The Ultimate Guide To Google Analytics

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Google Analytics is a must-use tool for any ecommerce business. When used correctly, it can help increase traffic, conversion rates, and even profits, which is how you stay in business.

But it is the case of “easier said than done.” After all, it involves analyzing ecommerce data, and knowing how to translate that into a tangible, actionable business plan with monthly objectives.

Knowing how to interpret all of the numbers, and how to turn them around in such a way that’s actually productive for your business, is tricky.

Luckily, that’s where this guide comes in.

This guide is designed to help you better understand things like demographics, browser reports, channels, site speed importance, and even search terms. Literally anything you’d ever need to know about Google Analytics can be found here, in one solid guide.

So, let’s stop wasting anymore time. Let’s get to it.

Setting Up For Ecommerce

If you’ve only begun toying with the idea of using Google Analytics, and setting it up for ecommerce, you’re in luck. This guide will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to do that.

But let it be known now: these steps are strictly for entrepreneurs who are looking to sell items online. And there’s a lot that goes into that. If you’re running a physical brick and mortar, along with your digital store, you have to consider options like ship to store, which have become expected in today’s modern, competitive, business landscape.

And if you’re selling physical goods, you have to keep tabs on shipping options, supplies, and costs. And your objective would, of course, be to provide shipping at as fair of a price as possible, without going in the red.

So, consider all of that, as well as international sales, taxes, and even packaging styling (branding) before you get going with Google Analytics.

Here are the steps to follow to get your tracking code:

  1. Go to analytics.google.com, and click Sign Up.

  2. Click Website, then fill in your information, and select your Industry Category.

  3. Select Reporting Time Zone.

  4. Select Get Tracking ID.

  5. Accept terms and conditions.

  6. Add your Tracking ID to the store. From now on, you’ll find it easily by going to Admin > Tracking Into > Tracking Code.

  7. Whatever your ecommerce platform is, you’ll be able to navigate to their online store options/preferences to add your tracking code. Usually, it’s under Google Analytics.

Follow these steps if you want to make sure you’re capturing the right data:

  1. Admin >Property Settings

  2. Double-check Property Name, Default URL and Default View.

  3. Check Enable Demographics and Interest Reports, Use Enhanced Link Attribution, Enable Users Metric in Reporting, and Adjust Search Console. Make sure to Save.

  4. Next, under Admin, click Ecommerce Settings and make sure Enable Ecommerce is selected.

And finally, if you want to record the search terms people type into your store’s search, try this:

  1. Admin > View Settings > Enable Site Search Tracking.

  2. This will depend where your store is, but for peace of mind, consider your store’s URL. There should be a letter before the “=” symbol somewhere in your link. Typically for WordPress, it’s “s,” but Shopify is “q.” Find yours and then navigate back to Google Analytics.

  3. Type in whatever that letter is into the field titled “Query Parameter,” then hit Save.

Demographics

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For many, using demographics to essentially categorize people seems wrong. After all, everyone is different, no matter what they may sound like on paper. But business just doesn’t celebrate individuality. Instead, it relishes in connecting with like-minded people, and being able to offer products and services that better fit them.

All demographics do is make that easier on you, the business owner. Rather than having to hyperfocus on one person at a time, you can focus on the whole group, knowing that what you have to offer is up their alley.

But what if you have no idea who is predominantly drawn into your store? What if you think you know your audience, but you can’t say for sure? Well, the good news is that metrics always have the answers, and there’s a way to use Google Analytics that will put your questions to rest.

Here’s how to enable the report:

  1. Audience > Demographics > Age > Select the most recent 3-month period available > Apply > Advanced.

  2. If you have over 1,000 visitors per month, say 100k, change the value to exclude any sessions that account for less than 2.5% of your monthly session count. Skip this step if you have less than 2k visitors, however. All this does is eliminate any sample size data that’s too small to factor in accurately.

And here’s how to use the report:

  • Find the age range with the highest conversion. Sort by E-commerce Conversion Rate.

  • Find the age range with the most transactions overall.

  • Calculate average order value by age bracket by dividing the total revenue value by the number of transactions for each age group.

  • Find the age bracket with the highest bounce rate.

Now that you know the truth based on numbers, you know which age range to appeal to the most, and which one should become more of a focus moving forward (bounce rate).

Location

Of course, there’s one aspect of demographics that is so important that it requires its own special section: location. This is because as a business, you are located somewhere, and as such, your immediate bubble is your best network. Why focus on a customer in the UK, miles and miles away, before you focus on the ideal target audience three blocks down?

