The Compelling Case for Abandoning Email Automation for Prospecting

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode, Olivia Hurley talks to Mike Herron, Head of Marketing @ Lukka 

Yeah, hello everyone and welcome back to be to be growth. My name is Olivia Hurley. And today I'm joined by mike heron, who's the head of marketing at lucca. Hi mike, how you doing? I'm great livia, how are you? I am great. I'm really excited to chat with you today because the last time we talked we unpacked a lot about industry trends and the state of B two B marketing. And one thing we came across was that you have this really unique perspective on email marketing which I find so fascinating because email marketing is almost completely and email automation let me specify is almost completely ubiquitous these days. Um except for how your team at lucca operates. And so I'm wondering can you recap you know the state of email automation and then tell us why you don't use it at lucca. Yeah, for sure, first of all, thanks for having me. I appreciate you have to chat with you today. So yeah, you know we we have we have an interesting, we have an interesting take at Lucca and around around B2B marketing as a whole where you know, we try to avoid email automation wherever possible. And I know in this day and age right, email automation is a is a big tactic in a lot of marketer's toolbox and the reason we at Luca really sort of have taken that out of our arsenal is just the the sort of the mass amounts of it that are out there. We as marketers get tons of email marketing. I can't tell you how many emails I get a day, cold emails of people that are trying to break the ice and get my attention. And the one thing that we've really found works the best for us is sort of taking a step back and you know, thinking about, you know, how we would want to be communicated with, especially in the B two B space, when, when we think about sort of that journey of being, you know, interested in a product or service and interested in, you know, potentially bringing something new on to, you know, into our company, you know, by the time that sales process...

...starts, we've probably already halfway made up that decision. So a lot of times what happens, especially with the email automation, at least from what we've seen on our side is that it's just very impersonal. It's very can you can tell automatically that, you know, this is this is an automated system, there's no personality to it. So what we've done is we've completely removed it from our sales prospecting process. We focused more on the relationship, we focused more on understanding who people are. We focus almost exclusively on problem solving because as marketers in this space, right, we want to be marketed to, you know, in the right way with the right message at the right time, on the right platform. And a lot of times we found what happens is if we start this conversation a little bit different way and we make it more personal and we try to build the relationship first released a upper funnel, we found a lot more, a lot greater success when it comes to reaching out cold. I think that's brilliant, and I want to unpack all of that. So starting at the top is email automation something you would consider a necessary evil or do you think companies can realistically do away with it entirely? I think I think it is a necessary evil, you know, when when we think about a tactic like email marketing and email automation, right? It's it's really whether or not it fits your strategy or not, and if we're going to stay really high funnel, which is where most of B two B marketing tends to live and that's the most important part of it. I think it can be successful. You know, we might use email automation to update people about a new product or service, but when it comes to sort of the sales process, I feel that you know, you really need to have that non automated feel when that first email piece of marketing goes out. So I think it depends on. I think it depends on the brand that it depends on the company and what strategy is put into place, but I think it's probably something that I think it's probably something that most people should try to avoid. Okay, so that was for all the...

...naysayers. Right, But now I want to know what is the essence of these automated emails that you're getting. Can you describe kind of like a typical canned email and what it makes you feel, what it says about the type of relationship? Of course, one of my favorite ones is high. I found you on linkedin and I legally scraped Lincoln's database to find your information and I'm contacting you today because I think we've got a lot of possibilities to work together and those sort of nefarious acts happen. And it's just funny that some people are willing to put them out there. I think they're thinking is probably you know to go to show the person on the other side that they worked really hard to try to get your information. But they're so can it's hello, insert first name here my name is. So and so I work for this company. I've seen references to T. V. Shows and I've seen references to video games and you know it's it's just it's just so over the top ridiculous most of the time and it starts with them first. And the one thing that I always tell our teams whether it's a sales team, whether it's an operations team, whether it's marketing team is it's always customer first. We strive even when you go to any of our own properties, right? It's never product first. It's always customer first and when you get that type of email correspondence and you know that it's can and you know that it's automated. It just, I don't want to say it makes you feel dirty, but it's like, I know somebody on the other end is really trying hard, right on their job is on the line and they have to prospect. But at the end of the day I'm a human being right? Like, you know, we like to do business with friends, right? Which is why networking is so big in our space and why we push networking at Lucas so hard. But that's really the relationship pieces you just don't get from from the automated email. I'd rather have something personal that comes from the heart. It's sort of like we talked about last time, Libya, it's the handwritten note, write, handwritten notes have such a different feel than an email that a text messages in a slack than anything else. You know,...

