Make Up or Break Up: Re-engagement email campaign Tips from the Experts

Re-engagement email campaignEvery email list has its fair share of inactive contacts, and every email marketer once in a while asks whether to hold on or let go. There’s unfortunately no easy answer when it comes to deciding what to do with disengaged subscribers. But with the right re-engagement email campaign, marketers can manage inactive subscribers more effectively.

According to Kissmetrics, inactive contacts make up as much as 60% of an average email list. Meanwhile, Return Path estimates that highly-engaged subscribers represent only around 24% of contacts. Having a large number of inactive accounts on your list drags down email deliverability, since low engagement rates tend to signal poor sender reputation.

Apart from causing deliverability issues, inactive subscribers also waste marketing resources. Most ESPs charge customers based on the volume of emails sent (which, in turn, largely depends on the size of your list). Paying for contacts that won’t convert into nurtured opportunities or closed deals clearly hurts your email marketing ROI.

But there’s more to dealing with inactive contacts than simply deleting them from your list altogether. It’s good practice to run a re-engagement email campaign to try and win back stalled subscribers. The campaign’s results will help you determine which contacts to keep and which ones to forget about.

So, how should you reach out to uninterested contacts? Here’s what the experts have to say.

 

Define exactly what “inactive subscriber” means

As MailChimp explains, the term “inactive subscriber” can mean different things to different marketers. But in general, a contact gets labeled as inactive in two ways:

  • Based on a subscriber’s activity (or lack thereof)
  • Based on time elapsed since last engaging with a campaign

It’s up to you how much lack of activity (opens or clicks in the last X emails) or time period to set as your criterion. The key thing to remember is that a lack of interaction doesn’t indicate inactivity right away (which brings us to our next point).

 

Segment inactive contacts into 3 groups

Now that you’ve chosen a yardstick to measure inactivity, it’s time to figure out what to do with contacts that meet the criterion. Campaign Monitor notes that inactive subscribers fall into 3 categories, each requiring a different re-engagement approach.

  • Never-Actives –subscribers who have never engaged, most likely contacts who signed up for a one-time offer such as a free download. Send a re-commitment email that lets them indicate their mailing preferences.
  • Dormant – subscribers who were once active but have now become unengaged. Send a series of nurturing emails that offer value (such as a relevant article or resource).
  • Customer Inactives – Once-active customers who no longer interact with any of your campaigns. Gradually ramp down your email cadence before asking the final question.

 

Craft a compelling re-engagement email

You already know that your past emails didn’t resonate well with inactive subscribers. That’s why your re-engagement emails need to look, feel, and sound a bit different from your usual campaigns.

For subject lines, HubSpot suggests spicing things up with a little personalization (such as the recipient’s name, company, or industry), as well as “asking for signs of life” with a relevant question.

AWeber lays out a number of guidelines in order to write effective re-engagement email content:

  • Find out why inactive subscribers signed up in the first place
  • Check whether you’re continuing to meet these expectations
  • Uncover any previous changes to your email strategy that may have affected engagement
  • Determine what to offer in order to pique their interest

To maximize response rates for your re-engagement email campaign, you need to include a clear, strong, and specific call-to-action (CTA). Whether you’re pointing them to a helpful resource or asking whether they’d still like to remain on your list, you need to make that action easy for recipients to complete.

 

Automate re-engagement, but humanize your response

Manually keeping track of subscriber inactivity works well when handling relatively small email lists. But when your contacts number in the thousands, the only way to do re-engagement email campaigns at scale is through automation.

SendGrid thinks that a huge part of your re-engagement campaign’s workflow should be automated. Tasks such as scheduling send-outs and unsubscribing contacts are best handled by machines, so that you stay focused on more exciting stuff in your email marketing program.

However, not all activities in your re-engagement email campaign should be set on autopilot. Responding to feedback and inquiries from your recipients are, for now, still best done by humans.

 

Conclusion

There’s still value to be had from trying to win back disengaged subscribers—that is, if you reach out the right way. So, build a robust re-engagement email campaign strategy using what we’ve talked about in this post.

5 Valuable Lessons from the Best Event Marketing Emails

5 Valuable Lessons from the Best Event Marketing EmailsMarketers rely on a lot of tools to drive live event attendance and conversions. But time and again, emails remain the top channel for achieving event marketing goals. Here’s how to get the most from your live events with the help of lessons drawn from the best event marketing emails.

