Before I started researching the content for this article, I thought that email was going to be a critical channel for B2B content marketing. But what I found wasn’t exactly what I had anticipated.
Some of the most surprising findings came from The State of B2B Email Marketing report, released earlier this year. It found that 59 percent of B2B companies DID NOT use email marketing. That’s a bit shocking…To say the least.
Emails are an important communication channel as well as a lead generation channel in B2B. Even still, a lot of companies choose to avoid it to communicate. Let alone nurture, and sell to their audiences.
Ever since I’ve found this amazing stat, I wanted to discover the reasons preventing B2B businesses from using emails.
I’ll share my findings in this article. This, along with five research-based B2B email marketing techniques to help you increase the effectiveness of digital marketing campaigns.
Why So Many Companies Fail to Capitalize on B2B Email Marketing?
Let’s make one thing clear from the start: email marketing is hard because you have to follow a lot of rules and be aware of the quickly evolving best practices.
To be able to improve the performance of your marketing with emails, you have to have a documented strategy that outlines the types of emails to send out, content calendar, and many other things. The importance of having a documented strategy is hard to overstate since it provides that much-needed vision and ensures consistency.
Evidently, 25 percent of B2B marketers don’t even have a content marketing strategy. Which means their B2B email marketing effort? Well, if they use emails, of course – is mediocre, at best.
However, many plan to develop a strategy within a year, which suggest that more B2B businesses realize the importance of emails as a marketing channel as well as being consistent and organized about it.
Another important factor that defines the effectiveness of email marketing is the frequency of the campaigns. Unfortunately, there’s no universal formula on how many emails you should send within a specific time period, but some research findings can help.
For example, it’s a known fact that sending too many emails is a sure-fire way to make subscribers feel overwhelmed. In fact, a study by Marketing Sherpa found that “too many emails in general” and “too many emails from a specific company” were two of the top three reasons why people unsubscribe from newsletters.
According to the abovementioned State of B2B Email Marketing, the companies sent one email campaign every 25 days. While this may work for some businesses, don’t forget that the total number of business and consumer emails sent and received per day in 2018 was about 281 billion.
This means that chances are pretty high that your subscribers receive tons of emails every day, so if you choose to send one email every 25 days, they are likely to forget about your company very quickly.
So, to quickly summarize these findings, we can safely assume that many B2B businesses fail at email marketing because they lack the knowledge of the most effective practices and techniques that maximize the selling potential of the approach.
With that in mind, let’s review five B2B email techniques that can increase the effectiveness of your digital marketing effort.
1 Have a Documented Strategy
As we already know, having a documented strategy is a strong precursor of success here; in fact, the above-mentioned Content Marketing Institute report discovered that 62 percent of the most successful B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy compared to only 16 percent of the least successful ones.
62% of the most successful B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. Click To Tweet
Not only having a strategy contributes to being consistent here, but it also helps B2B businesses to be organized. For example, you can give a specific purpose to emails that you send out to your subscribers:
First-month emails: share knowledge of common issues faced by leads
Second-month emails: share tips on how to deal with those issues
Third-month emails: demonstrating why your company is the best to help with those specific issues with case studies etc.
Now we’re talking! This simple strategy provides some organization to your email campaigns and allows to nurture leads properly.
2 Define a Frequency of Email Campaigns
We’ve touched on this specific topic above, and we know that many B2B businesses send out only one campaign every 25 days. This might very well be one of the main issues preventing them from increasing their sales, but I won’t give you a lot of specifics here because they depend on your industry, niche, and product or service.
The best advice that I can give you here is to take a cautious approach and test your campaign and start with one email per week. We cannot risk getting your emails lost in overfilled inboxes, so try this frequency and go from there.
3 Use a Personal Name for a Sender Name
What sender name do you use in your emails? The research suggests that it’s the most important factor when it comes to increasing open rates; in fact, a Super Office survey found that 64 percent of emails subscribers were likely to read an email because of who it was from.
Clearly, they are not doing a great job at encouraging their subscribers to open emails because people respond better to people, not things like companies and departments. The best way here is to use a technique like this.
The below email comes from Business Insider Intelligence, a premium subscription service created for business executives and leaders. As you can see, the name of the sender is included in the sender name field as well as in the body of the message (along with an image of the person).
This is way better than receiving an email from a company name, agree? In many cases, it would be a better decision because it makes the email look more trustful, so be sure to test how emails send from your brand name and from a personal name perform.
4 Write Compelling Subject Lines
One of the most important things to get right withe B2B email marketing? The subject line. The reason is pretty simple: your subscribers receive a lot of emails and often, a subject line is the only thing they read, so making it as enticing as possible is a must.
Standing out from the rest of the message in an overfilled inbox is tricky. Some brands even go for capitalizing subject lines to get noticed, but this is a bad idea since using all caps is like screaming at the receivers.
There are a number of good techniques here. So let’s review some of them and give you some examples.
The first technique is to describe the benefits to the receiver. For example, here are a couple of messages from well-known B2B companies that follow this approach.
As you can see, they let the receiver know about the content inside the messages by describing the benefits it provides them (also take note that both of them use personal names as senders).
Another technique is to write a subject line that catches a reader’s attention with something they don’t expect to read. For example, the following line is a good example of that.
A lot of people would like to know this, right? So, such a curiosity-based subject line would be a great way to encourage your recipients to open the message and learn more about what you have to offer.
5 Audience Segmentation
This is quickly becoming one of the most important techniques in both B2B and B2C email marketing because it increases the relevance of email content to receivers, which is something they appreciate (irrelevant emails go to the spam folder or simply get ignored, obviously).
If you segment your subscribers, for example, by interest, you can create emails that they will be more willing to open and read. For example, many B2B businesses make a big mistake by sending their sales-related content to the entire lead base, which means that all of them get the same offers.
Instead of sending sales-related content to the entire lead base, try sending this content only to those who are interested in it. Click To Tweet
That’s not a good idea, obviously, since every business has unique needs and goals. So, instead of doing that, try sending sales-related content to those who are interested in it. To identify these individuals, you can segment your subscribers based on the following:
Industry. This one is obvious: you won’t get a lot of business by sending offers that are irrelevant in terms of industry.
Websitebehavior. Take a look at what pages a subscriber visited (product pages, landing pages, etc.)
Position in a company. It may not be the best idea to send an offer with an IT infrastructure security solution to a head of HR, agree?
By doing so, you’ll increase the relevancy of your emails to subscribers, which will dramatically increase the chance of selling something to them.
B2B email marketing is hard. You have to follow so many rules. And pay attention to so many things. Which may be one of the reasons why a lot of B2B businesses don’t even use this approach. However, avoiding a marketing technique with the highest ROI of $43 per $1? Simply not a good way to develop a business in 2019.
Hopefully, these techniques will help you to rethink your approach to email marketing or enhance your existing techniques to improve sales.
To overcome the issue automating your . You can send emails to the right person at the right time.
It is not activated all the time, but whenever a particular event occurs, or your website indicates something, it is sent automatically to the users. It is a reaction of the action taken by any particular user on your website. You can also schedule them at particular moments, like the birthday of your user or when you are willing to announce something publically or at Ester/Christmas, etc.
Boost Up Your Sales Through Different Types of Email Triggers
Email triggers are created based on prior information and data in the database. It is sent on different occasions and can work for you as a sale booster. Let’s discuss how it can be productive to increase sales and conversion rate.
1 Welcome Email After Subscription
Most of the website visitors are not yet prepared to purchase, but they are suitable for our automated email campaign as they have shown interest by registering. Now the main objective is to set up a relationship and persuade them to purchase.
What we could do best is to make them join our newsletter. This is a quick and primary activity, which will make them progressively slanted to make a buy. After subscribing to the website, clients will get an activated welcome email that may contain gifts with greetings (discounted coupons and offers) that rewards them for their trust and urges them to complete another activity (make a buy, give us reviews and take part in surveys, or sharing us on their social media network).
Obviously, this is not a 100% guaranteed process to convert users to buyers. However, it lets you track and screen the growth of a campaign and evaluate its effect on sales.
2 Send Greeting With Offers
Once, any user has filled the form for registration, you will have their basic information saved. Information like birth date, interests, and hobbies will work for you. If you haven’t included these slots in your registration form, include them now.
