Why an “Hour a Day” Doesn’t Work on Social Media

You’re consistent. Diligent. You spend your hour a day on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ or Twitter. And then you get back to something that might actually generate a lead or sale. Like cold-calling. You know, that “dead” strategy that is difficult these days—yet still gets you paid!

You’re consistent. Diligent. You spend your hour a day on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ or Twitter. And then you get back to something that might actually generate a lead or sale. Like cold-calling. You know, that “dead” strategy that is difficult these days—yet still gets you paid!

Being consistent with social media is not working.

For most of us, there are too few leads coming from being diligent. So why, then, do you continue to post updates, share content, re-tweet?

Maybe you still believe in LinkedIn or Twitter and realize success (at anything) requires diligence. That’s true. Good for you. Or maybe because your boss expects you to—and you continue despite the lack of outcomes.

Despite having a reliable process. This process.

Having a Process Always Gets You Paid
Can’t find time for social? Don’t want to invest time because of lack of results? Your process is wrong. Stop focusing on being consistent. Instead, get a few small results, then build on them.

Be diligent. Be consistent. Most of all, be sure you have a chance at getting early results that you can build on.

Let’s be honest. Getting early results is all that matters. This isn’t about doing things to feel accomplished or satisfy management. Time investments on social media should pay you in these terms:

  • more appointments in less time
  • moving through your prospecting list faster
  • leaving fewer voicemails
  • less time asking for demos—more time giving demos to pre-vetted leads

How can you get these kinds of early results? Follow a proven, effective system.

  1. Attract Attention by saying something bold, new.
  2. Spark Curiosity in what you have to say by holding back details.
  3. Provoke Response by using words that trigger immediate reactions.

The Process Must Make Sense to You
Don’t just follow a system blindly. Make sure YOU believe in the system. Most of all, make sure the approach you use has a high probability of paying off—producing want you want in the near-term.

“In general I like the approach you are recommending, Jeff, because it really makes sense and its something I can relate to and believe in,” says IBM Digital Sales’s Johan Hoffert.

In fact, in a matter of a few days Hoffert tested this approach on a non-responsive prospect he was struggling to reach. He turned it into a lead. What changed his luck? Process, not diligence.

Beware: If it feels like a waste of time it is. Trust your instincts.

You’re an Idiot, but I Have a Cure for That
“When was the last time you bought something from someone who said, ‘You’re an idiot, but I have a cure for that?” asks Bruce Johnston, a respected provider of outsourced LinkedIn lead generation services.

Johnston is concerned with many social selling experts and trainers—their approach to helping reps who need guidance in this area.

“Underestimating your customers’ intelligence and using a fear based approach rubs me the wrong way,” says Johnston who blogs at www.practicalsmm.com.

In a recent email exchange, Johnston told me the message he tries to get across respects his customers and tones down the revolutionary hyperbole. Specifically, social selling, when combined with what you are doing now, is a sales accelerant.

“What many of these ‘experts’ are doing is pushing an ‘if you are not doing social you are a Luddite’ point of view,” says Bruce Johnston. It’s time to tune them out!

What Sellers Need to Know—Versus What They Want to Hear
The truth is this “hour a day” idea is a lie. It’s an excuse to be lazy. The act of “sharing valuable content” with customers is not effective. These ideas are what we want to hear—not what we need to know.

It’s natural for us to want shortcuts. But when you’re a front line seller you can’t afford to waste time. And if you manage a team of sellers you had better pay attention!

“The experts” all agree: Diligent use of social media is the key. An hour a day.

But they’re wrong. Dead wrong.

Evolution, not Revolution
Can you generate leads by regurgitating information (“sharing valuable content”) and Liking prospects’ posts in an hour a day? Is this a revolutionary idea? No and no.

Success is rooted in sales fundamentals—not digital time-wasters coming from people who have never actually sold a B2B product or service!

Your/your team’s success depends on evolving to use what we already know works with the new tools. It sounds trite, obvious. But most organizations have yet to put the obvious to work for sellers. Now you have the key … the process. Good luck!