...a lot of times, that's how we'll start that conversation. You know, we'll send out something personal, you know, to try to get that attention, I've had tons of different crazy off the wall tactics from a icebreaking perspective that have worked so much better than email marketing. And I think as I think as a group of marketers were just better than email innovation. I want to continue to unpack email innovation, but I do want you to tell the story of what you told me. Um last time. Do you know what I'm talking about. I do I do one of my favorite prospect, probably my favorite prospecting story of all time. I live in Chicago. I was working for a telecom company in the city and I had left the office one day to go grab a bite to eat. So I'm in my car and I'm driving out of the building and I see this giant mobile billboard and on the side of it is my VP of marketing face and we're talking you know 15 ft high, 10 ft wide. And it says, do you know this man, question mark, have him call this phone number. And I'm like, oh my God, what happened like if somebody looking for him, like what is the problem? So I stopped, I take a picture on my phone. I immediately texted to him and it was this brilliant company that had tried to reach out to him a number of times and it didn't work and he was possibly right on their whale list and they were trying to break through and the beautiful part of this is that they knew their cost for conversion. They knew how much they could spend to acquire a new customer. They knew that this was a company that they were really interested in. So literally they hired a mobile billboard and they drove it around Chicago in front of our office hoping that somebody, from you know our building which had 3000 people and it would see this and contact them, if it worked. I'm trying to scarf a salad down and he and I are texting back and forth and I took the picture, I sent it to him, he called the number and we became a customer and they were an awesome a vendor, they had a great service that if they wouldn't have told a crazy upper funnel stunt like that, we never would have known about it. So I mean and that's the thing is when you know...

...what that cost for conversion is and you know what you can spend to generate an R. N. Y. On a specific prospect, like that's why I said we're so much better than automated email and it's just it's one example that I've seen work really well and it it probably made the millions of dollars in return with the amount of spending, oh my gosh, I'm so glad it worked out that way because that type of, you know that type of story also gives me like the nervous sweat because it's that kind of boldness and encourages is absolutely fascinating and there's you leave a lot on the field when you do something like that, but it's so human as well, like that's yeah, it's completely lifts away from this this email automation but I'm curious email automation, like we said, you know completely ubiquitous except for places like Luca, what are marketers and sellers trying to achieve with email automation, why is there a tight grip on this for sure. You know, when, when you think about, you know, when you think about prospecting, right? It becomes this numbers game, you know, we all have our conversion costs and we know all these numbers and we know all of this data. So, you know, a lot of times it's, it's simply just, you know, it's like playing the market, you know, we're going to send out 1000 different emails and we know that .2% of them are going to respond and we know that at that point, 2% this month is going to convert and that's are costing and I think that's a fine way to do it. I think unfortunately we've sort of as an industry, right? The selling cycle has gotten shorter, right? You know, the world is in an odd place, right? Everybody's trying to be profitable if he was trying to hit their numbers, which I totally understand. I think it's just easy. I think it's the low hanging fruit, right? A lot of times, you know, a sales team will come to, you know, a marketing team and say, hey, we need this and the marketing team can just automated in the sales folks get to forget about it. But again, at the end of the day, it's just not personable, it's not there isn't that human connection there, especially in this world, right? At the time that we're in like that human connection is...

