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So how do you sell email filtering software via email ?

December 2, 2009

Some might suggest it is like asking Al Gore to fly a fleet of private jets across the world to campaign against global warming … but is it?

Perhaps it seems strange and many will wonder why a company would choose to promote their email filtering solution via the very medium it has set out to destroy?

However, those people do not understand the true purpose of email filtering software. Nor do they appreciate the difference between spam and professional, informative email marketing.

Despite how it often feels for marketing specialists, email filtering software is not designed to block any campaign for which they have personal responsibility. Nor even, is it designed to block all forms of email marketing.

Email filtering solutions are in fact designed to make companies more productive. They do this by filtering out spam, porn, viruses, phishing emails, spyware and anything else that is likely to result in loss of productivity or pose a threat to the security of a company’s network. With this in mind, blocking targeted emails carrying information that may well increase a company’s productivity would surely defeat their own purpose.

If your email could be construed as harmful in any way – you shouldn’t be sending it. So assuming it isn’t, there is no reason to preclude email from your marketing strategy regardless of what you sell. 

OK. So how?

So we have justified why you might use email marketing to promote your solution but how do you go about selling something that is both complex and specific to individual requirements via a single email? The short answer is you can’t.
When selling high-value complex solutions a common mistake is to expect too much from your email campaign.

If you post an offer or quotation to a prospect you do not ask the postman to hang around to collect the purchase order; so why expect a sale to be completed via email?

As powerful as email marketing is, it can not do the job of a sales person. Why: because complex sales require the assessment of unique circumstances before price or strategy is proposed or agreed.

Where email can and should be used is to identify the people with whom salespeople should commit their time and initiate contact on their behalf. It should open the door and propose a conversation, the sales team only get involved when the prospect has been identified, qualified and has replied to an email ostensibly sent by them.
Once we have accepted the role of email marketing we realise our campaigns need not explain everything. There is no need to cram your message full with every eventuality in the hope recipients will read the email fully, identify their own scenario, diagnose their own problem and then get in touch with you for the solution. It won’t happen. Your message will just be diluted and consequently deleted.

Instead you should identify the most generic problem there is, for example the downtime caused by malicious spam. Introduce the recipient to a solution and offer them a simple and commitment-free way of understanding it fully. Details are not required at this stage, just the re-assurance that you know the solution and can provide it, all they need to do is get in touch… whenever they are ready.

It should simply demonstrate the potential value and tempt the recipient to click through to further information (recorded as a lukewarm lead) or even better ask for further information personally.

You are then left with four groups of people:

  • those who have not replied (available for a follow up campaign if required)
  • those who have replied and are not interested (fine at least we know)
  • those who have clicked through to view the article but not replied (obviously some interest although not ready for a chat yet – follow up call in a week or two?)
  • those who have replied and are interested (bingo)

When selling complicated solutions email should be used to open doors. It should identify opportunities, leaving the rest to the qualified sales people who are paid to close business. The same salespeople should appreciate the email campaigns as they generate quality leads and reduce their own obligation to prospect; leaving them free to do what they should do best, sell.

So prove it…

For many years we have helped companies use email to complement the promotion and sale of numerous solutions. We have deployed a variety of strategies; results have consistently surpassed expectations.

When asked to use email to sell email filtering we decided to try two very different but symbiotic approaches. The first was not designed to sell but was to inform and to act as a point of reference for the second stage. This html ‘flyer’ announced the company, the product and offered extensive literature and the chance to try the system for 30 days.

It contained a lot of information and looked professional but we never expected a great response. It was simply designed as a foundation for the second stage.
For stage two we applied our logic and we approached prospects with a clear question and strong proposition. Basically, are you sick of receiving disruptive spam? If so, why not try our system without commitment; if you like it great, let’s talk. If you don’t, you can just stop using it, no problem.
We didn’t offer product literature or talk about the many different types of problems caused by spam. We just referenced the obvious problems, of which we are all aware, and pointed them in the direction of stage 1 if they needed assurances as to our client’s professionalism and understanding of the subject.
This message was in the first version as well but it was so diluted, it was lost. 


Results for stage one:
Reply rate: 0.3%
Total click through rate:  1.7%
Combined response rate of 2%
Results for stage two:
Reply rate: 7.5%
Total click through rate: 6.1%
Combined response rate of: 13.6%

If you would like any further information, please email [email protected] or call 0161 817 2929

Posted by Jenni Malley

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