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The Green Sheet Online Edition

February 09, 2015 • Issue 15:02:01

Street SmartsSM

Emails: Selling through rain, sleet or snow

By Tom Waters and Ben Abel
Bank Associates Merchant Services

Imagine for a moment you accept a job in a sales office, and today is your first day. Excitedly you show up prompt and ready to start closing deals. The sales manager meets you in the front, discusses some formalities and leads you back to the salesroom, getting you hyped along the way.

As the door opens you gaze upon the sales floor. People hurry around like ants frothing in and out of a colony. Light shines in from broad windows down upon rows and rows of desks, all stocked with the newest and latest … telegraph machines and abacuses? The sales manager beams with a large smile, obviously pleased with what lays before you, and starts off with the intent of leading you to a desk.

Where do I park the horse and buggy?

How could this be possible? With all the advances of modern technology, like computers and digital customer relationship management (CRM) tools, why would this sales office neglect using tools that would so obviously assist them in closing sales?

This is the same question we ask when someone tells us they're not taking advantage of emails in their sales process. When you have a tool with such a proven track record at your disposal, why wouldn't you use it? Some marketers will vociferously tell you that they've found email to deliver the highest return on investment of any marketing channel available.

The big question though, and the true measure of your potential for success, boils down to the methods you use to harness this tool. If you're merely purchasing an email list and then blindly sending out a blast, with no tools or metrics associated, there is a good chance you will become part of the irrelevant white noise of spam.

If you've ever turned off your spam filter for a day, or taken a peek in your spam folder, you know that's a crowd you have no interest in being a part of. We can't all have rich Nigerian cousins willing to handsomely reward us for safe keeping $1 million for them, can we?

Where do you shop for tools?

We turned to the The GS Online MLS Forum to find out your thoughts on using emails. A universal consensus we drew from the replies was the need for analytics and tracking. Without these features, email is no more useful a tool than a Styrofoam hammer.

User rbelcher expressed this point well, stating, "Yes, yes and yes, emails are useless if you cannot see if opened, when opened, if forwarded [and] how many times viewed ... it is great when we see they open it we call them and ask if they have questions, they freak out and always ask how we knew they just viewed it."

User TheCreditCardMan echoed this sentiment, saying, "Some emails are not opened for a week, a month or for many months. Some prospects file the info and re-look at it a year later; that is when they freak out the most on a quick call back."

We cannot agree with this enough. There is nothing that will give you a more other-worldly aura than when you just happen to serendipitously call right after the prospect has gotten around to viewing your email or presentation. Did the stars just align properly for this opportunity to come to fruition? Was it destiny for them to upgrade to an EMV (Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) chip card compatible terminal?

There are a host of available mail services you can use to gain this technology induced mystical quality. I've had the most experience with Yesware for tracking emails and Boomerang to schedule them. Forum users also recommended several other email tools and platforms that you may find are more compatible to your specific needs. Neither we, nor The Green Sheet, specifically endorse or recommend any of these services; rather, we seek to help you become aware of the options available.

The services used by members of the forum were:

  • ClearSlide, used by Bigred_dave
  • Swiftpage, used by rbelcher
  • Pointofmail.com, used by TheCreditCardMan

So … much … data …

Considering there are so many emails flowing through various kinds of email services you would think someone would try to aggregate that data and look for trends. Well, if you thought that, then you were 100 percent correct: someone would. The Yesware blog runs a series called Data Insights in which analysts review the information that flows through the Yesware system and look for patterns that can make managing sales emails a more efficient process.

Here are some highlights Yesware pulled from a sample of over 500,000 emails in the first quarter of 2014:

  • 91.24 percent of emails are opened on the first day with 89.74 percent of replies occurring that same day. On day two the open rate drops to 1.68 percent, with a reply rate of 3.06 percent. This implies that if you haven't heard back after the first 24 to 48 hours, it's unlikely you will at all. It's not impossible, but it's much less likely to happen. In this case, it may just be worth sending a follow up message.
  • Only 30 percent of people replied on the first email. On email number two that went to 21 percent, and email number three was 18 percent. We can draw from this that if you don't hear back on your first attempt, it is worth trying again a second or third time. Email open and reply rates are highest on the weekend: 45.8 percent compared to the 39.1 percent on weekdays. This could be due to minimal inbox competition, but it also means that experimenting with the day an email is sent can have an impact on whether your email is read or not. Surprisingly Monday through Friday all shared relatively equal open and reply rates.
  • 6 to 7 a.m. had the highest read and reply rate of any time during the weekday. That rate dips a bit around 8 a.m., spikes around 9 a.m., and then drops, remaining consistently depressed through the entire day until around 7 p.m. The highest midday rate occurred at 1 p.m., although it was still paltry when compared to the 6 to 9 a.m. or 7 to 8 p.m. slots.

How accurate is your accuracy?

As salespeople, sales managers and sales departments, we scour the landscape for anything that will give us a leg up on our competition. How can I jump a little higher, run a little faster, push a little harder? In the course of our Street SmartsSM column we have looked at several tools you can employ to improve your personal skill set, your team and network, and your chances for success in the sometimes ruthless world of sales.

Knowing how to properly use emails in the sales process is another tool that it would behoove you to not overlook. These analytics and tools exist for you to craft and measure an email campaign with the same precision as a Vernier caliper. The alternative is emails flying out wildly like shrapnel spewing from a factory explosion. The choice is yours, but be forewarned, the spam folder is not a forgiving place.

Side Note:

Further insights on email as a marketing tool

Following are four additional articles from our archives that contain information on effective use of email in sales and marketing:

  • "Merchant lifecycle marketing in acquiring," by Marc Abbey, The Green Sheet, Dec. 22, 2014, issue 14:12:02
  • "Marketing: Getting your brand out there," by Michael Gavin, The Green Sheet, Feb. 24, 2014, issue 14:02:02
  • "Empower your email," by Brian Jones, The Green Sheet, Dec. 24, 2012, issue 12:12:02
  • "How to use email marketing to boost leads," The Green Sheet, by Peggy Bekavac Olson, June 13, 2011, issue 13:06:01
end of article

Tom Waters has been dedicated to the merchant service sales profession since 2001. Currently, he is responsible for cultivating relationships with entrepreneurs in information technology, accounting, sales and marketing in his role as Sales Director of Bank Associates Merchant Services (www.bams.com). Using fresh and matter-of-fact training methods, Tom has contributed to the success of thousands of agents, affiliates and clients. He can be reached via email through t.waters@bams.com or via phone at 347-651-1065.

Ben Abel is Regional Director at Bank Associates Merchant Services. Since joining the team in 2006, he has risen through company ranks with a paradigm that his success was measured by the success of those around him. Ben is a dedicated, pioneering trainer whose methods of merchant services consultation have helped many agents expand their portfolios in terms of processing volume, deal count and profitability. He can be contacted at 347-866-9571 or ben@bams.com.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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