#lemlist Guest Post, written by Dmitry Chervony, CMO @Belkins
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Sometimes you craft a message that looks nice, original, and very readable. But, once you hit “Send,” your response rate barely rises above average, or freezes after one to two emails from your prospects.
In some cases, it can be fixed by adjusting pain points, changing your targeting, or cleaning up your emails from spam triggers.
However, the best way to fix your B2B email templates is to take them down and craft new ones. There are thousands of tricky little things that look harmless, but are killing your Sender Score and open rate without you knowing.
We’re not talking about subject lines or opening lines here, but about the messages that come from wrong targeting, misplaced use of company’s benefits, and misinterpreted prospect communication.
The goal of this article is not to point fingers, but to help you identify when it makes sense to edit your B2B sales templates, and when you should just rewrite them completely.
Centering your introduction emails around free trials
Ariel, our sales executive, once said, “Beware of free trials — they are evil.” In fact, he said it more than once, and each time he was right.
“But, why?” you might ask.
Isn’t it the best way to show that your service is good for your customers and let them have a test-drive before they make a decision?
That’s why an option to get a free trial of your product can instantly join the Dark Side and take all your prospects with it if it’s presented or realized in the wrong way — or if you offer a free trial for a service that doesn’t need it.
The Intercom report states that approximately 40-60% of prospects that sign up for app or service free trials don’t return to purchase the full version.
Also, research by Totango shows the following tendency:
Why does it happen?
Let's say you want to sell a SaaS product for booking business travel plans, so you send emails that offer your prospects free access to some features: hotel and flight booking, expense reporting, etc.
What could go wrong?
Case #1. Your prospects use the demo to book and manage their business travel once and don’t come back to buy the full version. They won’t be planning more business trips anytime soon, so why would they want to pay for the product that comes in handy once in a year?
Case #2. The product doesn't work out for your prospects the way they expected. Logically, they are disenchanted, confused, frustrated, and not in the mood for a purchase. However, this situation puts them in just the right mood for leaving a negative review on public platforms.
In the first case, you waste your time on the emails that don’t perform to their full capacity and actually encourage your prospects not to work with you.
In the second case (which is also the worst-case scenario) you lose your time, your reputation, and even more potential customers in the long run.
When you provide free access to your product, you're always at risk of opening the door to its exploitation. Does it mean that you should scrap free trial offers entirely?
This is where we're entering the grey zone because giving an absolute "No" or "Yes" won't be the right answer. We need some perspective here.
- According to Lincoln Murphy, using freemium allowed B2B and SaaS web apps to increase their conversions by 3%, while Slack grew by 30% in 2014.
- Ada Chen Rekhi states that free trials can bring from 1-10% to 50% conversion rate. The end result depends on many criteria that any B2B vendor should keep in mind:
Free trial type. Free trials can be introduced in many ways: from all-included free versions to free products with limited features. Choosing the right model allows you to increase the value of your product.
Market maturity. How big is the demand for your product? If your product or service is not here to displace and improve and there are many similar, yet more expensive offers, offering a free trial of the product with all it features will ultimately result in a free trial abuse.
Product price. When you’re introducing a costly service to your prospects, it’s important to avoid doing two things: providing them with an easy opportunity to opt out of the free trial while enjoying all its features and introducing them to a limited set of features that doesn’t let them to appreciate all the benefits of the product.
When the users are invited to use their free trial “whenever they want,” chances are they’re not going to use them at all. When the only thing to motivate them is an overly enthusiastic CTA, they won’t remember to use the offer.
For example, instead of merely mentioning your free trial, you can present it in one of the following ways:
- Would it be alright to schedule your free phone consultation for this Friday?
- To activate your 7-day free trial, follow the link to our website till June 24, 2019.
- Would you like to activate your free trial now.
By doing so, you change the entire dynamic of your message. You remind your prospects that they are decision makers. You create a sense of urgency and establish specific time brackets that must be followed.
This is how you build a relationship with your customers on the initial stages of the conversation.
Ignoring DMU in B2B
By the tone and style of an email, one can quickly tell that the message is meant for only one person in the entire company. They do their best to outline the needs of their recipient and show how their struggles can be solved.
If you craft your message with only one person in mind, you’re still doing it the B2C way. In B2B you’re talking to the entire group of people that call the shots.
Therefore, writing from the perspective of an individual is not enough. You should take all angles into account and ensure that the entire DMU will view your B2B sales email positively.
You can imagine what can go wrong when you send a very individualized email that revolves around the challenges and priorities of a CFO. But then, aside from the CFO, it’s read by a COO and even the CEO of the target company.
In B2B, the Decision Making Unit chooses services that benefit the company as a whole and not just one employee. If you fail to convey that, you lose your chance at securing a B2B relationship with your competitors.
If you decided to start your introduction with pressure points, make them simple and clear to every decision maker. Research will be your friend in achieving this.
For instance, at Belkins, there are three supporting pillars that make the sales process possible.
- Lead Research
Lead Research department is our power core. This is where lead data is gleaned from numerous data fields. Then, it’s enriched, filtered, segmented and handed over to other departments for processing.
- Our Lead Research teams start with in-depth marketing research.
- Next, they build an Ideal Customer Profile that compiles every trait and qualifiers that defines the DMU for our planned campaign. Those qualifiers include company size, technology stacks, annual revenue, monthly site visits and active hiring - as well as the most specific criteria such as location, event data, etc.