...the one thing we need more than anything else, right? It's what everybody strives for. You know, we were we were at Luca we were at a conference and it was the first conference coming out of Covid and you would have thought we were at Lollapalooza. I mean people were high fiving and hugging and like that's what we need and that's that's marketers, what we need to convey. The email automation is just low hanging fruit. That's all it is. And frankly it doesn't work. I've never responded to one. So is that what is this for 22 years? Never responded. So I'm, I think that that that's Interesting that and it sounds like, and can you verify this for me that it's email automation doesn't require a lot of effort. You set something in motion, you write it set in motion and then you might get, did you see like 2% or .2% response back or something extremely low that for the effort it may be worth it. But I'm interesting just kind of on this relational emotional side, what does that convey to you about the company as a whole when they do that kind of impersonal outreach. It's a great question. I mean the obvious answer is it makes me feel like a number, right? It makes me feel like they don't really care about my business, they don't care about, you know who I am, you know, as a company. I think the biggest issue we have really is that it's just generic. So it doesn't necessarily make me want to do business with that company. It doesn't really want to make me learn more about that company. There have been times right where you know I'll get those and if I'm already thinking about a product or service in the same space I might save it just to go back to it. But there's never been an instance where I'm like oh my God I have to contact these guys. They have my solution because I don't really know me. They don't understand our business. Hey everybody Logan was sweet fish here. If you're a regular listener of GDP growth, you know that I'm one of the co hosts of the show but you may not know that I also head up the sales team here is sweet fish. So for those of you in sales or sales ops I wanted to take a 2nd to share something that's made us...

...insanely more efficient lately. Our team has been using lead I. Q. For the past few months and what used to take us four hours gathering contact data Now takes us only one where 75 percent more efficient were able to move faster with outbound prospecting and organizing our campaigns is so much easier than before. I'd highly suggest you guys check out lead I. Q. As well. You can check them out at lead I. Q dot com That's L E a D I Q dot com. All right, let's get back to the show. We talked about how this mobile billboard was super effective. This bold move. But it came after email automation or cold outreach, I'm sure something like that. And then it was a I won't call it a last ditch effort or anything like that, but definitely a bolder move after Unfruitful outreach. So I'm curious. We can back up a little bit to the beginning of that process. What do you think that first outreach should be? You know, what vehicle and what should it constitute? What should be made up of? Sure. You know, I think that first outreach really needs to be thoughtful. It really needs to be personal. Like I mentioned, marketing is about the right message at the right time to the right person and the right channel and you know, with email inboxes so full of spam anymore and the way that things can be categorized in existence. For for example, google, it's easy to miss that stuff. So, you know, what we like to do is look at more traditional tactics. You know, the handwritten note, it's much more personable. It's much more, you know, sort of telling around who the company is. It makes a bigger impact. Now, clearly in these times that can be hard wearing, knowing where to send that to while they're still our number of us working at home. But what we try to do at lucca is learn as much as we can, you know, we'll do deep...

...dives, we'll do our research, we'll try to figure out who they are, we'll try to figure out what problems they have. We'll look back at interviews and podcasts, they might have done like this and do research on them before we reach out to try to understand their business a little bit more and when we do things like that and even if it does become an email, it's just, it's just such a much better way to show the value of the time and the energy that is on the other side of the person would have to take to respond to this. But it's really about just learning, it's really about understanding what their problems are and how you might be able to solve them. It's got to be customer first. Yeah, I love that. So the vehicle may very well be email but it's written by the person to the specific person. It is referencing pain points or challenges or specific things you've been involved with basically all of these overt ways to communicate. I am trying to do business with you mike versus I am trying to meet my quota. I think I saw in Lincoln somewhere somebody called the commission breath which I thought was a horrible, horrible but really awesome way to describe like you know when you can yeah, anyway we don't need to unpack that. But yeah, okay, so definitely this highly personal and then email, it sounds like is still going to be very effective. Is there a way that you would or that you guide your team where they're sending personal emails, they're sending outreach that that's really well crafted but they're still not getting a reply. What do you coach your team to do then? Sure. What we talk about a lot is timing. We know that, you know, timing is probably the biggest part of converting anything in the B. B. Space. So while it might not be the right time today, that doesn't mean we give up, right? That doesn't mean that, you know, we don't continue to reach out, we might reach out in a different way. You know, we might send that personalized note, we might send them a message on linkedin, we might...

