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What happened when we emailed the Chamber list.

Do you know one thing most businesses have in common? They usually have some kind of mailing list.

Do you know what else is usually true? They don’t mail their list often enough.

Are you thinking, “Flipping heck – yes. We probably ought to be mailing our list more often”? If so, read on, because this blog article is a case study in how we approached sending out a “cold” mass mailing – and what we got back. It might help give you some ideas.

At CC, we’re great believers in targeted marketing: after all, the more relevant a message is to the recipient, the more likely it is to be read and acted upon.

Many of the mailings we sent out are to niche markets within the area of manufacturing, engineering or other technical sectors, because these are specialist areas for us.

But we do sometimes send out mailings to a general audience. Now, we are members of Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce. One of the benefits of membership is the fact that you get access to the complete list of other Chamber members.

We thought, there’s no point in sitting on it – we ought to send something out in order to help build awareness of CC amongst Chamber members. It couldn’t do any harm, and might help pick up a few leads.

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This then, was essentially going to be an intro message. “Hello, here we are. This is what we do. Can we help you?”.

The trouble with business introduction messages, as I’m sure you are well aware, is that they are usually boring as heck – about as interesting to read as the average “out of office” auto reply.

We wanted to make a bit more of an impression than that.

Rather than just go on about ourselves, we wanted to try and offer some value to the reader.

Now, the Chamber is basically a network – and networks are only really effective if those involved are aware of who else is in the network, what they can offer and what they are looking for.

Our message was essentially going to be, “Here we are. Why don’t you find out about us while we find out about you, and then we’ll see if we can help each other in some way?”.

But how do you say that without being boring and getting lost in the sea of marketing emails?

Rather than just writing as a business, we wanted to put some personality into it. At CC we are very much into building lasting relationships – and our top relationship builder is our Head of Ideas and networking supremo Mickey Clarke.

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Essentially, this was going to be an invitation to network with Mickey over a coffee. This would make it more human and personal: the reader would know exactly who they were being invited to meet up with – and, despite Mickey’s protests, we even included a photo of her.

(As well as helping establish recognition early on, including a photo of Mickey also helped make sure people knew she is a woman. This is always a good point to remember when trying to persuade a prospect to contact someone with a unisex name. It prevents any uncertainty or people making the wrong assumption.)

Now, we’re not saying it was greatest email ever, but we were pleased with the response. The reason it worked was simply because we followed a few bits of established wisdom.

First, we needed a subject line. Emails, especially “cold” ones, stand and fall on the subject line. It doesn’t matter how good the rest of your message is – if the subject line does not prompt someone to open it, then you’ve missed your target.

For this one, we thought of a few. “Have a coffee with Mickey” was one. Maybe that would have worked, but we decided on “Have you met this lady yet?” on the basis that it might be more intriguing.

We could have tested the two subject lines against each other, but for this one we decided to try two different pieces of content. They were basically the same message, but one version was shorter and a bit more to the point, whereas the other was slightly longer and a bit more conversational in tone.

The split test we did pitted these two versions against each other. After a certain time, the system picked a winner based on the open that was prompting the most clicks through to our website. There wasn’t much in it to tell you the truth, but the best performing message was the slightly longer one.

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We managed to achieve an open rate of 30.8%. According to MailChimp, the average open rate for emails in our industry (Creative Services) is 17.4%. Given that the industry average is for ALL emails sent by creative agencies, we were more than pleased that we’d exceeded it with a cold email sent to people who had only submitted their email address to be part of the Chamber, not specifically to hear from us. Most importantly, the mailing generated a small number of enquiries from businesses who didn’t just want a coffee with Mickey, but who wanted to discuss their marketing requirements. One gentleman kindly wrote back saying, “I must admit, this is one of the best intro emails I have ever received; and quite possibly the only one I’ve ever replied to”. You’re probably wondering what we wrote, so here is a link to a copy of the email  http://eepurl.com/ciJS-

When did you last email your list? Did you have anything interesting to say? If not, perhaps we can help. The coffee with Mickey offer still stands you know – just let us know when is convenient for you.