Creating an Outreach Strategy that Works

Email outreach is dying for two reasons. Number one: people hate it. Number two: Email is now an app. When I say email outreach, I don’t mean a newsletter people sign up for. If you continue to provide value and relevant content (without constantly trying to push products) people will be happy to receive your emails, and email marketing will actually be easier than ever. However, if you a blasting out emails going for conversions, you need to rethink your outreach strategy.

Numbers Talk

My experience working with various firms in digital taught me to email market with the goal of a high single digit click through rate. Typically, companies would see around 3% CTR and we would go about improving from there. While the medium can be argued to be “effective”, it’s far from the most effective strategy.

Achieve a 90% Open Rate

Do you know why industry averages for email outreach range from high single digits to about 25%? It’s because people don't want this stuff; they are busy. Furthermore, the inbox was very recently an oasis of solitude in the noisy chaos of the Internet. Invading this space has serious consequences; enter creeping unsubscribe and report as spam rates.

For the last three months, I have been operating my own company with a partner and we are consistently achieving 90% open rates and 60% response rates by utilizing more effective means of outreach.

Think Like Marketing and Execute Like Sales

Leverage social media to start a conversation. The direct outreach model is no longer just: educate, demonstrate, and go for a close. The only value of that model is scalability, and attempting to raise awareness through email marketing is ineffective at best. If you don’t know whom you are targeting, emailing everyone and letting him or her sort it out is a rather lazy way to solve the problem. Seriously, we are now in a world with tangible metrics on (demographic and interest based) display networks and social media advertising. Finding real estate on the Internet where your customers hang out has never been easier to measure and act on.

Facebook allows you to send a message to anyone for one dollar, and a premium LinkedIn Executive account costs around $100. This is great for two reasons. Number one: Familiarity. People use these platforms to talk to people they already know. Number two: Money. The spend makes more sense than PPC. It costs $1.00 to purchase two clicks at $0.50 each. It costs the same to outreach to a person on Facebook who will see messages 90% of the time, and responds 60% of the time. PPC costs and bounce rates vary across industries and campaigns so averages would be irrelevant here, but anyone can tell you that initiating a dialogue increases your chances of a conversion exponentially; it makes more sense to be pound wise and penny foolish. A social inbox today is what an e-mail inbox was ten years ago: hard to scale but worth the effort. Email on the other hand is changing, and not in a marketer’s favor.

Email is Now an App

Within three months of Gmail announcing tabbed email inboxes, overall open rates went down 18%. Better yet, 66% of Gmail opens are on mobile devices. To broad stroke it: Google is making it easier for users to ignore info that may be irrelevant. Mail clients (like mobile apps) offer increased filtering and, this just in, Gmail is making the unsubscribe button bigger. The trends for email outreach make unexpected email a medium that is very likely to keep seeing diminishing returns. Luckily businesses that understand outreach resources can easily troubleshoot this problem. Email marketing is getting harder, but the user experience with email is improving, meaning it’s easier for people synthesize incoming emails and get to info that they want. 

In conclusion, challenges are ahead, but there is good news all around. User experience in email makes it easier to get emails that they want. That is good news if you have a GREAT email program; not if you are using scaled email outreach to introduce your company. For those pursuing the latter goal, multiple platforms make people more available and willing to listen than ever before.


Do you have an idea for successful outreach?