The only sensible answer is that your customers are predominantly UK based, right? Suddenly it would make sense, if your local network wasn’t at all interested in what you have to offer.

But if you’re suddenly feeling alone and lost, here’s some good news: most entrepreneurs have no clue where their most loyal customers are located. It takes a little research to figure that out, but once you do, you can market more effectively in those areas. Suddenly, your ad filters would look different, and your numbers would skyrocket.

That being said, your own town should become a focus at some point, since it holds the highest revenue potential. You’re already there, physically, all the time. If for some reason you’re not converting in your own town, it’s time to rethink your local marketing strategy.

Here’s how to use Google Analytics to learn which locations generate you the most revenue:

  1. Audience > Geo > Location.

  2. Select the country with the most visitors.

  3. Then review your top locations within that country.

Now that you know the top 3 countries you’re popular in, it’s time to use that information wisely. You could try the following:

  • Using the data to influence marketing activities offline.

  • Adjusting your ad filters.

  • Planning a trip to some of the specific locations to better learn about them, and see how that can influence your products and services moving forward.

New vs. Returning

Every now and then in business, you’ll need to figure out the conversion rate difference between established customers (returning), and new customers.

This has many benefits, such as being able to take that data to better predict your future revenue potential, using it to anticipate the goods and services that they would probably enjoy based on what your established customers seem to gravitate toward, and even using it to create a different version of your homepage that is optimized for new visitors. Think more coupon codes for one-time use, or new customer offers.

Here’s how to enable the report:

  1. Audience > Behavior

  2. New vs. Returning

That’s it. Super simple, very insightful. Use it as you see fit, but most certainly to enhance a secondary version of your homepage that triggers for new customers only. Doing so may increase your revenue per visitor by quite a large margin, because we all know that discount codes always go a long way.

Mobile

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So, this is something we’ve touched on before: despite the constant emphasis you’ll see marketeers placing on things like mobile optimization, it’s honestly not as urgent of a thing as it’s made out to be. Sure, it’s helpful, you should definitely get around to doing it, but it should only be a major factor if your data tells you that a large amount of your traffic is coming from mobile.

Makes sense, right? If most of your traffic is from desktop, and only 5% is coming from mobile, it’s really not a huge deal. But if even 25% or more are coming from mobile, then it’s time to take action.

Now, the best way to go about determining where you stand, is with a mobile report:

  1. Go to Audience > Mobile > Overview.

  2. Make sure that under Advanced Settings, you exclude: Sessions, Less than: 1000.

Then you’ll be able to review the numbers by device type, allowing you to clearly see where the bulk of your sales are coming from. This is valuable insight, because then you’ll be able to see your weak spots, and work on optimizing user experience on the devices with a low conversion rate, perform user testing, etc.

Referrals

Next up is referrals, which is a good way of finding out which of your guest posting efforts are truly paying off, and which ones you could afford to let go of in favor of something more promising.

This is especially valuable if you’re currently juggling your own blog content, along with several different guest posts and columns, in an effort to obtain more traffic and engagement. After all, your time is gold, especially as an entrepreneur. You want to do the maximum impact for as little effort as possible, which often involves knowing where to place the bulk of your efforts.

This also works for things like PR investments and even advertising.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals.

  2. Make sure that under Advanced Settings you Exclude: Sessions, Less than: 1000.

  3. Take a look at your referrals by transactions.

Once you have all of your data figured out, consider this: could you write more content for the top referrers? Maybe hire someone to tackle that for you, so you have more time to tend to other business matters that you’re required to attend?

If they’re not really guest posts, but more paid placements, take a look at marketing spend. Are you making a good ROI on them, or breaking even?

You could also do things like advertise with them on other channels, or have them link to a specific landing page that’s specifically optimized to bring new customers onboard.

Channels

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Much like the referrals report focuses on telling you which outlets/partnerships are bringing you the most traffic and sales, the channels report tells you which channels are driving the most revenue.

It could be your Instagram, thanks to your ad campaigns, aesthetically pleasing feed, and community engagement. Or it could be Facebook, thanks to your accurate use of ad filtering. Better yet, it could be one of your referrals.

To find out:

  1. Go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels.

  2. Make sure that under Advanced Settings you Exclude: Sessions, Less than: 1000.

  3. Then order the results by conversion rate.

Before you jump the gun and begin investing more in the top converting channels, you’ll have to do a little math. Figure out cost per acquisition for each one of the channels, and see which ones would deliver the most impact for less money.

Remember, whenever you invest more, it should be only to either elevate the results, or maintain your marketing share. Never make a choice that puts you in a rocky position.

Search Terms

This is a smart way of figuring out what people are searching for on your website. It sheds light on what your popular goods and services are, what they heard about first, and even what they really want.

