Outbound marketing remains one of the most effective prospecting channels, but potential customers are developing even less patience for outdated communications tactics. To make the most of your outbound strategy, avoid common mistakes that send emails into the trash.
Consumers deal with hundreds of ads and messages every day, starting from the moment they pick up their smartphones in the morning. They don’t have time to listen to irrelevant pitches, nor will they notice anything that blends into the background. You can’t just yell louder to be heard — you need to give people what they want.
As you consider your marketing plans for 2020 and beyond, make sure you don’t commit these four common outbound sins:
1. Personalization Without Evidence
Amazon addresses everyone by first name, but no one feels like Amazon’s best friend. Autofill alone doesn’t turn a generic email into a personalized one. Instead of playing fill-in-the-blank with prospect personalization, use tools to create personalized experiences that get people interested.
“Personalization includes an array of awesome, data-driven techniques that bring in substantial ROI,” says email marketing brand Campaign Monitor. “These techniques include making recommendations based on past purchases, using dynamic content to fit consumer preferences, showing an understanding of purchasing history, and taking advantage of data to promote compelling offers.”
Leverage gated content on your landing pages to turn interest into a mailing list sign-up and a potential conversation. If someone clicks through certain pages on your website, track that activity and provide more information on those topics. Follow up on abandoned shopping carts; send occasional reminders about wish list items. Focus more on individuals’ needs to take connections from passing to permanent.
2. Nonexistent Social Proof
“Any positive comments about you, your business, or even your product function as social proof,” says Flora Frichou of brand trust company Trustpilot. “These online sentiments are endorsements that this person, company, service, or product is great, and that the overall customer journey has satisfied previous shoppers.”
People trust other people — even people they’ve never met. Reviews, client testimonials, and case studies can convince prospects that your offerings are the perfect fit for their situation.
Regularly update your social proof to keep pitches fresh and relevant. People will eventually tire of the same two smiling people sharing their love for your brand. But if they see a steady stream of fanatics, they’ll be triggered to find out what’s so great about your business.
3. Similar Content for Different Audiences
Personalization is great, but when you have limited information to consider, audience segmentation works almost as well. Instead of sending shotgun-blast emails to every address in your CRM, break audiences into groups to try different messages.
“It’s not enough to change the examples of customers you’ve worked with,” says TJ Macke of sales enablement platform Regie.io. “Change the length, change the focus, try sounding cheeky instead of polished — creating variety will be what gets you to that 10x result.”
You can keep your brand’s voice consistent even as you try different messaging strategies. As long as you don’t stray from your company’s core values and purpose (which you should define, if you haven’t), your customers won’t blink at an email that might seem out of character on the surface.
4. Unscientific A/B Testing
Once you find the type of messaging and content that resonates with your audience, don’t overwhelm prospects with similar content or abandon the message altogether. Take the middle road by A/B testing similar content to determine what works best.
“As you optimize your web pages and emails, you might find there are a number of variables you want to test,” says Lindsay Kolowich of HubSpot. “But to evaluate how effective a change is, you’ll want to isolate one ‘independent variable’ and measure its performance — otherwise, you can’t be sure which one was responsible for changes in performance.”
Create one excellent email, then test something relevant to your conversion rate. If you want to improve open rates, for example, you may test two different subject lines. A click-through rate test might change the color, text, or location of your call to action. Whatever you test, segregate your audience randomly to keep your data as reliable as possible.
People may rely more on voice search and other new gadgets, but consumers will continue to check their email until email itself dies. Don’t lose your opportunity to join that conversation. Avoid outbound blunders, polish your voice, and start more conversations to turn prospects into buyers.