Sending resources and content through email has been around since email itself. Reps and other sales facing members of the workforce have used content as a means of breaking the ice, adding value, and increasing rapport.
But can these resources be effective in getting prospects to engage in a conversation (either directly or through interaction within the email)?
What Is “Compelling Email Content”?
Before we explain and share how to do so, let’s define what we mean by “compelling content”. From the subject line to your signature (even the p.s. if you have one), every aspect of your email should be compelling. We aren’t going over every element here.
The content we’re talking about is specifically the resources and copy that your business recipients will find useful and intriguing. We’re talking:
- White Papers
- Blog Posts
- Industry Reports
- Studies and Research
- Case Studies
- Polling Data
- Interactive Content
You’ve probably used a few of these to get the attention of those you wish to reach, but these items haven’t been more useful beyond getting your foot in the door.
There are some forms of content that are harder to turn into a meaningful conversation. Blog posts, white papers, and industry reports are an offering that should build your image enough for the call-to-action (CTA) of your email to get a response.
Let’s get into some of the content types that can get the talking started.
Webinars are Direct but Effective
Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve heard of and possibly have been a part of a webinar. It’s an impressive sales tool, especially in the online product space. These (mostly) live online presentations have stellar conversion rates and help turn out more brand advocates due to their value-adding nature.
But are they good for outreach? Yes, again.
There are still some misconceptions that webinars are best used for demos and product sales. While these presentations are beneficial down funnel a bit, they still have a tremendous amount of use in delivering value upfront to potential clients.
You have an inventory management software/SaaS product for small and medium gas station/convenience store chains. Imagine how tempting it would be to click open an email that said, “John, Register for: How to Reduce your Shrink dramatically in 2017”.
After opening there is a well-constructed email from you and an invitation for John (possibly an asset protection exec) to join the webinar.
He joins and is blown away by the sheer value of your inventory control techniques and is likely to be willing to hear about the products to help him reduce shrink more effectively. He may not be ready to buy but is certainly ready to talk long enough for you to qualify the lead.
Studies, Research and Polling Data
When you’re researching prospects, you often try to read between the lines of data. Really trying to figure out the why behind the numbers. It helps immensely in the sales process to understand the intent behind decisions.
One of the things most execs love are relevant numbers, stats, and facts.
Any bit of data to reinforce current practices or improve their performance are typically welcome forms of content—making them fantastic for outreach purposes.
But again, how do you turn it into a conversation?
There are a couple of ways to liven up studies and data in order to get more responses and data for your efforts.
Giving a juicy tidbit of data is a great way to get a clickthrough in your email. Most sales reps know that it takes multiple points of contact to get the sale. A few of those contact points can be fairly hands-off.
Sending an email with a couple of closely related figures along with a link to your newest blog post (or a webinar/white paper/report) with all the data and tips on how to use it for your leads is a great way to get a small yes on the way toward the big yes.
Make the Studies Ongoing
You can send all the data to some of your contacts and it may get an open, but no response. However, if you give recipients an opportunity to be a part of an ongoing study; it’s a chance to benefit others.
If done correctly, you could even work out a phone call to both get the data for a study while helping you qualify the lead.
Send Interactive Content
Our last type of material to get leads involved in the conversation is the newest and perhaps most powerful tool in the arsenal of sales reps.
Interactive Content: Content that requires the participants’ active engagement — more than simply reading or watching. In return for that engagement, participants receive real-time, hyper-relevant results they care about. (Source: SnappApp)
Technically, this category includes games, videos, polls, questionnaires, and anything else that warrants an interaction.
We’ll narrow it down a bit for the most effective outreach uses.
Studies Again, but With a Twist
If you do have study data that can warrant putting together a series of questions that results in a useful outcome for leads and valuable data for you, then put together a “fit quiz”. For instance, if you know that the majority of your target industry struggles with issues that your product alleviates, give them a way to find that out.
To use our previous example (about the convenience stores): Email a series of questions that asks execs to put in some basic data on which areas bring the most shrink in their convenience store(s). Once they are done, it shows them how they fare versus the data of average chains. You get to see where they need help and they get awareness of their problem.
Resource: Here’s a great post from HubSpot about how to put together one of these quizzes with a popular inexpensive tool.
A Simple Poll or Questionnaire
That’s right. Sending interactive content is as easy as asking a question (or questions). Let them participate and let them know that you’ll get in touch with the results once they are in-house.
Make sure it’s specific industry data and take advantage of insights garnered from the study. It would be silly just to use a poll in order to get leads to respond when you can also become a smarter salesperson.
In-Depth Interactive Content
Like we said, this is a newer form of marketing and sales strategy that has been yielding great results. Some companies have taken it to an extreme place and developed completely custom campaigns.
The thing you should know is that big brands are effectively using this method. Disney, Hasbro, and many others do it regularly. But not for the direct pitch.
Instead, they use it to get leads involved with their emails and websites to create awareness and familiarity. That’s what using resources is all about. Getting the conversation going.
Resource: Another post outlining how to use interactive content at the beginner, intermediate, and advanced level.
The Key to Interaction
Unlike an in-person conversation, email requires you to say something the recipient wants to hear. Talking to someone face-to-face means the other person has to respond or risk being considered rude.
Email isn’t like that. Leads don’t have to respond or feel bad about not responding. That means that you have to deliver tremendous upfront content in a compelling manner to get them to open up.
Use content. Be compelling. Start a conversation.