But then again, this only works if you have a search bar on your website to begin with. If you don’t, then people won’t have anywhere to really search for anything, they’ll simply have to click around until they find it.

To combat that, try using a heat map, which tells you exactly where they click on the most while visiting your website. It’s not related to Google Analytics, but it’s still a resource you can use to obtain this useful data in a different way.

That being said, most heat maps are paid tools, so consider adding in a search bar. You won’t regret it.

Here’s how to view and use the report:

  1. Behavior > Site Search

  2. Click Search Terms.

That’s probably the simplest report you’ll ever generate on Google Analytics, aside from browser report (see below).

Now, suppose you’re selling clothing items, and you see that your top searched for item is a jacket.

You can do two things:

  • You could check to see how often you go out of stock on the item, to see if people are really just looking at it, or actually purchasing it.

  • Or you could immediately invest in increasing your product offering on similar items. In other words, let that one top-selling item dictate a whole line of similar jackets. Maybe some are made from more premium materials, or have a different cut to them.

You’ll also find that many times the search terms won’t point to specific products, but more so sales. For instance, a search term may be “end of year sale,” or “buy one, get two free.” This is in large part because people just love a good deal. But many times, if you’ve done similar sales in the past, people will automatically assume you’ll run them again and again.

In that case, consider running more of the promotions that they’re clearly already hearing about and looking for. They’re interested parties looking to purchase something from you, assuming you have the deal they’re looking for, so send out those discount emails.


Browser

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Think of this like the channels report, which told you which outlets were directing the most traffic and conversions. Only this time, it’s all about how different browsers and devices are performing on your website.

A browser report will tell you if Google Chrome is leading to more conversions for your business, or if Firefox and Safari are, for instance.

And based on this, you can learn which browsers need some further testing. After all, there’s always a reason why something isn’t converting quite as high. It could be settings, it could be that something you’ve implemented on your website isn’t working quite as well on Android vs. Apple, it could be many things.

So, here’s how to go about it:

  1. Audience > Technology

  2. Click Browser & OS.

Now you can use this report to segment data. For example, on the top right-hand corner of the page, select the last 30 days. This will give you a solid data range to work with. Then click Advanced, and fill out the menu to “exclude new users greater than 500”. Now you’ll only see browsers with over 500 new users per month, and that tells you where the bulk of your traffic and conversions are coming from.

If you want to take it a step farther, and look at your lowest conversion rates, make sure that the conversions select menu is set to ecommerce, then click Goal Conversion Rate. This will rank them from top performing, to the absolute lowest.

Then focus on the worst 2, maximum. Do some usability testing on them. If you have a chance, or want to go the consulting route, go ahead and check out your website on the browser/device in question. You may find that your website load times are terrible, or that a pop-up isn’t quite working well, and won’t close properly, hence inhibiting visitors from browsing the site as a whole. Finding glaring issues, such as these, gives you an opportunity to resolve them, and elevate your conversion rate on that browser.

As a reminder, one of the most popular issues you’ll come across is due to responsive designs. They may look good, and function well on your primary browsers, especially the ones they’re designed in, but that doesn’t mean they’ll translate tell to other browsers.

Site Speed

The site speed report is exactly what it sounds like: it tells you how well your webpages are loading.

Mind you, this is different than the browser report, which tells you how well your website is functioning as a whole on different browsers and devices. It could be design related, it could be functionality, etc. This report doesn’t focus on anything but speed.

And although it sounds pretty mundane, it’s actually quite helpful: it’s been shown that 79% of online shoppers won’t go back to a website with a troublesome load speed. In fact, 47% will expect it to load in 2 seconds flat, while 40% will abandon it if it takes longer than 3.

To pull up this report:

  1. Go to Behavior > Site Speed.

  2. Click on Page Timings.

  3. Fill out the advanced menu to “exclude page containing ?” This will remove duplicate URLs.

  4. Finally, look at your report, and select Average Page Load Time (Sec) in both columns.

Now you can see which page load times are taking the longest, and which are just fine. Ignore the ones that are already well-optimized, and instead take a look at the pages with slower loading speeds.

Pull up these pages and time them. If they are taking longer than 2-3 seconds, you’re losing customers before you can even present them with a beautifully designed website. Instead, your slow loading speed is your first impression.

Optimize these pages if you’re serious about ranking higher, and converting more effectively. And don’t be afraid to hand off the task to a more tech savvy employee or contractor who can resolve things like technical errors or malware, as these can also affect loading times.