Send birthday emails to your users with personalized content and a promotional discount. Users enjoy when you wish them their special moments. It helps you to,
Improve your relationship with the customer
Encourage them for a purchase
It takes 5 times more investment to create a new customer than retaining a previous one. Hence, it is necessary to keep reminding your existing customers that you exist. Send them emails on different events based on their interests. Include packages and offers related to the upcoming event, which will make them purchase.
3 Reduce Cart Abandonment
About 7 out of each 10 users left your store without buying anything, even if they added products to the cart. To convert these users to buyers, you need to send them an automated email. Whenever your customer visits your store and add some items to the cart, be alert. After few days or a week, send them an email, reminding them they have left items in the cart. Make sure:
You have specified the items left in the cart and included product features
Get them a direct link so it could be easy to follow it back to purchase the item.
Offer discount or free shipping which will encourage the customer
4 Use FOMO Emails
FOMO is a Psychological term stands for ‘fear of missing out’. It could be utilized in marketing to attract more customers and make them purchase. According to a study by Strategy Online, 60% of millennials reacted to and made a purchase after experiencing FOMO.
It is a human behavior that we are more attracted to the things we think we might lose them. Similar goes with email marketing. Let suppose some of the products in your store are about to finish. What you need to do is to contact your vendor to send them more. Along with that, you should set a triggered email with each of your product or with the ones on high demand. This email will notify the users that a specific product will be out of stock soon, so you should buy it now.
Again you need to be careful with your content, you should include details like product features and why the product is important so users could realize the importance of that item. Using phrases like ‘Only 7 Left’, ‘Don’t Miss Out’, or ‘Hurry Up’ could work for you.
Crowd Writer has utilized FOMO to increase their sales by 57% in June 2018. According to their co-founder Mrs. Tori Tucker,
“We were focusing on different marketing strategies to bring back our customers we lost during the past six months due to unsatisfactory customer support. Thanks to our Psychology tutor, ‘John Williams’ who advised us to utilize FOMO in our email marketing campaign, and it worked for us.”
5 Remind Your Customer About the Features You Offer
Either you are running an eCommerce store or a brick and mortar store, it is very important for your sales that your customers should know about the features you offer. Obviously, your features make you prominent among others, and if your customers are unaware about it, they will not going to buy regularly.
For the purpose, you can utilize automated emails. Send this email quarterly or every couple of months to the customers who are showing less interests in your services. Remind them how beneficial are you for them by telling them about the free services you are providing them. Highlight features like free shipping, 24/7 human support, etc. You can also target particular users by offering 20% or 30% discount code under the same email.
6 Send Reviews With Caption ‘What Others Say About Us’
Reviews are very important for newcomers. It creates a sense of authenticity about you and your services. Customers are more likely to make a purchase if they found true reviews about any particular service.
I will recommend you to send the reviews through emails to the users who have initially shown interest in your website and then moved away. Reviews could work as a magnetic attraction to bring these users back to you. It not only provides brand awareness but shows that your people are using your services.
While sending reviews through email, be careful not to send all reviews with a 5-star rating. Customers are more attracted to the brands with an overall rating of 4.2 to 4.5. Do not forget to send one or two negative reviews. It will show that you are loyal to the customers and will boost sales.
7 Send Product Recommendations
Product recommendation is one of the most used and traditional marketing strategies. It is how you make your customer feel special and promotes your different items. Online stores have observed an increase of 75% in the sales using product recommendations.
By sharing personalized and relevant content based on customer’s browsing history and buying habits, these emails are beneficiary for the cross-sell and upsell scenarios. The best time to send the product recommendation email is right after your customer has made a purchase. Show them relevant products to the one they have just purchased. For example, your buyer has got jeans from your store, it will be best if you recommend some casual shirts and T-shirts.
Some More Tips & Tactics
Apart from the above strategies, you will need to optimize your emails to get more conversions and boosted sales. Let’s discuss some tips that will help you to increase your sales through email triggers.
a. Catchy Subject Line
Your subject line decides whether a receiver will open your email or not. A good subject line ensures a high opening rate and contact’s attraction. Try not to use long phrases. Be precise and use positive words.
Have a look at the below two emails and decide which will work for you.
It is our pleasure to have you at our place. We hope that you enjoyed the meal. Kindly fill the attached review form. We will appreciate your feedback.
Hi Mrs. Carnell,
We hope you enjoyed your meal on Sunday at 10 pm with your family at table number 5 at our place. We would love to have your review about the Hamburgers and Peanut Shake.
Most of the time, users did not read the email word by word. The just go through it and find something of their interest. Your content should be so organized that it delivers your message with just a look at it. Make your content persuasive so that it could bring you more sales.
d. Use CTA
Try to use at least one call to action button with your triggered email. It will improve your CTR and will lead your user to your desired destination easily.
e. Analyze Your Outcome
Track the performance of your triggered emails through your website’s monitoring system. It will allow you to take the necessary actions in your future campaigns.
Most of the sales training we see today focus on fast-track training. This sort detail a myriad of processes that today is quite frankly – useless. Think about it, information is readily available to buyers at their convenience, so naturally their attention spans are short and need to be captured instantly.
With more emphasis placed on social selling and our ever-changing buying climate – it’s inevitable that salespeople look for new ways to understand buying behaviour. One of these ways is through emotional intelligence training – it’s a powerful way of understanding a customer’s emotions and using this knowledge to inform your decision-making skills.
Emotional intelligence training and sales go hand in hand. It differentiates the good salesperson from the bad. After all – aren’t we drawn to positive, enthusiastic people than the one who are negative and desperate to reach their quota?
Having little to no emotional intelligence can greatly impact a salesperson’s ability to build rapport with a customer. Hitting each call with a hard-sell approach instantly screams “desperate”. But showing understanding and empathy can help the person. Then, those on the other end of the line relax and listen to what you have to say.
What exactly is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence (also known as EI or EQ) is the ability to understand and manage the emotions we exude and how they affect others. By understand said emotions we can use them as tools to evoke feelings of recognition, influence and trust.
Already you can see how these feelings are vital in a sales environment. In order to bank your commission or keep the company afloat you need to make your customers feel like they can trust you. Not only this, but emotional intelligence can change the way you view sales. Instead of seeing it as a chore or daunting exercise, increasing your emotional intelligence can help you strive towards being the best version of yourself.
Breaking down emotional intelligence training in sales
We’ve established that emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and manage motions in yourself and others. This can be broken down into three more points which encompass what it means to be an emotionally intelligent sales person: managing client relationships, self-awareness and self-managements:
Managing client relationships
Managing client relationships is integral for future business opportunities. It’s more about getting your customers to convince themselves to buy from you as opposed to influencing with “amazing selling skills”. Management of client relationships boils down to the following:
Should any issues arise, an emotionally intelligent salesperson will be able to neutralise the issue. Resolving them with empathy and solutions to the issue/s. As opposed to adding blame on the client (or themselves). It’s also important to note that teamwork is a vital element in client problem solving. As it gets different viewpoints on how to deal with the issue and work with the client to achieve good results.
How you lead through client issues is important. Your own setbacks and insecurities that could fester as a result of running into such problems will ultimately determine how emotionally intelligent of a sales person you are.
Sometimes we misjudge how our actions affect others. Becoming more aware of the things we say and lessening the times we act out of impulse whilst pitching to customers can help develop your sense of self awareness.
Through self-awareness you can learn to interact with others positively and productively. It focuses on understanding your emotions to understand others, as opposed to constantly acting like Mr Big Shot who likes the sound of their own voice.
An emotionally intelligence salesperson will be able to differentiate:
What emotionally triggers them
How to pinpoint and deal with weaknesses
How their communication can impact another person
A self-aware salesperson can consciously identify these feelings, recognise them and deal with them, accordingly, as opposed to letting them fester at a self-conscious level. They understand when to talk and when to listen to a customer and when to dig deeper.
Managing your emotions can be both daunting and exhausting, especially in a highly pressurised environment. You’re focused on hitting your targets and sometimes you. You may experience or witness the following emotions in yourself or a customer:
Unconfident (or over-confident)
These emotions can completely cloud our judgement so it’s important to regulate them by checking in with yourself and your clients on a regular basis. A good sales person can read their emotions, both positive and negative, and plan a course of action to either diminish it or reinforce it.
Through these traits we can see what emotional intelligence looks line in a nutshell, so whether it’s a problem with phone answering, general client communication or body language – below we will explore how lack of emotional intelligence highly affects your performance on the sales floor:
It can lower your drive to hit sales targets
Rejection handling, difficult questions and lack of concentration are just some of many consequences of having low emotional intelligence.