On average, B2B marketers use a total of 5 different channels to generate buzz and maximize engagement for their live events. Recent research published by event tech provider Bizabo shows that email ranks as the top channel for promoting live events among 46% of B2B and 24% of B2C marketers.

Let’s look at what the best event marketing emails can teach us about crafting effective event invitation, promotion, confirmation, notification, and follow-ups.

 

1. Create a sequence of email touch points

Live events typically consist of three stages: pre-event, in-event, and post-event. You need to map out a sequence of emails to be sent out at each stage in order to maximize engagement.

Pre-event emails are crucial since they set the pace and determine the initial results of your live marketing project, while post-event emails are also very important since they directly impact your campaign’s conversion rates and ROI. That’s why we’ll talk about these points in greater detail later in this post.

 

2. Build anticipation and excitement

Apart from generating awareness, pre-event emails help boost attendance rates by building anticipation and interest well before opening day. At a bare minimum, your event marketing campaign needs to send out invitation, confirmation, and reminder emails.

Email automation vendor Delivra recommends the following best practices when doing pre-event send-outs:

  • Invitation emails – Sent weeks or months in advance (the bigger the event, the earlier the send-out) since potential attendees need time to secure buy-in from their boss.
  • Confirmation email – sent right after the recipient responds with an RSVP (best handled through email automation).
  • Reminder email – sent once daily 3 days before the event (including a final reminder sent 1 hour prior to event opening).

 

3. Revisit your subject line strategy

There’s sadly no hard-and-fast rule that spits out irresistible email subject lines. But with careful tracking and testing, it’s possible to tweak your subject line strategy to get better inbox placement and open rates for your event marketing emails.

Event Technologies analyzed 1.25 pre-event and post-event emails and found that:

  • 44 out of the top-performing 50 pre-event emails (according to open rates) mentioned the event name in the subject line.
  • 40 out of the top-performing post-event emails also mentioned the event in the subject line.
  • Pre-event emails whose subject line included the event name had an open rate of 24% vs 18% for pre-show messages whose subject line made no mention of the event.

Aside from naming the event in the subject line, it’s also good practice to indicate a specific call-to-action (CTA), e.g., “Visit us at DMA 2017 &THEN – Booth #1234”.

 

4. Look for sources of conversion friction

One thing that sets the best event marketing emails from the rest is that they provide a seamless experience for your recipients, from email open all the way to landing page conversion.

According to Kissmetrics, anything that gets in the way of this conversion journey is friction. There’s clearly a lot of points in your recipient’s clickpath where friction can slow down or hamper conversion. Here’s a quick rundown of a few places to closely keep an eye on:

  • Email copy – Is the copy short and easy to read?
  • CTA – Does the CTA stand out? Does it clearly specify the action?
  • Design – Is the design responsive?
  • Social sharing – Does your email make it easy for people to find and connect with you on social media?
  • Landing page – Does it seamlessly transition from the email? Are the landing page copy and CTA consistent with the email?

 

5. Plan your follow up ahead of time

Should you try to reconnect with your event attendees after the show? Of course, by all means. But following up requires more than just sending out a quick email. Like pre-event emails, post-show follow ups need some careful planning:

  • Prepare a prompt and personalized follow-up plan
  • Carry out the follow-up over a series of nurturing emails
  • Start following up 1-2 days after the event; don’t wait until 2 weeks
  • Offer different possible nurture paths
  • Make sure to reference a specific activity at the live event
  • Be careful about adding event leads directly into your marketing database

 

What other live event marketing email best practices do you follow?

Email Deliverability Best Practices: How to Authenticate Your Emails

How to Authenticate Your EmailsIf you’re seeing low or declining deliverability rates, chances are your sender reputation isn’t exactly up to snuff. There’s a ton of factors that ISPs check when determining sender reputation, and one important aspect is the sender’s email authentication setup. This needs to be a critical area of focus in your email deliverability best practices.

Email authentication helps ISPs prevent forged emails from reaching their users’ accounts. In other words, it’s a way to prove that an email you sent really comes from you (not some sender pretending to be you). From this, it’s easy to see why your email deliverability best practices should also include sender authentication.

 

How Email Authentication Works

Email authentication allows ISPs to properly identify the authenticity of emails their users receive. When a receiving server gets an incoming mail, it verifies whether the message really did come from the sender. To do this, it checks for specific pieces of information in your email and DNS records.