5 Shades of Pop-Up Email Acquisition

As marketers, one of the biggest challenges we face is growing our marketing list at a rate higher than our attrition. On average, companies report an attrition rate of about 20 percent, which means in order to show a growth of just 10 percent per year, we need an actual growth of 30 percent. That’s a lot of growth and yet many of us simply have not developed a concrete plan to achieve this goal

As marketers, one of the biggest challenges we face is growing our marketing list at a rate higher than our attrition. On average, companies report an attrition rate of about 20 percent, which means in order to show a growth of just 10 percent per year, we need an actual growth of 30 percent. That’s a lot of growth and yet many of us simply have not developed a concrete plan to achieve this goal.

In the age of shiny, new objects, we have at our disposal tools, widgets, scripts, and doo-dads all designed to entice, encourage, beg, and withhold in order to garner the most valuable of data: our prospects’ email address. I’ve tried all of these approaches I’ll describe below, either on our site or on a client’s site, and there’s not one right answer. The big question is: Why do pop-ups work?

Most of us swear we hate subscriber pop-ups; they’re annoying; they make us want to leave the site immediately—but is this actually true? Studies show it’s simply not. The web abounds with case studies by companies of all sizes who verify their pop-ups are effective conversion tools and there’s a reason: pop-ups—though annoying—jolt your visitor with a persuasion technique called pattern interrupt. This identifies a situation where something unexpected happens after your brain has become lulled into a rhythm. You can interrupt a pattern with just about any unexpected or sudden display, movement, or response. When you interrupt the visitor, they usually experience momentary confusion, and sometimes even amnesia. This confusion state causes the visitor to become open to suggestion—they become willing to trade this uncomfortable state for clarity offered by another state. Your clear call to action displayed in a pop-up offers them a path to end their confusion.

With that said, and understanding how a pop-up works, you then need to choose the right pop-up approach. You’ll find some pop-ups are better aligned with your business than others, but that knowledge is usually gained through trial and error. If you’re using a CMS site such as WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal, you can test any/all of these approaches simply by installing plug-ins. With HTML, it become more difficult as you sort through different jQuery or JavaScript tools, but it’s not so difficult as to deter you. In the end, pop-ups are a great way to chip away at your pursuit of 30 percent growth.

On-enter Gated
Of all the annoying pop-ups, on-enter gated is the one I personally find the largest deterrent from continuing my engagement with a site. Figure 1 in the media player at right is an example is from JustFab.com, and their pop-up experience begins the moment you land. A pop-up first offers product options you must click through so they can build a profile of your style preferences. With that done, you complete the form shown in figure 1 before being allowed to continue your shopping experience. You cannot dismiss this pop-up without providing the required information. I suffered through this process only to be able to capture this screen shot, but I can tell you I have abandoned every other site that required me to log in to view their content. Similarly, I nearly always abandon a site that allowed me to read part of an article and then withheld the ending until I proffered my email address.

On Enter
For me, pop-ups on enter like the one shown in figure 2, are far less annoying than on-enter gated. These pop-ups might display as soon as you land, after a period of time, or after you begin scrolling. These have a dismiss icon, so you can close the box without providing the information. If you choose this route, you’ll want to do some testing around the ideal time to let pass before displaying. I’ve found giving the reader 15 to 30 seconds to get a taste for the content produces better results. If you ask for their email address before they have determined the value of your site, you may scare them off.

Header (or Footer) Notification
Header or footer notifications are far less intrusive, and thus could prove to be less effective. It’s easy to miss a message displayed at the very top of the page since the visitor’s eye is more typically drawn to the area that usually displays the menu bar. If you choose a header or footer notification like the one shown in figure 3 from infyways.com, try using a heat map to ensure your visitors are even looking at the notice before you decide the effectiveness of this approach.

On Exit
The on-exit pop-up (figure 4), displays automatically as someone makes a move to leave a site. I like these pop-ups because it’s the what-have-I-got-to-lose? approach. Displaying a message after your visitor has already decided to leave your site is a great way to cause them pause and reconsider what they’ve just read. Was it really of no value? Did it have value only today? Did it have long-term value? If so, would they like to be notified of new, similar content?

Scroll-Triggered Pop-up
This pop-up (figure 5) is triggered to display along the bottom edge (configurable) of the visitor’s browser window as they scroll down the page. It will display on any/all pages of the site, so it’s effective even if they’ve clicked a link directly through to a landing page.

