Reply Email Mining Best Practices For Adding New Contacts

November 28, 2017 6:36:14 AM | By Matt Benati

Reply Email Mining Best Practices

Last week I launched a series on the 3 phases of deployment that most companies experience as they mine reply emails.

  • 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

In Phase 1, we looked at the far-reaching impact of bad data, and how mining reply emails plays a significant role in enriching and cleansing existing records and stemming database decay. Because the data is a natural byproduct of your email marketing campaigns, it serves as an effective, efficient, and continuous database cleansing solution – even if you’re only sending a couple emails per month.

But here’s the thing: maintaining your database is fairly straightforward when dealing with contacts who have already opted-in. You know you have permission to contact those people. But what happens when your campaign auto-responses deliver new contacts within your target accounts? If you’re mining reply emails, you know that this happens often, as 55%-65% of all reply emails contain an alternate contact.

55%-65% of reply emails contain alternate contacts. Are you capturing them? #marketing #sales #ABM Click To Tweet

New Contacts From Out-Of-Office Reply Emails

So what type of data can actually be found in those email replies? Surprisingly, a lot of highly-targeted sales intelligence stemming directly from your best-fit accounts. Think about it, your email campaigns are designed to nurture the leads you’ve already identified in the accounts you’re targeting. Any auto-responses you receive will naturally contain information your sales team can use to expand their reach within these accounts. Let’s take a look at a typical Out-Of-Office (OOO) reply:

Out Of Office Email Reply

When you’re out of the office, it’s common practice to set an auto-reply message letting people know how long you’re unavailable and who they can contact in the interim. This information is sales intelligence gold! For example, in the email above, your team uncovers the following valuable nuggets of information:

  • Date Mark is out = Personalize messaging upon his return
  • His cell phone number = Update his record with this new information
  • His associate’s name, Stephanie = Add Stephanie’s name to the account in your CRM
  • Stephanie’s title and email = Update Stephanie’s record with this new information
  • His associate’s name, Bruce = Add Bruce’s name to the account in your CRM
  • Bruce’s title and email = Update Bruce’s record with this new information

With just one OOO response, your sales team added two new contacts to an account they’ve been targeting as well as updated information on their main contact, Mark. The best part? These additional leads are likely part of an opportunity you’re working, and by mapping these influencers and decision makers, you better understand the account dynamics. Adding these leads to your database quickly expands your reach within those target accounts, getting closer to the magic number of 7 people Gartner has found is needed to close a B2B deal.

New Contacts From Left-The-Company Reply Emails

Now let’s take a look at a Left-The-Company (LTC) example:

Left The Company Email Reply

When someone leaves the company, an auto-response is often put in place to alert senders of the change and provide the contact information of the replacement contact. For example, from the LTC example above, you learn:

  • Pamela Williams is no longer with the company = Update your database and alert the sales person
  • Jenni Miller is the replacement contact = Add Jenni to your CRM, alert the sales person
  • Jenni’s title = Add to your CRM and map her role to the account
  • Jenni’s contact information = Add to your CRM

There is so much more to this than simply updating your CRM, though!

You need to learn about this change as quickly as possible, not only to update your database to remove the old lead, but to quickly engage the new primary contact. If the account is a current customer, you need to protect the account and ensure a smooth renewal. Remember, when a new person comes onboard, they are often eager to prove themselves and may be open to considering new vendors. This could be the opening your competitor has been looking for — slam the door shut by reaching out to the new contact immediately!

If you’re still trying to secure the account and close a deal, quickly engaging the new primary contact allows you to focus your energy and transition smoothly. According to Dianna Geairn, The Irreverent Sales Girl, If your previous contact wasn’t receptive to your communications — or worse even tried to block you from reaching decision makers — a fresh start with the new contact could help turn the tides in your favor.

And these responses come in every day with every email campaign you’re sending. Imagine the potential of mining them for data over the course of a month…..or year!

Navigating Regulations Regarding Database Privacy

There are email spam laws in place in the United States, Canada, and Europe that govern the way you send marketing emails to people residing in those regions. Here’s a quick refresher on the two that we’ve covered in past articles:

  • CAN-SPAM: Under CAN-SPAM regulations in the US, you have to give recipients an easy way to opt-out
  • CASL: Under CASL in Canada, you have to obtain consent (express or implied) to send to our neighbors to the north.

Additionally new regulations are coming this summer. If you do business with European companies, you’ll need to pay close attention as we approach the May 2018 enforcement date o GDPR (General Data Privacy Regulation). While EU countries previously had autonomy over interpreting email spam regulations, the new GDPR will create consistency as it will be enforceable law across all European member states.

In short, we’re going to see stricter requirements for obtaining consent, and recording and keeping proof of that consent. Stay tuned for a future post where we look at GDPR in-depth and what it means for companies doing business in Europe.

All of these regulations spell out who you can and can’t send to, requirements for CEMs (Commercial Electronic Messages), and how you must handle people’s personal information.

Technically, you have implied consent, which satisfies CAN-SPAM and CASL, to email the new contacts uncovered mining auto-responses (like Stephanie and Bruce in the example above). Your contact, Mark, gave you permission to contact them when he included their information in his OOO reply. I still, however, recommend reaching out to them with an introductory email asking them to explicitly opt in, versus adding them directly into a lead nurturing workflow.

While We’re On The Topic Of Permission-Based Marketing

In general, it’s ALWAYS a good idea to get permission from people before emailing them – regardless of where they live. By practicing permission-based marketing by default, you stay on the right side of of any anti-spam laws and in the good graces of potential new leads.

If you’ve ever received unsolicited emails, you know how annoying they can be. All it takes is one frustrated person flagging your email as spam, and you could be blocked from sending to an entire organization. Reaching out with a personalized introductory email that explains how you received their information, and asking them if they’d like to receive future communication from you, goes a long way in earning a person’s respect.

Automating The Process Of Adding Contacts To Your Database

Adding net new contacts to your database is one of biggest benefits of reply email mining, and LeadGnome customers can add 24% more contacts annually by sending just two emails per month. If you have 10,000 people in your database, that’s an additional 2,400 contacts. Most importantly, the new contacts are quality leads already in your target accounts!

Add 24% more contacts annually by sending two emails per month #marketing #sales #ABM Click To Tweet

If you’re using LeadGnome to mine reply emails, you have the option to integrate the data mined directly with your existing Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) or CRM to automatically add them to your database, matching new contacts to the correct account. Workflows in your MAP can trigger alerts when new contacts are identified, flagging the new record, notifying the account owner, and automatically sending a welcome message or scheduling a follow-up task.

If you’re concerned with email spam laws or already have an internal process for managing new contacts, LeadGnome also gives you an option to NOT automatically add new contacts to your database. Instead, these new leads are flagged so your team can review them manually.

Having a process in place to review and add new contacts, identifying your legal obligations for sending to them, and practicing permission-based marketing, you can confidently add new contacts to your database to expand your reach within target accounts, and ultimately drive more revenue.

Stay tuned for phase 3 next week where we discuss how email mining further helps you grow revenue by discovering actionable sales trigger events. And if you’d like to see more examples of reply emails and the types of intelligence that can be mined from each, download our free eBook: Transformative B2B Demand Generation.

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