Home » Reposts

Category: Reposts

Articles by William Wickey originally posted on another domain.

Should You Use Medium As Your Business Blog Platform?

Marketers, are you wondering whether you should publish your company blog as a Medium publication?

Medium has had its moments as a content platform for business and brands. It was greeted by marketers with skepticism, praised, over-praised, lambasted, and finally “abandoned”. Six years after launch, Medium has settled in as a mature product that can be evaluated more objectively, outside of the initial hype cycle. Medium has its pros and its cons as a blog platform for business.

As Director of Product Marketing and Growth at Crowdbotics, I chose to adopt a Medium-first blog strategy for our company blog because of Medium’s benefits in content distribution and post engagement — as well as a few other factors I’ll go into below.

If you see similarities in your business model, audience, or brand, Medium might be the right blog platform for your business.

Read more

Garth Moulton on Jigsaw, The Napster of B2B Contact Data

Garth Moulton, Jigsaw“I owed people money. I needed to make money fast.”

This was the start of Garth Moulton’s career in technology.

Garth Moulton is the SVP of Business Development at Pipl. Before Pipl, Garth co-founded and scaled Jigsaw which was acquired by Salesforce in 2010 to power their Data.com database.

As a pioneer in B2B contact data, Garth shares a few lessons about hiring the right people, life after selling, and moments of disaster.

In Garth’s words, here’s how the pieces fell into place. (First and last obligatory puzzle pun.)

My 20’s were the 90’s in San Francisco

I was selling client server Unix development tools to CIOs at huge companies in Massachusetts. It was very technical. I was a history major and I made out well.

After about a year and a half I followed the wave to San Francisco right at the beginning of the internet boom.

My 20’s were the 90’s in San Francisco and I was a software sales guy. It was pretty awesome. It went by really, really fast. And all of a sudden it was over.

Basically, I went from being a free-wheeling single sales guy making more money than I knew what to do with to being married, my wife was pregnant and I was living in a third floor walk-up in North Beach. And just being the top sales guy, jumping from company to company wasn’t going to hack it anymore.

So, I got together with another sales guy, Jim Fowler, who was my manager, friend, and rival at the time. We were working for a company doing email marketing, right after the tech bust. It was commodity-based, competitive selling against Cheetah and some of the other companies that were out there. It was just kind of bad.

I went into his office and said “dude, this sucks. I’m out of here.” He told me, “wait, I don’t like it either, but don’t quit. We should start a company.”

My question was “doing what?”

His answer, “I haven’t totally figured it out yet.”

Garth-MoultonWe Quit

We went through a couple of ideas that were really far-fetched.

This was the start of my role as being the sort of brass tacks sales guy. My partner was the dreamer and the idea guy. I was the guy who told him, “that’s not going to work. People don’t think like that. That’s not how that works.”

One day, he literally spit out the idea for Jigsaw, which was a community-based data source. People called it a mountain of business cards. We sort of based it on Wikipedia. This was the dawn of user-generated content and we just said, “let’s get all the salespeople out there together and get them to scoop all their content data.” At the time, we found that the salespeople were spending 30 to 40 to 50 to 80 percent of their time just trying to find contact data.

I mean if your company was rich enough to have Hoovers, which a lot of these companies weren’t, all you had was the 1-800 number for Cisco and John Chambers and three other people on the board. They’re not going to take your phone call to talk about email marketing. Or anything for that matter.

So, there was an undeniable need. None of the big data companies would go anywhere near the info groups and the Hoovers of the world. At that point they wouldn’t go anywhere near email addresses at all. It was considered private. We thought that was crazy. That’s all that salespeople needed.

Not only did we not have our own money to put into the company, we had to have other salaries because we both owned houses that we couldn’t afford. I had a baby on the way. He had a baby just born. So in 2003, when VCs were not putting money into anything, we were just two sales guys with a presentation. We got seriously laughed out of several meetings. Nobody wanted anything to do with us.

But Jim Fowler, my CEO and co-founder, he was very persuasive and he had a stepdad and he had a friend who was one of the early investors in Cisco. Through them, we got to a small VC firm. We wrangled out $750,000, which we called an A round at the time. It was really a seed round. We basically had 6 months to hire technology guys and get this thing out there. We got a VC to take a chance on us and it was great. Now that it’s said and done, it’s tempting to say “oh, VC’s…”

But with no VC money, there’s no Jigsaw, so it was pretty great.

