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Is it Possible to Send Personalized Emails at Scale?
Outbound sales used to be a zero-sum game of finding the right balance of quality and quantity in your communications. You could either send a generic message to a lot of people which didn’t convert well, or you could handcraft a few high-converting messages. Finding the right balance between volume and quality could only give a marginal improvement in the overall number of leads generated.
To see your leads skyrocket, you want a system for sending personalized emails at scale.
If you are not using email for outbound sales, you should be.
- It is easy to automate and iterate.
- You can bypass gatekeepers and get your message directly in front of the decision makers who you want to buy your product.
- It is so stable you can predict your revenue based on the number of people you contact.
The obvious advantage of email is that it is easy to reach out to many people at once. It being effortless to send emails to almost anybody has left everybody doing outbound, including us, scrambling to find new ways to maximize the number of warm leads we generate from each group of prospects. We found that we needed to personalize emails more.
Why should I send more personalized emails to my prospects?
Far too many companies practicing outbound think that targeting is the only way to improve positive responses. By the time they get to crafting their messages, they think putting their prospect’s name at the top of the message is enough to make it personalized. They are wrong.
An Aberdeen Group study found that top-performing companies used heavy personalization in their emails. They defined heavy peronalization as, “Individual emails… personalized with name and/or other profile information, information on purchase history, product, or service recommendations, etc.” The companies performed almost 4 times better than companies that lagged behind.
Not wanting to lag behind, we decided to see what heavy personalization could do for us with our own lead gen efforts. Over 30,000 campaigns, we started doing more than just sending a standard message to prospects who we thought we could help. Instead, we began tailoring each message to each recipient. The result was a 10% positive response rate boost without having to contact anymore prospects than before.
From this experience, we found that personalized emails needed to fulfill three criteria to be effective.
A personalized email does three things. It:
- stands out from the rest of your prospect’s inbox by building rapport with them.
- speaks to the specific pain points that you can solve for the customer.
- shows you did your homework about the prospect.
To stand out in your prospect’s inbox, your email needs to be personalized early in the first paragraph. 24% of people look at the preview first when deciding whether to open an email. Don’t waste that opportunity talking about yourself or your company. Build rapport with your prospect by bringing them into the conversation.
Here is an example of a personalized email in your prospect’s inbox:
It shows that this was written about the recipient’s situation (as a CEO) and builds rapport (suggests the sender is a CEO asking a collegial question).
The next thing it should do is speak to the specific pain points that your company will solve for that customer. You can see what I mean in this example:
The sender has identified a pain point that this specific prospect is likely to face (insecure and hassling verification procedures) and explained the specific value they can provide. Additionally, both by building rapport over a specific situation the prospect is in (a conference they both attended) and addressing such a personal issue for the prospect, the sender has shown that he has done his homework about the prospect. This is not a message that has been sent to a large amount of people.
This is where most people hit a wall. It would take too long to write a new personalized email for each recipient. For outbound sales to be viable it needs to be able to scale. How can it be worth it to send a personalized email if the benefits you gain from personalization are lost because you are launching fewer campaigns?
It is possible to generate personalized emails for large groups of prospects at scale.
There are three techniques you can use to personalize emails. They all achieve the same result of sending your prospects a personalized email, and you can create a template for all of them. Where they differ is in the way you add personalized information. While the first two take a lot of time, the third personalizes at scale.
Find new information about each prospect and add it to your template.
- This method is thorough but time-consuming. Basically, find out what you can about your prospect and then work it into your template email in the appropriate place.
Look for the same piece of information about each prospect.
- This is a bit easier than rewriting your messages each time. It can also be automated. Leave space in your email template (called a custom field in most email automators) for a certain type of information. It could be the place where you last saw that person or, another person at their company. Then make a spreadsheet of all of the custom additions you want to make. When your spreadsheet is loaded into your email tool, the information from the spreadsheet will be added to each customer field, personalizing each message.
Here is an example of what I mean. You need to tailor the information in the braces to your prospect while leaving the rest the same.
Write an email with personalized details and then find people who match those details.
- What we have found is that a targeted prospect search is quicker and easier than modifying an email. Using this approach, you write a personalized email that targets a specific type of prospect. Then, instead of matching information to your prospects, search for prospects who would find that message useful and personal.
In this example, we searched for companies that use Marketo for marketing automation.
With a targeted prospecting tool, it takes less time to search for prospects than it does to personalize each email. You get all the advantage of a personalized email while still being able to scale.
There is even more you can do to improve your positive response rates.
Personalization is only one of the things you can do to improve your positive response rate. Once you have nailed your message and targeting, you can go on to optimize your message, timing, and the sequence of messages. By scaling the way you send personalized emails, you will be able to leave incremental improvement behind and watch the leads role in.