Article

Forster Perelsztejn
Forster Perelsztejn 12 June 2017
Categories Email & eCRM

How to Leverage Data to Set Up an Email Drip Campaign

I’m pretty sure you’ve played Battleship at least once since you were born. Maybe you’re still playing! If you are, you know the process: it starts with intuition and total chance, and reflexion kicks in when you start making sense of the situation. It’s the exact opposite of what you want in setting up a drip campaign, especially if it’s sales-oriented.

You need to leave as little as possible to chance from the start and let spontaneity and gut feeling get in when actual interactions are starting to build up.

This is why analytics matter.

How do we leverage data?

There are two sides to this:

  1. Analyzing the intel you have on your prospects that’ll help you in setting up a drip campaign
  2. Analyzing the results in order to improve said campaign

This piece will cover the first aspect. Shall we get to it?

Personal information

Knowledge + Action = Power.

The more you know about your prospects, the better you’ll be able to answer their needs and make them feel cared about, even before they’ve subscribed or bought anything from you. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to decide what to do -or not to do- about them.

Personal information is key.

For two reasons :

  1. It allows you to segment and sort your prospects
  2. It allows you to tailor your drip campaign for maximum efficiency

The main variables :

  • Name
  • Job -including how long they’ve been in that position and their current pains
  • Company
  • Country

Only four? I guess you could also go for age and or education but these four are at the same time the most relevant and the most easily available pieces of personal data. Don’t overcomplicate it with too many different types of data.

Segmentation and relevance

This is not 1997 anymore, one size fits all email campaigns just don’t work anymore. We’re going to need a little bit of method as well as data here.

But what do these pieces of data mean in terms of campaign setting?

Job

  • What’s your prospect doing all day? Is she a sales rep, a procurement agent, an HR officer…? Is she a junior or a senior? You need to pay attention to these cues because each profile presents different needs to cater to, a different jargon you can use to get their attention.
     
  • How long have they been holding that position? Are they new on the job? Good, you really want to catch them within two weeks of them getting that job, because that’s when important decisions are made. They’ve been brought in to make a change and certainly have a budget to do so. Do you want them to use it on you? If so, be on the lookout to catch them early.

Don’t beat yourself up if you’re late though, they’ll be trying out tools and even though the first month is critical, you have a decent chance of closing them up until 90 days. After that, you’re in for a tough challenge.

  • What pains are they experiencing? What do people with that job title usually struggle with? This is how you’ll get their attention.

 

Company

What type of company is your prospect working for? In what industry? Is it a start-up, a large corporation, a one person company? The dynamic in these different types of organizations can vary greatly. The decision-making process is not the same, the pressure isn’t the same and, among many other criteria, the culture is certainly different.

Country

Where is your prospect from? Australia, Italy, Japan?

Fun fact: did you know that the Japanese don’t attribute the same meaning to “maybe” and “perhaps”, seeing the former as negative and the latter as positive?

See where I’m going?

The culture of the country your prospect lives in may matter as well. Is there a special holiday going on? Why not mention it? Is it a national mourning period? Maybe you should wait until it’s over before emailing them.

The location is also relevant when it comes to timing your emails.

1. Personalization

“Dear sir, madam”, “Dear subscriber”, “Hello”… are not the greeting formulas you ever want to use in your drip campaign. They’re impersonal and even spammy-looking by 2017’s standards in the case of an unsolicited email.

If you want to get your recipient’s curiosity (or at least their attention), you need to make it relatable to them from the get go. Here’s a template for a sales cold email from our database:

Hi {{prospect_firstname | default: ‘there’}},

Dear {prospect_first_name},

I read your blog article about {blog_article_subject} and found it to be quite relevant in terms of AAA and BBB.

My name is {user_first_name} and I work as {user_job_title} at {user_company}, where we help companies such as {{drop as many examples as necessary}} with {specific pain point}.

If that’s something you’re also challenged with, I may be able to help you. How about we set up a quick call?

Thanks for your time,

{{user_name}}

You may use this one if you’d like or create your own. All you have to do then is to customize it for your product and for each audience you might have identified.

Please keep in mind that empathy is crucial. Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes and ask yourself how you’d deal with that email.

Just be sure not to make it creepy by using too much personal info. If they feel like they’re being stalked, you might just end up on their blacklist.

2. Timing

What do you usually start with when it comes to mail? The top of the pile or the bottom?

Make sure your email is at the top of the pile; time it right.

The fundamentals

Most people check their emails at the start of the day and before heading home. Of course, some people -including yours truly- have the terrible habit of checking their email 50 times along the day, but the messages checked within that time frame get much less attention.

Weekends and holidays

The huge advantage of emailing on an “off” day is low competition, which can be gold if you hit the right demographics.

Journalists, for example, are always connected and don’t mind receiving emails on weekends. You might have more trouble reaching an HR officer between Friday 5PM and Monday 9AM.

Time zones

This may seem obvious but, as you’re setting up a drip campaign, you may need to program emails to be sent during the night so they reach your target at the appropriate time. Get a map of timezones if you work with lots of international prospects and customers.

Knowing as much as possible about your prospects is decisive when it comes to timing your drip campaign right.

3. Subject line and preview

“Excuse me sir, do you have some time to talk about our lord and savio…”

*Door slam*

This is you, without a good subject line. You won’t make it past the doorway without something compelling.

