Everyone these days is constantly checking their email box – so why is email marketing so hard? Let’s take a look at the challenges. For one, it is important to understand that email marketing is a very legitimate form of advertising. This is not the 90’s where SPAMMERS were pervasive. The FTC regulated the industry with the CAN-SPAM act of 2003, and a number of state laws that are more restrictive must guide your commercial emailing efforts. A deep understanding of email compliance requirements has to be your first step. Email compliance requires transparency, ethical messaging, and providing a consumer the ability to opt-out of receiving more emails. It also requires monitoring Publishers for compliance. Every legitimate mailer follows these compliance requirements, but knowing how to avoid publishers who try and game the system and who can get you in trouble takes years of learnings. It is also important to have the technological tools to monitor your campaigns to avoid problems or bad actors.
Reputational risk is another concern companies have with commercial emailing. They perceive that consumers do not like to be emailed, and while true with a tiny percentage of people, most of us understand what the delete button is for. Frankly, if you are emailing compliantly and honoring consumer opt-outs, consumer complaints really are not much of a concern. Many people appreciate being introduced to new products and services, or the response rates would not be what they are. After deploying several hundred million emails a month for a variety of Brand advertisers, the complaints we receive annually are minimal. Let’s call it 2-3 a year, with half of those being from professional litigants who opt-in everywhere, and then use the lesser known state laws to try and extort a few dollars. Not having a firm hand on compliance however can yield much worse problems. The benefits and ability to scale your business however, far outweigh the perceived risks which are minimal and easily addressed. Again, experience counts here, because an understanding of how to navigate through these problems is critical for both peace of mind and cost savings. (more…)
Let’s face it. Nothing has changed our lives more in the past 20 years than the Internet and email. We receive emails delivered to our computers and phone wherever we are, 24/7. In addition to work and personal emails, companies we do business with (or companies who’d like to do business with us!), utilize email to communicate. We have all gotten used to checking our email regularly, and hitting the “X” button to delete the myriad of messages we don’t have an interest in. Email can be used for communicating with existing clients, re-marketing to clients who have already discovered you, or to acquire new, fresh hand-raisers who have an interest in your product now! Emails that pique our interest by introducing us to new products play a significant role in driving our economy.
Millions of leads and sales are generated daily from this advertising medium. In fact, E-mail Marketing has effectively replaced Direct Mail as the preferred method of driving new business.
So why are so few companies marketing this way?
For one, it’s hard. Most companies fail at it. After working with a lot of well-known brands, the stories we hear about their efforts prior to our engagement are relatively consistent. They have tried it, but the sales metrics did not back out, traffic fraud was pervasive, their forms did not convert and so on. Traffic was not only hard to find, policing it for compliance was even harder. Identifying mailers with the the right Demographic lists and who can also “inbox” are also a challenge. Managing your domains or a couple consumer complaint can be daunting. As with all things, experience and good contacts matter. But for every challenge, there is a solution…
Has anyone told you that you have good “phone”? That’s a good start when it comes to the sales communication skills needed for successfully working leads. But how good is the content of your voicemail? Or your follow-up email? Those are the areas where we’re now going to focus on our path to finding success with leads instead of making excuses as to why they fail – now that we’ve already tackled sales culture and contact time, and how to sell your company.
