How To Increase Connect Rates During Summer
July 3, 2018 6:32:01 AM | By Matt Benati
Summer is officially here! It’s the season for late nights, backyard BBQs, pool parties, and of course — vacations. In 2017, Americans spent more than $100 billion on summer travel and vacations. Clearly, it’s the preferred season to hit the road. But as a sales and marketing professional, we’ve still got a job to do and summer is known to be the worst time of year to try and connect with leads. If you’re frustrated with the slew of Out-Of-Office replies letting you know your leads are traveling, I’m here to show you how to turn that frown upside down by turning those ‘pesky’ auto-responses into revenue-generating sales intelligence!
First, Pay Attention To Out-Of-Office Replies
It may not be readily apparent, but they contain a wealth of information that you can actually use. Let’s take a look at an example:
This is a pretty standard OOO reply that many organizations mass delete. But let’s take a closer look and see what your lead, Mark is really telling you:
- The date when Mark will be back in the office
- Mark’s cell phone num ber
- Mark’s title
- An alternate contact, Stephanie, and her title and email address
- An alternate contact, Bruce, and his title and email address
This information is pure gold. And I’m going to tell you not one, but three ways to leverage it.
#1 – Improve Database Health
From a database maintenance standpoint, what do you see here? Well, if you acquired Mark’s name and email from an inbound marketing campaign, you now have his cell phone number and title that can be used to enrich his record in your CRM. Fleshing out a contact’s record with as much information as possible helps you to create more personalized, strategic content later.
Additionally, you have just validated Mark’s email address. Because you received an OOO and not a bounce or Left-The-Company reply, you know that Mark is still a good contact at your account.
#2 – Expand Knowledge of Target Accounts
Now let’s go a little deeper. In his absence, Mark is also telling us to contact Stephanie for marketing assistance or Bruce for technical support. These are two brand new contacts in an account you’re already engaging. With today’s B2B buying decisions now taking an average of 7 people, Bruce and Stephanie could potentially be critical contacts. Remember, it’s not just the CEO calling all the shots these days; a lot of organizations look to everyone from users and managers, to IT support staff when making smart buying decisions.
Keep in mind, new contacts mined from email replies can be emailed under “implied consent” or “legitimate interest.” However, any time you’re adding new referral contacts from a reply email, it’s a good idea to practice permission-based marketing. Reach out to the new contacts, make your intentions clear, and ask them to opt-in to receiving relevant communication from you. Not only is this the respectful thing to do (versus dumping new contacts straight into a mailing list), but it also keeps you on the right side of email spam laws, such as CAN-SPAM in the United States, CASL in Canada, and GDPR in Europe.
#3 – Increase Productivity
This is where things get really interesting. First, let’s go back to Mark’s title and cell number. You can now segment Mark based on his title, Digital Marketing Manager. When you segment your lists based on persona, you can personalize your content and messaging to make it more valuable and relevant to recipients. If you were previously sending Mark your general email campaigns, you can now switch him to your lists for managers. For example, if you weren’t getting Mark’s attention before, he may perk up when he starts getting tips for improving employee productivity.
With Mark’s cell phone number, Sales now has a direct and more personal channel for reaching out. While email is still the most popular channel for B2B communication, as Mark moves through the nurturing process, the time will come when outreach by phone makes sense and Sales will already have the information they need.
And finally we get to the really good stuff. How you can actually use summer vacations and travel to INCREASE connect rates! Look at that very first line in Mark’s OOO. He’s telling you exactly when he’s going to be back in the office! Use this information to:
- At the very least, reschedule your original campaign to send when he returns.
- Schedule a personal message for when he returns. Give him a day to settle in and get caught up, then send him a personal note. If he gave any details in his OOO about why he was out of the office (vacation, moving, seminar, etc.), include a message asking how it went! When compared to a generic email marketing campaign, you’re guaranteed to catch his attention and build rapport with a personal message. The result? Increased connect rates. In the summer!
Boost Connect Rates Even More
If Out-Of-Office replies result in all of this fantastic intelligence plus help you increase connect rates, what’s the key to skyrocketing your connect rates over the summer? That’s right: keep your campaigns flowing as they do during the rest of the year.
The average email campaign has a reply rate of around 2.5% (based on real LeadGnome customer data) — but this rate will be even higher in the summer and on holidays. Common sense tells us that more sends equates to more replies. However, many companies actually reduce their email cadence in the summer because they know so many people are out of the office. While I’d never tell you to spam your database just to get more replies, reducing your email is a mistake!
Don’t stop – and don’t spam – just keep your sends status quo (maybe add an extra campaign on holidays wishing everyone a safe and happy day), then pay attention to Out-Of-Office replies, leverage the intelligence mined from them, and watch your connect rates soar!