A Mountain of Business Cards

This is early 2004. We had three technology people and while they were building the website, I was going out to every sales guy I knew, and every small data company and every small inside sales lead generation outfit (those were pretty rare at that point).

All these big companies started talking about “should we get an inside sales team?”

Sales enablement, lead generation analysis, this whole market that LeadGenius is doing so well in just didn’t exist at the time. So I was going out to all these people and saying, “we need your data. We need your database.” We had people lifting their Salesforce databases and sticking them right into Jigsaw, and that’s how we got started. It wasn’t like a Facebook story, but we knew from the day that we launched the website that we were on to something.

At first we hired three guys on Craigslist to go after a list of inside sales technology managers in the Bay Area and basically just give them access to our database and it used to be kind of fun. It was just three guys and they’d get on the phone with somebody and maybe that person was hemming and hawing and I’d just grab the phone and be like, “oh, you’re all good with B2B leads in the Bay Area? With all these companies?” I’d read off their website the companies they’re working with and I’d tell them “ok, I’m going to talk to your founder or the VP and tell them you guys are all square with leads because that’s the only reason I can think of why you would not sign up for this right now.”

And 100% of the time, they’d say, “OK,” because we were giving it away. That’s how we seeded it.

We were just setting the needle with these guys because they got used to being able to go on Jigsaw. We didn’t have anywhere near 100% coverage but we had, particularly for corporate companies in the Bay Area, and very quickly through the U.S., at least a handful of names that weren’t the CEO. We had direct dial telephone numbers and we had an email address. And that’s all you needed really at the time to just Trojan horse into the organization: just to be able to have a conversation.

We did a beta period over 2004 and we thought a membership to Jigsaw was going to be like your cell phone plan, where you put it in as an expense and you own the data.

We were really big about the democratization of data. We were very quickly pounded into submission by the market.

I got calls from, ironically, Salesforce, from Cisco, from Oracle, whose inside sales teams said “we don’t even care about Hoovers, we don’t care about the Cisco database, we just care about Jigsaw. Everybody is using it, it’s got data nobody else has.”

Garth Moulton 2

The Napster of Contact Data

From the start, we were actually quite scared that if anything was going to shut it down, it would be the privacy police. Or one of the other data companies.

We went at privacy completely differently than any other company. We raised the lightning rod. We said “yeah, we’re Jigsaw, this is the data we have.” People thought we were the Napster of contact data. And we really were. But a business card isn’t a song, it’s not a creation. The only trademarkable thing on a business card is the logo for the company. Everything else is just information; it’s not private. We didn’t allow cell phones, so it was your business email, which now is laughable but this is just as LinkedIn and Facebook were just starting to blow up, so they were awesome with basically pounding everyone into submission. I mean, they had pictures of their kids at graduation, we were just a business card. But at the time, it was pretty revolutionary.

Pearl Harbor Day

I remember the first year, on Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, we had two women in private practice for PR and that was something we spent really heavily on from the start. We had almost no marketing, but we had PR.

We raised $750,000 and we were spending $10,000 a month to our PR firm, so it was important.

We thought we might get taken down in the PR world, so we wanted to make sure we were out in front of it. They got Fowler’s face pixelated on the front page of the business section of the Wall Street Journal and it came out earlier than we were expecting and we had almost forgotten about it.

Our sales guy, the one from Craigslist, that was covering the East Coast, he called me up at 5:00am and he was like, “you’ve got to come in.” I was like, “what?” “Everybody has to come in. The article hit.”

It was like something from a movie. All of Jigsaw was in a small room and everybody was picking up the phone and explaining to people what Jigsaw is and how you sign up. By then we were about six months into it and we were signing up something like sixty, seventy people a day. Mostly sales people, starting to get some marketing people; and now we signed up like ten thousand people. Some crazy number like that signed up for the site.

Let’s Fight in Public so Everyone Can See It

Another crazy day in our history was about a year later, Michael Arrington — who’s a total douchebag by the way; I’d say it to his face — he basically wrote in TechCrunch that Jigsaw is evil.

TechCrunch was all there was in 2006. Everybody was reading TechCrunch; there was no Pulse, all these other news sources for technology didn’t exist. Everybody in our world read it.

At first, we were like, “wow.” We had a privacy lawyer, we needed a privacy lawyer right from the beginning and we were able to get somebody who had been a litigator who just moved out here and wanted to move into privacy law, so we got him for cheap.

He was there and telling us to shut it all down, but of course we ignored him and we just got right out in front of it.