Ecommerce

Finally, we’re capping things off with the ecommerce report, which is basically your main report. Every single report listed above is critical if you want a more detailed, hyper focused view on one aspect of your business standing...

But this report will give you an overall view of just about everything, including revenue, transaction volume, average orders by select time frames, and more.

In other words, it’s highly recommended that you get every single one of these reports to better plan things out, and set annual goals for your business, but if you’re really only investing the time into one report, let it be this one.

To pull it up:

  1. Select Conversion, then Ecommerce.

  2. Select Overview.

  3. Then select the last calendar month, and compare it to the one before.

What this does is show you how your KPIs changed from month to month, literally. It shows you any changes, for better or worse.

For instance, you can better understand how different seasons affect your sales, and thereafter. If you have more sales the months of November and December, you already know it’s due to the holiday season. Come January, sales will slow, and you’ll get plenty of returns and exchanges as well.

Then again, if you’re a fitness brand, you’ll likely keep making more sales around January and February, when people are still sticking to their New Year’s resolutions.

You’ll also see spikes around back to school time, summer swimwear, Valentine’s Day, fall wardrobe change (when the weather goes from warm to chilly), etc.

But seasons aren’t the only factor to consider. There’s also marketing. When you spend more on marketing one month vs. another, are you seeing more sales? Is it playing off one of the booming seasons listed above, or is it just because you had a product launch? Maybe you even rebranded, or began working with new affiliates.

Of course, there’s also conversion rate to consider. How did traffic quality and source affect your conversion? Look at each channel, see the changes that were implemented month to month, and see what the overall result was.

For instance, maybe you began working with a new referral, and they boosted your conversion rate. Perhaps they doubled the conversion for the previous month, making them a valuable resource. Now you can go ahead and talk to them about potentially taking your partnership further in a mutually beneficial way.

The opposite could be true as well. Maybe your Facebook traffic conversion got worse, for whatever reason. If that happens, take a look at the changing factors. Maybe you spent more on advertising the previous month, hence explaining the traffic fallout. Or maybe you changed your ads altogether and the rebranding, or new CTA is just not cutting it for your customers, old and new.

This report also allows you to see how your monthly transaction volume changed. Maybe you had more transactions during a month when there was a promo running, such as “buy one, get one free.” Maybe you had less this month, but made more money, because there were no promos running at all. Just because you have less transactions, it doesn’t mean you can’t make more of a profit.

Likewise, you could have more transactions and make more money. It all depends on what it is you’re selling, what promos and discount codes you make available, and what people are wanting to purchase from you.

Still, this allows you to make better decisions. Remember, your objective is to get higher average order values, in order to keep paid customer acquisition profitable. If you need to tinker around with sales and purchase prices, this report can help point out the glaring issue areas to start modifying.

Finally, you can answer important questions with this ecommerce report. Can, and should, you increase your average order value with product bundling? Is product bundling even something that fits within your business plan and industry?

Better still, can you increase average order value with recommended products, Amazon style? Every time you purchase an item on Amazon, or even just click into its product page, you get a whole list of recommendations that are similar to it, or that could work with said item. It’s a smart use of consumer psychology.

For instance, if you’re selling clothing, and one of your customers clicks into pants, you could recommend the top, shoes, and accessories that the pants were styled with in the original product image. You could also recommend similar pants, or other tops that would pair well with them.

Cart upsells are another way to go, since they allow customers to add something else in their cart in exchange for some kind of reward. Many choose to use the classic “Spend $25 or more for free shipping,” and will often remind customers in cart with “You’re $3.20 away from free shipping!”

It’s an incentive for customers to spend more, and it gives them an excuse. They might have just needed a new pair of pants, but they chose to spend an extra bit of money for the top to go with it, rather than spend that money on shipping. In other words, the money they would have spent on something mundane, like shipping, was put to better use. It feels like smart shopping, and it eliminates the feeling of guilt, while bringing you, the business owner, more money.

In Conclusion

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It goes without saying that Google Analytics has many uses, especially when it comes to ecommerce. It’s an absolute must if you’re trying to better understand your audience, the elements of your business that people are drawn to the most, and even the things that make your product lines the most successful.

Learn enough about what it is you’re offering people, and how they’re reacting to it, and you’ll undoubtedly pick up on the changes you can make to course-correct. That means an increased conversion rate, ROI, and traffic.

So which of these Google Analytics reports do you think you’ll focus on first, and why?

Remember, don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments! I love hearing back from you all.

The Ultimate Guide to Digital Sales & Outbound Prospecting

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Don’t you just love the smell of a good email marketing campaign in the morning? Nothing quite beats the feeling of opening up your inbox and gleefully rummaging through dozens, if not hundreds, of unread emails all trying to sell you and your business something you don’t need.

