How Email Replies Deliver Revenue-Generating Insights

December 5, 2017 6:01:14 AM | By Matt Benati

How Email Replies Deliver Revenue

Over the past two weeks, I’ve focused on the three phases of deployment that most organizations go through when they begin mining reply emails. This week, we’re finishing strong with sales trigger events, the changes that happen within your accounts that signal major opportunities your sales team can leverage.

Identifying trigger events through reply email mining enables Marketing to support Sales in a way they’ve never been able to before. Traditionally, Marketing warmed up accounts by nurturing leads and passing them along to Sales as Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs). With reply email mining, Marketing uncovers sales intelligence that deepens both team’s understanding of each target account.

While this does require a bit more coordination between the two departments, organizations that focus on alignment enjoy the benefits of increased renewal rates, pipeline growth, and ultimately more revenue. This is certainly true for Account Based Marketing (ABM) or Account Based Everything (ABE) strategies, since alignment is a pillar of these models.

In phase 1 and 2, sales and marketing teams establish internal protocols for mining reply emails, updating existing leads with fresh data, and adding new contacts to their database. As they enter the final phase of email mining – leveraging sales trigger events – this is where things come full circle as we close the loop on the email marketing process. What was formerly email waste – like automated Out-Of-Office (OOO) and Left-The-Company (LTC) replies – are viewed in a totally new light.

And when we look beyond mining those auto-responses for basic information and instead recognize the valuable insights they give into account and lead activity, that email “waste” becomes worth its weight in gold.

If you’re just joining us, feel free to catch up on the first two phases, then meet back here!

  • Phase 1, Stem Database Decay: Maintain and enhance the customer database
  • Phase 2, Expand Database: Deepen and broaden knowledge within target accounts
  • Phase 3, Grow Revenue: Discover actionable sales trigger events

What Are Sales Trigger Events?

We’ve talked extensively about trigger events, and it’s easy enough to define them as changes within your accounts that represent sales opportunities — like when your user gets promoted to your buyer, or when a lead leaves the company and you get a fresh start with a new contact. But the reality is, unless you learn about these changes in a timely manner, you lose the advantage. Sales trigger events need to be acted on quickly, during a state of flux, before the new contacts feel the desire to flex their influential muscles and make major changes of their own.

Let’s take a look at some examples of sales trigger events that can be found by mining reply emails for data:

Lead Changes – A Left-The-Company auto-response used to be considered the end of the road. If you weren’t monitoring reply emails, you likely wouldn’t find out that a lead left the company until you received a hard bounce, at which point marketing would delete the record or set it to inactive in their CRM. By mining email replies, however, you can identify this change with your very next email campaign. Catching an LTC auto-response not only alerts you to this change, but more often than not provides you with a replacement contact, giving you a significant timing advantage over competitors who are not mining emails. (We’ll dig into this advantage even more later!)

Email Changes – Rarely do you get an actual auto-response alerting you to a change in email. More likely, the old email address is forwarded to the new one, and you wouldn’t be aware of the change unless the old email was shut off, generating a hard bounce long after the change occurred. According to ZoomInfo, 37% of email addresses and 34% of company names change annually. Some email changes represent life changes, but many others represent opportunities. In some cases, email changes are indicative of merger and acquisition activity, and this time of transition represents a golden sales opportunity if you’re the first in.

Email changes = huge sales opportunities. Are you capturing sales intel from your inbox? #ABM #marketing #sales #emailmarketing Click To Tweet

Title Changes – Again, not something you’re usually going to have handed to you, but if you’re mining data from reply emails like Out-Of-Office (OOO), a new title in your contact’s signature line is something to pay attention to and look into. Is it lateral, or is it a promotion? If a contact that was formerly your end-user got promoted to a buyer or decision maker, you’ll want to get in front of them quickly, because chances are they’re excited about their new influence and eager to make their mark by selecting new vendors.

Schedule Insights – Wait. What? Yes, knowing when your contacts are on vacation, at seminars, or otherwise in and out of the office provides an important opportunity for sales to increase connect rates. Gone are the days when you deleted OOO auto-responses and assumed the lead would see your email when they returned. Now, savvy sales and marketing teams are putting those dates to use resending campaigns and even scheduling personal calls and emails when they know leads will be back in the office.

Client/Company Changes – When an existing lead who you’ve had a good rapport with moves onto a new company, it makes sense to keep in touch. Think of this like the old Rolodex strategy of maintaining good relationships with past customers in hopes that you’ll cross paths again in the future. “It’s easier to sell to people you already know, people you have built a relationship with over the years,” says CEO and Founder of ExecVision, Steve Richard. “Whether it’s a paying customer or a hot lead you’ve been nurturing, when a person moves to another company, your sales team has a golden opportunity to continue the relationship and acquire a new account.”

Timing Is Everything

We touched on the importance of timing briefly in last week’s post about adding new contacts to your database, particularly when you learn that a lead has left the company. Yes, you need to update your database, alert the account owner, and add the replacement contact to your CRM. But that’s just the administrative side of email mining.  

More importantly, you need to be the first in with the new contact as quickly as possible. A new contact is going to want to prove themselves, and that could include renegotiating contracts or changing vendors altogether. They may have even been brought in specifically to shake things up. When you learn about changes like this from an auto-response to your weekly email marketing campaign, you are learning about it 6-9 months before anyone else. If you wait for a hard bounce, your contacts are well-settled into their new roles and you’ve lost your timing advantage over competitors.

Mining reply emails alerts you to account changes 6-9 months AHEAD of the competition! #sales #marketing #ABM Click To Tweet

According to CEO and Founder of SHiFT Selling, Craig Elias, first in is 5 times more likely to win the deal. What’s more, Elias has shown how a single LTC email can actually represent as many as FOUR sales opportunities for organizations willing to do a little digging to follow the movement of all the involved contacts. So yes, those LTC auto-responses carry significant weight when it comes to securing renewals and acquiring new customers!

Sales & Marketing Alignment Drives Revenue

The ultimate goal of every sales and marketing team should be to drive revenue. While there are countless ways to achieve this, depending on your business, one of the simplest – and often-overlooked – is analyzing your campaign email replies and identifying and leveraging sales trigger events. And they’re free! The information is literally sitting in your marketing inbox waiting for you. All you have to do is analyze it.

While the benefits of doing this are clear, the orchestration of coordinating information between sales and marketing can get challenging. When marketing learns that a lead has left the company, what is the process for passing off the information to sales? Once sales receives it, what is the workflow for sending emails, scheduling calls, and otherwise engaging the new contact?

Without alignment of sales and marketing, these questions can be a roadblock to effectively leveraging trigger events. But when the two teams are working in unison and have dedicated time and resources to truly align, it becomes less about passing information from one department to the other, and more about the necessity of a unified process to meet their end goal of driving revenue. Part of becoming an aligned sales and marketing team is developing and agreeing on an SLA (Service Level Agreement) upfront that clearly defines the process for handling every spec of intelligence derived from mining reply emails.

And really, when you’re going to the effort to mine reply emails, it means you recognize the incredible value they provide. So it only makes sense to close the loop and use ALL the data mined to identify and leverage actionable sales trigger events.

For more information on mining reply emails for data, check out our free eBook: Transformative B2B Demand Generation. We showcase the most popular email replies, highlighting the data you can mine from each.

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