According to SparkPost, the email authentication process varies from approach to approach but typically consists of the following steps:

  1. A business or organization that sends emails establishes a set of authentication policies.
  2. The email sender configures its mail servers to publish and implement these policies.
  3. The receiving server authenticates an incoming email by referring to the sender’s policies.
  4. The receiving server accepts, flags, or blocks the incoming email based on the results of step 3.

In the next section, we’ll go into steps 1 and 2 in greater detail, plus outline the specific ways to set up email authentication.

 

How to Set Up Email Authentication

We’ve seen that email authentication affects sender reputation which, in turn, impacts email deliverability. To set up authentication for your email marketing program, follow these quick steps:

 

Step 1: Use SPF and DKIM authentication

Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) are authentication protocols stored in the sender’s DNS records. These contain the “pieces of information” we briefly mentioned earlier that ISPs use to check an email’s authenticity.

Simply put, SPF and DKIM prevent the bad guys from impersonating you as the sender. The details can get a little hairy, but the important thing to keep in mind is that without SPF and DKIM, there’s no way for ISPs to be sure it’s really you who’s sending the email.

 

Step 2: Record all your sending IPs

The sending IP address is the numeric label that uniquely identifies every sending source you use. It serves as the passageway through which emails are sent to your recipients. You need to let ISPs know all the sending IP you use (including those of your email service provider).

This is achieved through what’s called a reverse DNS record. Reverse DNS records do the opposite of what normal DNS records do; they return the name associated with a given IP address. Without a valid reverse DNS record, many ISPs will block your emails.

 

Step 3: Put it all together

Reverse DNS records, SPF, and DKIM are the three basic DNS entries to help ISPs authenticate your emails. Once you’ve already set all of these up, here’s how to put them into action:

  • Create your authentication record on SPF and DKIM, then publish them
  • Configure your mail server to sign outgoing mail with DKIM
  • Test your DKIM, SPF, and reverse DNS records

 

Step 4: Use a genuine, personal From name

The final step doesn’t involve anything fancy, but is arguably the most important one. Make sure that your emails’ From line contains an authentic name of a person. Avoid departmental or role-based addresses like marketing@xxyzcompany.com. You want to build a personal relationship, so it pays to start connecting on a personal level.

 

Conclusion

Now start building your sender reputation with these email deliverability best practices in mind. The main takeaway is that being authentic doesn’t end with email verification protocols. It’s all about building a long-term relationship with recipients.

Top Email Marketing Benchmarks of 2017 (and How to Do Better in 2018)

In a few short days, we’ll be starting another email marketing year. But before we do that, let’s first look back at 2017 and see how well email marketers collectively performed. Even more importantly, let’s use these email marketing benchmarks as guideposts to do better in the upcoming year.

Today’s blog entry compiles key 2017 email marketing benchmarks from Delivera, MailChimp, Inbox Marketer, and SignUp.to. The numbers cited here describe 2017’s email marketing campaigns in terms of oepns, clicks, bounces, and other metrics, plus some actionable tips to help you improve in each category. Let’s dive right in.

 

Opens

While there’s some variation in the actual number, our data sources all seem to agree on the average email marketing open rates in 2017:

  • The average open rate is 31.92% for all industries (Delivera).
  • On average, overall open rate was recorded at 24.79% (SignUp.to)
  • Open rates increase to 28.8%, up from 25.9% in the past year (Inbox Marketer).
  • On a per-industry level, open rates ranged from 15.2% to 28.4% and averaged 21.8% (MailChimp)

This year, the following tactics resulted in better-than-average open rates:

  • Subject lines less than 50 characters long resulted in 58% open rate (Adestra).
  • The open rate for personalized emails is 1.4 times higher than generic ones (Statista).
  • Segmentation results in 14.3% higher open rates (MailChimp).

 

Click-Throughs

In two of the references we used, the findings indicate overall higher click-through rates for the year (although the number widely varied):

  • Overall, CTRs incrementally increased by 0.8 percentage points, averaging 5.8% (Inbox Marketer).
  • Average CTRs across all sectors were reported to be 3.57 percent (Delivera).
  • CTRs came in at 4.19% for all industries (SignUp.to).
  • Depending on the industry, CTRs ranged between 1.25% to 5.13%, averaging 2.62% (MailChimp).