Wait, no? That’s not pleasant? You say that if you could, you’d have voodoo dolls of the worst offenders and do unspeakable things to them?

Well, we’re right there with you.

If you don’t want your own B2B emails to find their way into the spam or trash folders—and, more importantly, you want protect yourself from hexes, curses, and other nefarious anti-spam magicks—then this ultimate guide is for you!

A Song of Fire, Then Ice

When developing a B2B cold email marketing campaign, one of the hardest parts is developing a strong template that won’t have recipients rolling their eyes and marking your company as spam or Ctrl+F’ing “Unsubscribe.” One business’s cost-cutting, time-saving solution is another’s I’m-never-getting-those-three-seconds-of-my-life-back, after all.

That’s why it’s crucial to master your emails before you go on to send the exact same one to hundreds of people. And one of the best ways to practice is to use warm emails.

With warm emails, you’re not only using a highly curated list of contacts, but you’re also curating the content of each email based on the research you’ve done on that particular contact. It’s a lot of work, but by putting in the sweat equity with warm emails, you’ll be able to determine which strategies work well for your business while also actively drumming up business for your company—not to mention that your warm emails will have less of a chance of ending up on someone’s spam list.

That human touch you give to your warm emails will go a long way, and everything you learn about warm emails can then be applied to your cold email templates later down the line.

I Got a Value Proposition You Can’t Refuse

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One of the truths to email marketing campaigns—and just marketing campaigns in general—is that nobody cares.

Nobody owes you, your product, or your service any attention whatsoever.

That’s not cruel; that’s life.

You’re more often than not a complete stranger to your reader, so keep that in mind. While you do want something from them (their business), the ideal situation is a win-win. You win by receiving their business, and they win by gaining some value from you.

What you get out of things is pretty much a given, so focus instead on what they might want from you. What value can you provide them? In other words, give them a value proposition that they’d be crazy to refuse.

If You’ve Got a Problem, We’ve Got the Solution

Humans are curious, risk-averse creatures. For example, we would rather avoid pain than seek pleasure (if that weren’t the case, dating would be a whole heck of a lot easier). Think about all the times you thought about doing something but realized it wouldn’t be worth the hassle.

This type of energy conservation or risk-aversion is a survival mechanism that has been ingrained into all of us.

So take advantage of it!

When talking about your product or service, it’s important to talk about it in terms of a solution rather than a simple improvement. Your solution avoids the pain of the problem, rather than providing the pleasure of an improvement.

You can also think of it as, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” In order for a business to purchase grease, they first must be aware that they have a squeaky wheel. It’s the difference between, “Improve client retention!” and, “Stop losing so many clients!”

Show, Don’t Tell

Don’t be afraid to give the reader a little insight into your process. After all, if you’re providing them a solution to their problem, they’ll want to know a bit about how you’re going to be able to do that. Your reader is smart and familiar with their industry, so treat them accordingly.

At the same time, don’t throw around jargon or buzzwords for the sake of it. Write as if you were discussing with a friend what it is you do: the point here is understanding, clarity, and brevity, not fancy and impressive-sounding words.

United We Stand

The strategy of throwing a bunch of offers at the wall and seeing what sticks is a great way to get your reader’s hand to hover over that delete button. Even worse, being vague and all accompanying in your subject line will just dilute your message and intrigue.

Focus on a single value proposition in your email. Your business may have multiple solutions to multiple problems, but by focusing on just one, you prove to the reader that you sought them out specifically because you could help them with a particular problem.

You can think of value propositions like brewing a pot of tea: the more ingredients you put into a pot of tea, the more muddled the flavor and more diluted each individual ingredient becomes. If this pot of tea is someone’s first introduction to how you brew tea, you want it to be a solid and singular experience.

Don’t Plug Your Product

While you may have a product or service, your goal in your first cold or warm email shouldn’t be to plug said product or service.

Sound a little counter-intuitive, right?

Instead, what you’re selling yourself on is your ability to help, your solution, rather than the means for that solution. Focus on the problem, your business’s context (how your business helps others), and what the results could be for the reader.

You can always talk about specific products or services down the line: the important thing in cold emailing is to sell the reader on the idea that you’ve got the solution to their problem, that you’ll be able to take care of them.

Contacts Lists: The Contact-ining

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Curating a contacts list is an art all of its own. Who you choose to put on your contacts list matters, as it’s your target audience for your email marketing campaign. And a laser-focused target audience is the cornerstone of any successful marketing campaign.

