Ah the lazy, hazy days of summer — well not really. I’m still attached to my computer working long days. Even with the long hours there’s just something about the summertime that provides extra headspace to spend time thinking and not just acting.
Maybe it’s the longer daylight hours, time spent lying on a lounge chair at the weekend, or the absence of colleagues and their demands on my time as they take a much-needed break. Whatever the reason, I find that the summer gives me mental energy to think about strategy and all sorts of things.
In the category of “all sorts of things,” I’d like to share some of the things that I’ve been pondering this summer and would welcome feedback if these topics have invaded your headspace as well.
Email Marketing Best Practices: What's the Sweetspot?
We’ve finally gotten to a place where we have a logical interconnected set of email flows that shift and change in response to customer behavior. It’s taken us a long time to get here, and we’re still at a pretty basic level, but nonetheless, it’s a big step forward.
Now with that in place we’re looking at how we refine what we’ve got and take it to the next level. To that end, I’ve recently responded to some of the promotional emails I’ve received from agencies and vendors about advancing our email marketing.
I had a conversation with one agency that I can’t stop thinking about. In discussing our requirements, the agency representative asked me about the frequency with which we send emails. We are a B2B SaaS company and typically send two to three emails a week, which if you do a search for best practices for email frequency seems like too much.
However, the agency rep responded with “that’s nowhere near enough!” His position was this — everyone is being bombarded with emails so it’s likely that the emails we send are getting lost among the long list of vendor emails in our prospects’ inboxes and that the answer to this problem is to "out email" everyone else in terms of quantity of emails. While I appreciate the logic behind this, you can easily imagine how this quickly becomes a nightmare scenario.
After our conversation I started searching for information on email frequency and while most articles were in the “less is more camp” and focused on best practices around segmentation, subject lines, send time and day etc., I did uncover a fascinating article that looked at email performance related to email frequency, and then business performance related to email frequency. They showed email performance (open rates, clicks etc.) decreased as email frequency increased, BUT order conversions increased as email frequency increased. This data is for B2C companies, and it makes sense to me as a target audience of one. I see promotional emails fly by all the time and very rarely click on them, but when I’m looking to shop, the brands that have been emailing me are top of mind, and I generally go searching for one of their promotional emails when I start to shop. It’s really the email equivalent of retargeting.
Does this translate to B2B? I think at some level it does. How many times have you said to a colleague, “What was the name of that company that does XYZ?” If that company was flying across your screen on a regular basis, it would be top of mind. On the flip side, the price point of our product doesn’t lend itself to a direct conversion so it’s important for us to drive engagement with our emails, we need our prospects to actually read them. For a low-cost SaaS product that may not be the case and a “more is better” may actually be a good strategy. For now, I’m going to keep analyzing our results and researching best practices as we refine our email marketing strategy and cadence.
Related Article: 10 Common Email Marketing Mistakes That Are Easy to Fix
The Cold Calling Dilemma
In the same vein as emails, internally we’ve been discussing our approach to cold calling. This is another dilemma; my team would prefer to de-emphasize them since “no one ever answers,” but I’ve noticed that when someone I can identify by name or company name calls and texts me multiple times a day, for several days in a row, I’m likely to eventually respond with a text or have a conversation.
My son is a B2B SaaS sales director, and his team makes on average eight calls per day to a contact they are targeting and they’ve found that to be effective. Again, I appreciate the logic behind this, but this too can quickly become a nightmare scenario — imagine if every vendor tried calling you eight times a day — yikes! We’ve started to experiment with call frequency to see if that produces any learnings, and I’m re-evaluating our customer journey in the context of both email and calls to see if we can land on a methodology that makes sense.
We definitely aren’t there yet with the basics and haven’t added SMS messaging to the mix, we’re still very adhoc in our approach so the first step will be to define a methodology that is consistent across the organization and that lends itself to testing and analysis.
Setting Guidelines for Video Camera On, Camera Off
Long before Covid, video calls were the primary way we interacted with prospects and customers. Today, it’s how we interact with everyone.
Over the last few years “Zoom fatigue” has become “a thing” due to the amount of time on camera and I for one, often judge my day by how many video meetings and interrupts lie ahead.
Having said that, I love this form of communication; it’s efficient, generally eliminates the awkwardness of conference calls, and is good for productivity. On the flip side, I don’t always want to turn on my camera. We have early-morning calls twice a week with my development team, based in India. We don’t use our cameras because of bandwidth issues, but recently, our project manager thought it would be helpful to see each other occasionally.
Unfortunately, the day she chose was one where I rolled out of bed and down to my office, so I either had the choice of being the only one not on camera or showing up in my pajamas and with bed head. In the end, I turned the camera on after some frantic repositioning of the camera and searching for a hairbrush, but it did get me thinking that we need to evolve the norms around video calls — to make it OK to not be on camera unless there is a reason to require it. Maybe this is overthinking the situation, but I’m inclined to introduce a company guideline around video participation to ensure that our team members know that they have the ability to opt out of being on camera.
Low-Code/No-Code Tools Winning Me Over
I’ve written in the past skeptically about the infiltration of low-code tools in marketing. Marketing teams are notoriously bad about tracking the technology they are using and introducing low-code tools, which allow for customization and add a whole other level of complexity for tracking and managing technology. I’m still not convinced they are going to take over the stack, but I’m softening when it comes to penetration.
Marketing technology is evolving rapidly, and the complexity of the large foundational platforms in a stack is now mind boggling. That complexity inherently makes it difficult to do anything quickly, which can be frustrating.
That’s where the attraction of low-code and no-code tools come in. Function specific, simple-to-customize tools bring balance to the tech stack and enable rapid iteration in key areas.
This week I quickly built three different types of calculators related to pricing and return on investment using Calconic. Calconic is intuitive, has good resources to help you when you get stuck and produces something that can be easily shared or embedded within a website. I’ve been using their free version but will be upgrading to their paid version as soon as I’m done with this article!
Another tool I’m intrigued with is PandaSuite; from an initial exploration it appears like I’ll be able to easily build my own information-centric app. If I can drag myself off my lounge chair on a weekend I’ll be digging into that tool.
A wise colleague once told me that what makes you tired as an entrepreneur is not the hours you work, but the hours you spend thinking about your business and industry. Even during supposed “downtime” I find it difficult to shut down mentally, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I like letting my mind wander and dwell on seemingly trivial things, sometimes these musing lead to big breakthroughs.
As I wrap this up, it is late Friday afternoon, the Mega Millions lottery is now at $1 billion. Someone told me it is worth buying a single lottery ticket for high value draws just for the fun of imagining from the time you buy the ticket to the time you lose how you could change the world with your winnings. So as I wrap up for the day, I’ll put aside my martech musings for a little while, buy a lottery ticket, and then daydream of all the things I could do if I won the lottery ... .