My CEO very publicly said he wanted to have a debate with Michael Arrington and the commenters on TechCrunch. It was one of the first times they shut the comments down because they were coming in 100 to 1 of “you’re an idiot,” “you don’t understand what the world is like,” “these guys are fine,” to one person saying “yeah, Jigsaw is evil.”

It was so telling. Our Google index jumped up and millions of more people came to our website. It really cemented that we were no longer afraid of privacy,. In fact,we always turned it to our advantage; we welcomed it. We said “yeah, let’s fight. Let’s fight in public so everyone can see it.” Our biggest challenge was just getting the word out that Jigsaw exists and you can get this data and you cannot get it anywhere else.

I used to always say, we have the advantage of being in the shallow water in terms of privacy. We’re not out over our head, where we’re going to drown, but we’re in deep enough where companies like D&B just aren’t going to go out there.

After two and a half years of being in business, Dun & Bradstreet reached out to us. I remember on the conference call, the guy, their VP of Product or something, said “you guys own the contact market in the U.S.,” and I was like, “anybody hear that? We own the contact market! At least they think we do, so that means we do.” They actually tried to buy us in 2008. We shopped the deal, but then the economy fell and we thought “well, we’re probably not going to sell until the economy comes back up.”

But that didn’t happen because 15 months later, Salesforce bought us.

Garth Moulton 3

Which CRM Should I Use?

We were always very closely associated with Salesforce and we were one of their few partners that through everything, before the AppExchange, after the AppExchange, that was actually driving deals to them.

We had companies that were asking us which CRM they should use, or should they make the jump to Salesforce. It wasn’t just us saying that. We had reps, which is the only way to get to Salesforce. The only thing they respond to is power.

Some of their big accounts were saying “our deals are getting hung up on whether Jigsaw says it’s a good idea to move forward with it and we need to prove it’s going to be a seamless transition putting Jigsaw data into Salesforce. It was pretty nice, that definitely got their attention.

We Hired Everybody

I covered everything to do with customers, everything customer-facing or outwardly-facing. Fowler handled the press, the investors and the board, which was well over half his time, and the product people.

The first thing I gave up was marketing because having a sales guy, especially one that talks like me, being in charge of marketing is not good.

In meetings that I run, I can’t be the guy that says I don’t give a shit what color the website is or what this copy looks like, and I realized I wasn’t the right person. So the first thing we did was to get a marketing person. If there is a spectrum in marketing between sort of the brand and marketing with a capital ‘M’ on one side and the real quant, lead growth, on the other, we needed someone way on the growth side, and we had that person.

He was actually really great until he wasn’t; until we started to get larger and more corporate and then we needed someone a little better with the brand and corporate materials and corporate relationships.

At that stage, I could not hold onto salespeople. After about 18 months, my biggest stress was holding onto salespeople.

We were paying them by the hour (in the Bay Area) at the time and they were coming into contact with so many other growing companies that were willing to quadruple what they earned.

Many times I was still using Craigslist to hire. I hired two hardcore drug addicts, like showing-up-to-work-wide-eyed drug addicts. The last straw for me was when I hired an honest-to-goodness con man. We later found out he was hatching some sort of scheme opening credit cards with the Jigsaw name and soliciting individuals and I said, “that’s it. We have to do something differently.” My co-founder Jim Fowler knew some people doing sales calls in Post Falls, Idaho and we partnered with a guy and we opened up an office.

Throughout the life of Jigsaw we hired everybody we could hire. Usually sales, support, some data folks, some marketing people and HR, but by the time we sold to Salesforce, we had 165 employees and about 100 of them were in Post Falls, Idaho.

Helicopter Money

I get asked this a lot, “well, you sold for $175 million, what are you doing here?”

When we started Jigsaw, we not only did not have our own money to put in, we had to take money and we had zero leverage. Less than zero.

So, for that $750,000 the investors got 40% of the company, but they also made us set up a 20% option pool for employees, which was great, but it meant that 60% of the company from day-one went to somebody else.

We did two subsequent rounds which, all told, we took $18 million and those rounds were way more fun because then we were auditioning the VCs. The market went from this nuclear winter, where VCs were getting in trouble for not investing in anything, to the summer of 2004, where there just weren’t that many deals to be had.

We were actually already making money so in some cases we were totally rude when VCs came to us hat in hand. That was really fun. We got to say, “nah, you don’t even get to wait in line. Next!”

Out last round we took in 2006 was unbelievable,. We were always quadrupling, at a minimum, the value of the company and being able to get better and better terms.

