Why Sending Cold Emails For New Business Actually Works

Not many things are more controversial in the marketing world than cold email.

"You mean SPAM?!"

“You mean SPAM?!”

No, actually, we have laws like CAN-SPAM, CCPA, CASL and GDPR that are very specific about when and where and how you can email new contacts without it being spam or illegal. In most of the U.S., you can email anyone as long as you include a street address and an unsubscribe option.

"But have they opted in?"

“But have they opted in?”

Right, if it’s an opt-in list, those are people you’ve already done some marketing to (even if they just viewed your website), so that’s not a cold list. Those aren’t net new contacts. And opt-in is not required by law everywhere for every purpose. Including an opt-out method is all you need to do for this in most of the U.S.

"But isn't it just wrong to send email to people who haven't opted in?"

“But isn’t it just wrong to send email to people who haven’t opted in?”

Well, morality is a bigger question… but if it’s not wrong to show ads to people who didn’t ask for ads, then cold emailing isn’t any different. If you do believe advertising is wrong, well, you’re in the minority of business people, and most successful businesses do some kind of advertising somewhere. Some companies rely on door-to-door sales, and you don’t get to opt-in before they knock on your door.

"But don't people just ignore spam anyway?"

“But don’t people just ignore spam anyway?”

Well, again, spam is really just two things: illegal email, and/or email that your email server thinks is spam. Let’s just call it unrequested email. We call a lot of snail mail “junk mail,” but it’s suddenly not junk mail if you decide to use the pizza delivery discount your mailbox got “spammed” with, is it? And this is the most important point:

It’s not spam if it has value to the receiver.

"WHAT?! How can SPAM be valuable?"

“WHAT?! How can SPAM be valuable?”

As in the pizza coupon example, if I send you info about a problem you need solved, and you reply and we get it fixed, then I’ve created value. We’re more likely to call it “spam” if we receive something irrelevant to us. So again, as in much of marketing, relevance is key, and creating value is how we prove relevance.

"How do you write relevant cold emails?"

“How do you write relevant cold emails?”

As with all marketing, you start with the targeting- who fits what you offer, and what are the problems you solve? The more accurately you can target those people, and the more compelling your value message is, the more response you’ll get, and you can do so well that you don’t get ANY spam reports. We have cold email campaigns for ourselves and clients that are getting 44-75% open rates due to high degrees of targeting and deliverability, plus really compelling messaging. Most companies don’t do that well with their warm, opt-in emails.

"But does it really work?"

“But does it really work?”

One company we worked with during COVID-19 got 353 leads (responses to cold emails), setting over 150 sales appointments and capturing 3 new sales. I’m certain we would have had many more sales in normal times, but unfortunately COVID really slashed most people’s budgets. Point being, this process does work very well, and even in difficult times.

"How do you get it to work so well?"

“How do you get it to work so well?”

I can’t reveal all our strategies and tactics here, because we need to keep a competitive advantage! But the keys are targeting (quality list acquisition), ensuring high levels of deliverability, and staying in the inbox (of course staying out of the spam box, but also staying out of Gmail’s categories like updates, social, and promotions. Your cold emails are wasted if most people don’t see them.

And then there are the messaging strategies- most people aren’t great at getting a response with their marketing, and cold emails are even more difficult. Not only “why should I open this?” but also, “who the heck are you?” and “why should I care?” If people’s response to your cold email is, “Not opening that- looks like spam!” or “Some rando salesperson with a lame message not relevant to me,” then you’re not going to get any traction with them.

"Don't some salespeople send cold emails all the time?"

“Don’t some salespeople send cold email all the time?”

Typically, salespeople write bad emails that don’t work. Getting sales appointments is a marketing job and salespeople usually suck at marketing. But salespeople THINK they’re great at marketing. If that’s true why do they have so much trouble getting leads?

Sales and marketing go together like PB&J. We understand sales (because we do it, too), but we’re brilliant at marketing. We’ll get you the leads. You close them. But don’t make us send some salesperson’s crappy emails, because they won’t work.

And most of the decision-makers in sales know about these problems.

