Email thousands of potential prospects without spamming – Too good to be true?

Every business wants the ability to be able to advertise to a large audience at one time, which is why email marketing became so popular.  There has been a system around for quite some time called “Safe Lists” which allows you to email hundreds, even thousands of people without spamming, without having to build an opt in list, and for little or no cost.

The way these safe lists works is you sign up with a company and you agree to let other “members” email you, and by doing so you are also allowed to email them based on the emails you are receiving.  You get “credits” which allow you to email the other members through the system, and you can also purchase credits.  Some of these “Safe Lists” companies have thousands of members, that you could potentially email every single day, sounds good right?  Here is the problem, most of those members use a junk email account just for this purpose and never look at those emails, so in effect you are just wasting your time.  The company running this service is really the only one that is getting anything out of it. Continue reading “Email thousands of potential prospects without spamming – Too good to be true?”

E-mail marketing ROI stats – STOP THE MADNESS

I was doing some light reading last night online on various marketing techniques, and I stumbled upon an article at Marketing Sherpa, by Adam T. Sutton, titled  Email Marketing: Show me the ROI ,and Mr. Sutton discusses the wonderful advantages of using email marketing and how email marketing has one of the highest ROI’s in marketing overall stating that B2C marketing reports an average 256% ROI.   I am so tired of hearing these half stats.  What do I mean by that you ask?

Ever since the DMA reported that according to their research that the return on investment of email marketing was $43 to $1 meaning that for every $1 spent that $43 would be made, people have been coming out of the woodwork with these crazy numbers such as Mr. Sutton.   But he’s not alone,  back in July of 2009 Chad White at MediaPost wrote an article Email Marketing’s ROI Probably Closer To $130 Than $43.52  stating that according to his research the DMA’s numbers were wrong and that the actual ROI was closer to $130, and of course in February Mr. Sutton blew that out of the water as stated above with his whopping $256 ROI.

Here’s the thing, I am not here to tell you that these guys are wrong, and I am not here as someone who doesn’t like email marketing, quite the opposite in fact; I think email marketing is one of the best marketing tools on the planet.  My problem with all of these companies, and bloggers that are giving you stats, is that they are only giving you half stats, and this causes marketing companies loads of grief.  What do I mean half stats?  Well it is very possible that the numbers that they are giving are right, and the DMA has proven more than once that email marketing has an awesome return on investment and due to all of these guys reposting and blogging these stats to anyone who will listen, every small business with a thousand bucks to spend thinks that they can do an email marketing campaign and make $43,000, or $130,000 or $256,000 because according to all these reports that’s the payoff from using email marketing.  What all these experts are failing to tell you is that anyone who made these types of returns did not just do an email blast and magically make truck loads of money.   Most of the companies if not all that this research was based on were larger companies who did research and development,  customer analyzing, and market research, so they knew who their target customer was, they knew that this target responds favorably to the product or service being offered, they didn’t just start blasting email, and they did market sampling, they did test blasts, and when they finally did start their campaign, it was not a onetime blast, because in order for email marketing to be truly effective, consistency is a must.  Another issue, these stats are based on emailing one’s own customers, not just anyone, its not quite as easy as it sounds.  See my article from last year Using Email Marketing to Boost Salesfor some insight into what I am talking about.

I love email marketing, I have been using it for years,  and I have sent more than my fair share of email, and I have sold email marketing to customers for years, but you have to give all the facts, not just part because not only is this misleading to small businesses, it becomes very aggravating for company that sells email marketing campaigns, because people keep throwing these stats at them, well according to “so and so” or according to the DMA If I spend $500 then I should get a return of over $20,000.  Mr. Sutton and Mr. White please add another paragraph or two to your article in the future and give people all the information, and if you don’t have all the information, than please give me a call and I will be happy to help you out.

Call Centers – Throw your scripts away, they are costing you sales.

I have been in the sales game for many years, and I have always done fairly well, and I know my way around a call center.  I have been involved in sales in a fortune 500 company where customer service is the priority and I have been involved in small rooms where the most important thing was closing.  In all my years of experience I have come to realize one thing, that scripts suck, and I know your all reading this thinking how the hell can you sell without a script?   Well let me explain why I say they suck; because I have been in many places, where the script was the required read, and I know from my experience with dealing with hundreds of call centers that even today so many call centers require their agents to use a script without deviation; that is a mistake.  I can spot someone reading off a script that is calling me inside of 15 seconds, and I am instantly turned off because that’s not a person calling me,  it’s simply a carbon based android that’s delivering the information that was input into its program.

In my  experience the best sales people don’t use scripts and I can visualize all you sales managers getting red in the face, eyes bulging out screaming at your monitor that if you didn’t use scripts that most of sales agents wouldn’t make any sales.  Well then I have some bad news for you, your sales agents stink or they are sorely in need of better training.  Any sales person worth his or her salt can sell anything to anybody without a script.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying to send them in there unprepared or without any documentation whatsoever, but that documentation should be a guide, not a read off for each and every call.  Because let’s face it what it takes to sell a product to a 65 year old black Methodist woman in North  Carolina is not going to be the same strategy that it takes to sell to a 29 year old white woman in the Bronx; different people, same product, different strategies.