Leaving an effective voicemail. This is an often overlooked, but critical part of the follow-up process. Have a plan or script for this as you often won’t reach a customer on the first call. Think about how you check your own voicemail. I know I quickly check mine without listening to the entire message. We are all busy. If it sounds like a sales call from someone I don’t know…I delete it before I listen to the whole thing and so do you. Engage the consumer and leave a positive first impression that relays that you are following up on their request. It’s important when leaving an enthusiastic voicemail to use something like this:
“Hi <customer name>, I’m following up on the Internet Request you made today for more information on a <product> (confirms their request and personalizes). Based on the preliminary information you submitted (reaffirms their request), I have some great ideas and information to share with you, but I need to have a few additional questions answered so I can provide you all of your options and the information you requested (we need to speak). (Next, provide a benefit): You may be aware that a <product> allows you to… End the message by advising the client to look for your email, provide your contact information, and be sure to use the consumer’s name a second time and that you will be calling again. Repeat your phone number two times slowly. I look forward to providing you this information <name>! (more…)
“It’s not the leads, it’s you!” If you’ve been with us for some time, you know that that’s CEO Bill Baskin’s battle cry when it comes to handling complaints about leads “not working.” We’ve already discussed sales culture and contact time while working leads, but there’s much more when it comes to strategizing how to make successes out of leads. Now we move on to:
Sell yourself and your company
On your initial call, start with a warm and enthusiastic greeting as it is important to get the consumer engaged in the process and build rapport. Be sure to articulate why you are better to work with. Why your company and its fulfillment process is better to work with than your competitor. In other words, how the experience you or your company provides is different than other companies they may be speaking with. Why your process is easier. Think about these things and differentiate yourself and be the product expert. Let me give you an example.
I sold Mercedes Benz cars for a period early in my career. The leads we received were from customers over an hour away. They had to drive past three competing dealerships to get to mine. How did I overcome this? Well, I developed a script to overcome this frequent objection and nip it in the bud, the conversation went like this:
Me: Have you had a chance to speak with your local dealer? (more…)
Whenever I hear someone complain about leads, my tough talk, signature comeback is: it’s not the leads it’s you. I promised I’d come back with a foolproof strategy for better success with leads, so here we are. Let’s start with sales culture and contact time.
The first thing a company should review before they buy Internet leads is their sales culture. If you historically generate mostly inbound calls to your sales team, getting them to make outbound dials on Internet leads may prove to be a problem, and working them has different challenges as well. With an inbound call sales culture, many sales people would much rather sit around and wait for the phone to ring then make many outbound dials all day. Working Internet leads takes commitment and significant and focused effort, supported by a great sales process. The deals are in there, the question is can you earn them? At some point, the consumer raised their hand and expressed interest in your product. They expressed a desire to learn more.
If inbound calls are your current sales culture, the first thing you need to decide is how you hold your sales people accountable for hitting certain metrics working Internet leads. You should track outbound dials per day, contact rate, total talk time, quotes given, applications taken, loans funded, plus whatever other milestones your company utilizes. I like to start (more…)
I’ve run a number of sales teams in my career, and spent some time in the mid 90’s training automobile dealers on how to create an effective sales process working Internet leads that was the antithesis of their traditional sales process. (This was with the very first Internet lead company, autobytel.) Managing my own consumer fulfillment sales teams since those times, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that “the leads were not good,” I’d be a rich man. My response has always been: “Then why is so-and-so consistently making $20k-$30k a month working the same leads you are?”
As a lead generator, I’ve worked with thousands of advertisers over the years. I’ve had the opportunity to share processes with and aggregate best practices. Some of these clients have seen tremendous ROI and consider leads the best thing since sliced bread, yet a few don’t see success using a subset of the very same leads. Why is that? Because: the leads are only as effective as you are. Process, positioning, and competitiveness matter. Engagement with the consumer also matters…a lot. A microcosm of this is why most sales organizations consistently have certain sales people at the top of the board, the middle of the board, and those who should seek other employment.
The top producers are not necessarily more talented than anyone else. (Although that is a small part of it.)
As 2015 was fast receding, it was time for the crew at EPath Digital to put this year in the rear view mirror. As the proud CEO, I hosted everyone in my home for a Monte Carlo Night themed event. With chefs preparing amazing appetizers and gourmet sliders, and the bar pumping out shots and drinks (responsibly), everyone ate and drank their fill. Dressed up in all black for some holiday glam (it was great to see everyone get into the spirit), we had an absolute blast.
Since Monte Carlo was the name of the game, we rolled up our sleeves for a night of some serious (ok, not too serious) gambling. With many great prizes on the line, all proceeds bought raffle tickets to win items including the iPad Mini won by Chris Fangre and the Beats Studio Headphones won by Melanie Jarrett. As such, our crew and guests hit the blackjack, craps, and roulette tables hard, and the screams of the winners echoed across the back canyon. Everyone was a winner and the Craps table was running hot!