A/B Testing and Analytics
There are probably as many approaches as there are businesses and websites, but this list is a good overview. Don’t stop at just installing the form or plug-in, without analytics and careful monitoring, you’re not getting smarter about what works and what doesn’t. If you’ve installed a subscriber pop-up plug-in and you’re not getting sign-ups, first make sure the product is working properly and then check your analytics. Are you actually getting traffic to the page where you’ve included your capturing system? Using a heatmap, are people viewing it? Lastly, these products are not mutually exclusive. Try lots of approaches all at once—that in itself can be the A/B test: which product is most effective on which pages?

Automation
Most of these products will capture your prospects into a database of some sort, but automating the passing of leads into your email system will make the entire process more valuable to you. By passing the data automatically, you can also create instantaneous auto-responders welcoming your new subscriber. While you’re shopping for a product, ensure you check to see if it supports your chosen email-automation platform, and if not, look to see how you can automate this process. We use Zapier and have found we can directly support the client’s application about 90 percent of the time.

For most of us, we have a methodical approach to building a marketing campaign and I think this same approach can be used as a plan for growing your list:

  1. Define a measurable goal
  2. Choose tools you will use for measuring success/failure of the effort
  3. Outline with metrics are important to showing success/failure
  4. Define A/B testing points
  5. Analyze results

If you’ve had success with a particular product, please share your experience in the comments below. I’m always eager to learn about new products that can make me a better marketer—as I’m sure this blog’s readers are as well.

Sell Chief Executives With This Email/InMail Template (Part 3 of 3)

The “experts” say executive officers aren’t open to being pitched via email and LinkedIn InMail. But they’re wrong. You can you spark conversations with chief executives. Discussions about them. Their pains, fears and ambitions … and bold public statements they make. Then, gently ask permission to connect that discussion to a new solution-what you sell.

The “experts” say executive officers aren’t open to being pitched via email and LinkedIn InMail. But they’re wrong. You can you spark conversations with chief executives. Discussions about them. Their pains, fears and ambitions … and bold public statements they make. Then, gently ask permission to connect that discussion to a new solution-what you sell.

You’ll get some yeses and some nos. It’s all part of an effective, repeatable social selling process.

Hyperpersonalize: An Effective InMail Template
Many of my students are brilliant. They take a bit of wisdom I give and run with it. Recently, my student Sam combined one of my InMail copywriting approaches with a hyperpersonalization technique: Using email recipients’ own public statements.

This approach stops busy chief executives in their tracks, and gets them to reply to his emails.

Let’s have a look at Sam’s practice so you can give it a try. I’ll turn it into a email/InMail template of sorts.

Follow These Guidelines
Sam crafts a handful of short email messages for testing using a few guidelines. He writes messages that:

  1. Are three to four sentences long maximum.
  2. Apply the words “I” or “my” minimally.
  3. Quote and compliments the chief executive in context of a hot industry issue.
  4. Align that meaningful quote with a conversation he would like to initiate.
  5. Ask for a brief email exchange to qualify a larger phone or face-to-face meeting.

The approach works. Because it is so personal, so authentic it busts through gatekeepers whose job it is to block unsolicited emails from pouring in.

It gets seemingly unreachable executives to invite discussions about issues that (ultimately) relate to what Sam is selling.

An Effective Email Template
My student, Sam, is a real person. He asked me to avoid sharing his full identity for competitive reasons. But he wants to help others, so I’ll describe his technique in a way you can copy. However, please don’t copy this template verbatim. Use your creativity and experiment with variations on words.

Create multiple versions of this approach using different kinds of quotes and issues. Discover what gets the best response and do more of what works, less of what does not.

Here is the template:

Hi, [first name].

Your quote in ___ magazine was stunning. Your perspective on _____ [burning issue] is vitally important to all of us working in _____ [industry]. Have you considered enhancing _____’s [target company] capability to ________ [insert challenge to overcome]?

There are alternate means to achieving ___ [goal]. Would you be open to learning about an unusual yet effective approach to ____ we use with clients like ___? [your current client].

Please let me know what you decide, [first name]?