You wouldn’t try to sell shoes to fish, right? (Well, we won’t judge. Maybe you’re onto something)

One of the key traits of a warm email is that you let the reader know that you specifically sought them out because you think you could help them with a problem. This all goes out the window if you’ve picked the wrong person or company to begin with. Even with cold emails, you’ll want to be sure you’re not just hitting the right businesses, but the right people within those businesses.

Setting My Sights on You

For your warm email contacts list you’ll want to be highly selective on who you email. The closer to your ideal client someone is, the better. Various factors to keep in mind are company size, industry type, physical location, and company branding. Companies who almost fit the bill for you can be added to your cold email contacts list for later use.

As for how to find the contacts, ach, there’s the rub!

The goal should always be to find the most relevant person in a company to reach out to, so step one will be identifying the companies that pique your interest to begin with.

Let the Hunt Begin!

An easy way to do begin your search is to utilize LinkedIn’s search function and try out a few keywords. You don’t have to limit yourself to industries, either! Try searching for the name of a business similar to yours or the service you offer, search under Jobs, and bingo bango bongo you’ll see a list of every company that lists that keyword as part of their job descriptions.

Smooth (Search Engine) Operators

Barring that, utilizing a little google-fu, you can use, for example, site:linkedin.com in the search bar followed by a company name and department or job title to hopefully find the specific person to email within an organization.

This is just one example of an operator used in a search engine to help focus your search. Check out this page on other handy operators to google with.

The Shyamalan Twist

“It was X all along!”

Don’t forget that you can look to current or former clients as potential contacts for your warm email campaign. In fact, they might be the most receptive to warm emails, since you already know a lot about them, they already know about you, and they will probably appreciate the personal touch in reaching out to them.

The Social Network

Depending on your company, it can be very helpful to join and participate in various online communities in your industry. Anything from Facebook groups to subreddits and forums can be a great place to not just cultivate potential clients but also interact with others in your industry and provide community value to them.

One thing to keep in mind is that you should only go this route if you genuinely interact with the communities and offer them some sort of value. Otherwise, you run the risk of just shamelessly plugging your company and getting banned. Communities will often have rules for how people with their own businesses should go about talking about their own businesses, so do your best to follow those rules to a T.

Contact Lists: This Time, It’s Personal

It may seem like a no-brainer, but don’t ever email to a contact@companyname type address if you can help it. Even a departmental generic address should be avoided when possible. The whole point of a warm email is to reach out to a specific person, so sending your thoughtfully crafted and well-curated warm email into the dark abyss of an office’s general inbox is a great way to roleplay as Sisyphus.

You can’t just simply ask for that information . . . right?

Well, One of the easiest ways is indeed to simply email the address you’ve come the closest to and just ask who best person to contact would be. Just a quick hello and introduction followed by asking who the best person to contact would be about [a brief 3-5 word description of what you do].

That’s it! As a bonus, you are now armed with the FYI that someone within the company has referred you (more on that below!).

Subject Lines: The Eyeballs of the Email

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If eyes are the window to the soul, then your subject line is the window to your email. This is the first major make or break point for your email—whether they read your email or not—so you need to do everything you can to make sure they open that email.

Value propositions aren’t always your friend when it comes to subject lines (though they absolutely can be used effectively), but you have a wide variety of techniques to employ. After all, the goal of the subject line is simply to get them to open your email. Anything goes, so long as you do so in good faith (no fake emergencies or otherwise underhanded tactics, please!).

Be Your Own Private Eye

This is pretty much just good advice all around, but do your research. Being able to show a reader that you actually cared enough about them to take an honest look into what they do for a living can greatly increase your chances of getting a response. Connecting what they do to your own personal life can be a great humanizing moment in an email and shows your reader that you’re an actual person, not some stranger trying to get at their money.

But while a film noir private eye might straddle the line between black and white, you should adhere to a higher code. We’ve all received those template emails that look like they just had a field in their spreadsheet for generic industry terms: “Hey [First Name], love what you’re doing with [X, Y, and Z]!”

If you’re going to put the time in to do the research, follow it up by putting a little time into making that human connection between what you do and what they do.

The Mutual Acquaintance

“So-and-So said you’d be best”

It’s simple, it’s straightforward, and most importantly, you’ve established a connection between you and your reader. The So-and-So in question will typically be the person who you got in touch with within the company to refer you to the right person. Or maybe you met someone at an event who mentioned the person you’re now contacting. Bringing up a mutual acquaintance in the subject line is a great way to get someone interested in what your email has to say.

Praise Is the Highest Form of . . . Praise

Who doesn’t love receiving a nice, genuine compliment? Emphasis on the genuine part!