...try to find them in a different space. So we understand that the timing isn't right for everybody, but we just sort of keep at it. It's everybody's time is incredibly valuable, right? Like your day, like my day, like the people listening right? Like our day is filled with meetings where to the point where we don't even probably get to work a heck of lot anymore, right? We're just talking and and helping our teams, but the timing will be there if we get the message to them at the right time and it makes sense. That's good, right? That's that's the best part and if they don't respond then then they might not need us. But we do take a look at connecting again. We do look at connecting further on down the road. We don't pester them. You know, we we don't send the stereotypical like three or four email chains. You must be really busy. You know, I I don't think you saw my email from before. Here's exactly what I said and please contact me again. I was telling you, you know, I actually got that's probably the fourth email from a specific company and they offered me an amazon gift card. Like here's $500 on Amazon. Please respond to this email. It's like, I mean that I mean $500 is 500 bucks, right? But at the end of the day like that's not a company, I want to do business, but that's going to buy me. And that becomes a mean, that becomes a big problem, right? Is that ethical? Is that not ethical? I'm sure there are tons of things my wife can find on Amazon to spend $500 on, but that's just not the type of company I want to do business with. And I love what you said when you were telling me that you said $500 500 dollars, but my time is so much more valuable. And I was like, oh my gosh, I wouldn't even think of that. I'm just I would just be like, you know, for sure. You know, and that becomes the thing when we look at business professionals, we look at our day, you know, it is so full of everything, right? And, and we're trading time, you know, with our family, with our significant others, with our loved ones, right to work and provide much, you know, to earn money to support them and to provide for them And $500 at the end of the day isn't...

...worth me taking an hour out of my day where I could be doing something to push the business forward where somebody can give me a sales pitch. It's just not, it's just not worth it for me. Like if I have the need at that time and the messaging is to the point where I think they can actually help me solve a problem, then I'll reach out. But it's gotten to the point where it's just like I don't even open them anymore except what I told you about because I was just looking at it while we were chatting. Yeah, yeah, exactly. And I, I think that's such a, just a totally different rabbit trail to go down. But like I was that kind of is that ethical. That's so interesting. I'm so glad you said that because now I'll kind of have that on on alert as I start getting these types of, I'm curious just just for the sake of like scope. how many of these emails do you think you get in a day in a week? I probably get a dozen a day that I see there. You know, again, I'm usually always a day behind on my email. You know, the ironic part is at Luca, we actually don't use email very much. We use email when we correspond with people outside of the company, we use other channels inside, so we've sort of trained and then trained to use email less. So again, I mean, I'll go through there, but a lot of times we've got a great spam filter, like if it's not somebody like I've communicated with before, most of the time, it probably doesn't even get to me right, Oh my gosh, well everybody listen up. So this all sounds like just really not only the direction the industry is moving with this, you know, direct mail and highly personalized experiences and seems to be right on track with that, but I also love this. And I think I've heard this and almost everything you say you've said just of this like deep respect for human dignity and deep respect for time and you know, want understanding like on the other end of that automated emails, person trying to do your job, but the other end of automated email is you a human being with a, you know, with time and things like that. And so I'm curious that's so...

...compelling, but how would you convince, you know, a diehard automated emailer that either it isn't worth it or they could do, they could do what you're suggesting at scale. Sure. So, you know, totally understand that, totally understand the game, right? There are people on the other side that are emailing me that are trying to do their job and I totally understand and respect that, you know, one of the things, one of the things that that we've done, you know, to sort of take this is a different direction. You know, when you talk about scale, it really allows us to do this differently. There's so many other uses for an email address. There's so many other ways that as marketers, we can use that to communicate with someone, not just in the email space, right? That can be loaded into media programs that can be loaded into social media channels. That can be put again into the channel that the person is using at that specific time, that might not necessarily be email. So a lot of times we look at alternate ways to do that, right? You know, you can you can go on linked in, right, Which is just a great B two B channel that we utilize on time together. Information. And you can load that customer listen to lengthen and you can provide messaging to them. You can put built ads around the hole in male products, right? Is there? And while that's a little bit more personal because there's a face tied behind it, right? Like we sort of rely on the old school sort of upper funnel tactics and then use retargeting, you know, to try to build that and to try to get them to take an action and serve them content and warm them up before we start throwing meetings on their calendar or sending them personalized emails with unsubscribe at the bottom. Right? So, you know, we sort of look at it from a different perspective, but there's just so many other ways that you can do it, even if you have their email address, it's just considerably more effective. I mean, again, everybody knows their email statistics, right? I mean A good a good open rate in our industry is 10 right click through rate is, you know, 2/10 of a 100,000 people, you just playing the numbers game like you're...