Sincerely,
[your name & signature]

Beware: Don’t Threaten the Status Quo
Use the above template as a guide. Create your own, provocative email approach to a CEO, CIO, CTO, CFO, etc. Don’t limit yourself to quotes in magazines—leverage trade show speech quotes. Don’t limit yourself to the issues you believe are important to buyers—make your approach using what they say is vitally important.

Then, gently position yourself as a thought-provoker. Beware of being a cocky thought leader. That’s not your job. Your approach must not threaten the status quo or the way your prospect currently views the world. It must compliment (via the quote) and then gently nudge.

“Have you considered enhancing …” is a nudge. It’s less assertive than, “Have you considered replacing …” or “Would you be interested in talking about …”

The Experts Are Wrong
Once again, the claims of “experts” sabotage our ability to succeed. They say you can’t use LinkedIn’s InMail or standard email to sell. Why? Because chief executives “aren’t on social media to be sold to.”

But effectively written messages can get chief executives to stop, listen, respond and converse with you. There is a proven technique to increase InMail response rates.

Yes chief executives are difficult to sell to. But you can you spark conversations with them using email, InMail and LinkedIn. Not about selling. Instead, make your message about anything that matters to them. Literally.

Then pivot. Connect your conversation to what you sell—if and when appropriate. What do you think?

Focus Group of One

If you’re sending your marketing campaigns without benefit of A/B or multi-variant testing—most companies admit to fewer than five tests per month—you are effectively acting as a focus group of one. You are assuming all of your constituents feel the same way about your campaign as you do. Big mistake.

If you’re sending your marketing campaigns without benefit of A/B or multi-variant testing—most companies admit to fewer than five tests per month—you are effectively acting as a focus group of one. You are assuming all of your constituents feel the same way about your campaign as you do. Big mistake.

Most of us have a least a bit of familiarity with A/B testing and have integrated it into some of our deployments. Testing subject line A against subject line B is likely the most common test, but with A/B testing you can go so much further—both simple and complex—for instance:

  • Best time of day for sending each of your email types (e.g., newsletter, offers)
  • Best day for sending each type of email
  • Frequency of sending each type of email
  • Length of subject line
  • Personalization within the subject line
  • Personalization within the message
  • Squeeze page vs. landing page
  • Conversion lift when video, demo or meeting booking are included
  • Diagnosing content errors
  • Challenging long-held behavior assumptions
  • Calls to action
  • Color
  • Format and design
  • Writing style (casual, conversational, sensational, business)
  • From name and email address (business vs. personal)

A/B and multi-variant testing enable you to learn what makes your prospects, leads, subscribers and customers tick. When you adopt a consistent testing process, your accumulative results will provide you with the knowledge to implement dramatic changes producing a measurable impact across campaigns, landing pages, websites and all other inbound and outbound initiatives.

We have a client whose singular call to action in every email is to discount their product, and each offer is more valuable than the last. When I asked how well this worked, they admitted, the bigger the discount, the more they sold. When pressed, however, they could not tell me the ROI of this approach. Sure, they sold more widgets, but at the discount level they offered, they also made far less profit.

I suggested an A/B-laden drip campaign offering no discounts, and instead providing links to testimonials, case studies, demos of their product, book-a-meeting links, and other inbound content. In this way, we were changing their position from asking for the business to earning the business. While I admit this usually lengthens the sales cycle, it also means money is not being left on the table unnecessarily.

For this client, the change in approach was simply too dramatic and they found they couldn’t stick with it long enough to gather the data needed to make long-term business decisions. The limited of data they were able to collect in the first few emails did show, however, an inbound approach deserved strong consideration by their organization.

Not all A/B testing need be this dramatic—we could have started them off with a less-committed approach. My takeaway was: You don’t have to learn it all now; A/B testing can be integrated in a small way. Whether you go all out or an occasional test, A/B data is useless if you do not set measurable goals. Measurable goals mean you will establish:

  • Required return on investment
  • Vehicle (email, direct mail, other)
  • What to test
  • Audience
  • Time frame
  • Testing protocol
  • How to integrate what you’ve learned into future campaigns

If your email application does not support A/B testing, you can use a more automated approach. Simply create two versions of your marketing campaign and divide your list randomly in half—unless, of course, what you’re testing is something within your list, such as gender or locale.

