Tidbits of Data Can Become Megabytes of Info

You can imagine the increase in email messages in my inbox since I began writing this column. How do you make your message stand out to someone like me who is being nearly overwhelmed by email — and other types of sales messages?

Appeal to the fact that you know how busy I am. Use a tactic that lets me know that you can get your message across succinctly and that quickly allows us to mutually gauge whether there is interest. Try not to waste “our” time if there won’t be a benefit. After all, you haven’t gained much if you trick people into opening a message — and then disappoint them, and then maybe they unsubscribe (or perceive the message as spam and are angered enough to report you to your ISP).

Find a hook. Your customers or prospects have to see a benefit, not just value, in what you are offering. Make sure that you are focusing on benefits, and then try to ensure that you are speaking to them in a way that will make them feel that you understand the value of that benefit to them.

Last week, I learned some techniques from an experience I had that, although offline, is worth mentioning. The example below was effective for me because the salesperson respected my time. She did not drag out the conversation nor did she want to waste her own time or resources if the interest was not there. But what she did, expertly, was find out if I would be a worthy prospect to keep in touch with and contact in the future.

I had a voicemail message that just simply said, “This is V. I have a very quick question for you. Please return my call at [phone number and company name”.”

Because it was a company name with technology referenced in the title, my reaction was (1) curiosity as to what the question was — the request was posed as the caller needing assistance (which appeals to me) — and (2) “What is the hook?” I had my suspicions but was intrigued. I returned the call.

She first thanked me for returning the call. She then quickly said, “I have one question to which I need a brief yes, no, or maybe answer.” Basically, the answer was no, there is no synergy between her services and my company — but I responded with “not at this time,” and she was able to quickly understand that there might be an opportunity in the future. She got what she needed and, again, quickly ended the conversation by asking whether she could email me. Nice tactic. And I am sure that I will be receptive to future conversations because I felt that my time and needs were definitely being respected. Isn’t that what we all want?

I liken that experience to how you capture an email address and a small amount of information so that you can better offer something of value that will benefit your recipient. The prospect or even existing customer may not be ready when you approach him or her. You need to find subtle ways to gauge this, capture it, and then know how to follow up. At lead capture, and even at order point, adding a simple question to your form that is meaningful will allow you to build for the future, if not for the short term.

A great place to position this, if you are worried about creating hesitation at time of submission (order or lead), is in the welcome or acknowledgement email. Response may be lessened if you use the welcome email, and, more importantly, it is harder to get that data into a useful format. A word of caution: Be careful not to turn people off when you have them ready to provide email or credit card information. KISS always applies — how often do you shop with us, how did you hear about us, and so on. Remember to make these selectable answers, not text to type in. Keep the question brief and the answers simple. Make the answers selectable so that you capture data and not text. You will have better success drawing on that information in the future. Make sure you work with your database folks to, at a minimum, capture the information in the proper format, even if it has to be appended later.

Technology is always improving; so, even if you can’t do much with that information today, think about how to begin gathering it. The best email campaigns are targeted. You can’t target without having data on which to base your list or name selection in order to create a responsive list.

That’s it for this week. Jackie G. signing off. “See” you in September…

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