Here’s how email best practices enhanced CTRs of email campaigns:

  • Trigger emails generate 2x higher CTRs than traditional emails (Super Office).
  • CTRs for segmented emails are more than 8x higher than non-segmented emails (Super Office).
  • Subject line personalization improves CTRs by 17.36% (MarketingSherpa).

 

Click-to-Open

While CTRs measure the number of clicks over the number of emails sent, the click-to-open rate (CTOR) expresses the number of clicks as a percentage of the total opens. That’s why CTOR is a better gauge of email engagement.

SignUp.to finds that average CTOR is around 11.88% (SignUp.to). Meanwhile, Smart Insights recommends aiming for a CTOR between 10% to 15%. If your campaign is underperforming in terms of click-to-opens, follow the below tips:

  • Write short and clear subject lines.
  • Keep your copy between 50 to 125 words long.
  • Make sure your call-to-action (CTA) stands out.
  • Close with a specific option and end with gratitude.

 

Hard Bounces

Email marketers remain very effective at keeping hard bounces in check. According to Inbox Manager, bounce rates remain low at just 0.9% across all industries in 2017.

MailChimp’s industry-level email marketing benchmarks report shows that hard bounce rates vary from industry to industry, with a minimum of 0.7% and a maximum of 1.2%.

To keep your hard bounce rates within acceptable limits, try out the following:

Use a double opt-in list signup method

Keep your list spotlessly clean

Verify each contact in your list

Work with a data scrubbing and maintenance company

 

Conclusion

While averages and aggregate numbers give us a quick way to compare and evaluate our campaigns, keep in mind that these headline values oftentimes don’t tell the whole story. That’s why we need to go past these top-level email marketing benchmarks to find out what’s really going on. In that sense, the best reference metrics will always be your own campaign results.

Happy New Year!

How to Avoid Email Deliverability Issues During the Holidays

How to Avoid Email Deliverability Issues During the HolidaysThe holiday season is in full swing. Aside from crowded stores and endless checkout lines, the inbox gets particularly busy this time of year, too. In fact, people receive 1.5 times more promotional emails during the holidays than at any other period. This brings all sorts of email deliverability issues that can drag down campaign performance.

As Kevin Senne over at Oracle Marketing Cloud explains, ISPs tend to tighten their grip on incoming mail during the holidays. That’s because mailbox providers slow down the rate of email arrivals to deal with the seasonal deluge. Naturally, this throttling has an effect on both if and when emails reach a recipient’s inbox.

While these email deliverability issues largely bother senders of promotional emails, every marketer who wants to get in touch with prospects or customers during the holidays isn’t immune from these problems.

That’s why we searched the Web for practical tips and best practices to help you avoid holiday-induced deliverability headaches. Let’s take a look at what we learned:

 

  1. Keep your list spotlessly clean

As you’re making your email list, and checking it twice, you might want to have someone recheck it thrice. The first step to your recipients’ inbox starts with the list. Squeaky-clean lists help keep email deliverability issues at bay.

That’s because clean lists tend to give you lower bounce rates, which in turn improve your sender reputation. The better your reputation becomes (in the eyes of ISPs), the better your deliverability gets.

While there’s no shortage of tools and techniques you can use to do some D.I.Y. list cleaning, most sources we dug up strongly recommend working with a third-party data cleaning service provider for best results.

 

  1. Stick to your current sending IP address

If you’re thinking that switching over to a new IP address will give you better deliverability for your holiday campaigns, then you’re in for some very rude awakening. Deliverability expert Return Path cautions against changing your sending IP address, especially during the holiday season.

Using a brand new IP does let you start out with a blank slate, but it’s going to take a while to “warm up” a fresh address and earn the trust of ISPs. Building your sender reputation from scratch isn’t going to happen overnight, and the process will be much longer during the holidays when throttling and stricter spam filters are in place.

 

  1. Watch your mailing frequency

Return Path also warns email marketers not to abruptly increase their sending frequency in the run up to and during the holidays. The biggest mailbox providers keep a close eye on any sudden spikes in send-out rates, slowing down or stopping incoming mails from senders who step on the gas too quickly. In many cases, this can permanently harm sender reputation.