If you’re sending an email to someone who revolutionized the way you think about your business, don’t be afraid to tell them that they did so. On the less extreme side of things, maybe your research on their business taught you something new: don’t be afraid to tell them that, either.

“If I Told You You Had a Nice Email Body . . .

“. . . would you hold it against me?” After the first hurdle of the subject line is overcome, you now have a few lines at best to hook your reader and convince them to keep reading. While the subject line was a simple pass/fail test, the body of your email is the weighted final exam. This is where you’ll utilize everything you’ve learned about your reader, your product or service, and marketing in general.

Don’t Be a Stranger, Now!

You may know stuff about your reader, but they more than likely don’t know you. When you introduce yourself, it’s important that you describe yourself in a way that has some kind of personal context for your reader.

Starting off by talking about yourself and what you do may seem like the natural course of action, but in terms of value, you’re not providing much to your reader. Sure, it may seem obvious to you that what you do has value to them, but that’s exactly what you’re trying to convince them of: don’t start with your conclusion!

Instead, connect yourself to the work they do.

In other words, begin by showing that what they do has value to you.

This is why doing your research is such an important step. If you haven’t taken the time, how can you expect them to take the time?

1-800 CONTEXT: My Brand

This is more a comment on the general “feel” of your emails as opposed to any one specific component, but it’s nonetheless an important piece of the successful B2B email puzzle.

For some businesses, it may be a good idea to distance the feel of their writing from the stiff and stuffy professional business tons, while other businesses may find that that level of professionalism and maturity lend an air of competence. The important thing is to stay on brand, but more important than that, you want the email to sound like an actual human being wrote it.

Regardless of the industry, you’re reaching out to a human being at the other end of your marketing email campaign. Reach out to them as one human being to another while keeping in the spirit of your company or personal branding.

Be Sincere, Or Be Straightforward

If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all (and get to the point of your email). Lots of guides will tell you to heap on some praise or show off that you did research (hey, even we told you that!).

Only do this if you can be sincere about it.

Nobody likes a brown noser, especially if it looks like you took a passing glance at what they do and put together some generic compliment that doesn’t really speak to the specific recipient.

A good way to show that you care is to connect what they’re doing to your own personal life, but this is only a viable strategy if you actually have that connection. This has the added benefit of helping remove that “stranger danger” label from you.

At the same time, don’t spit on someone and tell them it’s raining. If you’ve got nothing of value to add, then get right to what will have value for your reader.

Your Jargon Can’t Save You Now!

A great way to alienate your reader is to give them some car salesman speak. It also has the unintended side effect of making your language sound incredibly vague. Your value proposition should be impactful and to the point, so write in terms that speak to the results your reader would want to see.

That’s not to say you should avoid talking about your process: in fact describing a bit about how what you do works can be incredibly valuable. The important thing is not to couch it in obfuscating language in an attempt to seem impressive.

Numbers, Like Hips, Don’t Lie

It never hurts to talk statistics and numbers, which can help add credibility to your value proposition. Offering to give or attaching case studies on previous clients can be hugely beneficial to establishing your authority in the industry and helping your reader come to a decision. It also helps prevent your own writing from feeling too pressuring, as you offer the information for the reader to look at at their leisure and let them come to their own conclusion.

Testimonials aren’t numbers, but they’ll also go a long way in enticing the reader.

Calling Them Out . . . To Action!

The call to action is a vital part of marketing content, and your cold or warm email is no different! If you’ve gotten your reader excited about you and your business, you need to direct that energy somewhere, and the easier and more pinpoint you can make that directed energy, the better.

It’s as simple as asking the reader if they’d like to take 15 minutes to talk to you and giving them a window of availability to pick from.

Give clear concise instructions on how/when to reach you. Do as much of the work as possible so the reader only has to think “Yes.”

Don’t Forget to Say Grace

Whether if it’s in your opening email, your follow-up email, or your response email, you should be sincere in your thanks. If they’re reading your email, they’re using their time to do so. Show them that you care and value their time.

Nothing puts a sender on the spam list faster than being pushy, ungrateful, or manipulative in their tactics.

Serve yourself a slice of humble pie!

The Life Cycle of the Cold Email

outbound prospecting sales

As you work your way through putting together the perfect warm email, there will come a point where you will say to yourself, “I wish I could send emails much faster and with less effort!”

Enter in the cold email.

Being honest, one cold email is not as high-impact as one warm email, but what the cold email lacks in specificity it makes up for in its far-reaching nature and ability to reproduce at an extreme rate.

