As outbound marketing evolves, once-popular strategies like cold calls and door-to-door sales are rapidly becoming extinct. Yet, email continues to be an outbound marketing staple. It’s far from being a new sales tactic, but even after all these years, it remains to be a fantastic marketing strategy. In fact, a majority of businesses still consider outbound email strategies to be their most valuable content marketing tool.
So, why has outbound email been able to survive the times? Contrary to the rigidity of other outbound marketing ploys, email is incredibly adaptable and can be optimized in a multitude of ways. Read on for an in-depth analysis of how recent optimization strategies make outbound email marketing so effective.
Quick, Strong Starts
Inbound marketing, or the prospect of converting potential customers who have shown prior interest in what you have to offer, is all the rage in advertising today. And it’s easy to understand why. Who wouldn’t enjoy a scenario in which you don’t have to go out and search for potential customers because they’re already waiting at your door?
But creating and managing content in order to sustain an inbound marketing campaign requires extensive amounts of money, time, and resources. That means you have to build toward it over the long haul. It’s not an endeavor that’s going to pay off on day one.
Sending outbound emails, on the other hand, requires less time and money. They reap practically instant results that steer you toward potential leads. Even when outbound email campaigns don’t succeed, you still gain valuable insight from the feedback you receive from your target audience, which informs you on how to adjust your email marketing campaign in the future.
With both cold calls and outbound email campaigns, contacting potential customers is usually preceded by consulting a highly researched prospects list that identifies strong leads. But whereas you can only talk to one person at a time on the phone, automation allows you to send an email to countless people at once.
In the past, the fear of mass marketing automation was that it causes emails to lose their personalized quality. But with the emergence of targeted automation, companies can send outbound emails on an automated basis that are tailored to not only specific demographics but also the phase of the purchasing process they’re in.
By sending your target audience relevant, compelling content that’s specific to them on a consistent, timely basis, you prove that you actually care about offering value to their specific situation. This builds trust and greatly increases your chances of the recipient becoming a loyal customer, or at the very least a recurring reader of your emails.
Scaling Your Campaign
Most outbound marketing methods aren’t conducive to trial and error. For example, it’s virtually impossible to measure how many people had a positive reaction to your billboard when they drove by it at 50 miles an hour. And for telemarketers, the only way to find out that you’re calling too often is when someone yells at you on the other end of the phone.
Data analytics attached to outbound emails, however, allow you to measure your emails’ performance and scale accordingly in several ways, such as:
- Adjusting how many CTAs buttons your email features (1-3 usually suffices), and where they are placed within the body of the email’s text
- Regulate how frequently you send emails and what time you send them. The goal is to walk the fine line of sending emails frequently enough that they’re considered reliable, but not so often that they become bothersome
- Modifying the messaging and visual content of your email until you find the perfect balance of information, originality, humor, and visuals
- Augment or decrease your lead flow in a matter of minutes
- Optimize the email’s preview text. That way, the first line recipients see in their inbox is your catchiest, not a dud like “view this email in web browser” or “having trouble viewing this email?”
With most outbound marketing methods, if you don’t attract interest from a consumer on your first try, then you and that consumer are unlikely to have a relationship.
But because email is less intrusive than, say, a cold call, outbound marketing emails allow for re-engaging with your target audience multiple times beyond the first point of contact.
Studies indicated that, on average, consumers don’t make a decision about a purchase until somewhere between the fifth and fifteen points of contact. Outbound email allows you to nurture your relationship with the potential customer every step of the way by demonstrating your expertise in your field, providing specifics on how you can help them, and building trust through consistent content featuring useful information that anticipates their needs.
Measuring Results Through A/B Testing
What if you feel like your outbound email needs scaling but aren’t exactly sure which adjustments to make? That’s where A/B testing comes to the rescue.
Also known as split testing or bucket testing, A/B testing is essentially an experiment that helps businesses determine which version of an outbound email will optimize their conversation rates. The company sends version A of the email (i.e. the original one currently in distribution) to some potential customers, and version B of the email (the possible replacement) to others. There’s no rhyme or reason as to who receives which version.
From there, the statistical engine associated with the test will analyze both qualitative and quantitative data to track which version of the email performs better. Or, in other words, which variation of the email has a better chance of reaching the conversion goal the company has assigned to it.
How Does A/B Testing Work?
Much like an actual lab test, A/B testing is an involved, multi-step process that requires effort from both you and your statistical engine. Here’s how it works:
- Research and Data Collection – Before you even set the A/B test in motion, you should conduct research and collect data on the current performance of version A
- Establish Your Goals – Now that you have a firm grasp of where your conversion rates stand with version A, identify what results you’re hoping to generate with version B
- Formulate a Hypothesis – Refer to the data in order to create a hypothesis about which variation of the outbound email will win. Having a prediction in mind will help you later when it’s time to analyze the test results and compare them against your goals
- Create Version B – You have version A ready to go. Now it’s time to create the opponent on the other side of the ring! Refer to your conversion rate goals in order to decide which aspects of version A you’d like to alter for version B, then use your A/B testing software to make it happen
- Run the Test – Now you get to take a break and let your A/B testing software do the work. It will automatically send version A to half of your target audience and version B to the other half, all the while measuring their conversion rate performance. It also tracks valuable metrics such as delivery rates, open rates, and click-through rates
- Analyze the Results – The results of your test will be ready within a matter of hours. Once they’re available, take a close look at both version A and version B’s performance stats to identify the winner. If your results are inconclusive, either use what you learned to make slight tweaks to Version A or go back to the drawing board to create a new version B. If version B is the clear winner, give it the new gig
If you have more than one variation of your outbound email ready for testing, you can test multiple variations simultaneously through multivariate testing, which entails a similar process as A/B testing.
A Cautionary Note on A/B Testing
When you have A/B software at your fingertips, it can be tempting to go a bit wild with version B and make it completely different from version A. But creating an opposite variation ultimately renders it (almost) impossible to identify what works about it and what doesn’t.
Instead, test out minor things like font size, font style, slight variations in copy and text color. Such changes, though small in scale, can often have a huge impact.
No other marketing method can rival outbound email’s versatility. Within minutes, you can generate leads while simultaneously consulting metrics to help you scale your approach to converting the leads you missed the first time around.
Outbound email may be an old dog when it comes to content marketing tools, but with the ability to adapt and learn new tricks like A/B testing, it’s just as effective as ever.
1) “A/B Testing: Introduction and a Complete Guide [June 2019]” by Editorial Staff at VWO
2) “The Fundamentals of Executing Profitable ‘Outbound’ Email Marketing Campaigns” by Daniel Faggella https://marketingland.com/fundamentals-executing-profitable-outbound-email-marketing-campaigns-113231