To avoid potential email deliverability issues from sending out too much mail during the holidays, most references we found suggest consistently maintaining your usual email frequency. Other sources also point out that, if you really want to increase your email volume, you need to slowly and gradually increase your frequency over several weeks ahead of the holidays.

 

  1. Wear your authentication badge at all times

Another way to improve deliverability is to use SPF, DKIM, and DMARC authentication. These are tools that tell ISPs you’re someone they can trust. While enabling these items won’t guarantee deliverability (nothing does), they’re a crucial component of building and maintaining a good sender reputation.

As marketing automation provider Real Magnet describes, these three authentication systems allow you to improve your emails’ deliverability and credibility. They implement protocols that verify your domain as the sender, which is something that affects ISPs’ decisions to accept or reject incoming mail.

Enabling all three tools helps guarantee your emails make it into the inbox, as well as protect your emails from spoofing.

 

  1. Focus on the recipient, not the campaign

Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, and other mailbox providers use engagement metrics (opens, clicks, spam reports, unsubscribes, etc.) to determine if your email should end up in the inbox or spam folder.

That’s why avoiding email deliverability issues also means improving how your emails engage your readers. From the subject down to the closing, your email needs actionable copy and compelling design.

We went over some effective tips to write engaging emails in a previous blog entry. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Use a catchy subject line
  • Make the copy easy to scan and skim
  • Keep it short and strong
  • End with a clear CTA
  • Place main takeaways and CTAs at the top
  • Divide text into sections
  • Use contrasting color schemes
  • Format everything for easy skimming

With these steps, your holiday email campaign will surely minimize, if not avoid, email deliverability issues. From the ContactDB team:

Happy Holidays!

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating an Email Marketing Campaign Plan

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating an Email Marketing Campaign PlanHere’s a number to think about: 3,800%. That’s the average email marketing ROI according to the DMA. But just because you’re doing email marketing, too, doesn’t guarantee you’ll also be getting the same spectacular returns. To generate decent ROI, you first need to develop a working email marketing campaign plan.

Putting together a coherent and doable email marketing campaign plan remains a daunting challenge for a great number of marketers. A lot of moving parts make up a typical email campaign, and it’s easy to get lost in the dizzying details. But with a clear planning process, the task becomes more manageable. Today’s post provides a step-by-step guide to campaign planning, plus a ton of email marketing tips and tricks to get you started.

 

Step 1: Set specific campaign goals and objectives

As email marketers, we’ve been raised to believe that everything starts with the list. But this mindset needs to change. Goals and objectives actually precede the email list. Everything only follows once you’ve identified the things your campaign needs to achieve.

Some email marketing campaign goals include:

  • Reaching out to cold prospects
  • Nurturing email prospects
  • Welcoming new subscribers
  • Verifying/Updating subscription
  • Promoting/Announcing new offers
  • Achieving conversion goals
  • Responding to triggers or actions

 

Step 2: Identify the types of emails to be used

Once you’ve specified your campaign targets, it’s time to figure out which types of emails work best for the tasks at hand. Marketers use dozens of email types, but these can be grouped into:

  • Prospecting Emails – These are emails sent to identify new opportunities for customer acquisition
  • Nurturing Emails – These are emails that cultivate relationships with leads, subscribers, or existing customers.
  • Promotional Emails – This type of emails announces offers or company-related news.
  • Transactional Emails – These emails are sent in response to a specific action or trigger.

 

Step 3: Know the target audience and segments

This looks like a fairly straightforward activity. But almost half of marketers still fail to segment their lists into relevant groups. There’s more to audience identification than simply knowing your target market. You have to define specific buyer personas that serve as your ideal audience profiles.

We’ve written about effective ways to segment a list in a previous post, and the key points are worth repeating here:

  1. Start with basic firmographics
  2. Map emails to sales funnel stages
  3. Follow a contact’s clickpath on your site4Find out what content they’re engaging with
  4. Find out what content they’re engaging with
  5. Keep track of responses and activities
  6. Apply a lead scoring scheme

 

Step 4: Flesh out a robust sending schedule

Now you’re ready to set the schedule and frequency of email send-outs. Different sources cite varying optimal times of day and days of week for sending out emails, but it’s good practice to test this out for your own campaign. The same holds true for sending frequency.