...not going to get scaled that way. What about the other 80% of people that did nothing with your email message, what are you doing to contact them? So it can be used. And I understand that there's a time and a place for it. I just think in the B2B space, you know, the decisions made before you even contact us, right? You're not selling me anything, I haven't thought of before build the relationship, explain to me how you're going to help you and how you're going to solve a problem? Because at the end of the day, that's what we're doing in leadership, right? Like my job is to solve the problems that come up for my team and help my company move forward if you can help me. I'm all in. Yeah. Especially because I think, I don't know if this is true across the board, but certainly in my experience, people have a lot of agency with, with researching solutions, they're, you know, not sitting around waiting to have somebody come and solve their own problem. They're already starting to find solutions. And I think that's why marketing is always this like phalanx approach of S E O and all these different elements, Right? So they can they can find you wherever you are. But email automation, I do think kind of the language, the typical languages, like you don't even know you have this problem yet or something or you've never even, you know, so I think everything you're saying just kind of at least in my mind with fairly limited B to be experienced. Yeah. Is like it all is just lining up in this in this way that stacks up with everything, all the other initiatives and goals within the B two B space. And I think that I think I think you hit the nail on the head, right? Is the way that the way that we utilize technology, right? The vast majority of people are searching google with a question, right, how do I do this, this product versus this product? Right. Who are my providers for this, Who our competitors of this company? And when you think about that, we're trying to solve our own problems, right? We're already thinking about it.

All you have to do is a marketer is trying to drop that right piece of content into the right person at the right time on the right channel. And now you become part of that conversation again, nobody's ever sent me an email and I said, wow, I don't have that problem. I need to talk to you. Right, right. It doesn't work that way. Our minds don't work that way. I love that you said all the market needs to do is drop in a content right time. Right. Place, easier said than done from what I can do. Well, it is, it is, but that's why we test and that's why we run big campaigns and that's why we study the funnel and find out where people are. Yeah, Well, I'm curious if first of all, did was there ever a time where Luca used email automation for this initial outreach. So, so I've been, I've been at lucca for about six months now, I don't know of any time that we've actually done it. We have a we have a very complicated product in the crypto Blockchain data and software space. So, so our sales force and our marketing team have always been very focused on specific companies and specific people. So instead of having this gigantic broad list of prospects right? We know who we know who we would best work with, right? We we look at our culture, we look at their culture, we look at how our product's fit, how are companies fit together. So our prospect is is it going to be very big at the end of the day, we try to find those people where they're at. We do lots of conferences, we do lots of speaking engagements, we do lots of podcasts, we do tons of content and that's been it's been a big initiative for us, is trying to get out organically into the space, like we just talked about, Right? So when you search for these things right? We're coming up as thought leaders. We like to do business with our friends, right? We like to do people we have relationships with. So if I can get our team are we have we literally at lucca have the most smartest financial minds in the world and I wholly believe that. And if I can get them out there as thought leaders and you can see them in that space talking about a problem that you have. That's a hell of a lot better...