"So how do you acquire good emails?"

“So how do you acquire good emails?”

Hopefully it’s not by scraping or guessing! A lot of services out there do scrape, but not everyone’s email is online, obviously, so that won’t work very well, or in every industry, or for every job title. 

Or they guess people’s emails by knowing what formula a company uses for its email addresses. But this isn’t the best way. 

Having a good email database requires a lot of data input, and it needs to be updated regularly, especially in a time like COVID-19 where many people are changing jobs or being fired or furloughed. So, it’s best to get your emails from a really big source, a company that mainly does that, because it’s a big effort with lots of government compliance issues to consider. We work with a partner, Brothers Data, with a database of over 140 million people just in the U.S. 

“How do you maximize deliverability?”

“How do you maximize deliverability?”

There are some key things to avoid doing, like sending way too many cold emails at once from a new account, sending lots of emails to low quality email lists, not validating emails ahead of time, certain keywords you need to avoid putting in your messaging, and of course, sending boring, long, hard to read, or irrelevant emails that people will get annoyed with and mark as spam. 

There are more than blacklists out there you want to avoid getting put on – there’s also sender reputation on various servers. Big email-sending providers like Gmail and Outlook pool all their info together to prevent spam and phishing. If you do it wrong, your email account will get shut down, or, at best, everything you send will go into spam mailboxes that no one reads.

So you can maximize deliverability with good email lists, good sending practices, and good messaging. Again, we have some campaigns where emails are opened at over 70% open rates, and that’s partly because we maintain great deliverability. Without deliverability, you won’t get opens, because people won’t even see the emails.

“Wow, Brian, how can we hire you to do all this?”

“Wow, Brian, how can we hire you to do all this?”

Just reach out.

cartoon man fishing for leads

5 Secrets for B2B Lead Generation in 2020

Do you want to get more business-to-business leads so that you can grow your new business pipeline and increase sales? Interested in hearing the latest greatest tips and secrets in B2B lead generation? Then this post is for you!

5 Disturbing But Avoidable Causes of Expensive Online Leads

For business development, lead generation is key. And online leads are a great choice, whether you’re just trying to grow your newsletter of consumers to market to (B2C), or you’re selling directly to businesses (B2B).

A few facts for you:

  • 85% of B2B marketers say lead generation is their most important content marketing goal 
  • According to MarketingProfs, Inside Sales (which includes cold outbound email) is one of the most effective sources of new leads.
  • Facebook ads, Google ads, and SEO are great ways to grow B2C newsletter lists.
  • Email marketing is the most common form of B2B lead generation.
  • 53% of marketers say 50% or more of their budget is allocated to lead generation.

But back to the cost of these leads.

Everybody wants high quality leads that convert to new business AND they want those leads to be cheap.

But as the saying goes, you can have two of the following: fast, cheap, and good.

  • If you want cheap good leads, you’re not going to get them fast! For example, SEO typically takes a lot of time, content creation and often hustle to create those great rankings, and time is money, so is that truly inexpensive?
  • If you want good leads fast, it’s gonna cost you some money. That’s typically going to come from advertising, outbound email, and outbound sales. Someone has to run those ads, pay for them, write those emails, send them, maintain deliverability, make those phone calls, and so on.

So, how can you lower your lead gen costs and keep the quality of the leads high?

Well let’s take a look at some of the top causes of high lead gen costs:

1. Using a High-Cost Traffic Source

If the traffic to your website is expensive, there’s a good chance your leads will be, too. But it’s a balance. If you’re paying for a high quality visitor, maybe they’ll convert at a higher rate, and your lead cost will be manageable.

What lead sources are most expensive?

