In a challenging economic environment, making the most of resources and opportunities is essential. Finding ways to generate more qualified leads with fewer people and less budget is the key to survival.
In a Viewpoint published in July 2009, I provided seven tips to boost sales in a sluggish economy. This article covers eight additional tips, or back-to-basics ideas, to help accelerate lead flow and sales without breaking the budget. As with the first seven tips, many of the following ideas are quick and easy to execute and best of all, require little to no cost.
- Pause to Listen
Learn from prospects by listening to their needs. Find out what's important to them using engaging surveys, then incorporate the valuable data you've collected to craft future communications. Be sure to include open-ended questions that capture their exact use of wording. If you're simply copying what a competitor is doing instead of listening to what your customers are telling you, you'll likely lose the battle, especially if that competitor has a larger bank account and stronger endurance.
- Assure Delivery and Avoid Spam Flags
Avoid using spam flags including, but not limited to:
There are both free and paid services that check emails against common spam mistakes prior to sending. Be sure the email solution uses advanced deliverability technologies. After all, developing a well-crafted email isn't very useful if it never reaches the prospects' inbox. A dedicated IP address helps to control a reputation, as opposed to being grouped with others using the same solution for email.
- all capital letters;
- exclamation points; and
- spam words and phrases (e.g., free, offer, hidden).
- Don't Drop the Ball
Go the extra mile and make sure follow-ups are a part of the email program. Automated emails should be scheduled to occur once a prospect has engaged with the content. Activity triggered emails control the message and assure timely follow-up even if the salesperson is out of the office.
- Feed the Monster
Over 70 percent of data changes each year. Therefore, databases quickly become moving targets. Prospects change companies, roles, email addresses, and take on more responsibilities. Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective tools marketers can use to continuously add prospects to the database and make sure the serviceable market is being covered.
- Alter the Schedule
Change up the outbound email schedule to see what works best for the market and individual prospects. While early in the week tends to work best for B2B markets and Thursday afternoons for consumer markets, varying times of the day or just before a holiday or weekend may be just what it takes to make contact. Everyone else may be trying to reach targets during the first same days of the week--testing which times work best for you may prove to be an opportunity.
- Forget the Hard Sell
The hard sell is even harder in a down economy. Working to become a trusted resource of information with a continual stream of quality content helps prospects learn and works to build trust. In turn, it will also minimize opt out rates.
- Repurpose Existing Content
Repurposing content is an easy and cost-effective way to stretch dollars. Take existing content and approach the same subject from a different angle, or try a new format of presenting your information. Keep your messages fresh to hold onto prospect interest, but there's nothing wrong with reinforcing core messages from a new perspective.
- Keep One on Reserve
This is not the time to miss opportunities. Missing a scheduled message is a lost opportunity to connect with and nurture a prospect. Be sure to have a backup piece of content and message ready just in case your current project doesn't come together in time. Rewrite a top 10 list, or replay a Webinar as an adequate Plan B.
Bonus Tip #9: Always add a PostScript (P.S.) to outbound communications. With an average response rate increase of a tenth of 1 percent, a PostScript is well worth the extra effort.
About the Author
Jim Meyer (firstname.lastname@example.org) is vice president at marketing solutions provider eTrigue. He has more than 20 years of experience marketing products from wireless silicon to consumer electronics.
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For the rest of the October 2009 issue of CRM magazine please click here.