A sales environment is challenging already. But if you find yourself getting rejected repeatedly it can completely erode your drive and any incentive to succeed. A salesperson with higher emotional intelligence will take steps to see where things are going wrong, accepts the sun shines after a rainy day and won’t let a bad sales day/period define their selling capabilities.
It lowers any empathy you have for customers
If you’re unempathetic then building rapport and consistent client communication becomes incredibly difficult. Not only this but it gives you a bad reputation, not just for yourself but the wider business. An empathic salesperson can use active listening skills and respond to areas of worry that a new customer brings to the table. They are honest and get their points across in a way that considers the customer’s needs.
It decreases your ability to bounce back
We get it, not hitting your quotas is incredibly frustrating – especially when you think you’re hitting every nail on the head. As this frustration festers it increases feelings of desperation and decreases patience.
These feelings negatively impact your ability to make decisions whilst you’re in action and can greatly affect you landing a deal. Salespeople with low emotional intelligence forget to take a step back and approach their selling duties with a fresh perspective, and instead carry on as they are “hoping” a deal with breakthrough.
Ways you can boost your emotional intelligence
Whilst product features, competitive pricing and brand reputation play huge roles in the sales process, emotional intelligence and how you come across is still a vital role.
An emotionally intelligent salesperson that can see and/or hear a customer’s emotional state can tailor their pitch to match their level. But what can salespeople do to develop this skill?
Be an active listener
We “listen to reply” far too often. Listening to understand then formulate an articulate reply, whilst it might seem difficult, is far more effective. Active listening requires your full concertation, the ability to understand the issue and remember key points throughout your conversation.
Not hitting those sales quotas? Perhaps an angle you’re taking just simply isn’t working or the customers you’re targeting aren’t fitting with your pitch. Regardless of your excuse it’s important to take a step back and see how your actions are affecting your ability to hit targets.
Realise it’s ok to admit mistakes. This isn’t shameful – but carrying on with bad habits can lead to problems further down the line
Not to be confused with being aggressive. Assertive salespeople say what needs to be said. And do it without coming across rude or abusive. Stating your needs – such as more training or advice on a case shows you’re serious about increasing your development. And it ditches a “woe is me” persona – which is a dominating trait in those with low emotional intelligence.
Build empathy skills
It’s common knowledge that emotion influences buying behaviour – a Harvard professor even says so. The professor concludes that 95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious, with urges stemming from emotions.
Develop your ability to understand different perspectives. Doing so helps you formulate empathetic responses. Listen back through conversations with customers and put yourself in their shoes for thorough understanding
Increase your confidence
Know your product from the inside-out. But does your fear of the telephone get you down? Giving yourself affirmations and praises on getting through obstacles you’d otherwise find difficult are just some of many ways to build your confidence.
Build your resilience
Knock backs are no stranger in the world of selling. Much like the previous point, self-affirmations can help you bounce back quicker. Helping you through tough situations and allow you to approach sales with a fresh perspective.
These stats show the level of improvement needed with regards to working across functions in your sales team structure.
Improving the level of communication between teams and consulting different functions can bring better results overall and help each function do their job better. In other words, a better sales team structure emerges.
Today, it’s almost customary for high selling organizations to work in this fashion, especially when they have a major account in site. In this article, we’ll explore why they do it and how it benefits.
1. To Improve the Sales Team’s Lead Scoring Process
Lead scoring refers to the practice of “scoring” or ranking leads differently based on predetermined values.
For example, you may rank email leads who signed up for a free ebook as having a lesser value than leads who subscribed to your list after signing up for a free trial.
In turn, those leads would have a lesser value than leads who subscribed to your list after purchasing one of your paid products.
There are other metrics that you can use to score leads. For example, you can rank leads based on their age, income, demographics, location, or which channel they signed up on (social media vs your blog vs via a paid ad, for example).
Lead scoring can save the sales team time and effort. By focusing on leads that were assigned a higher value (in other words, leads that are more likely to convert), they can avoid wasting time trying to achieve more difficult conversions and increase their overall ROI.
For this to happen, there has to be open communication between marketing and sales.
Marketing can supply sales with data about which leads have higher values. In turn, the sales team can refine and improve marketing lead scoring process by supplying the marketing team with feedback about which leads are indeed more likely to convert.
2. To Improve the Marketing Team’s Targeting Accuracy
Communication between marketing and sales will benefit both teams. The sales team can analyze their sales in order to get more accurate data about which demographics are more likely to convert.
Not only can the marketing team use that data to refine their lead scoring accuracy, as mentioned above, but they can use it to improve their targeting accuracy.
Sales can supply marketing with data about which demographics make up the majority of sales conversions. Marketing can use that data to target those on their social media and PPC campaigns, thus improving their ROI.
3. To Improve Marketing/Sales/Product Development With Market and Consumer Research
All departments have a lot to gain from open communication with the market and consumer research teams.
Even if the company does not have a built-in market research team, it is still important that marketing and sales pay attention to the latest market research.
Market research lets you stay on top of consumer trends and up to date on the ebb and flow of consumer demand.
By listening to what consumers are saying, both marketing and sales can improve their campaigns.
The marketing team can refine their advertising messages to touch on the points that consumers are concerned about.
They can discover what different demographics want and target each group accordingly.
Of course, the teams in charge of product planning, development, and production need to stay tuned to the latest market research as well.
They need to know what kind of products consumers want, which products are no longer in demand, and what kinds of improvements or changes consumers are looking for in existing products.
Sales will benefit from market research as well.
By knowing what consumers are looking for, they will be able to refine their sales pitches and not waste their time by focusing on irrelevant features when pitching to consumers.
Customer support can also supply marketing with information about which demographics are the highest maintenance (meaning which ones request the most refunds, ask for the most replacements, complain the most, etc).
Marketing and sales can then focus fewer of their efforts and resources on those demographics.
This will also affect your brand image, as you will end up weeding out those customers who are more likely to write a bad review on the internet.
Marketing and sales have more to benefit from collaborating with each other than simply sharing data.
Marketing likely has a number of tips on how salespeople can improve their sales pitches, present themselves in a better matter, and use tactics such as social proof to boost their credibility.
Of course, as we’ll see later, marketing and sales need to adopt the same tone as well.
Tips for How to Improve Sales Team Structure
In this section, we’ll discuss how organizations actually encourage sales team structure. We’ll see how they improve communication and collaboration across functions.
Share Important Data
Many times, the same data will be important to different teams and functions, but for different reasons.
For example, when it comes to conversions and the demographics that have a higher conversion rate, marketing will be interested in order to find out who they should target in the future, while sales will be interested to know who will be easier to close a deal with.
Collaborating and sharing data such as leads, sales, conversions, impressions, subscribers, ad click-throughs, and more will help everyone be better at their job.
For example, teams can collaborate via emails or on a special chat group on Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger.
They can ask each other questions and share information and tips that can be vital to the other team.
You can also organize after-work social events so that members of different teams can socialize and establish connections.
Keep Things Clear
A common obstacle that teams face when collaborating across functions is that the terminology used by different teams is often different.
For example, marketing may use terms that are foreign to product development or even to sales.
When meeting or communicating via other channels, it is important that everyone is clear about what is being discussed. Reduce the usage of complicated jargon or explain it clearly.
Company Culture Is Important
Maintaining the right company culture is crucial for effective collaboration. Everyone, on all teams, has to be on the same page.
First of all, everyone has to have the same motivation to want to see the business succeed. Everyone has to be eager to help out other functions for the good of the business overall.
All functions must be aligned with the general goals of the corporation. As the manager or CEO, you have to lead from the top down.
In addition, every team must present themselves in the same manner. Sales must present the same tone and the same values to customers as marketing.
If marketing adopts a certain tone and personality and consumers see a totally different tone when they are contacted by the sales team, it can not only be confusing but it can reduce your conversion rates.
The entire point of the marketing and sales processes is slowly working potential customers through the various stages of the purchasing decision until they make a purchase, and that should seamless.
As mentioned before, everything depends on how you lead and manage your business. Instill your values in your team.
Make sure everyone is aligned with your values and goals. Encourage them and motivate them to reach them.
Set smaller goals. Reward teams when they reach goals or milestones.
Recognize individual team members for outstanding work. This will help them feel that you value them and that their work is worthwhile, and it will also motivate others to follow in their footsteps.
