How To Turn Out Of Office Emails Into Sales Opportunities

August 23, 2016 10:06:00 AM | By Matt Benati

We all get them: the Out Of Office (OOO) reply emails streaming into our inbox after we push “send” on an email marketing campaign. In fact, we get them so often they don’t even register on our radar. We skip over them, scrolling in order to find the “more important” emails.

Believe it or not, this could be a critical sales mistake. Buried in the unstructured data of an innocuous OOO reply is a wealth of Account Based Intelligence – if you know what to look for. When acted on, these valuable bits of information can be used to append and cleanse your database, identify timely sales opportunities and expand your reach within key accounts. All of this adds up to greater opportunities and revenue growth.

Let’s dig in and analyze exactly how much intelligence you can get out of an OOO reply, and what processes should be in place to maximize the impact to your bottom line.

Step 1: Identify OOO Emails

An OOO reply email is automatically generated when your lead is out of the office for a period of time. Here’s what a typical one looks like:

Step 2: Mine OOO Emails For Account Based Intelligence

From this standard Out Of Office auto-reply, we learn the following information:

Existing Lead (Joe Green):

  • Date Joe returns to the office: September 6, 2016
  • Joe’s cell number: 555-666-7890
  • Joe’s current title: Did you have that before? Has it changed?
  • Net New Contacts (Sally Smith and Bruce Jones):

Name of alternate contact: Sally Smith

  • Sally’s title: Marketing Coordinator
  • Sally’s email:
  • Name of other alternate contact: Bruce Jones
  • Bruce’s title: Operations Manager
  • Bruce’s email:
  • Now let’s look at what we can do with this new information.

Net New Contacts

The OOO reply supplied two new contacts for your sales team: Sally and Bruce. According to Gartner, it takes an average of 7 people within an account to make a buying decision these days. Adding new contacts to key accounts is highly impactful.

Remember, these are not net new leads – they’re net new contacts referred to you directly by one of your existing leads. Market to them respectfully and transparently to maintain the relationship you’ve already built with Joe and the rest of your leads within that account.

Updated Information

Our sample OOO also confirmed data and potentially added new data to your lead, Joe Green’s, profile. Cross reference this information to confirm his email, cell phone number, title, etc. This process continually appends and cleanses your database — with fresh information straight from your key accounts. With Zoominfo reporting that as many as 94% of businesses suspect their customer and prospect data are inaccurate, this is kind of a big deal! Add or update info in your CRM or MA, and make sure that both sales and marketing is alerted to these changes.

Trigger Events

It looks like this OOO may have alerted you to animportant trigger event as well: a change in title. When cross-referencing information, perhaps you noticed that Joe Green now has a new, promoted title. Your user may have become your buyer!

Step 3: Alert Appropriate Resources & Integrate With MA & CRM Systems

Now that you have all of this information at your fingertips, what do you do with it? First, you’ll want to update your CRM and/or Marketing Automation (MA) platforms with the contact information of your new contacts. Then, resend your original message to each of them, but this time include a personalized introduction. For example, “Your colleague, Joe Green, was out of the office and referred me to you. We didn’t want you or your company to miss out on this great opportunity…..”

When Joe returns September 6th, Sales can follow up and congratulate him on his promotion. Instead of talking to him as a user, they can use messaging typically reserved for buyers. Data shows that being first to capitalize on these changes within accounts (or as LinkedIn calls them, “intent signals”) results in winning the sale 74% of the time. By mining OOO replies, your team could gain a 3-6 month lead on the competition. That’s a huge competitive advantage.

A Word On Lead-To-Account (L2A) Matching

In an Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategy that focuses on accounts first and leads/contacts within those accounts second, it’s critical that you correctly associate net new contacts with existing accounts in your CRM.

Lead-to-account matching is important to Marketing because it enables them to to execute multi-channel engagements with best-fit accounts, making them much more relevant the company’s revenue. It also promotes better tracking of leads and calculating the effectiveness of ABM campaigns.

Lead-to-account matching is critical to Sales because it provides better mapping – a more complete picture – of the leads, contacts and their roles within an account. When contacts are not matched to the correct account, and instead assigned to another salesperson to follow, it could result in multiple SDRs inadvertently calling the same company. Embarrassing on your end, frustrating on the prospect end.

“The key concept here is coordinating relevant interactions that span multiple players in the account (decision makers + influencers), channels (email + phone + social + demand gen) and departments (marketing, sales development, sales, and customer success). When you can do that, the results will always be greater than individual departments working in isolation,” said Jon Miller, CEO and Co-Founder of Engagio.

Step 4: Automate Appropriate Actions

Mining Out Of Office reply emails for Account Based Intelligence gives your sales team an undeniable competitive advantage. But doing this manually is tedious, error-prone and not scalable. Automating the process gives you access to all of the data, without changing your outreach or marketing schedules. And, it’s not just the mining of campaign reply emails that can be automated. What you do with the intelligence after it’s gathered can also be automated. Some best practices include:

  • For each campaign, create two versions of your email. The first email is sent to your existing leads. The second is sent to referral contacts found in OOO messages and contains the personalized, transparent introduction we discussed previously. A workflow in your marketing automation system can leverage the Account Based Intelligence to automatically send the second message to your newly found referral contacts.
  • Your CRM platform can automatically alert Sales to send a follow-up message or place a phone call when your lead returns to the office.
  • Updated lead information can automatically be added to your MA and CRM, and alert sales and marketing of these changes. (This is especially important if the update signals a trigger event!)
  • Net new leads can automatically be added to your MA and CRM, and alert sales and marketing of these additions.
  • Apply lead to account matching best practices by automatically “assigning” net new contacts to the correct account in your CRM.

Interested in automating the process? Try LeadGnome for free! We provide the data, and if you’d like to work with an agency to create custom Marketo programs (or programs on other marketing automation platforms) – we are happy to refer you to one of our partners.

Start My Free Trial

Related Blog Posts:

Pin It on Pinterest