Have I ever told you my favourite story?
It’s a story about failure and not being able to break free. But as I see it, it’s a story about success and motivation.
A tale of how one can use their faults for their own benefit.
Let me tell you the story, it’s called ‘The Elephant Rope.’
As a man was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at any time, break away from their bonds. But for some reason, they did not.
He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” the trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.”
The man was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.
Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it once before?
As I see it, the morale of this amazing story is that like anything else in life, failure is part of the learning process. Learning how to face challenges, learning how to unlock your potential and to be determined and never give up the struggle in life.
I became so used to the challenges, that I wouldn’t know what to do or how to act if I wasn’t facing a problem or a difficult situation.
But instead of driving myself crazy, I learned how to live with the problems and the failures.
I accepted that life is like riding the Ferris wheel.
You start from the bottom, then you begin to move up and you reach the peak. You are finally where you want to be, close to the stars. But then, just like that, the wheel starts to pull you down. Problems start piling up again until you hit rock bottom.
But you know what the good news is?
Once you’ve hit rock bottom you can only go forward from there. There’s no other bottom.
I’ve hit many rock bottoms and reached many peaks since I decided I wanted to be part of the business world.
Outreach is often a bumpy road.
But bumps are part of everything.
There’s no seeing the meadows if you haven’t first hit your head on a couple of rocks.
Or no rainbows without the rain, or however that saying went.
You know what I mean.
In order to top my consulting and outreach game, I needed to learn quite a few tricks.
I needed to learn how to be more patient, how to listen to people and how to show them that I really understood what they were going through.
We live in a spam-rich-society.
All day long we are bombarded with cold calls, cold emails, cold social media messages.
All these people approaching us, believing they have the solution to our problem.
Many time I have told that reaching out to people and trying to pitch right away equals disaster.
So before getting into this too deep, let’s first remind ourselves what email outreach is and what is the proper way to do it.
What is email outreach?
Email outreach (or cold emailing if you prefer), is the activity of creating and sending email campaigns to specific individuals that you haven’t been in touch with to initiate conversation or to get them to take positive action.
People use outreach emails for a lot of purposes. They can be used to build new relationships, generate leads for companies, reach out to influencers, find investors, and a lot more.
This is why people spend time and effort in making their outreach emails great. They can be very useful when done right.
Sending an outreach email means you’re convincing someone you don’t know you’re worth their time.
The average office employee receives about 121 emails daily. This includes emails from contacts they actually know, promotional messages, and cold emails from other people. This means the competition is tough.
With this in mind, it is important that your email stands out in order for your prospective client to consider reading it.
In the beginning, I was doing the mistake of writing my cold email messages long, impersonalized and salesy.
That’s how I got to that rock bottom I was telling you about.
You see, if you really want to stand out you really need to stand out.
And sending long, pushy, salesy emails is certainly not the way to do so.
You should keep a few things in mind when you are writing your cold emails.
- The subject is the first thing your recipients see when they receive your email. Whether or not they’ll open it heavily depends on your subject.
- The next thing is to personalise your emails. There’s something lacklustre about receiving an email that feels like it was sent to 1000 other people. Users can easily tell when an email wasn’t intended specifically for them. An outreach email that isn’t personalised for the recipient is not likely to get a response.
- The final thing is to be specific in your request. People generally don’t have a lot of time; and most people make the mistake of assuming the recipient will know what to do after they read their outreach email.
Do you check these three?
If yes, then you are up for a great email outreach ride!
Manual or automated?
You can do email outreach both ways — manually and automated.
Yes, manual outreach does feel outdated, but believe me, in some cases, is the best choice. When you have a very small and narrow target audience, you should do the outreach manually. Just like an SDR or BDR.
If you ask me, in most other cases, email automation is a must.
There are gazillion automation tools, a few of them specialised in cold outreach, but new ones are probably emerging as we speak. Their main goal is to save you a huge amount of time and provide you with complete reporting in order to understand how to improve your campaigns.
After sending all these messages what you need the most would definitely be some strong reporting. But reporting usually feels like dull, mundane, paperwork and administration. Going over everything you’ve done and just record the workload you did. And in most cases it is.
But it can be much more. A good reporting can give you an insight where to focus your outreach efforts. It can also help you understanding which messages are engaging with your target audience, and which are simply not.
And without reporting, optimisation is impossible. You can’t improve the campaign if you don’t know how it is performing.
We’ve done hundreds of outreach campaigns so far, realising the importance of decent reporting. And we’ve updated our reporting template with each lesson learned.
Without further ado, here is our reporting template.
If you want to use it to your advantage, simply press the “make a copy” button on the google spreadsheet, and you’re ready to go. Or if you prefer to work locally on your PC you can always download it as an Excel file.
So what can you use this email outreach report template for? Do read on.
Email outreach reporting
Any quality email outreach campaign would be impossible without clear reporting. A clear report will give you the insight so you would know what adjustment you need to make to the campaign.
So before digging into reporting, there are a few ground rules that need to be established.
I cannot begin to explain how difficult this is for me, regarding that I love reporting. I love it so much, I would do it constantly.
