GUEST POST: Talk to People, Not Numbers: How Email Personalization Can Turn a Cold Lead Warm

Anne Gherini - Affinity

Originally published on Jan 8, 2018, on Huffington Post by Anne Gherini, VP Marketing for Affinity. Click here to see the original article.

Our inboxes are constantly flooded with sales pitches. Attend a single conference and you find yourself weeding through a slug of generic mass emails, that are little more than weak attempts to grab more of your money.

With the rise of new sales and marketing enablement technologies, teams are now able to increase their communication cadence with prospects by staggering rates. What this means is that they no longer need to be drowning in the clutter of their inboxes. Rising from the clutter and staying afloat requires strategy, not force.
Dynamic Fields Don’t Equate To Personalization
Data is now viewed as a commodity. It has become commonplace for sales and marketing professionals to use data to develop and deploy more personalized communications. The challenge is that most of these efforts are highly superficial. Merely adding a dynamic field or two into a mass blast and deeming it “personalized” is a recipe for disaster. Savvy executives can spot these ill-conceived attempts miles away and are all too eager to delete or send them to “junk”.

True personalization entails effort and thought. It’s important to not only understand “who” you are sending a messages to, but also “what” current problems they face and how can your product or service solve them.
4 Tips for Personalization:

1. Leverage Technology

With advancements in big data curation, sales and marketing teams now have access to an arsenal of information and data that was not available in the past. One of the most promising uses for technology is determining “who” should be included on your key prospect list.

Whether you are deploying a fully fleshed out Account-Based Marketing campaign or simply trying to break into a new key account, data can inform your strategy and point you in the right direction in terms of who has a high buying propensity for your offering.

Companies like iDatalabs can tell you not only which accounts are clients of your competitors, but also which accounts you have the highest likelihood of breaking into—any why.

2. Do Your Homework

Once you determine your key prospects, spend time researching the companies and the individuals that you are trying to connect with. While the amount of data on individuals is vast and useful, few actually take the time to review it.
  • Have they posted about their business objectives or challenges on social media?
  • Have they spoke at any recent events or conferences?
  • Have they authored blogs or written for any publications?
  • Do you have any mutual connections that can facilitate an introduction?

Tools like Affinity can tell you your best path to a introduction or referral to a given prospect. Even just referencing the connection’s name can thin the ice. Unlike LinkedIn, understanding the strength of the relationship is key.

There are mounds of vital information that can be easily surfaced and pieced together.

3. Keep It Authentic

Don’t try and cram every detail about your company, service, or product into an email. Focus on addressing the prospect’s current and most pressing issues.

Leverage the morsels of information that you’ve collected about them to weave together a personal message. Show them that they matter enough for you to spend the time to understand and identify with their problems.

Be upfront with what you are trying to achieve in your message. Trying to hide your initiatives under the guise of a pseudo relationship will only hurt you later in the process.

4. Spend Time On The Subject Line

Often sales people focus most of their time on crafting the content of a message and then haphazardly slap the subject line together at the last minute. Without an engaging subject line, no one will ever see the content you’ve so carefully crafted.

Don’t fall into the trap of creating clickbait just to increase your open rate. The bait and switch tactic will only cause consumers to resent your brand. I Focus on maximizing the click-to-open (unique clicks/unique open) rate as a gauge of whether your content is compelling and effective.

Referencing a reputable connection that you have in common with a prospect can be incredibly impactful. The contact shouldn’t just be someone your prospect is connected to via LinkedIn—he/she should be a strong connection that your prospect has established rapport with.

Make sure you know the connection well enough to ask them to facilitate an introduction or to mention their name. There’s little worse than discovering after the fact that your name was used to pitch a company that you don’t necessarily believe in.
Relationships are the Backbone to Business, Start Them Right
Personalized outbound messaging can be incredibly powerful if done correctly. It is your first stage of relationship building, so it is vital that you do it right.
Anne Gherini is currently VP of Marketing for Affinity. She is a performance and brand marketing executive, writer, and public speaker with over a decade of experience leading both B2B and B2C marketing teams.

Anne spent the first part of her career in the entertainment industry negotiating brand deals at Paramount Pictures and then Sony PlayStation. Anne then worked at several innovative startups focused on mobile, big data and machine learning.