Keep in mind that not all team members may understand why it is important to work with other teams.
Make sure that they see the bigger picture – how collaboration will help with your overall revenue and growth over the years. How it will have a long-lasting impact in increasing customer value with your brand.
Encourage them to think about other teams and how collaboration will help other teams do their work better.
Help them understand the challenges that other teams face and how working together can help them overcome obstacles.
Wrapping It Up
The three biggest obstacles towards marketing and sales alignment are lack of communication, broken or flawed processes, and working towards different metrics.
Strive to improve alignment across all functions to improve the sales team structure and see your growth skyrocket.
I’m calling this a “short guide” to email deliverability. On one hand, it should be (as I say) everything you need to know for 2018. On the other hand, it (in no way) will be a masterclass on the subject. Just a long-form post to aid in improving the number of emails getting to your leads. If you’re doing campaigns for your own small to medium-sized venture and have that gut-check feeling that you’re not getting everything out of your deliverability — I hope this’ll help. Because the worst thing you can do is just hit send without doing everything possible to make sure it gets where it’s going SAFELY.
This is the third post in a series, of sorts. I started out writing about the email blacklist. How to tell if you’re on it, how to get off, etc.. Last week, we published a post that went into detail about protecting your email account (and by proxy your domain and brand).
Now to end this mini-series, we’ll discuss deliverability including:
A Brief Explanation (including important terms)
Ways to Improve Performance
And Resources Sprinkled Throughout
Email Deliverability: A Brief Explanation (and Terms)
We aren’t talking about open rate, click-through-rate (CTR), conversion rate or any other rate that email marketers commonly use to measure progress. According to the folks at CampaignMonitor, deliverability is:
“Email deliverability is the ability to deliver emails to subscribers’ inboxes.” — Campaign Monitor
Pretty easy, right? There’s more.
From here, things can get much more intricate. In fact, we use the term in question to encompass the entire emailing process from the point you hit (or automate) send until it ends up at its final destination; which is not always the inbox you intended — making it such an important topic.
HubSpot has identified 19 key terms in the process of email deliverability. Many of which we’ve gone over in the past few weeks.
Some of the more interesting ones are:
Ham: An affectionate term to describe emails that are desired (aka not spam).
Sender Score: A number (1-100) given to IP Addresses relaying the reliability of said address.
Soft Bounce: As opposed to a hard bounce, a soft one is usually a problem that could be resolved soon (i.e. a full inbox or down server).
If you don’t want to go back to the last two posts, I’ll give you a quick recap of the terms that are vital to understand. If only to keep your email from getting blacklisted, make sure you know these.
CAN-SPAM Act: This is law. Pay attention and do what it says. Most notably, ensure that your emails have an opt-out and the address of your business.
Email Authentication: There are 4 main systems to authenticate email; DKIM, SPF, DMARK, and rDNS. Working with them goes along way toward legitimizing your outfit.
Blacklist: Trust us, it’s not fun to end up on one of the email police lists hovering over the internet. Knowing how not to be spam things is crucial to deliverability.
Email Deliverability: 3 Common Mistakes
Even if you do everything you can to improve your deliverability, you can easily make some mistakes that will keep you spinning your wheels. You’ll have to evaluate the entire cold email process and see where mistakes can be stopped and improvements made.
Mistake Number One: Using Trigger Words
Sometimes it feels like it’s just as dangerous to walk into a place laced with traps. Just like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, one minute you’re trying to accomplish a goal and the next you’re hanging between life and death.
Both we and Indy have the same problem. Words.
There are hundreds of words that can send your emails right to the spam folder. Generic salesy-type words like:
Then, there are specific keywords from saturated industries like:
There are even issues with punctuation, but mostly common sense. For instance, you shouldn’t:
USE ALL CAPS
Use tons of !!!, or excessive punctuation of any type
No symbols, especially $$$$$
FURTHER READING: Act Now !!$$ (Just kidding : ) ) Here’s a list of over 400 words to avoid from Prospect.io (screenshot of a portion below).
Mistake Number Two: Writing Bad Emails
Depending on how bad your cold emails are written, this one could affect deliverability quickly or over time.
A message chocked full of the trigger words will go about as far as the spam algorithm and possibly an immediate trip to a blacklist.
We’ve written (as you’d imagine) a post or two about proper cold email writing techniques.
For some general quick tips, here’s a couple-hundred-word guide to get you started.
Short: Keep the entire email 4-5 sentences max. State what you promised in the subject line clearly and in as few words as possible.
Killer First Sentence: The first sentence can be seen before the lead opens the email making it as important as your subject line.
Focus on Them: Don’t just say I,I,I a whole bunch. Make it about them, their business, their world.
Personalization: Mention their name a couple times, their business/company name, and maybe even a competitor (if it works with your copy).
Test: Always be testing something. Never just send one version of an email. Here’s a post we wrote about testing.
Mistake Number Three: Sending Outright Sales Email
Does your email sound like this?
Hi, [First Name]
My name is Josh and I’m the Founder of Josh’s Awesome SEO. We provide SEO services for companies just like [Company Name].
If I were a director, I’d be screaming both “Cut!” and “Rewrite!”. You aren’t thinking about the reader, you’re trying to make a quick sale. But that’s no way to do it. You have to think, “what’s in it for the lead?”
Email Deliverability: 5 Ways to Improve Performance
Most tips for deliverability are going to be for marketers and businesses with newsletter-type lists. The posts we’ve seen really aren’t tailored to an outbound sales campaign. So, here are our best tips to improve performance.
Do an Email Reputation Check: Know and Work on Your Email Reputation
The best known tool in the email reputation space is probably SenderScore.
An amazingly helpful resource, it can be found at SenderScore.com. You can register and get a report for your domain/IP Address for free. There are also many tips to improve your score — (thus likely) improving deliverability.
It’s worth a look around. Just click “CREATE ACCOUNT” and fill out the info (it may seem like a decent amount of data to input, but the report is extensive and worth it).
Nowadays, there are a number of decent reputation tools. You can use more than one and see different aspects of your email sending health.
Here are a few other reputable tools for your email reputation management:
TrustedSource: This tool is run by McAfee. In addition to a score, you’ll get history and other information about your domain. ReputationAuthority: Like SenderScore, this tool gives you a 0-100 score. But you’ll also get a percentage of emails that are both good and bad. TalosIntelligence: A Cisco product, this tool has 3 rankings (as opposed to a numbered score). They are “good”, “neutral” and “bad”.
Use a Separate Domain for Email Marketing
We went over this at length in the previous post, here’s another link. You’ll find there pretty much everything you’ll need to know including:
How to set up a separate domain
Getting a G-Suite account set up and authenticated
As well as best practices to stay off the spam radar
Send Emails Regularly
So many small businesses (especially solopreneurs) have a roller coaster system for sending cold email. You have a ton of business, you stop emailing. Work dries up, Panic! You then send hundreds of emails a day.
Spastic activity isn’t good for spam filters.
A steady pace of Monday – Thursday sending, even over the course of those days will help solidify the “normalcy” of your email account.
Keep Your Lead List Fresh and Clean
Sometimes we hang onto leads for too long. If there is no signs of life after several emails, it may be time to give it a rest. Put leads that haven’t answered into their own list and hit them hard again six months down the road.
If you keep sending the same sequence over and over again to the same leads, it will eventually have an impact on deliverability.
To Be Clear: 4-6 emails is perfect for a campaign, but running the same lead through the campaign 3 or 4 times could equal trouble.
Have a Really Good Offer
Sure, you can send a blog post, or your ebook from 2006 and maybe get a response. But what about creating something that really gets people to click through?
Something like a webinar, or offer to write a guest post for their blog, or invite them on a new podcast. Something that is not as common will likely have not-so-common results.
Summary: Having Something Worthwhile Will Improve Email Deliverability
From the domain and email service you use to the content and offer within, your reputation is on the line.
It's not just about getting more sales, it's about building a business that is worth buying from and partnering with. Click To Tweet
Every one of your practices say something about the quality of your brand, but it just so happens that email is one of the most public. Are you doing everything you can to protect that image?
I don’t watch much network TV, but I was a sucker for the show Burn Notice. And, believe it or not, it relates to being on the email blacklist. It’s about a former U.S. spy who’s “burned”.
The intro says, “You’re blacklisted; when you’re burned, you’ve got nothing. No cash, no credit, no job history. You’re stuck in whatever city they decide to dump you in.”