HubSpot collected some data that you might want to keep in mind :

  • Personalized subject lines make emails 22% more likely to be opened. [Source:Adestra]

e.g., Hey {{prospect_first_name}}, how’s the new job at {{Prospect_company}}?

  • 40% of emails get opened on mobile devices, where only 4 to 7 words from the subject can be displayed. [Source: ContactMonkey]

e.g., Hey, are you struggling with sales automation?

  • Subject lines containing containing the word “Alert” tend to perform 62% better than average. [Source:Adestra] Use this wisely, though, it can backfire if misused.

e.g., Online course alert: only a few seats left!

  • The word “Quick” appears to decrease email opens by 17%. [Source:Sidekick]

e.g., A few quick tips about SEO

  • Tomorrow“, on the other hand, seems to be boosting them by 10%. [Source:Sidekick]

e.g., Are you free tomorrow for a quick call?

Now, combine!

  • Personalized + 7 words:  {{prospect_first_name}}, are you struggling with sales automation?
  • Tomorrow + Alert + 8 words: Alert: new sales tools available tomorrow for {{Prospect_company}}!

It is thus essential to combine your knowledge of your prospect with the existing data to craft a personalized and efficient subject line.

Make sure to A/B test your subject lines to make the most of them.

Also, take advantage of the preview space to hook your prospect even before they open your message.

By the way, you can find more about how to craft your subject line here.

4. Tone of voice and choice of words

Why do we particularly love some brands? How do companies like Tesla, Apple or Adidas get such a following?

Sure, their products are high quality but other brands like BMW produce high performing electric cars, you could buy a computer twice as powerful as your Apple computer for half the price and certainly there’s distributor brand sports gear that accomplishes just as much as Adidas’ does.

What gives? Simon Sinek would say it’s their “Why”, the reason behind their existence, that grounds them and makes all the difference.

This reason implies a mission and values, thus leading to a powerful personality, often embodied by a charismatic leader. Cue Elon Musk, Steve Jobs…

You need to convey this personality through the communication of the brand. This is what we call your voice.

Whether you’re talking to a client, your boss, your kid or even your kid’s basketball coach, your voice remains the same.

What changes is your tone.

For example:

– BMW, Gucci or Prada are luxury brand, so they opted for a Premium voice, and they communicate accordingly, to everyone.

However, their tone varies: they act with deference and utmost respect and provide excellent service to their customers while keeping their distance and maintaining low accessibility to everyone else.

– Ben & Jerry’s, Mc Donald’s or M&M’s are much more Happy/Playful brands, which translates into their communication.

Their tone is then quite friendly with everyone yet respectful in case, for example, of complaints.

It all seems obvious and natural in real-life interactions because of the non-verbal cues and the energy flow. But once online, the game changes; you need to make an educated guess as to how your recipient would want to be addressed.

Take the time to find your voice, and the right tone that goes with it. This won’t only be good for setting up a drip campaign, it’ll affect the way you communicate as whole.

This is why personal data matters.

There are however a few rules you should consider following :

  1. Avoid negative words

Not only have they been proven to convey negative feelings, they also don’t prompt to action. 

For example, in lieu of saying : ‘If something’s unclear, don’t hesitate to contact me.’, your should should go for ‘If you’d like more information about XXX, please let me know.

2. Avoid extreme adjectives

While they may seem to establish a less formal relationship, they’re also not professional and may not sound genuine. Don’t follow up on a call by saying it was “awesome” talking to them. I mean, it was probably good, but it was just a call.

3. Customer first

Address your customer’s needs first, always. Whether you’re running a sales campaign or channelling them in the on-boarding process for your app, your product is not the main focus here, only a solution to the problem they might be encountering.

4. Keep it short

Since you’re probably interrupting your recipient, especially if you’re prospecting and they don’t know you, make it clear and to the point and you might get an answer!

5. How many emails should I send?

Standing under your recipient’s balcony begging them to answer your emails may be a bit exaggerated but sending more than a couple messages is perfectly acceptable.

In our experience, the sweet spot in the case of an outbound sales drip campaign lays between 3 and 5 emails.

  • Why no less than 3? Emails can be overlooked, the recipient wasn’t in the right mood when she read the email and then forgot about it, it may take time to the recipient to come to a decision and consistency on your part may help them make a step in your direction. As long as you keep it friendly, with a “no pressure” attitude, you’ll be fine. 
  • Why no more than 5? It’s safe to assume that if your prospect hasn’t answered within 5 emails, they’re probably not interested, and your drip campaign should end. Beyond that point, you just risk being reported as spam.Pro tip: let them know in the subject line that it’s your last email, it might prompt an unexpected twist!  

But don’t throw those prospects away just yet. Have them contacted by someone else within the company or add them to a new campaign after 6-8 months have passed.

Of course, educational campaigns or training tips can contain more more emails since you’re addressing active users who will, most of the time, gladly receive your advice, or at least won’t mind. You may get up to 7 or 8 emails in that type of process.

Conclusion

The main take away here is that the point of setting up a drip campaign is to build a connection. And for that reason, personalization must be a top priority.

Put in the effort to gather the data and organize it, it’ll be worth it.

Any thoughts? Please care to share them with us!

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