The long and short of it is when we sold, it wasn’t like I got half of the $175 million. I got a single-digit percentage.

Don’t cry for me, I made money, I made life-changing money, but I did not make, as my friends call it, “helicopter money.” I do not have a helicopter.

Garth Moulton 5

Epilogue: Life After Acquisition

I feel like I can objectively say we came to market with something that was absolutely needed and was not being provided by anyone.

Conceptually, we have this great idea and in terms of timing and the market, we came right as the social networks were coming out (even though we were the opposite of a social network, our users were anonymous to each other), people saw us in that social category. Then there was user-generated content and Web 2.0. We were one of the few companies making money, so we caught these waves and we were able to get some really talented people.

We got really lucky with an architect for the product and a bunch of other things went our way. I guess my point is it still took us eight years to exit. You get put as this “wow, what a success story,” or whatever, but so many things had to go right for it to be successful.

Something that has been pounded into my head is it’s not easy.

Sometimes, when people whose only job experience is they caught the tiger by the tail and worked at Facebook in the day or whatever, but I’d love to see the stats about after you’ve had one success or been part of one success, what happens to the next company?

I founded a company that nosedived. We raised some money and then… nothing.

Fowler started a company, raised $17 million, basically birthed out a product, an MVP after a year, and it was DOA. He pivoted into another company, which is actually starting to do quite well. Especially when you’re a sales-driven company and you talk to other companies, it’s easy to have the perception that everyone else is on a rocketship to the top and we’re not.

Don’t base your inside on other people’s outside. I would say it works for Facebook or life. So many things have to go right and the Facebooks of the world really are one in a multimillion for the most part.


Q: Outside of a degree from an Ivy-league, what were some things you looked for when hiring candidates?

I would actually look for that and disqualify them.

For what we were doing, it was totally sales-driven. It was hand-to-hand sales-driven.

A problem we had was that we’d call sales people and they’d flip the call. They’d say, “ok, we’ll buy Jigsaw. You should buy our software.” I had to say, “no, everybody does actually need our software and we really don’t need your stuff.”

What I’m looking for is drive. I’m looking for someone who has a chip on their shoulder. If they’re smart, that’s great, but someone who feels like everything is owed to them, which I found most people from Ivy-league or good schools, you’d have to convince me why you weren’t going to come in with that attitude. That you were really going to drive because you wanted to win. Being smart is great, but it can totally get in your way as well. It’s about persistence and drive.

Q: Did you ever have any WFIO (We’re F**cked It’s Over) Moments?

We were just about to come out of our beta phase, which was a couple months after we launched the site, and we had 1500 users. We were right on the verge of running out of runway and we were taking our next round of funding. This was a very important time in our history and it was just about to happen. We didn’t have an email marketing system and we didn’t have a marketer; I had hired a guy who had been my customer who I thought kind of knew what he was doing, he had twenty years of experience in enterprise marketing and we had to let all our customers know about a pretty sensitive topic. Essentially, we were saying that from this day on, everyone pays for Jigsaw. You either pay for the data or your need to have points. You need to put data in.” Our VCs were imploring us, “do not do this! You need to get huge and then you start,” and I said “uh uh, we’re just going to take our lump right now.”

So we had to send an email to our 1500 users. I even sat down with the guy and said “don’t send all these out at once,” because he was using Outlook, his personal email. “Don’t send them all out at once.”

“Yeah, come on.” “Ok, great.” Three hours later, he walks into my office and says, “I think I just F’d up.”

“Try me,” I mean we’re screwing things up all the time.

“Well,” then suddenly my desk phone starts to ring, then my cell phone starts to ring, so I look up and ask him “what did you do?”

“Uh…well, I sent out the email…”

“You sent them out all at once.”

“Uh… yeah. Also…”

“Hold on a minute,” then I pick up my phone and it’s one of my friends who’s also in technology.

“Dude, you guys are such morons! Get on your email!”

The guy had put all of our 1500 users’ emails in the “To:” field, so people were hitting “reply all” saying “you guys are such idiots!” And I wasn’t getting it in my email because our own spam filter was blocking it.

Then our lawyers bursts in my office saying, “shut it all down. Shut it all down.” “What do you mean shut it all down? What’re we going to do?”

We were literally in the paperwork stage of getting this new round of funding, and we had to go out and say “I know it appears like we’re just two sales guys flying at the seat of our pants, but we really know what we’re doing here, technically. We’ve got this thing locked down.” Obviously that’s not even close to being true. That sales guy actually leaves, saying, “I’m gonna get out of here before I screw anything else up.”