Cheesy? You betcha.
But a little mindless entertainment every now and again is just what a content producer needs to get his mind off of facts, figures and tips. And in this case, it relates incredibly well to our topic at hand.
While being put on a naughty list isn’t as terrible as waking up in a strange location, without a job—it can still be rough.
To use the show’s intro, When you’re on the email blacklist, you’ve got nothing. No deliverability, no credit, no opens. You’re stuck in whatever spam folder “they” decide to dump you in.
I probably didn’t even have to intro this topic.
If you send cold email, you should be terrified to end up on one of the blacklists. You’re here to find out if you’re on one or not.
So, let’s take a look at that.
What is an Email Blacklist?
Here’s a quick definition from our very own support page on the subject:
An email Blacklist is a real-time database that uses criteria to determine if an IP is sending email it considers to be SPAM. There are several blacklists… Each list [has] a unique way of accepting inbound mail and determining if email is considered SPAM. They can all impact deliverability for your emails.
Here’s an image from Spamhaus (a top blacklist site). It provides a visualization of how the spam-labeling process works.
So, based on the data (of your address), there are three places for your email to end up. If you’re on the list, you could end up in spam or no delivery at all.
When you’re not, you will show up in the inbox.
Important: If you notice the box in the middle that says “Policy Decision”.
Most of these blacklist services set up their algorithms. And getting off of the naughty list is achievable in some cases, if you’re willing to play by the rules. We’ll get into that further down.
Now, onto the biggest (and only) indicator.
Email Blacklist Indicator: Open Rates Plummet
If your open rates drop, or if you’re just starting out and your open rates are less than 15%… you have a problem. Before you panic, you should check a few things out to ensure that your process is okay.
Check things like:
Subject Line: If you have a really terrible subject line, people may not open. Or, it could have been sent to spam. Things like all caps, “Today Only”, and “Act now” in your cold email isn’t going to end well.
CRM/Software: There could have been an issue with your emailing solution. Everyone has issues from time to time. Maybe it’s a botched send.
Bad Lead Data: Let’s say you send 1000 emails from a new list and have a %10 open rate. That’s terrible, but let’s say that only 1/3 of the contacts were good. Now you’re up to a decent open percentage. Bad data is a common source of poor outreach.
If you check these things and can’t find a cause— most likely— it means your email address is not trusted.
But it may not be blacklisted, it could be that your sending reputation has taken a hit. So, before you panic, take a quick look at your rep.
Check Your Email Sending Reputation
There are five good tools to check your email reputation:
1. SenderScore: SenderScore allows you to view your reputation with a 0-100 point scale (the higher the better). It’s compiled with a monthly rolling average and is probably the best known tool in the space. 2. TalosIntelligence: This one does a 3-tier ranking system (good, neutral, or poor), instead of a number system. 3. BarracudaCentral: Their reputation system is simple, with only a “good” or “poor” rating, but results are tabulated in real time, which could help you if your email KPIs have fallen off a cliff very recently. 4. TrustedSource: This is McAfee’s reputation tool and provides a bit more information for you to see potential issues surrounding your domain. 5. ReputationAuthority: Another 0-100 scoring tool, but this one gives you specific emails that are either good or poor in addition to the score.
If you’re score is in the dumps, you could be on the blacklist (and some of these email reputation tools may even tell you that). When this is the case, continue onto the steps provided.
But if your scores seem ok, you may want to check with your email marketing tool. Or run through a diagnostic as to why your metrics have fallen. There are dozens of reasons for a drop.
How to Find Out For Sure
Step One: Run a Test
One of the best ways to find out if the issue is from your URL, from your lead data, or from the old CRM is to run a test. Three main services include.
It’s not always accurate. For instance, I ran my personal Gmail address through Mail Tester and apparently it’s only a 6.5/10 (see screenshot below). I never send any cold email from it, mainly personal and a small bit of client email.
Suggested Tool: Mxtoolbox
Mxtoolbox is a great quick glance for info. There are a couple dozen commands you can use to find all sorts of data, including blacklists. According to their homepage:
All of your MX Record, DNS, blacklist and SMTP diagnostics in one integrated tool.
While it isn’t 100% foolproof; it can give you a further indicator that something is amiss.
If the email blacklist seems like it’s the reason for your poor numbers, move on to step two.
Step Two: Check the Blacklist Sites
Well, now it’s time to check the source of potential problems — the blacklist sites themselves.
Invaluement seems to be a collection of lists. I couldn’t find a search function.
Spamhaus gets it’s own little section of content. An immense set of lists, publicly calling out the worst spammers like the America’s Most Wanted list, and helping those who genuinely don’t want to spam.
As hard as they are on spammers, Spamhaus helps those who are looking to improve their reputation. In fact, there is a “blacklist removal center“.
Enter your IP Address or Domain. If it’s on a list, Spamhaus gives a link to resources for getting off of it.
Step Three: Come Off the Email BlackList
Michael Westen, the lead character from Burn Notice, (spoiler alert) had to fake his own death, blow up a large building and move to Ireland with his girlfriend to finally escape his blacklist.
Hopefully, you won’t have to take it that far.
Here are a few things that need doing to get off the list.
Find Out Why You’re on a List
Makes sense, right?
In the show, the lead character doesn’t run away from the people who “burned” him. He goes along with their plan to find out more information about what happened.
The worst thing to do if your IP is blacklisted is bury your head in the sand. Find out why.
Send emails, make phone calls, use Spamhaus’ resources to get yourself off of the list.
The worst thing to do if your IP is blacklisted is bury your head in the sand. Find out why. Click To Tweet
Change What’s Wrong
Unless there was some sort of mistake, something will need to be changed.
Maybe you broke a CAN-SPAM law. That could cost you money and your business.
Perhaps, a lot of people you send to have labeled you as spam. If so, you’re likely sending emails to the wrong people or maybe you’re sending spammy content.
Set a Policy
Unless you’re a one-man-show, you’ll need to put an email policy in place to ensure that your blacklist days are behind you. Get some standard operating procedures in a doc and get your crew to read and sign that they understand it.
Talk with the Spam List
Once you’ve made the changes, make it known to the list that you’re on the up and up. Make it clear. Send them a copy of your policy along with how you’re implementing it.
Another Thing: Don’t Spam
You know that “World’s Worst Spammers” list? Guess where most of them call home?
Email spam, also known as junk email, is a type of electronic spam where unsolicited messages are sent by email. Many email spam messages are commercial in nature but may also contain disguised links that appear to be for familiar websites but in fact lead to phishing web sites or sites that are hosting malware.
I don’t necessarily agree with this definition.
It seems to define spam as all unsolicited emails. Then goes on to say they could lead to phishing?!
The point here?
One wrong move and the email you send is on the same level (to some) as mail order brides.
The lead is not expecting your email. Many will have red flags going up right away. Most likely they’re thinking, “Someone’s trying to sell me something.”
You need to offer value to your targeted leads. So, you need to have something of value to give them. Click To Tweet
In order to offer value, you need to have something of value to give them. The definition of “spam” is very loose.
Sending an email about what you do and pitching them for a sale is considered spam if done wrongly.
(Most) leads couldn’t care less what’s in it for you. It’s all about what’s in it for them. And if you’ve got nothing for them, spam is what they’re thinking.
You’re the one going into their inbox. Make sure they have a reason to open, click and respond.
What Dux-Soup Turbo does: Automates outreach to 1st, 2nd and 3rd connections on LinkedIn. The Dux-Soup Turbo tool does this in a way that simulates natural behavior and allows you to quickly focus on the prospects who actually seem interested in your products and services.
You know what LeadFuze does (but as a reminder): It finds highly-targeted leads based on firmographic details (industry, role, company size, geography, etc.). Then, automates finding leads based on your preset criteria and drips them to your sales stack.
What the integration does: It’s like a firm handshake between the two.
Here’s what the process looks like –
Set up your search in LeadFuze for your ideal customers you’d like to contact.
Have Fuzebot find the number of leads per day you’d like sent to Dux-Soup Turbo.
Wait and see which leads interact with your LinkedIn messaging funnel.
So – how best to use LinkedIn outreach through Dux-Soup Turbo to get the best results? Here are some top tips from our years of experience.
