E-mail gets a bad rap. Most of us suffer from e-mail overload as reflected by recent statistics indicating we receive anywhere from 125 to 175 emails a day in our business inbox.
Those same studies also indicate that 94 of every 100 business emails are deleted or ignored. So why bother with email as a prospecting tool?
Simple, because multiple research sources find that most white collar workers spend upwards of 40% of the average day dealing with email so the chances are actually pretty high that at least your email subject line will be seen by recipients.
What percentage of the day do you think those same people spend answering inbound phone calls from numbers they don’t recognize? That is a rhetorical question but the latest data I have seen indicates that about 95% of inbound calls go to voice mail. Cold calling is still a valuable tool when done correctly but don't sleep on email!
So how can you “beat delete” and be among the 6 out of 100 that are read and possibly responded to? Here are 10 tips:
1) Make your subject line relevant- In his book To Sell Is Human Dan Pink cites that there are two reasons an email gets past the subject line test; utility or curiosity. The email should either indicate a direct value we might derive through opening it or it should arouse our curiosity in some fashion. To learn more on the subject from Dan Pink you can click here.
2) Keep your subject line brief- I have seen much contradictory data on the ideal length for subject lines. From actual experience involving extensive A/B testing in my own firm we have found that the axiom of keeping subject lines to 3 words or less consistently produces the best open rate.
3) Does your email pass the mobile phone test?- The number of emails that are read on mobile devices continues to rise. According to data from Litmus about 51% of email is now opened on a mobile device. Send yourself your prospecting email before you send it to a prospect and ask yourself if YOU would open it based upon what you can see in the preview window on your mobile phone?
4) Keep the message brief- Don’t fall prey to TL;DR. If you are a frequent texter you probably know that stands for “too long didn’t read.” Get to the point and skip the salesy language. Write like you speak and avoid sounding like a marketing hand out. Being brief and conversational are key factors in a successful prospecting email.
5) It isn’t about you- Skip the "introducing yourself" part of the e-mail (don’t forget the cell phone test) and get to the point of why someone should be interested in you, your product, or service. Lead with the “pain” you can solve or the “what’s in for them”. No one cares who you are until they become interested in how you might be able to help THEM.
6) Ask them to take a simple action- EVERY prospecting e-mail should include a call to action. Don’t fall into the trap of including multiple links or asking them to make too much of a commitment in the first email. Give them something easy to say yes to like more information and then ask for a meeting, as appropriate, in a subsequent email.
7) A/B test constantly- One of the best things about email is that once you figure out the right formula you can repeat that formula over and over. Test multiple subject lines, multiple message bodies, and multiple send times to small cross sections of your data base until you fine the combination that works best. Anything less than a 20% to 30% open rate and a 25% to 50% response rate the those that opened should indicate you haven’t found the right combination yet.
8) It doesn’t always happen with the first email- Once you find the right combination of time, subject line, and message plan out at least 3 or 4 follow up emails in order to achieve the 25% to 50% response rate I referenced above.
9) Be consistent- The reason most people abandon email is because they try it a few times and become discouraged when it doesn’t work. E-mail is no different than cold calling in the sense that it won’t work more often than it does. This isn’t magic folks but it WILL work if you stick with it.
10) Be sincere- Try to make the email as sincere and personal as possible. One of the most overlooked aspects of a successful email campaign is list segmentation. The better you segment your list the more effectively you can personalize the message. Remember, as consumers we have a fine tuned BS detector. As soon as our “sales alarm” goes off we hit delete and its case closed for your email. You have about 2.7 seconds to “beat delete” and insincerity is a quick way to trip the trigger. Here are 5 Dumb Mistakes Most Sales Emails Make from Geoffrey James if you are interested.
Using email as a prospecting tool absolutely works but it takes hard work, practice, and repetition. Here is the good news, when B2B customers were asked how they PREFERRED to be contacted by sellers over 70% responded “by e-mail!”