At first, we tried to jump in and drink from this firehose of hate, not having any idea of what to do and Fowler says, “give me a second,” while our lawyer is still pleading with us to “shut it all down! Disavow it! Say we didn’t do it!”

“No, we’re not doing any of that.”

Fowler wrote this awesome email saying, “look, we totally screwed this up, this is exactly what we did, we’re totally sorry. This is my home phone number, this is my home address, this is my cell phone number. This is Garth’s cell phone number, this is where he lives. If you want to come choke us out, do it.”

If sentiment of the communications were on a positive-negative graph, it was completely flipped. It was 99-1 people hating on us to the complete opposite. People were actually saying, “oh man, this reminds me of something I did at my company, you guys are fine.”

We talked to our VC who said with a wry smile, “no, we’re still going to put the money in, you guys are still an awesome deal. This is why you need a little bit more money, so you can get a real marketer in there and make it happen.”

That was definitely a WFIO moment.

Originally posted at LeadGenius.com


How To Build Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

ICP = Decision Making Panel @ Qualified Accounts

Who are your core B2B customers?

Which accounts have long-term success? Which use cases coincide with your company’s strengths? Which customers drive the most revenue?

This is your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

An Ideal Customer Profile is a starting point. It can be used as a benchmark to qualify inbound leads. It can be used as a template for generating outbound leads.

A clearly defined ICP aligns the efforts of every department, starting with Sales and Marketing, but extending all the way to Product and Customer Success. Marketing uses an ICP for messaging and targeting. Sales uses the ICP to proactively address pain points and objections during the selling process. New product features should be built around your ICP, as should onboarding and support materials.

If you target multiple verticals, industries, buyer personas, or sell multiple products to different audiences, you might have a few ICPs. As you learn more about your audience, your ICP(s) will evolve over time.

When identifying your best customers, ask yourself these 4 questions:

  • Which customers are likely to have success vs. churn?
  • How difficult and/or expensive will it be to acquire a given type customer?
  • Which accounts have the most growth potential?
  • Which accounts have the most potential for advocacy or referrals?

The answers to these questions are quantifiable with CRM or marketing automation data.

An ICP is a data-informed segment of your overall audience. The profile you build should be specific, but not limiting. Your ICP should represent a sizable chunk of your total addressable market that can be further segmented for messaging and tracking. More information for each account leads to deeper knowledge of customer patterns over time.

At the end of the day, a good ICP is built on high-quality customer data. Here are data points you need to build an actionable Ideal Customer Profile.

Demographic Data

First Name. Last Name. Job Title. B2B demographic data for individual contacts is typically straightforward.

That being said, B2B contacts, by nature, do not exist in a vacuum. According to Forrester, the average B2B decision making panel contains 5.7 individuals. The larger the deal size the more people that are likely to be involved. Simple demographic data points take on new layers of complexity when mapped within an account’s organizations structure.

ideal customer profile matrix


A well-built Ideal Customer Profile contains multiple tiers of contacts for message personalization. When sourcing outbound leads for a B2B account, it is ideal to identify anywhere from 3 to 10 contacts with different roles and responsibilities. Sourcing multiple contacts enables marketers to leverage dynamics of group psychology to close an account faster.

Additional demographic data points of interest include social media information, employment history, and shared connections.

Because of hires, separations, acquisitions, etc., the average B2B sales and marketing database decays at over 3% per month. B2B demographic is straightforward to source but can be difficult to keep fresh.

Firmographic Data

Firmographics are to companies what demographics are to people. Firmographics are the meat of a B2B Ideal Customer Profile.

Common firmographics include,

  • Industry
  • Number of Employees
  • Annual Revenue
  • Geographic Location
  • Age of Company
  • Capital Events

Firmographic attributes such as these are used to aggregate businesses into meaningful market segments.

Technology Use

Technology is an important component of an ICP for a number of reasons.

  • Knowing what technologies are currently in the company’s stack can tell you whether there is an existing connection/interface that might help drive or stall a deal.
  • Technology can help you approximate how much budget a company has to work.
  • Taking a look at existing tools will indicate whether the account has early or late technology adopters.
  • Technology can tell you if there are existing systems in place that might limit or overlap with the functionality of your solution.

Like any other component of an ICP, technology use can also be used to tell you which accounts not to target.

