Is Lying the New Marketing Normal?

There are plenty of studies that emphasize the importance of the subject line. And, with many email clients providing a snippet of the first paragraph of the email in a preview panel, somewhere a marketer decided it was okay to lie in order to garner your attention.

email“I noticed you didn’t complete your registration.”

“As I mentioned in my phone call to you…”

“You had asked me to follow up…”

These are just three of the opening lines used in emails to me lately, and while they may have been designed to be the second step in a contact strategy, the reality is: I have never had any contact with these organizations.

And, since I’ve noticed these techniques repeatedly, I have to believe they are deliberately designed to “trick” me into believing I was part of some previous interaction. But is that the right way to try and start a relationship that will lead to a sale?

With our in-boxes clogged with an increasing number of unsolicited emails (the Radicati Group claims the average office worker receives 121 emails a day), and 49.7 percent of that is considered spam, recipients are making a decision in 8 seconds as to whether or not your email is worthy of a longer look.

There are plenty of studies that emphasize the importance of the subject line. And, with many email clients providing a snippet of the first paragraph of the email in a preview panel, somewhere a marketer decided it was okay to lie in order to garner your attention.

Deceptive selling practices are certainly not a new idea. In his 1985 book “Telling Lies: Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics, and Marriage,” author Dr. Paul Ekman writes, “There are two primary ways to lie: to conceal and to falsify. In concealing, the liar withholds some information without actually saying anything untrue. In falsifying, the liar takes an additional step. Not only does the liar withhold true information, but he presents false information as if it were true.”

In marketing, lying usually means manipulation and — let’s face it — advertising doesn’t exactly maintain a reputation for honesty. Who can forget Skechers and Kim Kardashian who teamed up to claim that by simply putting on a pair of their shoes you’d magically get buns of steel? The FTC didn’t buy it, and they ended up paying a $40 million settlement.

Classmates.com lied in their email when they told prospects that an old friend was trying to contact them. It cost them a $9.5 million class-action lawsuit.

So what does a lie achieve?

For starters, it completely disintegrated the credibility of DM News as they used one of the tactics I noted at the start of this blog in a recent email to me. As one of my industry go-to resources, they should know better.

What Makes Sales Email Templates Work

Most sellers are using email templates and call scripts because more outreach drives more conversations. However, most emails fail to provoke replies. But those that do are personalized. Yes, a personalized template.

EmailMost sellers are using email templates and call scripts because more outreach drives more conversations. We need to scale. However, most emails fail to provoke replies. But those that do are personalized. Yes, a personalized template.

Here’s the rub: Sales email templates should help you customize — not send — faster.

Just like a good call script, effective email templates are easily personalized. Flexible. Some are even timeless. Because they use mental triggers.

If your call and email templates are completely scripted they fail. They’re rigid and sound canned. They’re not relevant, nor personal.

Want to start more discussions with buyers — and scale your time? Personalize your templates. Open them up. Allow for insertion of information that:

  • Proves you’ve researched the prospect
  • Sparks curiosity
  • Provokes a reply inviting a discussion

The Truth About Templates

Effective message templates help you customize faster. They help you persuade customers to ask for more contact.

Quick example: I get requests like this all the time:

“Jeff, I am looking for subject lines that have great open rate and content in email to drive the sale. Please let me know if you have any templates that you can share.”

Here’s my point: This person wants to push messages out. He/she wants subject lines and messages that work — at scale. We all do. But these days, sellers are pushing and pushing and PUSHING emails with marketing copy in them.

Non-personalized, catch-all emails that don’t push. They don’t work. They don’t pull.

Pulling (attracting, provoking curiosity) is the key to success. But without personalizing your approach it’s impossible to provoke curiosity in buyers. Because you never earn the right to speak.

People (in general) value more what they ask for — less what you freely offer (what you push).

Effective Templates Personalize Faster

Yes, we need to start conversations — at scale. But standard message templates take all the work out of your effort and readers feel this. That is the problem! Your goal isn’t to send messages faster. It’s to personalize faster.

Think about the last templated email you received. How quickly did you delete it? Because it was easy to spot. It felt … mass. It read like a mass message. The sender sent it along with hundreds of others.

They pushed the words at you. But what if the seller had attracted you to the idea of speaking with them? What if you were enticed? What if their message generated a thought in your head like, “wait … do I understand you correctly? How would that actually work?” or “sure, what’s your idea?”

