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Which e-mail Campaigns Deliver More: Broad-based or Account-based?

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Every day, it gets more difficult to capture the attention of busy professionals using a broad-based e-mail marketing campaign.

More and more companies are adopting automation tools for content-based e-mail marketing campaigns that typically focus on the top few generic topics faced by everyone in their database. For most marketers who use this approach, the key performance indicators (KPIs) involve tracking and capturing opens, click-throughs, and responders. The next step is an automated drip follow-up campaign to nurture these leads and take them to the next level.

The entire process is a numbers game for the marketing team. The more responders they get, the more potential leads there are that can be nurtured and turned over to the sales team — and the more likely they are to hit their KPIs.

But what if, instead of playing a numbers game, you targeted ten key accounts that your sales team wanted to acquire? And what if you identified two or three contacts at each accounts? Then, you could create an e-mail campaign directly relevant to the targeted individual. It would include a few insightful data points or messages that the recipient could relate to — and they would appreciate the value you provide in helping them solve their issues and improve performance.

I get literally hundreds of e-mails every day, and I actually study the good, the bad, and the ugly to constantly improve what we do at Richardson Sales Performance. First, let’s look at a broad-based e-mail and then compare it with a more specific account-based one. Both cover the same topic: improving search engine results based on keywords.

Here is one of the “ugly” and impersonal broad-based e-mails:

Dear James,

I hope all is well. Did you know that 63% of all buyers will use search engines during the ever-changing buying process to find out information about your company? In today’s ever-changing world of internet marketing, it’s crucial to fully optimize your website and show up when someone searches for you … Download our free report on 5 Ways SEO is changing marketing.

My first reaction: Really?

Who sends a senior vice president of marketing an e-mail about the importance of SEO? If I didn’t already know this basic information, I and my company would be in serious trouble.

My second reaction: How cold and impersonal was that?

The e-mail was addressed to James. Everybody knows me as Jim, so there’s some bad data mining going on there.

But this ugly e-mail only gets better. Three minutes after I received the first one, I received an exact duplicate addressed to Jim and then another one for Jimmy. Finally, I received a fourth one addressed to Dear Info. I’ll give them points for persistence, but the impersonal and generic approach made them zero for four in terms of response.

My second example — a “good” account-based approach, follows:

Hey Jim,

As a courtesy, I just completed a brief analysis of your website and how it is ranking on the major search engines. First, let me tell you how impressed I am with your ability to rank #1 and #2 for so many major keywords related to sales training and sales coaching. I know how difficult it must be to achieve these rankings. Second, I would like to take the opportunity to briefly talk with you about how you may be able to improve your exposure even more with a secondary focus on building long tail keywords, by doing XYZ and ABC to your landing pages… I have included a PDF file of one of your landing pages with some suggestions. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this strategy with you and how XYZ may be able to help.

This is more like it. The e-mail is personal and immediately got my attention. It not only addressed an important issue for me, it identified specific opportunities to improve long tail keywords. Overall, it was an insightful e-mail and provided me with some value-based suggestions. The salesperson really earned the follow-up call and a subsequent meeting.

Don’t get me wrong. Broad-based e-mail campaigns still have a place in the marketing and sales communication mix. They can provide timely higher-level information and help build a brand for your company. Just be sure to scrub your database from time to time to keep it current.

Specific account-based e-mails are much more focused and can provide a deeper level of value to the recipient. Yes, these campaigns are much more difficult to create — and time-consuming. To get it right, you have to research target companies and craft a very specific message, delivering relevant insights into a perceived need. You will typically spend more time in development and produce a smaller demand generation waterfall. You may have to explain your rationale when your KPIs drop.

The payoff, though, can be well worth it. If done right, an account-based campaign that provides relevant insights will provide much more value to the targeted individual and drive more qualified opportunities and hopefully closed pieces of business

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