The Problem: Cold Email Marketing Doesn’t Work
Cold email marketing suffers from absolutely dreadful open rates, which I found out the hard way while reaching out to prospective clients. Our first MailChimp email blast gave us a 26.7% open rate and 11.1% click rate. Although above the given industry average, we knew that most of our outreach wasn’t even being seen, despite our best efforts. We asked ourselves how we could warm up our cold leads, and came up with a social solution.
The Solution: Contextual Social Engagements
Companies spend a lot of resources on establishing their social presence, so why not engage with them there first? They want to get more value out of their investments and time, so leverage that in your favour! Using tools like Rapportive and CrunchBase I tracked down our targets based on where they spent their social time. Most of them congregated around the common social platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook so devising a unique strategy for each channel was in order.
The 140 character limit can be a blessing or a burden for social engagement. Can you really come across as genuine in such a short context? Yes you can! Whether it was retweeting, favoriting, or composing direct tweets, getting active on Twitter gave us a significant engagement response. Our top 3 most popular and responsive tweets were:
- Love your brand’s story, where did you come up with the name? (In response to them being featured in an article, blog, or other news piece)
- Awesome logo/website, who designed that for you? (Usually in response to a web redesign, launch or major update)
- Love what you’re doing here <Founder name>, what’s next in 2013? (A simple question that gives founders a chance to tell their story)
Our LinkedIn engagements took a more thought leadership narrative to match the platforms atmosphere. To the few companies that were active on their LinkedIn pages, our strategy was to add value to conversations while showcasing our technical expertise. Our engagements included primarily:
- Following their company and their followers to get on their radar.
- Commenting on their groups and discussion boards while initiating conversations.
- Sending InMail queries (similar to our Tweets) to employees and decision makers.
Our Facebook strategy was simple: Like it and get active! The simple act of liking our targets coupled with engagement on Twitter led to our own page being liked back almost 35% of the time. Furthermore getting involved in discussions on their recent posts gave a presence and a voice to our brand that we hoped they’d recognize in the future.
After almost a month it was time to see how the new email open rates would look. We took the time to ensure any engagement, from a Tweet to a LinkedIn discussion, had value and didn’t come off as spam or shameless advertising. Would all of this make a difference on whether they wanted to read our emails? It was time to click send.
The Results Prove Social Engagement Works!
Clearly the social touch worked great. We nailed a 45.7% open rate, 13% click rate and had zero unsubscribes. Continuing with this contextual social engagement we obtained a model for cold emailing and getting our brand out there that immediately paid dividends.
Social Engagements Make Email Marketing Worthwhile
Combined with contextual social engagements, our email marketing campaigns experienced a 71% increase open rate while respectively increasing our click rate by 10%. Despite how our campaigns turned out, email marketing is still a brutally competitive and noisy communication strategy. With the sheer amount of emails people receive these days (http://mashable.com/2012/02/09/boomerang-email-infographic/), relying on cold email marketing without some contextual engagement is simply not sustainable.
All is not lost however; ranging from more social followers to increasing our daily leads, we have developed a footprint in the social backyard of the people we want to do business with. With the release of the VIP Inbox from Apple (http://www.apple.com/ios/whats-new/#mail) further hinting at the redefinition of the inbox experience, a contextual warm social engagement can mean the difference between success and cold failure.