What if you read their cold email and were piqued? What if they pulled you?

Point blank: Nothing screams “impersonal” louder than an email message you’ve cut, pasted and sent. No research, no personalization. Creating no desire to ask for more contact — based on a provocation.

Yet, there is a way to provoke conversations with buyers — using templates at scale.

Personalize With Observations

One simple and quick way to create personalized templates is to “front load” your approach with an observation about your target. This lets you leverage a templated approach however, removes the impersonal, mass-email feel to the reader.

Here is a quick example to help you take action on the concept. Steve sells Web site hosting services for mid-sized retailers with e-commerce sites.

Subject: Problem with response time

Steve,

Noticing your Web site has severe problems with response times. For example, your e-commerce pages take so long to load customers may abandon and buy at a competitor. Many images are also broken. Like on your main sweatshirts page.

You aware of this? I have an idea. But only if you’re open to it.

Are you open to a different approach to fixing these problems? The costs involved may surprise you.

Let me know what you decide, Steve.

Thanks,
Jeff

Notice how the first paragraph is researched, personalized. Very specific information is offered. This proves the seller did his homework on Steve’s situation.

Feel like a template? Not at all, right? All based on an observation inserted into an otherwise templated (scale-able) message.

Granted, you may not be able to spot something about your prospects online. But there are various ways to glean such observations.

Today, research is key to provoking response using email. Nothing works better.

What Works is Guarded

Message templates you’ll find while Googling don’t spark response. Because everyone is using them. Customers have become saturated with the same approaches over and over. What does work is often closely guarded.

However, what works is within your reach: A customized approach that proves you’ve done homework on the prospect … helps you look less like a pusher.

Personalization of templates stops deletion by making your approach instantly authentic.

Non-customized templates earn the delete key. Customized get acted on more often — at scale. That’s the best part.

Set your goals accordingly. Develop:

  • A set of  two to four subject lines that perform well (earn opens)
  • two to three reliable, customize-able cold messages to start conversations
  • Three to five template drafts that can be applied depending on the response type

Remember: Sales email templates help you customize (not send) faster. Just like a good call script, strong email templates are personalized, flexible. Good luck!

Sales Email Templates: This Is Where You’ll Get Stuck

Nothing (and I mean nothing) works better in your cold email message than immediately proving you are not another lazy, cut-and-paste sales rep. Sales email templates don’t work. Personalized messages that can be scaled do. Nothing screams “impersonal” more than a template email script. Yet most of us (me too) use templates. The trick is to slightly personalize them.

resending emailNothing (and I mean nothing) works better in your cold email message than immediately proving you are not another lazy, cut-and-paste sales rep.

Sales email templates don’t work. Personalized messages that can be scaled do.

Nothing screams “impersonal” more than a template email script. Yet most of us (me too) use templates. The trick is to slightly personalize them.

So Why Isn’t It Working?

Why is your carefully-crafted, brief-blunt-and-basic, “first touch” cold email message not earning response from prospects?

You are probably:

  • Researching companies and contacts on LinkedIn.
  • Focusing the message on the buyer’s goal or problem, not your solution.
  • Piquing interest with a case example that adds value.
  • Provoking prospects to talk about themselves — not about buying (yet).
  • Using referrals when possible to warm the prospect up.

So what gives?

Full stop. I’m not talking about lazy forms of personalization — the ones that seem personalized to you. You know exactly what I’m talking about: broad observations that apply to groups of prospects. They scale nicely.

But that’s why they don’t work.

Your personalization must be:

  1. Specific: Make an observation about the company or prospect that shows you aren’t just spamming buyers.
  2. Researched: Research takes time. Taking time to research is rare. Spamming is common.

When real personalization is applied, your email screams “this isn’t spam, I did my homework on you” to the reader. Literally.

3 Reasons Your Value-Added Email Doesn’t Work

It’s likely your message (at quick glance) looks like what’s already flowing into your buyers’ inboxes. And these messages are mainly from your competitors. You’re blending in, from subject line to first sentence and onward.

Your personalized email still looks too much like what prospects habitually delete.

And that is a shame. You deserve better.

Here are three of the most common problems I see plaguing my seller students:

  1. Subject line is too specific, and common. It reveals too much about the contents.
  2. Subject and message are screaming, “canned/impersonal sales pitch ahead!”
  3. Your value-added is not provocative and your message is still not brief enough.

