overlook the building of trust is to miss out on a valuable opportunity for your business.

Email Marketing is dead – Long live email selling!

A 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.

What’s in it for me?

So, I open up my email this morning and work through the 20 or so messages that have arrived overnight – deleting most of them.  Then I start my days work but forget to close me email.

At about 9.30 ! receive this message.  Full marks to the email marketeer for delivering it at a time when I’m interruptible and therefore likely to review the message.

Big fail on the content!  I click on Outlook with the message highlighted and what do I see?  An empty blue box…

Now, I know that I can go to the top bar and download images, but I know I’m just going to be presented with a big company image and probably a photo of the person sending me the message.

This marketer has failed to answer the basic question “What’s in it for me?” in the first two seconds of me reviewing the message – DELETE!

So, learn from this… if you want to put your company logo in your marketing emails (why would you?) at least put  it at the bottom of your email below the signature.  And please, please don’t put a bloody great photo of you, your product or anything else at the top of the message.

I want to know what you are saying to me, not how great you are.  It’s easy to get my attention: tell me what I will get from reading your message.  I may not want what you are offering, but at least you’ve given yourself the opportunity of being heard.

Rant over…!

How could you improve your communications for males and females?

A major London research organization has been doing extremely well when it comes to bringing in research from the public, this is information is used to help larger organisations to improve their consumer products, providing the public with a voice.

This research organisation wanted to push even further and improve the size of the survey panel and volume of surveys being taken by different people.

The work that was done helped look at a way that they could approach different people in different ways, to specifically aim their communications at different people and make the reader feel wanted, special and willing to contribute.

This was done by sending samples of different messages out to gender specific audiences. One of the first things compared was whether or not to use the company image header or to use a text header instead.

This would mean when the email was received by its reader, straight away the reader would be able to see who it was from and respond, without downloading the images. When sending out this sample, statistics show that the text header emails were opened by another 3.03% of the receivers and 1% more click-throughs to the web survey.

The way in which you could consider this approach is by making your communications more gender specific by experimenting with colour and possibly gender rewards. Tests are now underway with combinations of colour, incentive, message format and wording to deliver a further 3% in email click-throughs. For each percentage point delivered 233 more people will complete monthly surveys, so the overall aim is to make the method as targeted and successful as it can be.

If you would like further advice or information on this approach please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01672 505050 or email simon@nett-sales.com.

The perils of segmenting your database…

We have long been advocates of segmenting your database and then sending different messages to different parts of the database.  Makes sense… and allows you to target different parts of the database with different offers.

But care is needed.  What if the same person is in two parts of your database?  Would they get two conflicting messages?  Or would the messages be complimentary?

Unlikely! I hear you say.  Well… I like the email marketing from Crew Clothing, but getting two messages from them today one offering a 15% discount and the other a 20% discount makes me ask “why am I not in the 40% discount group?”

So, take care with segmented offers to your database.

Great “apology” email

I love clear, easy to read emails that catch my eye.  This one is a great example that I’ve just received:

What’s so good about this email then?  Well, the key points for me are:

  1. Strong message.  Gives the impression of a busy company working hard.
  2. Good customer service.  They know that customers have been having problems contacting them and are not scared to own up and apologise.  And they’ve given you a gift in “compensation”.
  3. It has the side (or main) benefit for anyone not inconvenienced of reminding them about the company and gives them an incentive to order during December.

I don’t know how many people have been unable to contact them or if this is a blatent ploy, but whatever the case, it’s a good message and if I were looking for ink cartridges right now I’d have taken them up on their offer…