Mimic real user behavior
The real benefit of using a LinkedIn automation tool like Dux-Soup is to automate mundane tasks in a way that mimics real user behaviour. That is to say, using LinkedIn as you would normally do, but with automation taking care of the most time-consuming activities. You can see a ton of amazing customer success stories with ROI that’s off the scale here.
If you are using LinkedIn Sales Navigator, then you want to be taking advantage of the advanced search filters and the option to visit up to 500 profiles per day with Dux-Soup.
But you need to be careful about the number of connection requests and direct messages you send. We’ve already written a blog on best practices which you can readhere.
To summarize a couple of the key points in the blog:
We recommend you start by sending connection requests to no more than 3% to 5% of your total connections per day. As your network expands, the number of recommended connection requests grows too, over time.
If you are blasting out thousands of connection requests that are disproportionate to your actual total connections, then this type of user behaviour is more likely to trigger a LinkedIn alert.
Be selective with your search criteria and stay relevant within your target audience. People are more likely to accept your connection request if they see it is from a relevant connection. So, if your LinkedIn profile is optimised for sales and business development and you are trying to connect with similar contacts, you are more likely to be successful.
The opposite is true. If you target IT managers and your profile is optimised for sales, why should these people connect with you? You are more likely to have your connection request declined and too many of these is a bad thing.
Don’t forget the basics
Good principles of growth hacking using LinkedIn usually include some of the following core steps:
– Optimise your LinkedIn profile. When was the last time you looked at your own LinkedIn profile? Chances are it was written a while ago and could do with a polish. Start with creating a Headline and Summary that talks directly to what you offer.
– Boost the number of endorsements that you have. It is often as simple as asking your contacts to give you a short recommendation. In today’s digitally connected world, this social proof can go a long way to helping you to establish real credibility at the start of the sales journey.
– Use customised connection messages. This is a hotly debated topic on growth hacking forums. What is the best or optimum message when trying to connect with someone? Some people favour the short and sweet approach – “Dear <name>, I would like to connect on LinkedIn…..” Some people prefer longer messages which are customized, e.g. if you research and segment the contacts according to a particular technology, then you could start your message with “Dear <name>,I see that you use Salesforce. We have XX Salesforce developers who are available for permanent and short terms assignments….” Which one is best? It depends on what you are trying to achieve and your own preferences. Some people like to ask for a meeting from the first message. The true answer is to find out what works best by testing different approaches for yourself.
Some other tips
Stay targeted and try testing out personalised messages to increase your chances of a successful connection request.
Do some regular housekeeping on your connection requests. Make sure that you don’t have too many outstanding requests at any one time. This is a key part of best practice.
Sending direct messages is a key activity but again you want to make sure you are aligning your efforts with best practice and fair usage. Our rule of thumb is to limit yourself to around 100 to 250 direct messages per day.
Auto-connect to new leads in LinkedIn, with follow-ups, directly from LeadFuze
Once you run your prospect search in LeadFuze you can then use the Lead Fuze automation and Dux-Soup Turbo to automate your LinkedIn outreach.
You want to reach out to 20-50 prospects from Dux-Soup Turbo every day? You can set up LeadFuze to pull up the 20-50 leads that fit your exact parameters and automatically upload them to Dux-Soup Turbo.
Wait and see who interacts with your Dux-Soup Turbo outreach.
Or, go multichannel and use email, a phone call or even direct mail to really inundate leads.
In short, using Dux-Soup Turbo with LeadFuze automates the creation of a targeted prospect list. And outreaching to that list through LinkedIn, the #1 social selling professional network.
Use the Zapier integration in Dux-Soup Turbo to maximum advantage
When Dux-Soup polled their extensive user base of 50,000+, focusing on those with more complex lead generation operations, the #1 item by far on the ‘Wishlist’ was for Dux-Soup to integrate with Zapier to streamline the lead generation process.
With this Zapier integration, you can now connect Dux-Soup to your existing CRM, marketing or recruitment platform, enabling the automated workflows that underpin cutting edge online marketing campaign management.
If that sounds like a win to you, let’s get down to business on how you can develop a sales and marketing alignment plan in your organization.
1 Ensure you have the right infrastructure in place to support alignment
Before you build out a killer sales and marketing alignment plan, take a step back. Do a review of all of the software and processes that each of your teams is currently using. How many disparate systems are being used? Are there any points where both teams are using the same software to accomplish different goals?
This may not necessarily require an overhaul of the systems you’ve invested in; although, if you are using many disjointed systems and there is a lot of manual labor involved in tracking and managing everything, you may want to see how you can combine or integrate solutions to simplify adoption and tracking.
When it comes to tools of the trade, there are some core essentials. These are the basics you’ll want to have in order to set your teams up for success with aligned sales and marketing goals.
Using a combined Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system will provide a more complete picture of the entire, combined process and allow for quicker and simpler tracking and reporting. It will enable easier handoff by allowing for clear definitions of handoff points and eliminating accidentally duplicating efforts.
Having everything in one place can also help identify any gaps in the strategy or areas that could be improved. This includes the potential for increasing lead quality and velocity and finding opportunities to upsell to current customers.
Having a communication or collaboration tool in place can help your teams find success through their ability to simply just talk to each other. A messenger app like Slack can be a great way to open up communication between teams. This especially holds true when you have teams that are new to working with each other. In this scenario, calling might feel awkward. And email may be overkill. Being able to quickly send an IM creates a system of fast responses (critical when you have a lead on the line) and facilitates teamwork.
An additional benefit to having a collaboration tool is that you’ll have a record of conversations to refer back on. This can come in handy for those forgetful folks and in he-said-she-said situations.
Beyond the basics, there are some other tools that can be helpful in keeping everyone on the same page.
Getting everyone aligned around goals on paper is great. We’ll touch on how you can define those goals and document them in tip 4. But days get busy. And people can forget what we’re working towards. That’s when dashboards come in handy. Whether it’s a spreadsheet that acts as a scorecard with your key measurables that get emailed daily. Or an online dashboard that feeds a monitor in the office in realtime.
Takeaway: Make sure before you get started, you have the right tools and technology to be successful implementing and maintaining alignment.
2 Define the teams’ responsibilities
No doubt your sales and marketing teams know their respective roles inside and out. But how about when it comes to understanding the inner workings of the other side? Could your sales team articulate the primary function and responsibility to marketing? What does marketing know about sales daily challenges?
It’s critical here to make sure not only the leaders of each function are well aware of the other, but that the rank and file within each organization understand each others world. Even more important, that they respect the role each department plays in driving revenue.
Takeaway: when building an alignment plan, make sure both teams aren’t just aware of each other. Make sure they are aware of the role they play in supporting the goals of the other side and the organization at whole. A rising tide as they say.
3 Define the smarketing internal champions
Once roles and responsibilities are defined across the teams, it’s time to decide how to best align them into one common mission.
Combined or aligned leadership
Who’s in charge? Especially if smarketing is a new initiative, it’s critical to have somebody named as the champion- someone to be held accountable. Aligning two separate teams can be a big process and it requires focus, cooperation, drive, and enthusiasm.
Aligned management: The leadership from both teams will come together, create an aligned strategy, and work together to execute. This is the most common method and the easiest to rally behind.
Combined management: Leadership from each team will be combined into one team with shared goals. This will at the least require a restructuring and is by no means, however, necessary to achieve success.
However your team decides to manage the process, it’s necessary to gain complete buy-in from all management so they will be able to properly encourage and motivate the employees day-to-day in the trenches.
Takeaway: No one likes too many cooks in the kitchen. Make sure you define how your alignment plan will be managed.
4 Align your smarketing to the sales funnel
The buyer’s journey should be the common thread that helps bind your sales and marketing teams together. Whether they call it a sales funnel or the buyer’s journey, it’s similar in that the customer is moving from the awareness stage to consideration, and ultimately to the decision-making stage where they are making a purchase (hopefully from you).
Sales and marketing alignment requires everyone to be working from the common understanding of who the ideal customer is and what that journey looks like in your specific buying process. Are you driving customers to a demo? Or a free trial?
Define MQL & SQL
The MQL definition is the backbone of sales and marketing alignment and aside from defining who is leading the initiative, this is the next most important step. For a full breakdown on this topic, you can reference Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) vs. Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). But in a nutshell, here’s how LeadFuze defines MQL & SQL:
Marketing Qualified Lead: A lead judged more likely to become a customer compared to other leads based on lead intelligence, often informed by closed-loop analytics.