If your message requires scrolling on a mobile device, it’s still too long. Chew it down even more. I know … crazy, right? Try it.

If your subject line is too specific, prospects will not be curious enough to open the message. Likewise, if it reads like 90 percent of the inbound emails from your competitors do — you’re sunk!

Writing Effective InMail and Sales Emails: Don’t Ask for the Appointment

Here’s my best tip on writing effective sales emails or LinkedIn InMail messages: Don’t ask for the appointment. Instead, earn permission for a discussion. Then, execute it (via email) in a way that creates an urge in the prospect to ask you for the appointment. Sound crazy? Sound too difficult? It’s not. I’ll even give you a template.

Here’s my best tip on writing effective sales emails or LinkedIn InMail messages: Don’t ask for the appointment. Instead, earn permission for a discussion. Then, execute it (via email) in a way that creates an urge in the prospect to ask you for the appointment.

Sound crazy? Sound too difficult? It’s not. I’ll even give you a template.

Asking for Appointments Destroys Response Rates
“Any time you begin your sale with an attempt to get an appointment, you are being rejected by approximately 90 percent to 97 percent of perfectly good prospects,” said Sharon Drew Morgen, inventor of the Buying Facilitation method.

That’s because most buyers don’t know exactly what they need. Or they do have a need but aren’t ready to buy yet. Other buyers have not yet assembled the decision-making team.

Setting an appointment with a seller will happen—but not with you.

Because you asked for it (too early).

The Goal of Your Email or InMail Is Permission
The goal of your “first touch” message is to earn the right to have a discussion. Nothing else. It’s exactly like an effective cold call.

It’s a LinkedIn InMail best practice most sales reps don’t know about. It also works with standard email and is surprisingly simple.

Start writing in a way that gets buyers

  1. affirming (“yes, I will be acting on this”) and eventually
  2. inquiring (“can you tell me more about that?”)

The goal of your email or InMail is to earn the right to step up to the plate—not swing for the wall.

Slow Down Your ‘First Touch’
I recently diagnosed and treated an ineffective InMail message example on recent DMIQ Brunch & Learn webinar, “How to Write Effective Email and LinkedIn Messages that Boost Response.”

In the message, the sales rep is going for the kill. Big mistake. He sent me an InMail message asking me to:

  • Validate the idea of a discussion about his solution
  • Invest time in learning about his service
  • Understand his competitive advantage
  • Refer him to the best decision-maker
  • Consider a “free analysis” (a proposal for his services)
  • Invest time on the phone with him

This is a common (yet ineffective) approach to writing LinkedIn InMail messages.

A Better Approach
The goal of an effective InMail message is NOT to get a meeting or any of the above bullets. If you try to force these you’ll fail. This is what kills your LinkedIn InMail response rate.

Instead, use an InMail message to provoke a “Can you tell me more?” response from a potential buyer. Use the chance to push on a pain—or surface an unknown fact—that the entire decision-making team will applaud you for.

Get on the radar of all decision-makers by asking for permission to facilitate, not discuss need.

Remember, the idea is to present information (content) that helps groups of decision-makers set aside differences, identifies common ground and prioritizes next steps (in the decision-making process).

An Effective InMail Template Example
Here is an effective InMail template for you to try. Let me know how it works for you? Seriously, let me know. Get in touch in comments or email me.

Hi, Sam.

How are you adding new capability to your ______________ [insert area of business your product/services addresses] at any time soon or in future? I work with organizations like ____ [prospect’s business] to make sure ________ [goal].

Would you like to quickly explore, via email, if a larger conversation makes sense? Please let me know what you decide, Sam?

Thanks for considering,
Jeff

Remember, be creative. You don’t need to stick with this template verbatim. Make the tone sound like you. Adjust it. Please get in touch in comments or email me with the results this approach produces for you!

My Best Tips for Writing Response-Generating Emails

When writing sales emails don’t forget to get readers curious—create questions in their minds. It’s the best way to get more response. Today, I’ll show you a simple, effective way to write email that gets customers asking you questions. Philippe Le Baron, a sales productivity coach, has cracked the nut. He figured out how to make customers respond to him in sales emails. He writes to make customers curious about him—in a way they cannot resist acting on. The result: Prospects respond to him more often. Customers reply to get clarity on thoughts his emails provoke.