  • Pay per lead services can be dicey. If you aren’t getting exclusive access to these leads, a bunch of other providers may also be bugging them, so you’re really paying for a lead opportunity, not an exclusive lead. The rest of the sources below will give you your own exclusive leads.
  • Advertising agencies charge fees that range up to 20% of your monthly ad spend, and can run anywhere from $1,500 – $10,000 or more per month, in addition to your ad spend.
    • LinkedIn ads can cost $5-7 per click at a minimum. If you’re not spending $10k per month to get their LinkedIn’s preferred ads (likely the ones you remember seeing), the self-serve ads aren’t highly visible (you probably haven’t seen them), and you may not get much traffic volume. The time you spend on these can be wasted, and that’s also expensive.
    • Google ads in certain niches like Insurance can be $20-30 or more per click. To run these, you have to have really on-target ad copy, and high-converted landing pages.
    • Facebook ads are much lower cost per clicks, at $0.50 – $3.00, and if your targeting is good, your cost per lead can be great. You have to have smart, experienced people doing your targeting, ad copy, and landing pages if you want your lead costs to be good. Cost per lead can range from $5.00 – $1.00 depending on the niche and other variables.
  • Outbound call services may charge you $2-4k per month and cost you $1.25 – $5.00 per contact you have them call, and the ultimate cost per lead can be $50 – 200.
  • Outbound email services may charge a similar amount for all-in full-service, or you can buy lists from one group and have another group do your email writing and sending.

2. Getting Irrelevant Traffic From an Unqualified Traffic Source

If you’re not targeting the right people or the right keywords, you’ll either get ignored or you’ll get the wrong people clicking your ads.

  • It’s expensive to spend money on inexperienced people to run ads who target the wrong people, because they’re wasting your time and money while you don’t get good leads.
  • It’s expensive to spend money on inexperienced people selecting the wrong people to email or call who are the wrong people, and won’t make good customers. The people doing your targeting need to know what you consider a marketing-qualified-lead and a sales-qualified lead so that all their targeting and creative increases your lead quality and response.
  • It’s expensive to run a lead gen strategy on platforms chosen by someone without lead gen experience, for all the same reasons- it won’t work, and it’ll waste time and money.

A successful lead gen campaign begins with a smart strategy designed by someone who understands your goals, your offering and your target customer, and has experience with modern lead generation.

3. Prospects aren’t warmed up sufficiently

Every successful lead gen strategy is multi-touch. Even cold outbound strategies use warm-up tactics.

4. website converts at below average rates

5. lame, boring, uninteresting content (ad level, website level)

sales magnet graphic

Why Facebook Pages are the DUMBEST Strategy for Lead Generation

Some people ASSUME that, “The best way to do Facebook marketing is through fans and pages.” It’s not.

Fan-oriented marketing was one of the main Facebook marketing strategies for years, but eventually most people realized that fans don’t always respond the way you want, and might not be your best new customer prospects.

The good news is: you don’t have to market to your fans. There’s a better way.

The main problem is organic (non-advertising) visibility. Once you get fans, not enough of them see your posts to make it worthwhile. You have to advertise to your fans to reach them! But who wants to do that?

Should you still have a fan page and fans? Yes! I recommend:

  • Have a fan page because that will allow you to run newsfeed ads.
  • Keep posting and finding out what posts your fans like and don’t like. Monitor your engagement rate and improve it by doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t. You can get your Engagement Rate (the % of fans who both see AND interact with your posts) up to 30% at times if you consistently, diligently, strategically create posts and discover what they like.
  • Run FB ads to your fans, because they still love you and need to see your latest stuff. But this is just one audience you should advertise to.

But don’t rely on unadvertised page posts to get you results you want. You’ll reach 10% or less of your fans that way. Yes, there are some exceptions, especially in pages with less than 20,000 fans… but NO fan pages are reaching over 50% of their fans organically. When you start advertising, you should see a 10x increase in your Facebook post visibility- and often more than that.

But don’t boost posts if you want website traffic or conversions. Boosted posts are mainly shown by FB to people who interact with posts more than they click to websites. They work for post interaction, but that’s about it. If you have goals beyond awareness and engagement, use website conversion ads from the Ad Manager.