Common technology data points used for lead generation include,

  • Audio and video technologies services
  • CRM
  • Marketing Automation
  • eCommerce tools
  • Payment methods accepted
  • Digital advertising platforms
  • Web and email hosting
  • Monthly traffic

The average sales reps only spends 33% of their time on actual selling. The rest of the time is spent researching prospects and data entry for data points like these.

Specialized Data

A good Ideal Customer Profile usually contains between 1 and 3 specialized data points. A custom data point is any piece of information that requires advanced intelligence or judgment to compile.

Here are a few examples of custom data points LeadGenius customers have used to personalized email outreach campaigns:

  • Is the company currently hiring Sales Development Representatives (SDRs)? If so, how many?
  • What conferences is the company attending or sponsoring in the next year?
  • Local real estate tax rates
  • Estimates on companies’ sales volume
  • Square footage of roof space
  • High, low, and median temperature by ZIP code
  • Average value of items in an eCommerce store by category
  • Business licence filings

Each of these data points can be used for message personalization in the marketing and sales process, as well as for segmentation and analytics.

According to Marketo, a 10% increase in lead quality can translate into a 40% increase in sales productivity. Because quality leads are the fuel for your marketing automation machine, seemingly small gains in efficiency make a big difference in the long run. Your Ideal Customer Profile is the benchmark for how you define a quality lead.

It’s important to remember that Ideal Customer Profiles change over time. Most companies build a product or feature with a particular customer in mind. But, there are always surprises when a product is released into the wild.

Refresh or add to your ICP(s) quarterly to test hypotheses about your audience, identify trends, and expand into new market segments.

The process of defining your ICP(s) fosters both inter and intra department alignment. When everyone is on the same page — when messaging, targeting, and the product delivered are consistent — quality customers and revenue will follow.

Originally posted at LeadGenius.com

The Numbers Behind Outbound Sales Emails: Average Conversion Rates (Or, Why That Same Sales Guy Won’t Stop Emailing You)

multiple outbound emails

If your job requires a computer, then you likely spend time each week sweeping back a tsunami of email. A salesman reaches out to your business email address with an offer. Later that week he sends you another message. And then another one. And then another one.

Even if you don’t have the type of job where salespeople solicit your business, you’ve probably received multiple promotional emails from a favorite store or organization.

And when you notice companies sending you the same or similar emails over and over, you probably wonder: If I didn’t answer the first time, do they really think I’ll be interested the fifth time around? Why do they bother to keep sending me emails I don’t respond to?

Well, we’re prepared to answer that question.

At LeadGenius, we help our clients find and communicate with their ideal customers. Part of this process involves helping them send a lot of emails—a process we want to make as efficient and helpful (to both buyer and seller) as possible.

The short answer to why salespeople keep emailing you, even after you ignored their first 4 emails is simple: odds are, you might come around. The numbers don’t lie.

The statistics show that when salespeople continue to send follow-up emails to people who haven’t responded yet, they win a lot more business.

In fact, our data suggests that most salespeople give up too quickly and should possibly send you more emails—32% of the positive replies that our customers received from leads came in response to their 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th cold email.

If you’ve ever emailed a friend, mentor, or co-worker without hearing a response, you’ve probably debated whether to send another email. Will you seem annoying or desperate?

Salespeople face the same dilemma—at scale. It seems like common sense to assume that the open rate will fall precipitously after the first email. After all, why would anyone open a sales email if they ignored the first one?

But that’s not what happens in practice.

outbound email opens 1

When LeadGenius customers send follow up sales emails—after not having received a response—fewer people open the emails. But the decline is modest: 40% open the first email, and 26% open the fifth email. (These open rates are high for the industry because LeadGenius uses a combination of machine learning and human researchers to identify and send emails to only the most promising leads for a given company. In essence, targeting matters.)

Opens. Clicks. Unsubscribes. These are the metrics most sales and marketing teams uses to measure the success of their email campaigns. These numbers are used not because they are what matter most, but rather because they are what’s readily available through most email marketing tools.

However, what sales people really care about are positive replies—how many leads respond with interest to an email. LeadGenius keeps tracks this data for customers.

When we look at positive reply by email send, we once again find that the first email leads to the most potential business—but not by much:

positive replies for outbound emails

It seems reasonable after sending 3 emails to assume you won’t get a response. But LeadGenius customers who sent a 4th email received almost as many positive replies as they did from their first email.