While not all campaigns need a detailed sending schedule, the following email marketing tips and tricks for scheduling will help you find the right send-out times:

  • Start with the widely-accepted “best” times for sending out emails (Tuesdays through Thursdays, between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m.)
  • Let subscribers indicate how often to receive emails
  • Keep initial follow-ups to within 3 days of last touch point
  • Sync nurturing emails with your content calendar
  • Tweak schedule and frequency based on campaign results

 

Step 5: Brainstorm content and design ideas

You now have the why, what, who, and when of your email marketing campaign plan. The next things to think about are your emails’ content and design. Compelling copy and great design go hand-in-hand at producing successful email campaigns.

In terms of content, your emails need to speak to your audience and achieve a purpose. Consider the following tips when crafting email copies:

  • Use a catchy subject line
  • Make the copy easy to scan and skim
  • Keep it short and strong
  • End with a clear CTA

For the design, it’s the message that dictates the email’s look and feel:

  • Place main takeaways and CTAs at the top
  • Divide text into sections
  • Use contrasting color schemes
  • Format everything for easy skimming

 

Step 6: Choose suitable metrics and KPIs

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. That’s why selecting a suitable set of metrics is part of campaign planning.

Email marketing continues to be one of the most data-rich marketing channels around today. So, if you think “vanity metrics” (delivery rates, open rates, CTRs, bounces, spam reports, and unsubscribes) can tell you everything you need to know about your campaign, then you’re leaving a huge insight gap in your program.

To ensure your dashboard displays only the right numbers, follow the below steps:

  1. Revisit your campaign goals and objectives
  2. Use metrics that determine if you’ve reached each goal
  3. Look at all your campaign data sources
  4. Know which pieces of data improve timing, content, and impact

 

Step 7: Outline a clear process for testing

The final step in the planning process is to come up with a program for testing and tracking your email campaign. Testing allows you to continuously improve your email marketing campaign plan. So, you need to hammer out a workable testing procedure before hitting “send”.

But, with so many individual components to test, creating a testing plan (as well as carrying it out) can feel overwhelming. Put the following tips into practice to make this part of the planning process run more smoothly:

  • Test basic elements first
  • Focus on one component at a time
  • Make your sample sizes sufficiently large (i.e., at least 1,000 observations)
  • Use consistent schedules when testing
  • Trust the test results over gut-feelings, no matter how counterintuitive

 

Conclusion

At this point, you now have a working email marketing campaign plan. But before you hit send, it’s crucial to go over your outline once or twice to make sure you’ve covered all the essentials.

If you think some aspects of your campaign look tedious or too time-consuming, then a good email marketing automation tool can make things easier. In addition, reputable email marketing service providers help you carry out part or all of your campaign activities more effectively.

What other steps do you follow when putting together an email marketing campaign plan?

4 Tips to Better Gauge the ROI of Your Custom Targeted Database

4 Tips to Better Gauge the ROI of Your Custom Targeted DatabaseIn a previous post, we took a look at five key metrics to gauge your list’s performance and effectiveness. But we left out one crucial KPI that you should always be keeping track of: the ROI that your list generates. As we’ll see below, measuring exactly how much return a Custom Targeted Database brings to the table can become a little challenging. That’s why we’re setting aside this entire entry to help you get started with this critical marketing yardstick.

It’s typically hard to correctly determine the ROI of most custom target lists since they’re mostly used for top-of-funnel activities. This means that, by the time a lead becomes a customer, the touch points associated with the contact list that contributed to the sale are often difficult to trace since they took place at earlier stages in the process.

To get around this, the following tips can help you reliably measure how much revenue your custom targeted database helped generate:

 

  1. Know exactly where contacts come from.

In order to accurately gauge ROI, you need to find out where every contact that becomes part of your list originated from. Did a lead come from organic sources? Which paid source did a particular database record pass through before entering your funnel?

For your custom targeted database, this means having separate fields that report where and how you got the contact information.

 

  1. Refine your sales funnel stages.

There’s a surprising statistic from MarketingSherpa being thrown around that claims 68% of marketers haven’t yet identified their sales funnel. If you happen to be part of this group, you need to define and refine the stages in your sales funnel right now.

What are the steps a prospect goes through before being deemed sales-ready? What actions constitute a conversion in each of these steps?

 

  1. Track and score leads throughout your funnel.

Once you’ve established the precise steps that a prospect has to go through in order to turn into an opportunity, you now need to assign points that indicate how sales-qualified that particular lead is.

