Does your team send cold emails or sales prospecting emails through Marketo or other marketing automation software?
Do you know that this simple decision could be decreasing your open rates and response rates by 5x or more?
I’ve already written 2 different blog posts about how to avoid going to spam and why mail merges have better email deliverability than Marketo. However, based on recent conversations I’ve had, I still don’t think everyone completely understands the different nuances and psychologies behind cold emails (outbound emails) versus drip marketing emails (inbound emails).
While marketing emails usually aim to educate, inform, and persuade a large audience, sales emails are the start of a conversation.
The Technical Differences Between Marketo & Mail Merges
Although it somewhat depends on how your recipients’ mail servers are configured, about 97% of the time Marketo emails will say “sent via Marketo.”
The same is true for MailChimp and others.
To savvy prospects this phrase is a red flag that the email they just received was mass and not personal.
Why does this matter?
It’s all about managing expectations with your audience.
When people sign up for your newsletter or a webinar, they expect to receive mass drip marketing emails from you. Unless they’re living in the 70’s, they probably don’t believe that your HTML-ridden Marketo newsletter full of bright and shiny images is being sent to them, and only them alone.
Why Cold Emails Have Different Expectations Than Marketing Emails
Why on earth would you ever take the time from your busy day to respond to an impersonal email that looks like it was written by a robot and sent to one million other people?
In order for outbound emails (AKA “cold emails”) to be effective, they should look like “one-off emails,” even if they’re actually mass.
Yes, many cynical people who work in sales and marketing regularly assume that most of the cold emails they receive are mass, but you usually can’t know for sure.
The best and most effective cold emails are the ones that you don’t even think twice about. These are the emails that put a smile on your face, make you laugh, and make you excited to respond. These are the emails that feel like the beginning of a new conversation with an unexpected stranger who might actually add value to you or your business in one way or another.
Even if you’re sending cold emails via mass templates to hundreds of thousands of people, your recipients should feel like they’re getting a personalized one-on-one email if you’re doing it right. You can do this with personalization by using various custom inserts like “first name,” “company,” “location,” “competitor,” “industry,” etc. Writing in a personal and conversational tone to a highly targeted audience also helps. (You can use this guide to learn tricks and strategies to personalize your cold emails at scale.)
The Goals of Sales And Marketing Emails Are Just Not The Same
Whenever Salesforce or Zenpayroll send me a mass marketing email with HTML through their marketing automation software, I usually don’t respond.
And I’m assuming you probably don’t either. …Hopefully…
Generally speaking, no marketer expects or wants their readers to respond to their newsletters or other mass drip emails either. Occasionally there might be some kind of weird call to action to respond and give your opinion or share your thoughts, especially if it’s from my favorite “Kopywriter,” Neville, or some small startup with an inbound email list.
Instead, the goal of most “marketing emails” is to have the readers click on some kind of link, and that’s what their call to action is centered around.
However, in the case of cold emails that are sent for business development, sales development, or other relationship-building purposes, you almost always want the recipient to respond.
There are some cases in which outbound email is used by self-service SaaS companies that just want their prospects to click a link and enter their sales and marketing funnel to be nurtured. Usually, this is because their price point is too low to have sales reps talking to every individual prospect. However, for products and services with higher price points, especially those that are higher than $10,000 a year, the goal is always to solicit a response that will ideally lead to an appointment with a sales person.
So the question becomes, Why would anyone want to take the time to respond to an email that seems like it’s been sent to thousands of other people?!
Everyone wants to feel special, and high-level executives want to spend their time engaging with intelligent people who seem like they are capable of adding value to them.
A C-suite executive at a Fortune 1000 might click a link on a marketing email to sign up for an interesting webinar or read a thought-provoking white paper, but it’s highly unlikely that they will ever respond to a mass email that’s covered in HTML.
Likewise, Marketo and other marketing automation tools often by default only send an HTML version of their emails. Not having a plain text version of an email is a red flag to many mail servers, and will also decrease your deliverability. (You can read this previous post for more information on how email deliverability and reputation differs between Marketo and mail merges.)
A Final Word About Outbound Email Prospecting: Don’t Be Lazy, Or Just Don’t Send Emails!
Organizations that rely on sending mass emails through Marketo and other email marketing tools do so because they don’t want to invest the time or effort into a more thoughtful and targeted approach. They don’t want to risk getting their own mail server IPs blacklisted or risk complaints from google. However, that fear is only a reality if you haven’t done your homework and have zero understanding of who you’re targeting, and what messages do and don’t work.
Companies that have this “volume-driven” mentality are short-sighted and will run into an increasing number of problems at they attempt to scale.
All you have to do is look at the failures of startups like Living Social and Fab, who tried to combine volume with scattershot sales and marketing tactics, and you can see that blind spamming does not ever scale cost-effectively.
So, if you’re not willing to invest in more thoughtful approaches to outbound email, please save everyone’s inbox the spam, and just don’t send email. You won’t be successful and you’ll probably just get your IP blacklisted.
But if you’re struggling with getting good response rates from qualified leads, read this guide and learn how to create highly effective email campaigns at scale. And if you’re serious about your inside sales efforts, and would like help starting more thoughtful conversations with qualified leads, just drop us a line, and we’ll audit your existing email templates.