...way to start that relationship, then Hi, my name is steve what are you using for your google page search campaigns, Right? So so build that human piece, right? Like we are people at the end of the day, and again, we use content marketing a heck of a lot more than we use email, and it works a lot better and it stretches a much wider net because again, if we can talk about how we've already solved the problem for somebody else and somebody in your space that you might respect or your competitor, I'm going to be much more engaged to try to learn more on how you did that. Is that a strong inbound strategy as well? Oh, for sure. Yeah. You know, I mean when we do that, that's a huge amount strategy, because, you know, we'll use our partners, you know, for example, we've got we've got great partners, great backing with with State Street and S and P. And a lot of times they're out there doing the same things. We are, they're putting content out there, they're building thought leadership. So, you know, we'll post something, you know, that that s and P might have put out there, for example, we power their new crypto in the sea. So we've got this great back and forth relationship, we're trying to help each other and what it really comes back to is it's a huge driver. You know, they might post a piece of content on their blogger in their social channels, it's a whole different audience that we might not reach. So it does help greatly fill that upper funnel. So you have to do less prospecting. And if the content is right and you're doing it the right cadence and you're telling the write stories, then then we'll do very, very little outbound. It's all about filling the upper funnel and bond with that type of content and then the magic happens and the relationships are already strong and warm and you get to come. You really do you really do? I'm like, yeah, ok. I'm thinking that I'm ready to go do that kind of thing. So, but I'm curious which as we know would not be a good idea and is far more complicated than, but I'm really for...

...people that work for me that do all the work. I just talked, I love it. And I love the nod to State Street because I'm from boston. And so the big, the big building with the beautiful script across the top, I see that all the, all the time. So, so that feels so familiar to me. Sure. I love a great time, but I'm curious if there was one thing that you wanted listeners to get from this episode, you were just really wanted to drive it home. What would it be? I guess really what it comes down to is is it's cliche, but think outside the box, right? Think of put yourself in your prospect of your customers position on the other side. Think about what works best for you. We get as marketers, right? We have this toolbox, right? And we use all these big words and we have all of these things that become on trend. But at the end of the day, a tactic is just a tactic, right? It has to meet your strategy. There are no bad tactics, but there are terrible strategies out there. And if you focus on what matters, if you focus on the people's side, if you if you think about it from a human being perspective, there's another person on the other end, right? You're asking for their time and if you can tell them and prove to them that you can solve their problem. Marketing, email, marketing and automation could be a great tactic for you. But for the most part, you know, it seems to be a little bit played out like traditional email marketing, right? Spam folders, those types of things. So think differently, understand your metrics, understand your numbers, know what you're trying to know what you're trying to achieve and try to be bold if there's really a prospect out there, If there's a whale out there that you're trying to connect with. Try something different, you never know. I mean, you could put somebody's face on a billboard in mobile billboard and drive her on Chicago and, you know, close a $2 million piece of business all in an afternoon. But you know, you never know until you try and that's what marketing is, it's testing right? We don't have all the answers we have the technology to allow us to figure that out, but we're all just learning every day and just keep testing and trying and...

...thinking bigger. Yeah, and I love that are really one of the really practical ways that you shared about thinking outside of the box was what else can you do with an email address? And I think that's just like a really easy way for people to implement, go back to their desks wherever they might be and start brainstorming about other ways that they can get that email address to work for them and have really great relationships. It's a great way to scale your email numbers. Let me tell you, I love that. Okay, mike how can listeners connect with you and learn more about Luca if they're just want to know more totally. So first of all, if you have anything to do with crypto, if you're a crypto buyer trader seller LFTs, if your company does crypto or finance, you have to know about Luca so you can find us at lucca dot tech. We've got a lot of great products and services like I said, we power sort of all of the crypto data across the globe, so really, really fun space to be in lucca is also on linkedin and twitter and I am on Lincoln as well. So I would love to talk shop every once in a while I post some interesting tidbits so please feel free to follow me and I appreciate the conversation with anybody that wants to chat marketing. Well, I have so appreciated this conversation. This has been so great and I'm so glad that you join me today on BtV growth Olivia. Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate your time. Is the decision maker for your product or service of BB marketer. Are you looking to reach those buyers through the medium of podcasting? Considered becoming a co host of GDP growth. This show is consistently ranked as a top 100 podcast in the marketing category of apple podcasts And the show gets more than 130,000 downloads each month. We've already done the work of building the audience so you can focus on delivering incredible content to our listeners if you're interested email Logan at sweet fish media dot com.

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