Many businesses we work with come to us to grow their revenues by reaching more prospects who share traits similar to their existing customers, using techniques such as audience mirroring. While this strategy can present an excellent starting point, what if your company really doesn't have any customers yet to speak of? For startups, this is often the case, as they are essentially beginning from square one when it comes to customer acquisition. But that doesn't have to be an obstacle to their success. Here are six email marketing strategies we often give to startups:
- Specify your targets: Startups need to be precise regarding who exactly they are trying to reach with their products or services. It’s one thing to say you are targeting small businesses (such as companies with 100 employees or less) but getting more specific will lead to more successful email campaigns. That’s why other more granular criteria is necessary. For example, we recently designed and implemented an acquisition campaign for a client seeking to target small businesses that use QuickBooks. Perhaps your targets are relying on technologies or services that your offering improves or replaces? The key to success will likely be identifying these specific traits before you acquire prospect data or initiate email campaigns.
Another strategy is to emulate what a competitor is doing by going after similar target customers using audience mirroring. If you go down this path, you be sure to have your unique value proposition or competitive advantages clearly stated in your campaigns. And be sure to work with a company with experience in this approach.
- Focus on quality: While startups often initially want as many leads as they can get for their sales teams, this approach will lead to lower close rates and frustrated salespeople. As with any email outreach, the focus should be on data quality and accuracy, as well as deliverability. After all, if your email campaigns don’t reach their desired recipients, your efforts will be wasted. While the initial temptation may be to reach out to any email address you can get your hands on, focusing on quality, targeted contacts will deliver the best overall results for your business. For starters, it makes the sales process more efficient because the leads you deliver to your sales team are already marketing qualified.
- Target other SMBs: While many sales leaders may stress “whale hunting” to target the largest accounts, sales to larger enterprises can involve complicated approval processes, lengthy legal negotiations, interactions with numerous influencers and long sales cycles. And after investing in a long process, if the sale falls through, all your efforts will have been in vain. As such, experienced sales leaders understand the value of converting SMBs, which typically have easier purchase processes and easier access to autonomous decision makers that can move much more quickly. But SMBs can be elusive. A successful SMB email campaign requires a good email list. If your plan is to identify and connect with SMBs that reflect your target audience, your best bet is to work with a reputable data provider who specializes in SMB contacts.
- Use a second set of eyes: Often, startups come to us with their calls-to-action, landing pages and email messages already created – well before they have already acquired prospect contact data. While this is OK, the problem is that while they may really like the marketing plan they’ve prepared, an experienced marketer can quickly spot the flaws. Startups should remain open to suggestions for easy improvements. It never hurts to use a second set of eyes from someone with experience implementing successful email campaigns – someone who can recommend relatively simple fixes that can result in big email campaign improvements.
- Segment responses: Your initial response pool will yield results that will uncover intelligence for use with future campaign planning. What kind of companies responded? From what industries? What were the responders’ roles or job titles? Where are they located? What systems or services do they have in common? Filter and segment these respondents into more distinct lists and create more specific messages targeting each one. Segmented targeting will almost certainly deliver increased responses than a more generalized message.
- Retarget via other channels: While email is the most successful, preferred business communications channel, reaching your contacts through other communications mediums can lead to generating incremental awareness and interest. For example retargeting those who opened your message via social media or display ads will get your message in front of your audience again while their interest is still high. Best of all, this messaging can be automated, creating very little incremental effort on your part.
Getting a new business off the ground is challenging in any environment. But while the initial desire for startups will be to target the world, getting specific, focusing on quality and heeding the advice of third- party experts will provide a stronger path to success.
For a more detailed example of how customer acquisition data can yield impressive results for startup companies, check out a case study here.
Outward Media’s proven data cleansing services and targeted, accurate email data can enable you to achieve better email marketing ROI and, ultimately, convert more prospects into customers. Take a look at our case studies to find out more.