This is called lead scoring and is a crucial component of accurately measuring marketing ROI. Points are assigned based on the lead’s attributes (demographic and firmographic details) and their actions (interest and intent).

 

  1. Match closed deals with past touch points.

Now that you’ve got contact source information and lead scores recorded in your custom targeted database, it’s time to take a look at the data for deal closes. These closes should be tied back to the series of touch points that preceded the deal.

Marketingprofs says there are four categories of closes based on source and nurture history. It’s important that you identify the right classification for a particular deal, so that credit and attribution can be correctly given.

You can now start reliably measuring the ROI of custom target lists with these four tips in mind. The main idea is that your custom targeted database does contribute to the revenues your marketing and sales processes generate, provided that you’re using it correctly in your campaigns.

A 5-Point Data Hygiene Plan for Your B2B Contact Leads Database

A 5-Point Data Hygiene Plan for Your B2B Contact Leads DatabaseYou may not know it, but you’re wasting at least 12% of revenues due to bad marketing data. That’s according to a review from Econsultancy that says bad data tend to directly impact profitability in as much as 88% of companies.

That’s why proper data hygiene is as important as ever, since practically every marketer today makes decisions based on insights extracted from the data sitting in their CRM or prospect lists. In today’s post, we’ll go over the five key points you need to carefully consider in order to come up with an actionable data hygiene plan for your B2B contact leads database.

 

  1. Develop a thorough data maintenance routine.

Inaccurate data occupies just one segment    in the Venn diagram of bad data. There are other data quality issues—such as missing data, inconsistent data, duplicate data, and unsynchronized data—that you also have to watch out for.

So, you need data maintenance initiatives that both prevent and fix data quality issues at different stages of your data life cycle—from data collection all the way to data removal.

 

  1. Remove data barriers and silos.

In a typical B2B organization, it’s not uncommon to find multiple instances of the same piece of prospect data housed in separate locations (e.g., marketing automation platform for marketing and CRM database for sales). This increases the possibility of having unsynchronized, inconsistent, and misaligned information used by different teams.

A good data hygiene plan also needs to take into account potential barriers to the free flow of data across users, teams, and departments. There should only be one version of a piece of prospect information at any given time.

 

  1. Supplement manual with automated processes.

For best results, data hygiene should be carried out with the right mix of manual and automated data cleansing methods. While tools like AI and machine learning have now streamlined data hygiene tasks, there’s still a clear need to keep humans in the loop.

Take, for example, data deduplication. Most commercial data scrubbing packages come shipped with powerful deduplication capabilities, which are especially helpful for scrubbing a large B2B contact leads database. But the deduplication process still requires human input to correctly identify which redundant records to keep and which ones to discard.

 

  1. Rethink your entire data quality approach.

Another key point that your data hygiene action plan needs to address is to make data quality everyone’s concern. While you need to define clear roles and assign specific tasks for maintaining data quality, it’s equally important to make sure everybody’s onboard.

Also, keep in mind that you can’t manage what you can’t measure, so you need to choose a relevant set of KPIs and benchmarks to gauge how well your data hygiene initiatives are performing.

 

  1. Know when and how to look for expert help.

In some cases, outsourcing part of your data hygiene program to a data quality solutions provider is a more practical option than doing it yourself. For instance, enriching your prospect data for improved segmentation is best done with a third-party data provider, since doing this in-house can take up time and resources which could be better spent elsewhere.

So, take stock of your current data hygiene capabilities, and let a reputable data quality solutions provider handle those activities that you’d have a hard time carrying out in-house.

Now that you’ve nailed down what a data hygiene action plan should contain, it’s time for you to flesh out concrete ideas for maintaining data quality. Use these five points as guidelines, and be sure to track, test, and tweak your strategy.

The 5 Cases Where It’s Okay to Buy a B2B Contact Database

buy b2b contact databaseIf you go around asking whether to buy a B2B contact database, chances are you’d soon end up being chastised for simply just thinking about it. This is a little unfortunate, since a bought list sometimes makes more business sense. In fact, there are specific cases where buying a list can potentially bring you better results than taking the organic route.

The main reason why a lot of marketers advise against buying B2B contact databases is that people tend to use purchased lists for spamming contacts. While this is a valid point, the truth is that it still boils down to how you use a bought list that determines whether you’re engaging in spammy activities. So with that aside, here are five situations where it’s really okay for you to buy a B2B contact list:

 

Case 1:  Your solution solves a real pain point.

