June 29, 2017

why automated lead generation needs to be a qualitative process

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of why automated lead generation needs to be a qualitative process, let’s talk a little bit about what happens when you focus too much on quantitative lead generation. Emails sent in bulk are glaring spam triggers, especially when you send the exact same copy to all prospects in rapid succession. Nurturing prospects and turning them into valuable leads is easier said than done and that’s because, without a streamlined process, you can’t make it work. Generic messages wrapped in an email won’t help you win leads.

In this blog post, I will be explaining the importance of a qualitative outbound lead generation process by tackling the consequences of a non-qualitative approach, outlining the dangers of spam and highlighting the attributes of good email copy and how to improve it so that it becomes qualitative.

What I mean by qualitative outbound lead generation

Qualitative outbound lead generation is a scalable lead generation where an increase in numbers does not result in a decrease in quality. The data that is used is relevant, accurate, valid and the way you reach out to prospects is not through some sort of a bulk generic message but rather through a one by one email approach that is conforming to the attributes of the recipient.

In order to better understand why automated lead generation needs to be a qualitative process, let’s take a look at the consequences of a non-qualitative approach.

Consequences of a non-qualitative outbound lead generation approach

The SPAM folder is your emails’ next home

A non-qualitative outbound lead generation approach will get your emails in the recipient’s spam folder and that’s a silent killer because you don’t really know when your emails are going into the other person’s spam folder. You only see a decrease in open rates and you might be blaming your subject line for the open rate but the real reason could be that you just have high spam triggering.

One of the causes for being marked as spam is that your copy is too generic, or you are sending emails in bulk instead of 1 by 1. Some are outgoing server spam triggers. For example, some email service providers will mark you as potential spam if you are sending emails to 200 different people or more per day. Whether these emails are going in succession or on the same second also matters. Moreover, if the copy of every email that you’re sending is the exact same, you will be marked as potential spam.

This is how things pile up. You have 200 messages going out with the exact same copy, and if you’re using an “on behalf” or “signed by” kind of server sending of emails (e.g.: a software that sends bulk emails not directly from your email box but it sends them on behalf of your email), those will most likely end up in spam as well.

In short, here is a list of things that you should avoid or take into account when sending emails:

  1. Role-based email address (info@, hello@)
  2. Email being sent from a third party server
  3. Generic copy
  4. Bounce rate
  5. Mass emails
  6. Bad server rating
  7. Spammy words in the subject or body of the email
  8. Your email address being marked as spam by the recipient in the past

Other important things you should pay attention to are the following:

Your emails shouldn’t look like typical spam emails. What does that mean? Emails that only have a large image and no text, that use “IP-address only” links, that don’t have the character-set used correctly, that are not written in a personal way, etc. Moreover, be sure to make it easy for the reader to unsubscribe or opt-out if you don’t want them to press the “spam” button – action that will damage your reputation.

Don’t lie or fake headers and make sure you always include the following: Date, From Subject, Sender, Reply-To,  To/Cc/Bcc – depending on the case).

Choose a “clean” SMTP server. IP addresses of spamming SMTP servers are often blacklisted by other providers. If you don’t have the option to select an SMTP server, make sure to configure your options regarding batch sizes and the delay between batches.

Use email authentication methods (e.g:  SPF, Domain Keys) to show that your emails and your domain name are linked. This way you also prevent your domain name from being spoofed. Check your reverse DNS and see if the IP address of your mail server points to the domain name used for sending emails.

The reply-to address of your emails must be valid addresses. Use the full, real name of the addressee in the To field (e.g. “John Doe” <john.doe@example.com> ). Make sure to monitor your abuse accounts, such as abuse@example.com and postmaster@example.com.</john.doe@example.com>

Bad copy burns even good leads

This is more about the second half of the outbound lead generation process where you’re reaching out to your prospects. It doesn’t necessarily refer to the data gathering itself but more to the way you reach out to your prospects. Even if the prospects that you are reaching out to are relevant, but your email copy is not good, then they will not be converted into a call. If your copy is bad like in the examples here, even the perfect lead will say: “Don’t email me again.” That’s why email copy is super important and it needs to be qualitative. You can definitely optimise it and automate it but the core basic idea of it needs to be adjusted to the prospect and be relevant for them.

