Email Alone Won’t Sustain Us Anymore (Episode 1 of 2)

Over the next two weeks we will look at how the use of email as a prospecting and nurturing tool has changed.  This week we will examine some of the challenges, and next week we will discuss some possible solutions.  So stay tuned, as I share what we’ve learned when looking at email closely.

Email Alone: The “go-to” tool (?)

You may have noticed in the past couple of years, especially with the adoption of many of the marketing automation platforms out there, email has really become the go‐to method to offer content and attempt to qualify.  It’s understandable, because companies have invested significant expense and time into setting up the CRM and marketing automation systems that essentially enable them to really only trigger emails right out of the platforms.  So in essence, they’re tied to email, in a way not even by choice.

But with everyone thinking and using email in this way, we’ve seen some significant challenges emerge as a result of this over‐reliance on email.

Email Alone: Holes in the funnel

The main problem is that over-reliance on email creates holes in the funnel.  The sheer quantity of emails that people are getting today, plus the fact that your competitors are also over-relying on email, has pushed email overload to an all-time high.  Thousands of emails per day piling up on each other makes for clutter and receiver desensitization to the point that truly engaging prospects and making a genuine connection with email alone has become very difficult, even with good content.

But it is precisely this needed connection that keeps prospects from becoming bored, losing interest, going stale, and ultimately flowing out of the funnel to your competitors

The Depth of the Email Overload Problem

The majority of all email traffic in the globe comes from the business, not consumer, world.  According to a recent study, more than 108.7 billion business emails are sent per day, growing to 139.4 billion per day in 2018 (Radicati).  The average business person is sifting through approximately 121 expected work emails per day, growing to 140 per day by 2018 (Radicati).  This is in addition to being bombarded with the mess of unsolicited or graymail emails each day that are not caught by filters. There’s been a 300% increase in newsletters year over year (Riparian) making more than 82% of the emails in our inbox simply a newsletter, social update or type of notification (Mashable).  Today, only 14% of emails in inboxes are considered by recipients as genuinely important (Mimecast), with the rest being considered trivial, non‐critical or insignificant.  But most disturbingly, as a result of all this clutter, 18% of important work emails are lost in the inbox and never even read (Riparian).
The above stats help to explain why engaging with email alone has become increasingly difficult.  The amount of clutter is overwhelming and to get through the day’s workload efficiently, employees have become desensitized to this massive influx.  Email efforts meant to capture a prospect’s attention are flying out the window and are either never seen or quickly forgotten. And although many companies think sending more and more emails is going to solve the problem of breaking through, with everyone thinking this way, it is just compounding the problem and increasing the difficulty in truly engaging prospects and customers with email alone.

Email Alone: Never truly qualified

Plus, even if someone consumes content and increases their lead score over time, it doesn’t mean they necessarily have the budget or the situation needed to purchase your product.  Too often sales reps are wasting time and money calling on someone who could never actually buy. What we’ve seen is that the key to properly qualifying is to engage prospects to the point that they are motivated to tell you specifics about their situation.  And relying solely on email and web forms often only gathers info that is partial or unreliable. So in summary, while of course there is an important place for email in the overall mix, over‐reliance on email doesn’t optimally engage or qualify, and as a result hurts sales.

Email Alone: Loss to competitors

Using email alone hurts sales because it sends prospects to competitors.  Let’s look at this example workflow that only uses emails to move prospects down the funnel:

Email Alone

As an illustration, maybe it is a white paper offer by email, and then if they click through, they get an invitation to an event by email, all by email, etc. We studied buying preferences in the face competition in one of our internal research reports.  With similar companies competing for a buyer’s business, we found that when one of them used just email to communicate, while the other used email
alongside other touches with higher levels of engagement, 70% of buyers were more predisposed to choose the company who engaged them more.  The reason is that they viewed it as an indicator that they cared more, and that customer service and support would be higher after the sale was made.  This supports a McKinsey study which shows that 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.

What this means is that companies are potentially losing up to 70% of their prospects to competitors who are doing a better job of engaging them!

So this prompts the question – how can one stop this loss to competitors, and how can one get touches with higher levels of engagement than with email alone?

…And on that cliffhanger, I encourage everyone to tune in next week for the exciting answer to this question and many more!

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