There is an old saying in telephone sales that every single call ends in a sale, everyone without exception.  The question is who is doing the selling, the agent on the phone or the prospect on the other end.  If you are allowing the prospect to give you reasons that they cannot buy, then they are the ones selling you, they are selling you on why they are can’t buy, on the other hand if you are an experienced sales agent, you know how to navigate those rebuttals and you know how to control the call.  Now I am not saying that every call is going to end in a sale, but what I am saying is that sales agents need to be able to navigate on their own, give them some guidance, make sure they are comfortable with the product or service that is being sold and let them do their own thing.  I have never seen a super successful sales agent use a script, never.  Again, you can provide a basic script that is meant to guide them, but you need your agents to adapt their own strategy because the same strategy doesn’t work for every agent, and doesn’t work for every customer.  If your agents are not capable of going off script, then honestly they are in the wrong business and you are not getting your money’s worth.   Better to have 10 agents that are skilled and know how to control a call and know how close a deal than 25 agents simply reading off a script.  Those 10 agents will outsell the other 25 every time.

Call Centers don’t understand data sales.

At Throttle Media we deal with hundreds of call centers from all over the world, and like people, every call center is different; each has its own personality, its own goals, its own netcentric, its own expectations, and its own brand of how they do things.   A good outbound call center is usually good at what it does, which is creating sales, but one thing that remains consistent across a lot of call centers is that they don’t understand the dynamics of the data world.  So many call centers that I deal with that need data for a project all ask for a sample; now before I go on we need to define what the word “Sample” means.  To data providers it means two or three records so that the potential buyer can eyeball what the data is going to look like, what fields of information are included, etc.  To many call centers the word  “Sample” means several hundred records that they can call so that they can see if the data is any good, so they can measure the conversion and determine whether they want to buy or not.  It’s unrealistic.  Most data suppliers are not going to provide you with this, especially if they have quality data, because three or four hundred records sent out several times a day as a sample equates to hundreds of dollars a week.  Plus you cannot adequately determine if data is good by calling two hundred or so numbers, it’s not enough.  Most good data suppliers require a minimum sale of usually around 5,000 records and that is what they consider a “sample” and they expect you to purchase it.  The general consensus in the data world is if a call center cannot afford to spend $1000 on a sample file to call, the expectation that they are ever going to spend several thousand is nonexistent, because $1000 should not be a big expenditure for an organization with several hundred agents.

Today I had a client ask me what the conversion on some data that we quoted them was, meaning they wanted to know what percentage of sales they could expect from this data.  I replied to them that I had no idea, there is no way for me to know that, because that is not dependant solely on the data, it is largely dependent on the product, the skill set of the agents that are calling, the price being charged, the script being used and more.

While I understand that call centers are not in the data business, I feel that they should understand how the data business works, because they are dependent on data in order to exist, and I am of the opinion that if you are going to have to purchase something on a regular basis as part of an operational expense that is mandatory for success than you should completely understand the dynamics of that product.

Social Media – Relationship marketing not Retail marketing.

I was sifting through the posts and updates on Facebook tonight, just trying to catch up on what some of my family and friends out of state were up to, and I had to scroll through several advertisement posts to get to one real post.  Now the reason is because I use my Facebook for both personal and business contacts, and some of my business contacts post some good stuff, links to news reports or business articles, or they post a link to a blog article that they wrote, which is great.  However, what some are doing is using Facebook like it’s a classified ad, and this one company in particular posts several times every single day promoting different products trying to drive traffic to their website to generate sales.  This is not the purpose of Facebook; this is not the purpose of Social Media.

 

Social Media is about networking and creating new relationships, it is relationship marketing; it is not meant to be used as an advertising forum or to create a push campaign, and people that do this actually ruin the atmosphere the rest of us are attempting to create.  I guess some people just don’t get the word “Social” and in my opinion it just cheapens their product and company.  It’s like going to a business networking event, some people will walk around with literature and business cards, and hand them out to everyone and spend the entire time trying to sell their products, and to me these type of people just come off cheap and after shaking their hands, I feel the overwhelming urge to run to the restroom and wash my hands.  The smart people at this event will walk around, mingle, introduce themselves, make conversation, and just try to make now contacts, new friends; this is what networking is all about.  Now don’t get me wrong, we are all in business to make money, but coming off like a sleazy salesman whose only goal is to close a deal is not the way to go about this.  Networking is about meeting new people and creating new relationships that will last a long time. In the course of that relationship if you have something to offer that the other needs, than whom better to get it from than someone you already have a relationship with.  That is what Social Media is; it is a virtual networking environment to meet new people, to interact with existing friends, business associates, clients, vendors, partners, not a place to shove your products and services down everyone’s throat.  By now business owners and executives should understand what Social Media is and how it works.

“But this right now”, “Time is running out”, these are quickly becoming advertising methods of the past; retail selling is being taken over by relationship marketing.  Social Media is here to stay, and if you as a business plan on being here to stay, than you need to learn and understand the new rules of marketing or you will surely become an antiquated business very quickly.