How to create great email copy that converts

Copy matters because it’s how you establish a relationship. In order to achieve this, you need to tell your prospects what’s in it for them and make that as clear and concise as possible. In order to build trust and create a relationship, you need to explain the reasons why you’re contacting your prospects, how you found out about them, what you can do for them (specifically them, not the company, but their position). What’s in it for them for talking to you?

If you’re clear about that, you’ve gained their trust from the very beginning and have set the foundation for a solid collaboration.

Remember that good copy delivers results without pissing people off, triggers trust and builds relationships while acting as the main differentiator.

To achieve that, let’s go through the attributes of extraordinary copy as I presented them in a previous blog post:

It’s personal

Great copy is written as a one-on-one personal email. It’s not a mass marketed email even though it’s sent automatically to several people. The tone of the message is very much “I’m talking to you.” Be upfront about “why” and “how”.

  • Why are you targeting them? – something personal.
  • Why are you emailing at all?
  • What’s in it for them?
  • Why should they follow the call to action?
  • Then the call to action (CTA).

It’s got a point of reference

The copy should have a point of reference: how did you find them – to avoid that “out of the blue” impression? What is the reference point? It doesn’t need to be a very strong link. A connection is a connection and it doesn’t make that much difference if you’ve met them personally or not. Just explain why they are being approached by you.

It helps build a connection

You need to build some sort of a connection with your prospects. You can do that by saying something relevant about their title. What you can typically say is something like: “I’ve found your profile on LinkedIn and had to say hello to a fellow salesman.” – convey a personal touch.

High bounce rates and many irrelevant leads

When automating your outbound lead generation process, customizability is very much dependent on the variables of the prospect. If the latter is working in X industry in a role that is Y and seniority level 10, then this info can be used to draft an email that automatically conforms to that person’s attributes. The more accurate and highly targeted the data is, the higher the chances for you to adjust your message so that it perfectly matches your prospects.

With mass mailing, your conversion rate may be of only 1-2%. However, with highly targeted data collection, where it’s always live data sources that you’re checking and getting data from, you are sure that the information is accurate, and that there are no outdated pieces of data. When the data is being gathered in a qualitative way, it’s validated to a level of 95% or higher. Assuming that the data you kept is not only valid and relevant, but it’s also very broad, it means that you have several different variables which you can use to automatically adjust your message.

The data you’ve gathered, along with the right software allows you to mass target prospects in a highly customised way. The result of the process is that: 1. you have less bounces and less irrelevant leads because the data is accurate and 2. your email doesn’t go into the spam folder because it is the exact email address of the receiver and he or she is the right person that you want to speak with, thus allowing you to target them with the right message.

How to have an outbound lead generation process that is scalable and qualitative

Scalability and quality are the two key objectives of your outbound lead generation process. Of course, you can achieve quality by looking for every person and send them perfect 100% accurate emails but that’s not really scalable and you can’t rapidly train other people to do it. It takes time. In this case, the work stays with the person who’s good at it and that’s a problem. The training of new people who can do the same thing will take some time and involve high costs. Still, at one point you will need to automate the process. It could be automated at the level of seniority. For example, a senior person comes up with the right text and junior sales reps are sending the emails, only copy-pasting and changing the text to some extent.

It all boils down to the same kind of thing that you can do with software that sends highly customised outbound mailings to very relevant and highly targeted prospects with messages that are conforming to who they are and what their needs are.

Automated lead generation needs to be a qualitative process above anything else. Stay away from sending bulk generic messages and opt for a one by one email approach that is conforming to the attributes of the recipient. Optimise and automate your email copy while making sure that the core basic idea of it is adjusted to the prospect and is relevant for them.