After running hundreds of e-mail campaigns for my clients, I’ve learned a few best practices. Note that these best practices focus on two key areas: List and Content. A quality database combined with the right message will produce the best results possible.
1. Identify your target audience.
Like with all marketing campaigns, make sure you have properly outlined whom you plan to target. Then you can talk with your data provider about what sources they have that will match your ideal prospect profile.
2. Source your list by SIC and NAICS codes.
If you are targeting individuals who own and or work at a business, start with identifying Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes of the industries you are targeting. SIC codes have been assigned by the US government to classify businesses. In addition to SIC codes, the North American Identification Classification System (NAICS) has also been developed to provide more specific categories of industry. Always be sure to cross-reference both systems when using this approach to build your initial target list.
3. Segment by geography.
Focus on growth areas with geographic markets that have a higher qualified inquiries segment and/or markets that make the most sense from an operational prospective.
4. Segment by firmographics and demographics.
What are the key firmographics and demographics of your target profile? Here are some sample selects that are available to you. Note that this information can tie back to the SIC codes I noted earlier.
• All Address Information
• SIC 1
• SIC 2
• SIC 3
• NAICS Code
• Sales Volume
• Number of Employees
• Time in Business
• Square Footage
• Number of PCs
• Ethnicity of Contact
• Gender of Contact
• E-mail Address
5. Test the data.
Data compilers use multiple sources to identify and verify information. Some data is complied through online information like job boards, discussion groups, and feedback forms. Some data companies use “old-fashioned” outbound telemarketing to verify sales figures and e-mail addresses. It’s always a good idea to test in order to verify your data. That means you should always try to test several lists, try A/B splits, and measure results to determine what works best. It’s also a good idea to establish a relationship with two or three data firms. They are experts in what is a very dynamic industry, and they can help educate you on the ins and outs of data compiling, keeping a clean list, ensuring that you are spam compliant, segmentation, and targeting.
6. How to write a successful e-mail campaign.
Here are some tips for writing a successful e-mail campaign. If you don’t want to try this yourself or have tried something like this with lousy results, contact me and I’ll help.
1. Keep initial contact brief. Since you are writing to cold prospects, keep your first communication short and simple. Once you start engaging with the prospect, you can get more fancy.
2. Make it personal. Use personalized text e-mails that come from the salesperson. State clearly why you are trying to communicate with them. Make it easy to read.
3. Ask a question. I’ve had good luck with asking a simple question in the subject line.
4. Test html vs. text. Although I have found that text beats html, it’s always a good idea to test it for yourself. Set up a simple A/B test with analyzing opens, clicks, leads, opportunities, and opportunities won.
7. How and when to deploy the campaign.
I’ve tested sending e-mails during all parts of the day and found that early morning and late afternoon work best. Regarding deployment, it is very good idea to build a relationship with your data provider. In most cases, they will provide you the data, deploy the e-mail, and report the results. Most importantly, they will help you understand what works and what doesn’t so you can adjust the campaign and improve results moving forward.