The cold email utilizes everything you learned about your product or service while writing warm emails to create a series of templates meant to cast a wider net on a larger audience you couldn’t possibly reach with warm emails in a reasonable amount of time. Due to this nature, the cold email will rely heavily on the strength of your value proposition.

We specified that cold emails are a series, because they should rarely be merely a one and done affair. Cold emails should follow a cycle of follow-up emails and a final email that removes the recipient from your list (don’t go fishing in a dry lake, after all).

First Contact

Your first cold email will follow a similar format to your warm emails. You’ll still want to target the right people within a company, you’ll still want to keep things brief and get to your value proposition ASAP, and you’ll still have an easy to follow call to action at the end of the email. The main difference here is that you won’t be able to personalize each cold email.

As such, it’s best to be quick with your introduction and straightforward with your value proposition. They’ll either be interested or they won’t be, so try to keep things short to save everyone some time.

The Tasteful Follow-up

Give the reader a few days before you send a follow-up email. The follow-up email should be thankful for the reader’s time, but aside from that, how you go about things can vary wildly.

A follow-up email will reach one of two readers: either they ignored your first email or they’re sitting on the fence. The job of your follow-up email is to convince the reader that your product or service is the perfect fit for them.

You could bring in a personal anecdote that humanizes you to the reader, you could talk a bit more about your process and past clients’ experiences, or you could even offer something of value for free (for example, an eBook).

Start with the assumption that they’re on the fence, because if someone ignored your email before, they’ll either continue to ignore it or find themselves on the fence after reading your follow-up email (which they could potentially read again to convince themselves to respond).

“You must have missed my last email” is not a good place to start your email from.

Again, be thankful for their time and be humble.

Knowing When You’re Beat

At a certain point, your follow-up cold emails are going to become spam. It’s important to know when you’re beat and leave someone alone. If you’re unsure of when to do this, err on the side of caution. If the next series of follow-up emails has nothing new to add of value to the reader, then it’s time to write the breakup email.

As always, be grateful and thankful for your reader’s time and give them one last chance to connect with you, personally, if they have any questions.

Then move them off your contacts list for this particular campaign.

Optimization: Adapt and Improve

Your first cold emails, like your first warm emails, will probably need improvement in some way. Here, we’ll discuss the best way to go about improving your cold email templates, adapting and improving until you’ve got an effective cold email marketing campaign.

Started from the Bottom

Ever play the browser-based flash game Pandemic? In it, you play as a virus looking to evolve and spread throughout the world.

There are many ways to go about playing, but as a general rule, if you come out guns blazing, the countries of the world will react in kind, shutting down their borders and preventing you from getting in. Instead, the ideal strategy is to sit back and fine tune yourself until you’re ready to take over the world.

This is your cold email campaign in a nutshell.

If you fire off hundreds or thousands of emails using a template that hasn’t been optimized, chances are you’re going to get ignored or worse: blacklisted or associated with spam.

So, in a sense, start from the bottom with just a handful of emails to figure out what works well for your email in your industry and slowly scale up. Work in small batches and keep tweaking things so that you don’t run out of contacts before your cold emails have reached their real potential.

Skynet Is Watching

Get yourself an email marketing tool. There’s no way around this.

For a successful B2B email marketing campaign, you need an email marketing tool to track your data and manage your email campaign.

Without data, you can’t experiment. Without experimentation, you can’t adapt, and a marketing campaign that can’t adapt will never become optimized.

There are plenty of email management tools out there. Mailshake and Yesware are just two out of the dozens available.

Split Testing to High Heavens

If you’ve read a marketing guide before, then you’re familiar with the split test and how important it is in pretty much all marketing content.

There are entire books written about split testing, but the idea is simple: You have two identical pieces of content (your control), but there’s a single element that’s different (the variable). By tracking each piece of content, you can see which version of your variable works better. Rinse and repeat, and each step brings you closer to optimization.

Not sure what kind of subject line would work best? Do a split test with identical emails but change up the subject line to see what draws in readers better!

It’s Okay to Pay

outbound prospecting sales

Not the best writer? Strapped for time? Run yourself into a marketing rut? Whatever the reason, it’s okay to pay a copywriter, one that specializes in marketing and/or B2B content, to write or edit for you.

You don’t have to break the bank hiring one to do your whole campaign, but having them take a crack at an email template or two can be very illuminating and help you out in the long run.

An important aspect of any marketing campaign is the proper management of resources. This includes both time and money. So if your time is better spent researching contacts than cobbling together some words, it’s perfectly fine to hire some monkeys with typewriters.

Have you had a successful cold email campaign? What strategies do you employ to hook your readers? What’s your favorite subject line to use?

Share in the comments below!