When writing sales emails don’t forget to get readers curious—create questions in their minds. It’s the best way to get more response. Today, I’ll show you a simple, effective way to write email that gets customers asking you questions.

A Quick B-to-B Example
Philippe Le Baron, a sales productivity coach, has cracked the nut. He figured out how to make customers respond to him in sales emails. He writes to make customers curious about him—in a way they cannot resist acting on. The result: Prospects respond to him more often. Customers reply to get clarity on thoughts his emails provoke.

In LinkedIn InMail or regular email always remember: Plant seeds in your prospects’ minds. Then, create an urge to find out more details using what customers really want as bait.

Get them asking more questions that lead them toward what you sell.

Where to Start
Let’s say you have a LinkedIn Group or e-newsletter where sales prospects subscribe and receive your updates.

You’re probably presenting tips, tricks, answers and shortcuts. But are you writing in ways that create more questions in the minds of buyers? This is the part most sellers forget. They rely too much on formal call to action.

Make sure you create an urge in readers. Speak to them in ways that provoke them … get them to hit reply and ask for details about the thought you just sparked.

Quick example: Philippe Le Baron has a LinkedIn group called Sales Productivity 2.0. His group is filled with prospects who receive occasional updates from him via LinkedIn email. Recently, Le Baron sent an email to prospects.

Follow his simple template by:

  • Making an offer specific to buyers’ seasonal needs.
  • Being useful by giving simple “next steps” to act on the need.
  • Creating curiosity by being action-oriented yet incomplete.

Step 1: Make a Sympathetic Offer
Philippe is making offers specific to seasonal objectives of his prospects. His email starts with, “Here are 3 easy ways to measure your sales management efforts better in 2014.”

Philippe then explains why most of his customers tend to fail. He makes it clear quickly. In essence he communicates, “I understand what you are struggling with.”

He continues with “Improving the impact of your effectiveness as a sales manager can be very tricky, that’s why most sales managers …” Here, Philippe bullet-points his buyers’ pain. He takes special care to include how it feels to fail. This opens the door to talk about his cure … a prescription for improvement.

Step 2: Tell Them ‘You CAN,’ Then Show Them How
Next, Philippe quickly gives prospective buyers what they want: Three simple steps that sound easy to act on. He gives this advice following the Golden Rule of copywriting: Help your customers believe they can; get them confident in themselves.

Tell them they can do it, then immediately arm them with weapons to succeed. Show them how. In his email, Philippe writes:

“Improving the effectiveness of sales managers is actually much simpler than most people think: you only need to focus on 3 very specific things…

  1. the duration of your weekly 4cast meeting
  2. the specific sales management productivity metrics you measure
  3. the coaching questions you ask once you’ve adopted the right ‘Lion Tamer’ mindset”

Philippe’s use of the phrases “much simpler than most people think” and “3 very specific things” help create curiosity.

Other words and phrases that create curiosity include:

  • Unusual
  • Odd
  • Simple technique
  • Different
  • One small thing
  • Surprising

Step 3: Get Them Intensely Curious
Philippe plants seeds. He creates a call to action without actually making the call. He creates intense, irresistible curiosity about himself.

Philippe’s three tips create more questions in customers’ minds. Questions that he knows buyers will have a deep, burning urge to get answered.

These include:

  • What is a 4cast meeting? Is that like a forecast meeting?
  • What are the best productivity metrics? Am I measuring the right ones?
  • What do you mean “Lion Tamer” mindset? That sounds like something I should know about if I want to succeed.

These questions pop into the heads of readers by design. Philippe is getting customers to respond more often because he is prompting them to ask these questions—questions that ultimately relate to what he sells.

Yet the prospect isn’t being “sold to” at all. That’s the beauty of these social media copywriting tips. Prospects are conversing with Philippe. They’re warming up as leads.

All based on the structure of his email message—the words he uses and the timing of those words.

Try This 3-Step Process
Customers want email messages, blog posts, YouTube videos and social media updates that help them:

  1. believe there is a better way
  2. realize they just found it (through you!) and
  3. ACT on that realization—to get what they want (giving you a lead)

That’s why Philippe uses the technique across all digital media to drive more leads his way (not just email).

Philippe writes in a way that customers cannot resist. They become curious and cannot help but reach out and contact him. Why? To get clarity on the thoughts his messages are provoking in their minds.

Good luck applying these tips for writing effective emails in your business!