The result of this surprising dynamic is that our customers received a whopping 32% of their positive replies from the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th emails they sent.

share of positive outbound emails

Sending a sales email followed by a single follow up email might strike you as a good, polite policy. Yet almost 20% of the successful replies came in response to emails number 3, 4, and 5. If you’re a sales organization, you can’t afford to leave 20% of your potential profit on the table.

One reason why salespeople might shy away from sending so many emails is that it could deter business. Companies work hard to cultivate a positive brand impression. If a sales rep turns into a gnat buzzing around the customer’s head, that could ruin your chances of successfully connecting further on down the road.

Another reason companies might limit their emails is for fear of unsubscribes and SPAM complaints. Under American law, anyone sending an email for business purposes has to offer a way for people to opt-out of future emails, which is usually accomplished by including an Unsubscribe button. By emailing people until they unsubscribe or complain, salespeople risk getting their company’s IP blacklisted.

Yet our data does not show this happening. When our customers email leads, the leads unsubscribe at a lower rate in response to a 5th email than they do to a first email.

unsubs for outbound emails

Even when salespeople send 5 emails without getting a reply, there’s no sign that people revolt at receiving all these emails.

So what’s going on?

Follow-up emails do nearly as well as a first email because all emails risk getting lost in a sea of communication. The Radicati Group research firm estimates that the average worker receives 121 business-related emails each day, and managers who are the targets of sales emails usually receive even more.

Consider the experience that journalist Minda Zetlin relates in an article about pitching a former client. She emailed four times and called twice without receiving a response.

This seems like a clear sign of a lack of interest. But Zetlin called one more time, and the client picked up and agreed to the pitch. “She hadn’t read or didn’t remember my emails or phone messages,” Zetlin writes.

Everyone has different email habits and different ideas about email etiquette. But one constant is that it’s rarely a good idea to assume that someone has seen an email just because you sent it once.

What’s more, many people who are interested in an offer, demo, or conversation simply don’t have time to write a response the first, second, third or fourth time they get email. In this situation, each send nudges them a little bit closer to responding.

So why do you keep receiving the same sales emails over and over? Because it works, and because the only way to reach people lost in a torrent of email is to just keep trying.

Originally posted at priceonomics.com

8 Outbound Email Best Practices and FAQs

outbound email best practices

Getting started with outbound email can feel a little bit like walking around in someone else’s tennis shoes: there’s something familiar about the experience, but initially, it can seem a little bit strange and unwieldy.

You’ve been in sales or marketing for years. You’ve been writing effective emails your whole career. You’ve got the concept of outbound down pat, but basic questions keep popping up.

Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions about outbound email basics answered by LeadGenius’ Customer Success Managers.

Multi-Touch Sequences: It Pays To Automate

How many times should I email a lead?

Stopping short on outbound emails leaves money on the table. The numbers prove it.

When manually sending emails, sales reps often stop reaching out after two or three attempts. The rep thinks, “If I haven’t gotten a response yet, it isn’t going to happen at all.” The rep then moves on to the next lead on their list. This reaction is not unreasonable; it just happens to be wrong. This is why it pays to automate.

An advantage of automating steps in the outbound email process is ensuring that every lead gets the same treatment. There is no “”perfect” amount of follow-up sends. It differs for every client and every industry. However, data from LeadGenius shows that 8 email sequences are right in the sweet spot.

Of all emails sent by LeadGenius on behalf of clients in an 8 email sequence, 36.2% of the positive replies came after the third send.

outbound email open rates

When you stop short after only a few email sends you not only fail to maximize the value of each lead, your reps will burn through leads far quicker than they should.



How should I space out my follow-up emails?

For a company with a 90-day sales cycle, your first-touch cadence might look something like this:

Day 1 Email 1
Day 2 Call 1 (Leave Voicemail)
Day 3 Email 2 + LinkedIn Profile View
Day 4 Call 2 (No Voicemail)
Day 5 Email 3 + Twitter Follow/Like
Day 8 Call 3 (Voicemail)
Day 11 Email 4
Day 15 Email 5
Day 21 Email 6
Day 35 Email 7
Day 50 Email 8


As soon as a prospect responds to this sequence, they should be removed. A positive response goes directly to a sales development rep (SDR) or account executive (AE) for further development. A negative response removes the prospect from future outbound workflows.

Persistence and frequency early on can pay off, but patience wins in the long run. Outbound is not a short game.

Day of Week and Time of Day

When should I send my emails?

When to schedule outbound emails depends entirely on audience.