If I had it my way, I would record literally everything. From time spent on each activity, to funnel wise response rate from the outreach on different channels. In addition, I would closely follow the impact of each message and its conversion rate.
The sole purpose of the reporting is to provide insight on the progress we are making. I’ve fallen into the trap (more times than I am proud to admit) of recording too many things just for the sake of reporting. You know what happened?
My team was spending almost half of their time reporting their activities.
My excuses were all solid.
I had a report on everything, so I knew exactly what worked and what didn’t.
A magical thing.
And it all would have been great if it wasn’t so time-consuming.
Regardless of that, all this recording and reporting helped me tremendously at the beginning of my outreach process.
And whether you’re doing the reporting for yourself or for your clients, it is the foundation of making progress and improving the results.
Email outreach testing & optimizing
Funny enough, even though I had all this load of data in my hands, it rarely gave me any insight.
I mean we are all busy people.
We are part of a fast-paced world that never sleeps.
Wasting a second may cause our business to crumble.
So, I changed the game.
Now instead of tracking everything, we’ve evolved. I would rather know 5–10 key aspects, rather than all the details and lose time interpreting them.
However, we still need reporting.
Firstly because we need to measure the results we’ve achieved with the outreach campaigns.
But the most important thing is to use it for testing, hence optimisation. If we don’t measure the results from the AB testing, then we can’t possibly know which one worked best. The sole purpose of the outreach AB testing is to understand what works better for a particular target offering a particular service. If we manage to get this insight, then we have a winning solution. But in many cases, it takes months to find the right match.
With this idea in mind, we’re even developing the BizzBee Laboratory — whose primary goal is to provide insight into how outreach works, and the variables that affect the campaign results.
And we should be able to use all that insight, to help clients get better results. That is the ultimate goal.
But enough about us. Let’s talk about you.
And the ways you can improve your results.
This academic approach to the whole outreach process will certainly help you understand what works and what doesn’t.
When measuring the outreach the first thing you need to do is to set up the email metrics that you need to measure.
But, let’s take you step by step through the testing and optimization process. Here are the things we deem important to measure:
- Emails sent — the number of emails being sent in the outreach campaign. This number is the basis of measuring almost everything else. If you don’t know how many emails you’ve sent, you can’t possibly know the delivery, nor the open or reply rate.
- Email delivered — How many emails are actually received by the prospects. The delivery rate is actually the percentage of emails you send that hit the inbox. It helps in keeping track of the bounced emails. For instance, if you have a low delivery rate you need to validate or improve your database.
- Emails opened — Pretty self-explanatory, the number of emails opened by the prospects. The open rate — The percentage rate of opened emails. Open rates serve as an indicator of the subject’s effectiveness. So if you want to get higher open rates, tweaking the subject lines is the way to go.
- Reply rate — The percentage of people who replied to your emails. We consider the reply rate as the ultimate measure since it points out how many recipients were interested (or on the other hand, annoyed) enough to click on that reply button and write back. Based on the type of response, there can be negative, positive, and neutral ones. Or using the words from the template provided the respective prospects can be interested, not interested or somewhere in between.
- Unsubscribe rate — The percentage of people who opted out of your campaign. You can look at the unsubscribe rates from two perspectives. Looking on the bright side, your list is cleaning itself. On the other hand, there are prospects who don’t want to hear from you again. If you want to lower your unsubscribe rate you should focus your efforts on producing more engaging and personalised content for your target.
So by measuring all these metrics, you can start optimising your email campaign.
Once you establish the reporting, by doing simple A/B testing, you can measure two variables and the feedback from both, and understand what yields a better result. You can do A/B testing on the subject line, on the initial email, the follow-ups, etc.
Talking about email outreach, you should start looking at the email sent and delivery rate. This data will give you an insight on whether you need any quality database improvement as well as on the email deliverability. The open rate will tell you if your emails are ending in the spam folder, and if you need to work on improving the subject line.
The response rate will also provide you with some valuable insight on whether you need to optimise the message sequence or target. Another key aspect is the response quality, too.
Having more of the positive responses, and less of the negative responses is the main focus. Also, how to nurture the neutral toward positive responses.
Knowing how to measure and optimise your email outreach campaign is essential to ensure future campaigns are even more successful. From the beginning, you chose to structure your campaign, the subject lines, follow-ups, and launch in specific ways. Now you need to know if that formula is a successful one.
So whether you are or you are not a fan of the good, old reporting, this tool is golden.
It provides you with the best insights on how your email outreach campaign is going and therefore you will have a clear image on what you need to change when it comes to your strategy.
Start measuring all the important metrics and don’t get lazy with the testing. Getting an email outreach often is stressful, and finally pushing that send button can be the long-awaited relief.
But this is just the beginning. The silver lining is, that once you are out of your comfort zone, then every tweak and test gets easier. Once you make the first step, each following is a bit more confident. Next thing you know you’re taking email outreach in stride.
I’d like to end with one final encouragement. There’s no perfect email outreach campaign, but doing reporting makes it pretty close to it.
This article has been originally published on BizzBee Blog. :)