- Our research teams use many tools in their research including LinkedIn Sales Navigator to gather emails straight from the LinkedIn profile.
- We also use input from our current customers to outline how our target companies should be structured and what titles we should look for.
After we compile a list of potential customers, we segment them into following groups:
- Timing. Some organizations need a solution right here, right now. Others have created a plan for 10 years with a place for your product in it. In the first case, you should act quickly and time your messages with great precision. In the second, you must focus on discussing timelines and how your service will flow with the company’s pace.
- Need. We find out if our product is a fit for the company’s needs.
- Budget. We sort companies by budget to create a group with the best price fit to know which organizations to prioritize in our outreach.
Once all of that is done and we have all the data, we can start our outreach campaigns.
- Direct campaigns: There is a person with a title that is featured in the existing ICP and matches all the qualifiers, so sending an introduction email is the next logical move.
- Referral campaigns: The company matches the qualifiers, yet the title of the potential decision-maker is uncertain. In that case, our sales executives reach out to several employees, asking to refer them to the right person.
TL;DR: Talk to the company, not an individual. Don't send introduction emails unless you know the titles of your intended recipients and are certain about their core pain points.
Never forget to do your research before you launch your campaign.
3. Sales-y event follow-ups
Don’t you get annoyed when you give your email address to a company rep during an event, and the very next day you get a call suggesting you purchase a product?
This is a bad practice that shows the caller’s lack of concern or interest in the prospect beyond pushing them towards a sale.
Email follow-ups are no different in that regard. If you start your introduction with an instant sales offer, your email goes to the bin.
So, if you have a couple of B2B email templates that start like this:
Good day, Steve
We met at SMX West yesterday. It was nice to meet you. Would you like to take a look at our services?
... Just kill them. The sooner, the better.
Now with that said, how do you greet your prospects properly?
● Edit your emails. Read your email after you write it. Rinse and repeat until you’re 100% sure your message is free of spelling and grammar errors, and every word serves your ultimate purpose.
● Use different templates. Segment all the prospects you’ve met at the event. Create separate messages for the recipients you spoke with and the event speakers, and always mention how you got their contact data.
● Offer assistance. If you happened to discuss some of the pain points with your prospects, start your email by continuing this subject and offering your help.
● Motivate to speak, not to buy. When your prospects give you their contact data, they don't expect to buy. They hope to learn something interesting that will then motivate them to close a deal with you. They're looking for a dialogue.
● Keep connecting. If your prospects mentioned having a LinkedIn page, you can reach them there and communicate. Let your prospects see you as a professional, not a salesperson.
TL;DR: Don’t be pushy with the prospects you engage at the event. Start your communication with a discussion of the pain points. Show the ways you can be helpful to each other. Encourage your prospects to take a call with you or meet you again at the office or off premises.
4. More than one CTA
Tracking is important when it comes to cold outreach. More different CTAs won't just confuse your prospects, but also make it "harder" for you to monitor your results.
Two or three CTAs in one email is usually a symptom of uncertainty. It makes the sender look like they have no idea what they want their recipients to do, so they dump everything into one email- especially if they didn’t mean it.
At CompanyName, we provide DevOps and software development to small and medium-sized businesses. If you would like to learn more, you can find more information here.
Please let me know what you think about a call with me. I’d love to discuss our possible cooperation.
Thanks in advance.
What does the sender want from Steve? Do they want him to check out their website? Do they want Steve to pick a pricing package? Or do they want to schedule a call with Steve?
Steve has no clue.
Also, Steve is a busy guy, so instead of asking for clarifications, he will just mark the email for deletion and move on.
If you are unclear about what kind of action you want your recipients to take, maybe it makes sense to review your entire value proposition and the titles you're targeting.
The lack of clarity often stems from failing to identify the right decision makers. When you don't know who you will be addressing, you are unable to create the value proposition that will cover their pain points.
In general, it never hurts to review your CTAs from time to time. This is how you guarantee that they sum up your message accurately and give clear instructions.
TL;DR: Stick to one CTA per email. If you're unsure what your CTA should be, go back to your value proposition and target audience, do additional research, check the titles you want to address, and then rewrite your template.
5. Making your emails all about yourself
At some point, we all get hit with an email with the following message:
I'm Name from CompanyName, a global Fortune 500 brand that:
- has been on the market since 1991
- received 5 rewards
- has a team of Harvard graduates
- was referred by Bill Gates
- has been seeing extreme revenue growth since 2010
You’d probably love to call somebody as cool as that? Let me know what you think.
From the moment you finish reading, you can almost see the red carpet rolling out. What do you feel when you read this: trust, inspiration — or annoyance?
It’s natural to be annoyed with messages like this. Emails like this are not B2B offers. They are the sender’s ode to themselves.
Needless to say, our good pal Steve won’t be impressed. He doesn’t read his business emails during his working hours to simply learn about the achievements that are in no way related to his business or his pain points.
Therefore, he sees no point in taking a call and hearing the sender talk about themselves some more.
If outlining your company's achievements takes up more than a quarter of your email, redo your template entirely and leave all the advantages that don't cover the pain points of your prospects out.
TL;DR: Never forget about your prospects. Ever.
Right now, all of the emails mentioned above are the top five faulty B2B sales templates that senders are unaware of. If none of these examples look familiar, kudos to you for keeping an eye on your templates!
On the other hand, if a red flag just went off in your head, take a step back. Think your email outreach strategy through and always pay attention to the three most important variables: your audience, your data and your message.