Ask yourself,

  • Who is the audience of this campaign?
  • What stage of their life are they in?
  • Where do they fall in their company hierarchy?
  • When do they have free moments in the work day?
  • When are they likely to check work email on their phone?

If you find these questions difficult to answer or there is no clear trend, then you either don’t know your audience as well as you should (in which case you messaging is unlikely to connect anyway) or your campaign does not have cohesive targeting.

The only objective way to determine the optimal time to send to a given audience is by looking at the data – your data. If you do not have data on optimal send times for your audience, use your best guess as a starting point, then A/B test to find a starting point for iteration.

Day of the week seems to matter less and less for marketing emails.


However, positive replies to outbound sales emails mostly occur Monday to Friday.

outbound email reply day of week

Unless your data tells you otherwise, confine your sends to business hours.


Messaging Tips

How long should my email be? What should my email say?

Outbound emails should be short and to the point.

There is no firm limit to character count, but if your email exceeds 100 words, you are drifting into no-man’s land.

20-50% of your outbound emails will be opened on mobile. Every message should be simple enough to digest at a glance.

This  is where the art of sales meets the science of outbound. There are many templates, tricks, and techniques to use as guides, but if you’re writing from scratch, the Before-After-Bridge method is an effective way to structure your communication.

  • Before – Here’s your world now. Here’s the dilemma.
  • After – Imagine how good your world would be if this dilemma was resolved.
  • Bridge – Here’s how you get there.


Read your emails aloud before you send them. You might be surprised how different they sound in your head.


Calls To Action

What are some effective CTAs?

Outbound emails should have a single call-to-action.

In most outbound scenarios, the desired call-to-action is an email reply. Email replies are the most direct and reliable way to gauge interest. Opens and clicks only go so far.

Here’s an example of a first-touch outbound email with a strong CTA:

Subject: How is SDR ramping going?

Hey {{first_name}},

You’re hiring SDR’s to ramp up outbound sales.

Getting SDRs ramped can be a major time suck. Sales teams at companies like Box, Weebly, and Base CRM are using LeadGenius to do mass outbound personalization at scale.

LeadGenius data allows SDRs to focus on calling / closing rather than clicking buttons on LinkedIn at $50 an hour, lowering clients overall cost per lead while increasing quality (we have 5% or less bounce rate).

I’d like to give {{company}} some live sales data to A/B test.

Do you have time to connect this week or next?

This email asks a single yes/no question. It can be answered on a phone. It doesn’t put constraints or conditions on the recipient. It simply asks, “Are you interested?” The details can be hashed out later. A simple, “yes” means this person is now in your pipeline.

If the prospect does not respond to you first email, you can use content in subsequent emails to offer additional value. The more targeted and higher-quality the content, the more likely the lead is to engage with it.

Another thing to consider is that retargeting from company websites is ubiquitous these days. If you’re not sure whether your company does it, ask the marketing department. Sending a lead to content on your website will enter them in a retargeting advertising pool which will enable your company’s ads to follow the lead around as they visit other sites, keeping your brand top-of-mind.


Open Rate Benchmarks

What’s a good open rate?

The first thing you should do is look at what’s around the average for opens and clicks in your industry. MailChimp and Constant Contact publish their basic metrics for broad industry categories every couple months. The next thing you should do is forget about industry metrics. They’re not exactly arbitrary, but they will not help inform your strategy.

MailChimp reports that “Professional Services” have a 21% open rate while Constant Contact reports 14% for the same industry. MailChimp has “The Arts” at 28% and Constant Contact has them them 17%. Discrepancies like this are impossible to avoid because there are so many variables at play: targeting, subject lines, industry definitions, etc.

A good open rate is an open rate that’s better than your last. You goal should not be to match benchmarks, but to start somewhere and improve from there.The only way to improve is to better know your audience, test, and iterate.


Reducing Bounce Rate

How do I lower my bounce rate?

Emails bounce for a variety of reasons, including increasingly aggressive spam filters, sender reputation, and database decay. But if your lead data is good, your bounce rate should stay manageable—under 3%.

Do not compare the bounce rate of the first email in an outbound sequence to your marketing newsletter bounce rate. Outbound email campaigns and marketing campaigns behave differently when it comes to bounce rate.

Over the life of a campaign, outbound email bounce rates will decrease over the course of a campaign because undeliverable emails are weeded out with each send. Marketing emails typically maintain a baseline bounce rate because lists are continually replenished with new emails of varying quality.

Long term, follow these best practices to keep your bounce rate in good shape.

Originally posted at LeadGenius.com