Early-stage investor and serial entrepreneur Jason Lemkin raises this very interesting idea. If you can solve a real pain point, outbound marketing will always work for you.

The same can be said about using a bought prospect list in your campaigns. When your solution fixes an urgent issue or fulfills a pressing need that your target buyers are experiencing right now, why wait for leads to naturally start trickling into your funnel? Why not reach out to them and deliver value right away?

 

Case 2:  You’ve clearly identified your target prospects.

In an eye-opening post, creative strategist Jake Jorgovan shares the story behind his cold email campaign that landed him a consulting project with a bunch of new customers including some Fortune 500 clients.

Among the key points he mentions is that he was only able to build a cold email list after knowing exactly who the target audience was. So, instead of sending generic templates, he came up with relevant, compelling email messages that cold prospects were interested in.

 

Case 3:  You’re targeting a high-turnover industry.

It’s no secret that marketing data has an expiration date. MarketingSherpa places the average rate of database decay at about 2.1% per month or around 22.5% each year. For some industries, this can reach as high as 6.1% every month.

So if you’re targeting decision-makers in an industry where people tend to change job titles or move to new locations relatively frequently, one way to keep up is through using bought contact databases from a reputable list vendor.

 

Case 4:  You don’t have the resources to build a list at scale.

Aside from the time investment required to help your B2B list reach critical mass, organically growing your database also needs tons of effort and the right kind of expertise.

That’s why, if you’re unable to make all these necessary commitments, buying a contact list is a more viable option. What you’re paying for when you buy B2B contact database goes beyond list records. You’re putting resources where they’re needed the most.

 

Case 5:  You’re expected to deliver results in the near-term.

Let’s say your revenue goal for this quarter is $300,000, the average deal size is $10,000, and your sales cycle is around two weeks. That means you need to close 30 deals. At a close rate of 5%, you need to generate at least 600 new leads by the first half of the quarter to reach your targets.

While we’ve played around with figures in our hypothetical scenario above, the main point is that hitting sales targets is still pretty much a numbers game. In most industries, B2B conversion rates (lead-to-opportunity and opportunity-to-close rates) simply aren’t in your favor, so you need to start out with a large number of relevant prospects to get any meaningful results further down the funnel.

If you find yourself in any of the above situations, then by all means start looking for a trusted list vendor right now. Don’t pay too much attention to people who think they know what’s good for your campaign. Instead, let your solution, audience, industry, capabilities, and objectives decide whether you should buy a B2B contact database.

Never One Without The Other: Email Marketing and Email Database

Never One Without The Other: Email Marketing and Email Database

I found articles that say, “Email is Dead” and “Buying an Email List is a No-no” a faux. It’s definitely not the case, not if you know how to make your email marketing strategy a killer and purchase an effective email database.

Email marketing is one of the distinct ways in B2B marketing strategies that enables you to reach not just random people but actual C-Level personas in any business industries. We know that more than just being professional and direct in talking to these people, being informative is also a requirement. For these business minded individuals who needs data-driven information to fabricate logical solutions for their business, you need to educate them how your network is of significance to finding such solutions. This educational approach can be satisfactorily provided by an email. Even now, email marketing continues to expand as it has become the most known channel in prospecting. It has been taken advantage to deliver content creatively. For in email marketing, you can easily present what you want for your client through the content. It is important to note that you have to educate them first before offering them your service right away. You can condense data that you want your client to see. It can make them discern that you are very much involving them with a correct data that would be genuinely useful for them in the future. Also, you can usher them to your business’s website by suggesting it to them in case they need to further check information.

Eventually, you need to acquire an email database. This can be just the right shortcut to extending your network to numerous B2B leads. Buying a B2B email list is convenient than collecting address from a sign-up form on a website or opt-in collection campaigns through an advertising service as it saves time building an email list. This also allows any marketer to rapidly reach many people with information about his service or product, especially demographics that he may otherwise not be able to reach; thus, expanding access to new markets. What’s more is that you get yourself a whole lot of treat like generating response rate, boosting open rates and more if you get yourself a good deal from good email list provider.

Amidst challenges, email marketing continues to be one of the best lead sources for B2B companies and email database is still at large in optimizing the said marketing strategy.