The formula for Facebook lead gen success is simple:

  1. Advertise. There’s no way around it.
  2. Advertise to both warm and cold prospects.
    1. Warm prospects are fans, opt-in email lists, people who’ve viewed your videos on Facebook, people who’ve interacted with your posts or ads on Facebook and website visitors (retargeting).
    2. Cold prospects are people who don’t know your brand yet: interest targeting, demographic targeting, behavior targeting, and lookalike audiences.
    3. Typically, retargeting and lookalike audience convert the best.
  3. Make sure your webpages or landing pages convert visitors into leads effectively. They should convert over 10% of your warm prospects and at least 2% of your cold prospects.
  4. Make sure your lead forms, notifications and pipeline into your CRM (if you use one) are working properly.
  5. Put a lot of creative, unique ideas into your ads. Learn what your prospects respond to and don’t. And then for each segment of your prospects (ad sets and targeting in Facebook ads), find out what they respond to that’s unique. Your creative strategy for cold ads probably is going to be different than your warm ads.

Those are the basics! Get to work, or reach out to us for help!

7 Keys to Adapting Your Business to What’s Happening Right Now

Hi, I hope you and yours are safe and well during this COVID-19 crisis. And that this post helps you!

These are difficult times. While many people are literally risking their lives as front-line medical workers, grocery store employees, first responders and more, many others are out of work, and still others are able to continue work, but have to quickly come to terms with remote work, focusing despite increased distraction, and adapting to a quickly changing market and economy.

It’s the definition of change management. It touches on so many topics I’ve been concerned with the last few years, like safety, teamwork and leadership). And we’ve experienced many changes in our digital advertising clients who are adjusting to changing conditions.

Here are some things we see that are changing:

  • EVENTS: Many live events are postponed or going virtual rather than in-person, at least until June, and possibly longer. Virtual events are a way to bring together a suddenly virtual team, get them focused and increase inspiration and productivity. They might help your employees adjust quicker.
  • FOOD: Restaurants are either closing or switching to take-out and delivery. We’ve seen very good results driving carryout and delivery orders with digital ads, so that’s something to consider. Groceries are the biggest talked about essential other than medical care, and groceries need employees right now.
  • CONSUMER SPENDING: People are spending money mainly on essentials. People are refinancing their mortgages. Unemployment, layoff and furloughs mean that people will be prioritizing survival, not discretionary spending. A lot of companies are offering discounts as a way to both help the economy and induce people to try something new while purse-strings are tight.
  • ESSENTIAL INDUSTRIES: Essential industries that are dealing with COVID-19 are staffing and recruiting more. It’s a good time to be in food, medical, logistics, transportation, and manufacturing. These companies can help us all get through this crisis and they need more people to make it happen.
  • EMPLOYMENT: There are big changes here, obviously. We’ve been helping with digital ads to driving staffing and recruiting for years, and the focus of the jobs needed has definitely shifted. Safety is a big deal for people that have to work in-person right now, and how to be efficient and effective at remote work is important to the rest.
  • MARKETING & SALES: How do you market and sell during COVID-19? Should you? I have struggled with this topic myself, because it can feel especially self-centered right now to try to market or sell anything in such a dire time. However, I just go back to the basics, which are that marketing and sales are just a way to help people get what they need. In a way, they are just communication. If you are helping to make people aware of something that will help them right now, then you’re helping. The only thing you need to watch out for is advertising, marketing or selling something not so essential- I think any company can make the argument that what they offer is essential, but we need to be especially sensitive right now and make sure we are not being selfish, and don’t come off that way.
  • DEMAND GENERATION: It’s a good idea to look at where demand has shifted. Trying to create demand for something not essential right now is especially tough. There are other key industries like web conferencing and entertainment that need to make sure that all their prospects have them top of mind. Companies like Zoom, Webex, and others are going to be fighting (with advertising and marketing) for a larger market right now. The same is true for channels like STAR that are offering bigger discounts than normal right now- but how many people know that? Just because you have something people want does not mean everyone knows it!

That’s just a short brief on some of the changes we’re seeing. What else are you seeing?

It’s a time for major change and adaptation. We need to stay informed and stay healthy. And we can’t neglect our psychological health at this time, either. Constant news and adaptation can be stressful and stress can lower immune resistance- so be nice to yourself and those around you!

I’m confident that we will get through this. We will adapt and create solutions. And things will get better.