Sales Qualified Lead: A prospective customer that has been researched and vetted — first by an organization’s marketing department and then by its sales team – and is deemed ready for the next stage in the sales process.
MQL is not only a definition that will be outlined in your plan, but it’s also a critical metric to track. Marketing can take a look at quarter over quarter, what is the percentage of MQLs? And from there, what is the conversion rate from MQL to SQL? And even one step further, how many of those SQLs made it to customers? Businesses are of course coin-operated and that last metric is where you can really start to measure the cha-ching.
So with all of that, define MQL and SQL, thoughtfully and purposefully. The reality is, a lot of times sales has one definition, and marketing has another and that’s why when the two get together – they end up pointing fingers if they don’t have a unified definition.
Once MQL and SQL are defined, you need to spell out the handoff between the two teams. Is it an email? A CRM notification? What’s the follow up like? Does sales try once or two times?
One of the biggest points of contention between misaligned marketing and sales teams is the handoff. If not carefully defined, the blame game and finger pointing can ensue when numbers are down. Marketing has been handing over unqualified leads that aren’t ready yet, sales has been taking hot leads and not reaching out quickly enough.
It’s vital that the handoff points and next step responsibilities from each of those points be clearly defined and understood by everyone involved in the smarketing process.
Another important part of this process will be pinpointing when and how leads can be handed back (including feedback) from sales to marketing when they are found to need more nurturing.
Here are a few questions to consider:
How will sales be notified when a lead reaches MQL status?
When will sales follow up?
How will sales communicate lead quality to marketing?
Takeaway: Agree on your goals, how those goals are defined and the responsibilities of both parties at various stages of the goal lifecycle.
5 Reduce, reuse, & repurpose all marketing & sales materials
Chances are, if you haven’t officially declared smarketing a thing at your company, your teams might be working off two different understandings of buyer personas and the buyer’s journey. For example, was sales focusing on big-ticket enterprise while marketing was driving small business owners to free trials?
The language, metrics, and materials they’ve used to understand and communicate with prospects and customers may have been varied up to this point and both teams need to be speaking the same language.
Now is the time to do a little organizing and potentially clean-house. Our go-to method is creating a content audit workbook. The content audit begins by marketing taking inventory of all existing content. Think blogs, ebooks, guides, etc. Include the document tile and hyperlink to its location at a minimum. If you want to be super helpful and win the A++ award, add in which persona the asset is targeted towards and a quick summary of the topic. This should be a living, breathing document going forward that sales has access to.
In fact, if you have been doing your content right, sales should feel like they hit the jackpot with a plethora of content to aid them in their sales process.
No jackpot alarms going off in your office? Wait, sales doesn’t use everything that the marketing team worked so hard to create? All too often, salespeople aren’t aware of or can’t find marketing materials. These materials support their customers in the moment which leads to them creating their own assets.
If you find this to be true with your teams, use it as a learning experience.
Content wish list
Now that the lines of communication between sales and marketing are open, gone are the days when sales is off creating random. Sales can now pass content ideas to marketing. Is there a question that always comes up with prospects near the end of the buyer’s journey? Write a blog post about it or work it into nurture sequences.
If you go with the content audit workbook we mentioned, sales can add their content wish list items right in the doc.
This is also where you should ensure that everyone is speaking the same language. The message, tone, style, and focus should match up across teams and individuals.
Takeaway: Bring sales and marketing together on marketing production discussions. No, this isn’t a blank check for sales to lob requests over to marketing. But marketing also doesn’t get to just create content in a vacuum. Working together on what works at various stages of the funnel will grease the wheels along the whole journey
Everything is better when sales and marketing are vibing as a team and working towards common goals. But remember, it’s a process and Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Any steps you take towards opening the lines of communication and breaking down the age-old sales and marketing battle is a step in the right direction.
Here are five sales questions that you should start asking your leads so you can drive more sales.
A study published in the Harvard Business Review reveals that after interviewing 200 customers, researchers found that “from the customer’s point of view, the greatest need for improvement is in salespeople’s knowledge of the customer’s business and industry.” It’s not surprising that 71% of B2B customers are not engaged, according to data from Gallup.
Sales professionals can rise above the competition by asking five critical questions.
1 How Does the Decision-Making Process Work?
Selling is time-consuming. An increasingly complex buyer journey has elongated the sales cycle. Therefore, you need to know that you’re talking to someone in a position to make a decision.
Asking about the decision-making process clarifies who you should be speaking with. This question also reveals who the influencers are and how the chain of command is organized.
Understanding the circle of decision-makers is critical given that the number of people involved in a buying decision is increasing. In many cases, you will face five to seven decision makers. Each has personal leanings. Each has a unique understanding of the problem and perception of what constitutes a viable solution.
You need this list because it will take time to address each person. Every decision maker involved represents a mini sales cycle within the larger sales cycle.
Few sales professionals ask this question because they fear offending the customer. They fear they may insult their contact if that person is outside the orbit of decision makers. This fear is understandable.
Therefore, the sales professional must ask the question in a respectful manner. For example, they could ask their contact “who in the company supports this solution?” Then, sales professionals can ask, “What is the next step in the decision process?” You can also ask your contact if they know how the CEO feels about the solution given that a person at that level will always have influence over the decision.
2 How Does This Compare with Other Solutions You’re Considering?
Competition is always present. Even if there is no clear competitor, there is always the status quo looming over the sale.
Uncertainty keeps the status quo firmly rooted in place. In fact, the Global Economic Policy Uncertainty Index is at its second-highest point since measurement started more than 20 years ago. Businesses are uncertain about the future economy.
Therefore, you must get a read of how the solution you’re providing stacks up against the competition, or the status quo. The solution must not only meet the customer’s needs, it must exceed the competitor’s capabilities.
This question is not an opportunity to diminish the competition. It is a way to understand where the customer is in the buying process and what kinds of solutions interest them. This information allows you to draw contrasts between your solution and the competitor’s solution in a tactful manner.
For example, you can ask how well the competitor’s solution handles an aspect of the business challenge that you know is better solved with your solution.
Consider different versions of this question, like, “How well does this address your needs?” Or you can ask, “How far are you in the buying process?” These are relationship questions that help you see where you’re positioned in the race. They reveal your strengths and weaknesses relative to others vying for the customer’s business.
3 How Does This Solution Fit into the Big Picture of the Business?
To understand the customer’s business, you need the ground-level view and the 30,000-foot view. Big-picture questions like this offer the 30,000-foot view.
The more you understand how the solution connects to the overall business, the better you will be able to position it. However, too many sales professionals avoid this question. Some feel it is too intrusive. Others believe it is a request for sensitive strategic information. In truth, the question serves the customer by ensuring that the solution is relevant.
For example, you might think that the customer needs one solution from your offering when, in fact, they need a different one. Knowing this information early is critical. Without this detail from the customer, you risk presenting the wrong solutions, which destabilizes the sale and risks your credibility in future opportunities.
Many buyers are rushed. They may answer the question in one brief sentence offering little detail. It is your job to respond to short answers with more questions. You can follow up with questions like, “What is your vision for the company?” You can ask, “How do you plan to grow the business?” The key is to understand what is driving the company.
If the customer needs a solution, it means they are interested in solving a challenge or increasing their existing capabilities. To know which is the case, you must ask about the big picture.
4 What Would Your Ideal Situation Be?
The question reveals why the customer is pursuing a solution. Understanding the customer’s ultimate goal allows you to not only position the solution in their terms, it also offers opportunities to expand the scope of business.
This “need” question brings you closer to the customer’s thinking. It puts you in their world. This closeness is important because research covering 141 companies across ten industries found that “customer intimacy becomes a more vital performance driver” as solutions become more commodified.
This question is important because customers often discuss needs in terms of solutions. They state what they want and expect. However, they don’t often articulate what precipitated these wants. By asking the customer about their ideal situation, you get a wider view of their needs.
Moreover, this question signals your focus on the long term and devotion to a relationship that is more than transactional. A long-term approach is critical to success. Consider research from McKinsey indicating that companies with a long-term focus “outperform their shorter-term peers on a range of key economic and financial metrics.”
Finally, this question helps customers overcome misperceptions of what they need. Richardson’s 2019 Selling Challenges Research Study found that “overcoming buyers’ misperceptions of what they need” was the second-biggest challenge to understanding customer needs.
Often, the customer’s idea of a solution comes before fully realizing the challenge. Asking about their ideal situation helps customers clarify their understanding of the hurdle and helps you shape their thinking.