I often am in search of information well beyond opens, clicks and visits, so I turn to Email on Acid for email heat maps and Crazy Egg for landing page and website heat maps. While these are effective on live pages and campaigns, it’s not required you deploy A/B testing to a live audience. Testing can be just as effective with a small focus group, just be sure it’s not a focus group of one.

The Art of the Follow-Up

When prospecting using email or LinkedIn InMail, when should I send a follow-up email—to make sure the prospect saw my email? How long should I wait to rattle the prospect’s cage? Is there a better day of the week to follow-up? What’s the optimal formula? What do I say in the follow-up that will get their attention and response?

When prospecting using email or LinkedIn InMail, when should I send a follow-up email—to make sure the prospect saw my email? How long should I wait to rattle the prospect’s cage? Is there a better day of the week to follow-up?

What’s the optimal formula? What do I say in the follow-up that will get their attention and response?

Only you know the best way to answer these questions. I’d love to tell you the secret formula or best practice. But the only way to answer these questions is to write, try, measure, re-write and try again. Get in the sandbox and create.

That said, I will give you a “starter message template” to begin your experiment. The best we can do is try to control the chaos to the best of our ability. That kind of control takes two things: Staying flexible and having a systematic approach. Because systems tend to be reliable, predictable.

It’s a Lot Like Fishing
Everyone likes fishing when they’re kids. But when I grew up I realized something exciting: Once you’ve learned how to fish for, say, small mouth bass on a river, you can go to just about any river and catch that specific kind of fish.

Because of the system anyone can learn. The approach.

But here’s the thing: Like your uncle always said, “That’s why they call it fishing, not catching!” The fish, once in a while, are totally unpredictable. Fish are like people. They sometimes behave in ways we can’t explain at the moment. And here’s why: Because the weather changes. Water temperatures may fluctuate wildly. Their environment freaks out on the fish.

Catching them won’t be easy, but it’s never impossible—if you remain flexible enough in your approach.

Keep Your Follow-Up System Flexible
It’s the same with your prospects. Experimentation with follow-up timing and wording is vital to your success.

Like with fishing, outside factors suddenly come into play with prospects. Their boss suddenly quit. They’ve been given 24 hours to get on a plane and fill in for a sick colleague at a five-day trade-show. Their child was involved in a traffic accident and is seriously injured. Their partner wants a divorce.

Prospects “disappear into the black hole” right? You know, when everything seems to be going fine with your lead and poof! Suddenly, no response. All of these factors require a flexible system … a system that allows for customers to occasionally disappear and not derail you.

You need an approach that uses creative thinking-and rewards you for getting those fish biting again.

Embrace the Idea of Experimentation
There is no one best approach. There is no best practice that will be sure to work for you. You need to discover what is best in your situation with your customers.

You need to discover what sequencing of messages works best; what subject line works best; how to time the different touches you’ll make with the phone, email and LinkedIn.

Because different kinds of buyers have different kinds of habits that drive their day-to-day behaviors.

Use This as a Starter Template
Keep it simple. Remember, always use the “brief, blunt, basic” approach to your email messages. All of them. If this approach doesn’t sound like you adjust it so it does. Don’t get too wordy just make it sound like you. Use this as a template:

SUBJECT: Are we in touch?

Hi Jeff,

Sorry to trouble you. Did you receive the below message? If I do not hear back from you by _____ [insert day of week about 4-6 days after your initial message], I will not be in touch again.

All the best,
Steve Jones

Feel free to copy this technique. Yes, it works, but it’s the structure of the email that works—not so much the message itself. That’s the system. Words keep it flexible.

Why Does It Work?
The subject line is inquisitive. It is clearly seeking a response about being in touch. Most recipients do want to get back to senders. But only those senders who ask for a quick decision to be made in their first email.

Next, the first line dramatically acknowledges the fact that it is interrupting the reader’s day. By recognizing the reader’s right to ignore or delete, you are creating distinction for yourself. You’re standing out. It’s like a refreshing slap across the face.

Finally, this wording creates a sense of urgency. It sets a deadline.

Let me know how this flexible approach works for you? Good luck.