In all, it was a fun evening of food and entertainment, great company, many laughs and battle-hardened stories of victories won during the year, and the promise of an even better one to come in 2016.
Happy Holidays to all our employees, our families who support us, and our great clients who sustain us. We are truly grateful and look forward to many, many more good times to come.
See you next year!
(More party pics after the jump!)
For the second year, Epath Digital was proud to be a Silver Sponsor of the 2015 annual NRMLA Reverse Mortgage industry conference. San Francisco is always a great town for a conference as the food, sights, and night life make for a great destination. The well attended conference was held at the famous and historic Palace Hotel, whose stunning architecture complimented the event.
Displaying at Booth 13 next to Urban Financial, EPD had the opportunity to meet with and speak with the majority of our lender clients, as well as many new to the industry or our company. We learned a lot, shared a lot, but more importantly, had a great opportunity to spend some social time with many of our valued clients. Breakout sessions included information on HECM counseling, loss mitigation options, consumer protections, origination, SAFE Act and financial assessment, and more.
The “Gala” was put on by the industry’s larger lenders including Urban Financial, Liberty Home Mortgage, RMS, and AAG and was an amazing night of food, music, networking, and charity giving. EPD stepped up to the plate with total donations of more than $2,000 to support the Curry Senior Center, a non-profit organization serving homeless and low-income seniors in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District. We were happy to support this worthwhile organization as it strives to improve the lives of local residents.
All in all it was a great event to attend for anyone serious about the Reverse Mortgage industry, and EPD was delighted to offer our continued support.
After frankly discussing some misleading quotes from Consumer Advocacy I wanted to close out my notes on the recent Washington, D.C. FTC workshop I attended by looking towards the future. This is something I’m extremely passionate about, and one of the reasons I am honored to be a Board member of the exciting new LeadsCouncil (www.leadscouncil.com), whose goals are creating new strategies for upholding ethical values and compliance.
At the conference, protecting the consumer Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and distribution of that data was the subtext behind all of the panel discussions. Further, providing transparency on how many times the data will be distributed to the consumer through disclosures is key.
Proposed ways to further protect the consumer:
- Require all providers to meet Initial standards to deliver interested consumers to the client
- Set up disclaimers and privacy policies for the consumer to read and understand.
- Verification pop-ups
- Set up filters to eliminate non-qualified consumer or redirect them if not.
- Set up opportunities to not collect non-qualified leads.
- Set up better lead qualifiers as well as confirmations on submittals
- Verify data through a data clearing house to make sure information is accurate
- Auditing call centers
- Data gathering technology to go and find violators to protect the consumer
My overall impression of what’s to come from the FTC is that if you are…
It’s good to be home from an important recent FTC workshop on online lead generation, which I attended with my Chief Compliance Officer and panelists Greg Gragg and Michael Ferree, two fellow board members of our exciting new LeadsCouncil – that you are invited to join. As a compliance-focused member of the Digital Performance Marketing industry for the past two decades, I very much looked forward to this event. After first breaking down all of the lead generation players and detailing exactly what is important to whom, I turned my eye to some often-misleading quotes from the Consumer Advocacy side of things.
Who doesn’t find some frank feedback useful?
Some classic quotes (and my opinions on what they said) from the Consumer Advocates, many of whom paint the industry with the broad brush of misunderstanding or zealotry:
“If a prospective student submits a lead, they’ll get calls from 100s of schools”. – Not true…well most of the time.
David Halperin – Consumer Advocate Attorney
“In the for-profit school business, they use strippers as recruiters” & “If I were you, I would never enter my phone number anywhere on the Internet.” – I am sure a stripper got a job as an admission rep somewhere, but it is not the norm. Mr. Halperin appeared more interested in making a name for himself with his outrageous statements than finding workable solutions. (more…)