Email Marketing: Is it Really Effective?

Make money out of drips

Here’s my disclaimer:

In the early days of starting a company, you have to be scrappy. I’m not going to apologize for it. It’s kill or be killed, and so long as no one is hurt, I think it’s fine to do just about whatever it takes to help your startup survive.

For us, it means sending emails. Lots of them. Some jurisdictions may call it spamming, but we do all the right stuff: we provide an opt-out link and honor those clicks. We hyper-target our emails, so the right people in the right companies get our messages. And our emails are direct and polite. We also read and respond to every single reply.

You might think that’s a bit like robbing a bank while giving your hostages ice tea and lollipops. It’s not like that. First, these are business email addresses. Second, we’re selling great writing, something every business needs. Finally, we’re not flooding the pipes with fake or guessed emails. We have very low bounce rates.

So that’s my soapbox on the gray area surrounding email marketing and scrappy startups.

That being said, on with the juicy stuff.

Last week we sent three new email campaigns and one follow-up. We usually do two email “drips.” A first one that introduces us and has a simple ask, and a second one that serves as a follow-up to those who never responded. Important note: if you replied to the first drip, you won’t get our second one.

We use SugarCE as our CRM, and send all of our emails through Sugar’s campaign module. It makes it easy to then convert people in our campaigns from prospects to leads, contacts, accounts, and opportunities. Here’s the breakdown for our three campaigns last week:

Drip 1 (three campaigns over 2 weeks)
Opens: 10.3%
Leads from opens: 2.8%
Contacts from leads: 12.1%

Drip 2 (last week)
Opens: 14.5%
Leads from opens: 12.3%
Contacts from leads: 3.1%

The most interesting stat here is the higher conversion to lead from open in the second drip. This is typical of our campaigns, and why the second email is so powerful. You will convert on the first drip, but those are the exception and not the rule. These are lucky. You hit someone at the moment of decision and their excitement overrode the other questions: Are you a real company? How did you get my email? Did you actually send this, or am I on an email list?

Also, you will always get a higher open rate on the second email. The difference is usually is 30-40% higher. At this point, your recipient may feel a tinge of guilt, or if they had doubts before, those doubts are washed away with your very polite reminder of your first note.

Email is extraordinarily powerful, and when it’s used responsibly, it can do wonders for your business.