SalesTech Star

Email Prospecting For Sure-Fire Sales Success

By Ryan Welmans, CEO, Sopro

The global Covid-19 pandemic forced many brands to adjust their strategy to interact and communicate with their customers digitally. This significant digital shift, which initially started as a crisis response, gave email marketing an unexpected boost as other B2B marketing channels became unavailable or unviable.

Prospecting proved to be the big winner, outperforming the other B2B channels and offering almost instant results as email engagement rates soared. What became abundantly clear is that this new digital reality is here to stay. The majority of B2B sales and marketing teams are showing an increasing appetite for prospecting as a means of growing leads and sales. Many sellers also believe digital prospecting is as effective as in-person meetings to connect with existing customers.

Our inaugural The State of Prospecting report – based on 25 million-plus emails sent over five years across 82 key industries – contains a treasure trove of consummate data to guide marketers towards greater sales success. The statistics come from the unique perspective of active B2B buyers and companies already running prospecting campaigns.

The report offers an eye-opening summary of the findings and reveals how marketers can send the best outreach emails.

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Key data findings

How you write emails has changed significantly. Whereas pre-pandemic emails were quick, straight-to-the-point messages, marketers must now tailor them to be more empathetic. Be careful, though, that you don’t come across as insincere.

Our data indicate that the perfect email length is 150 words in terms of structure. While the best time to send an email isn’t an exact science, we found that emails sent at midday on a Wednesday and 11 am on Thursdays deliver the highest lead rates.

The data further verified that the third email in a prospecting sequence gets the most responses. The optimal response time is at 11 am on a Monday, so prime your sales teams to be at the ready.

Sopro’s research has also uncovered the best industries and job titles for open and response rates. It found that any job title that includes the term “founder” is responsible for the best open rate, while Media Production tops the log with the best industry open rate at 45.9%. The best responders are payroll managers who reply to 39% of sales emails, while the Government Administration takes the top spot as the best responders industry, replying to 30.2% of all emails.

Wider prospecting target

It wasn’t just medical supplies, as had been the norm, that was the perfect target industry for prospecting during the pandemic. Open rates, response rates and lead rates increased for many other sectors too. Admittedly, industries such as recruitment, education and tourism did suffer, but they had already begun to recover in the first half of 2021.

According to our data, 20% of prospecting campaigns performed better than pre-pandemic, while 67% performed the same. Only a tiny fraction (13%), performed worse than pre-Covid levels.

Who should use prospecting?

Businesses that don’t have a reliable lead flow or are looking to expand and want a manageable lead flow for their sales team would benefit the most from email prospecting. They can also avoid the considerable competition and costs associated with PPC in the process.

Email prospecting has repeatedly proven itself as the channel with the highest ROI, with 73% of marketers rating it as their top digital channel for ROI. Email is also the preferred choice of communication for most B2B buyers.

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Prospecting predictions

1. Intent data set to become a blue-chip arms race.

When it comes to B2B sales engagement, customer intent data is fast becoming the new battlefield.

As B2B mar-tech platforms continue to evolve from generic bulk email to supporting specialist, personalised, conversational, and highly targeted outreach campaigns, the increasingly limitless access to demographic and firmographic targeting data leaves little to be desired in the marketing boardrooms.

With the right message regularly reaching the right person in the right business.  The final remaining hurdle is to send that message at… just the right time.  And there-in lies the rub.  Intent data is hard to find, expensive to derive, difficult to standardise across industries… and all round it’s an expensive beast to tame.  Collation of, and access to innovative pools of intent insights will likely be the next multi-billion-dollar sales engagement battlefield.

2. Personalisation is coming into land.

Linking the B2B prospecting platform with your corresponding website has recently enabled a powerful new type of web personalisation and tracking at little to no cost.  Furthermore, this new form of personalisation is simple enough to administrate that it can be handled 100% by the marketing team, as opposed to tech.

Free, powerful, non-technical website personalisation is only going to stay in the box for so long.  Clear the decks.

3. Micro-gifting will explode into a popular lead-gen model.

We are already seeing the business case being proven in a variety of formats here.  Voucher based micro-gifting platforms increasingly integrate directly with sales outreach engines to enhance already personalised engagement sequences with advance thank-you gestures to encourage response.  Gift formats generally involve a mix of food and beverage options, from coffee vouchers, to “lunch on me” … cupcakes to wine and spirits.   I can tell you first hand that response rates go through the roof so the adoption curve is incredible right now.

Across all industries, lead quality and generating enough leads are the two biggest digital marketing challenges companies face. Insights from our report provide the ultimate guide to help with this, as well as a forecast of the future of email marketing – a trend that’s set to grow further in 2022.

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