5 May I Ask How You Arrived at That Expected Price?
You have entered negotiations once the customer asks you about pricing. Often, customers will enter this phase early and ask for pricing upfront before answering any sales questions.
You cannot successfully negotiate without first understanding the customer’s needs and demonstrating your value. Therefore, explain to the customer that you can discuss pricing as soon as you get a few more details. If the customer presses for a “ballpark” figure, remind them that to provide a number, you need a bit more information.
Once you get to specific numbers you can expect resistance. Often, customers will remark that they expect a lower figure. Rather than take a defensive position, ask them how they arrived at that number.
Questions like this help convert demands to needs. Doing so is important because demands can only be satisfied in one way, which is to give in. A need, however, can be met in several ways. By asking how the customer arrived at an expected price, you’re exploring the underlying need.
Asking the comparison question ensures that the customer is making an apples-to-apples comparison. This approach politely reasserts the value of your solution and preserves the financial scope of the sale.
Successful selling hinges on not only asking questions but asking the right questions. The time in front on the customer is short and difficult to earn. You must make the most of this time by getting to the questions that matter.
These questions are a request to peer into the customer’s business. Therefore, be sure to reciprocate by offering transparency. Share information of your own. Doing so will encourage the customer to be more forthcoming in their answers. Additionally, it will build trust.
Research published in The Open Psychology Journal showed that “information alone was found to have a significant impact on the perceptions of ability and integrity.” Put this finding to good use.
Remember, the answers to each of these five questions offer a path to closing the sale. The responses tell you what the customer needs and why they need it. With that information, you’re able to position the solution in a way that speaks to these stated needs and circumstances.
Consider these sales questions your “Big Five” in the sales cycle:
How Does the Decision-Making Process Work?
How Does This Solution Fit into the Big Picture of the Business?
What Would Your Ideal Situation Be?
How Does This Compare with Other Solutions You’re Considering?
Whether you are an independent blogger, an eCommerce store representative or a marketing expert, a chance is that email marketing matters to your cause. According to reports, the average RoI of email marketing investments currently sits at 3800%.
This is a staggering number considering the sheer number of email users on the global scale. It also means that you should pay close attention to how you write your emails in order to be recognized as a trustworthy provider of products and services.
However, with so many online businesses, retail stores and independent salespeople, how can you even begin to compete? Let’s take a look at several tried and tested steps which will help your email content stay out of the dreaded spam folder and be seen for what it is.
Benefits of Email MarketingStreamlined Audience Targeting
Email marketing stands out from the crowd of advertisement methods due to its very nature. Depending on the email list you work with, you can segment your audience into different groups according to their needs and profiles.
Studies have predicted that the number of email users will grow to up to 4.3 billion by the year 2022. This goes to show that email isn’t dying by any means and more and more people will become available to you as potential customers.
For example, makeup products won’t go well with men and the same can be said for the gentler gender and shaving products. This will not only help you avoid the spam folder even better but also market different products to different customers according to what they may or may not like.
Seamless Tracking & Analytics
Imagine publishing a visual content piece on social media. Anything from testimonial to product marketing will do. This photo cannot be tracked for its engagement, reach or the effect it had on the end-customer apart from some rudimentary interactive metrics.
Email marketing can provide your content creators with more robust tracking data through platforms such as MailChimp. Combined with a writing tool such as TopEssayWriting, this can prove to be the decisive tactic in terms of landing your email in the inbox folder rather than the alternative.
Comparatively Cost Effective
Email marketing is a very cheap and accessible way to promote your brand on the web. Compared to paid the paid advertisement on social media, influencer collaboration and product placement found in the traditional advertisement, is very affordable. This means that anyone can use it and make the most of what it has to offer even if they operate on a shoestring budget.
How to Avoid the Spam Folder
1 Subject Lines Matter
Now that we have a clearer understanding of why email marketing should matter to you, let’s take a look at how to avoid the pit of despair known as the spam folder. Notice how numerous emails that usually end up in the spam (or junk) folder start with very direct, often capitalized titles with no subtlety or professionalism to them. For comparison, let’s take a look at two examples of email titles:
“Jewelry on sale this holiday season, come by and say hi”
“DON’T SKIP OUT ON OUR EXCLUSIVE PRODUCT OFFER ONLY WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!!!”
Using your everyday logic while reading these two titles, you would be hard-pressed to choose the second one and open the email it contains. Email users get bombarded with spam on a daily basis and following the pattern of these (low quality or outright) fake brands won’t help your cause. In order to amend for that, you should pay close attention to the title of your emails, especially if you mass-send them to an email list comprised of different types of people.
2Open with the Hook
Email marketing is different than video advertisement, even though people spend roughly the same time digesting both types of content. It’s extremely important to tell your readers what the is about as soon as they open the mail.
Don’t wait until paragraph two or three to reveal why you contacted them, how you came about their contact information or what it is that you have on offer. Hook the reader from the first line and continue the dialogue from there once they are intrigued enough to keep reading. Failing to do so won’t help you stay in your readers’ or email algorithms’ good graces when it comes to staying in the inbox folder.
3 Short-Form Writing
Due to the hectic nature of today’s daily routines, people have grown fond of short content. This is further amplified by social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter where status updates are bite-sized and quick to read.
Whether for good or bad, this habit has translated into email and people aren’t going to read long-form content no matter how good it might look. This is especially true if you use cold email and contact someone for the first time without breaking the proverbial ice.
If you don’t know how to write short content yourself, you can always refer to online editing services reviews for some help on the cutting room floor. This will help you focus on informative writing and avoid unnecessary fluff which does nothing for your point other than inflating the said promotional email.
4 Write Casual, Act Professional
It’s very easy to spot stilted writing in email content. Most of the typical spam found in inboxes can be identified by very iffy English writing. This is usually the result of machine translation and services such as Google Translate being used to translate the text for international audiences.
Make sure that your writing matches the casual tone of voice you might use with an old acquaintance or someone you are comfortable talking with. This will give the reader an idea of what you are going for and make sure that they give your email a second glance.
Avoid robotic, monotone writing style no matter what you sell or promote. This type of writing should be kept for corporate correspondences and official statements, not for email marketing which should appeal to a wider audience.
5 Be Transparent
Whether you want them to or not, your readers will quickly pick up on what you are trying to do with your email. It’s important to establish a trusty precedent with your writing, especially if you want to lead your reader into the conversion funnel.
Present your offer plainly and avoid wordplay which might give the reader an impression of receiving something for “free” or “exclusively”. Plainly stated, transparent sales pitches are bound to receive a warm welcome. If nothing else, they will help you avoid the spam folder in a wide arc along the way.
6 Include Social Proof
What often works wonders in email marketing (and digital content in general) is numbers. Social proof provides the reader with a necessary “proof” that someone else already purchased a product or a service and is content with what they received.
Social proof can come in a variety of ways, whether in the email itself or as an outbound link towards a study or data chart you comprised. This type of numeric proof will help you avoid looking like a brand that came out of nowhere with intriguing offers of high-quality products but nothing to back that up.
7Proper Grammar and Formatting
Perhaps the most important item on the list is your ability to proofread your email before sending it to your list. A single spelling error spells disaster (pun intended) for your current campaign no matter how good your offer may look on paper.
As we’ve mentioned previously, many spam emails come with spotty writing attached to them, which is why it’s necessary to avoid this association as best as you can. Read your email out loud, format it properly into paragraphs and bullet points, but most importantly – spellcheck it before hitting the “Send” button.
8 Calls to Action & Links
Sending email marketing content without CTAs is a wasted effort because readers will likely remain passive if not explicitly asked to perform a task based on what they just read. The reason for including CTAs and links in the same item on the list is because they are then intertwined with one another.
Your calls to action can include links, and the links you attach can have calls to action in the URLs themselves. However, it’s important to strike the perfect balance between the volume of external links in your email and the most important outbound link which leads to your product or service page.
Make sure that your CTA comes at the end of the email, preferably accompanied by a link which will help the reader continue their customer’s journey and convert into a purchaser.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed with the number of factors that go into email marketing and not ending up in the spam folder. However, once you find the formula that works for your brand and its target audience, it’s good practice to stick to what works.
Experiment with email writing until you find the system that works well for you before settling into a routine. After all, email delivery is only a tip of the iceberg in terms of customer engagement – the real sales pitch starts once the mail is open and read fully.