Surely you've heard how the pandemic has impacted the performance of sales and marketing teams. It's almost as if consumers are becoming more analytical of what they're getting from companies.
HubSpot recently released some eye-opening data that confirms this: the week of April 6th saw an email open rate of almost 26%, the highest single-week average of 2020. However, response rates are at record lows around 2%. Furthermore, the total volume of emails sent is still around 50% higher than before the virus.
While a lot of this can be attributed to the stress and anxiety created by the virus, people clearly are keeping their ears open to new solutions indicated by the high open rates. The question sales and marketers should be asking right now is, “How can I create more engaging content to drive responses?”
Conversion rates across industries have reflected this lack of response as well. A chart featured in Neil Patel’s blog reported that the only industries in the US which saw a growth in conversion rates (after the virus hit) were food, healthcare, media, and pharmaceuticals. Every other industry experienced a decline in conversion rates. Consumers are still reading advertisements, yet global circumstances are serving as a barrier to making purchase decisions. If someone doesn’t actually need something, chances are they aren’t going to buy it
What will the new normal be like?
Expect to see many changes to how organizations will reach people. With the importance of trust at all-time highs, chances are companies will start reflecting this initiative and adapt their messaging to be more personable and selfless.
Not only might we see a blanket-effect to how messaging will change, but the current situation could also diversify the channels of communication that will be used. For instance, who would have thought that 94% of B2B marketers would now be using LinkedIn for content distribution?As technology evolves, so do we. For all we know, working remotely may become the new normal. It’s no wonder why video companies like Zoom are seeing tremendous growth. Their daily active users jumped from 10 million to 200 million in just three months.
Connecting with people has never been easier even with everything going on. Yet making meaningful connections without talking face-to-face is harder than ever, especially with this tense global climate. You could spend hours typing highly personalized and thoughtful emails, but that could take all day.
How can businesses improve the scalability and authenticity of how they reach potential or current customers? Take a look at what can be accomplished through Experience Marketing.
1. Message can reach unintended recipients
What’s the first thing you did when you received a piece of mail that really caught your eye? Did you immediately act on it or did it take some time to process? There’s a very good chance that you showed it to one of your peers before doing either. Unlike emails which are instantly deleted in most cases, mail naturally stays around for much longer (please recycle to dispose). This means it has a good chance of unintentionally reaching others. An office space would be the best representation of this scenario as teams could easily share it around. However, even to connect with those working remotely, a study from the UK found that mail has an average lifespan of 17 days compared to the two seconds of an email. That’s over 700,000 times longer that your message could be in circulation than an email!
2. Cost effective
A recent Forbes article stated that marketing is typically your highest expense outside of payroll. In normal markets, you are spending around 10-30% of your revenues in sales and marketing related investments. How is your organization allocating that budget? Does most of it go to paid digital advertisements, or do you have some extra capital lying around from conferences being cancelled? The point is that sales and marketing budgets are a considerable chunk of your revenue. If the ROI from your digital advertising has shrunk from the decline in response rates, your future revenue will diminish as well. To avoid this, consider an offline approach within your workflow to have more engaging touch-points with potential customers. Consumers are more hesitant than ever in their buying process, yet you can counter this by providing a more meaningful engagement to convey the value you provide. How much are you currently paying-per-click to advertise...$1, $3, maybe $10 or more? For around a dollar per contact you can now send physical advertisements to a targeted list of prospects.
3. Easier to catch attention of remote workers
An analysis conducted by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics found that there has been a 159% growth in remote work over the last 12 years. Aside from the virus, there’s other factors that point towards a likelihood of this increasing even more. For instance, a reduction in stress and increased morale from flexible arrangements. Yet one thing remains certain if this trend continues: a heavy reliance on digital channels for communication. Online channels are where most remote workers will be spending their day meaning connecting with them via email, LinkedIn, or paid traffic will be highly competitive. However, a simple offline interaction such as a postcard will make you stand out from the crowd.
4. Forms emotional connections
Efficiently leveraging emotional connections is one of the hardest things to do in marketing or sales. Google’s most recent Super Bowl advertisement did a great job of tugging at heartstrings around the world. Nike has also done an exceptional job of leveraging emotions in their commercials. When a person is feeling really positive emotions like gratitude, love, or appreciation, the heart beats out a different message, which determines what kind of signals are sent to the brain. One study from Cal Berkeley even found that a group of students within counseling services who wrote one letter of gratitude to another every week for three weeks reported significantly better mental health for up to 12 weeks than the other students. Physical advertisements enable you to convey a more emotionally profound message than digital channels. Message volume is no longer a concern for sales and marketing teams. The latest inquest is figuring out how to scale those deeper and more genuine connections.
5. Increases brand recall
Another thing physical advertisements are capable of is stimulating more brain activity. They leave a longer lasting impression on the recipient, providing stronger brand recall. Think of all the ways you can creatively use your logo in the design of a postcard or letter. It would give more meaning to your brand than simply featuring a logo in the footer of an email. 95% of millennial shoppers (born between 1980 and 2000) say they want their brands to actively court them. Adding offline engagement to your workflows will provide another channel to portray the narrative of your brand to all sorts of audiences.
6. Establishes trust
Brand recall and loyalty are some of the outputs of trust: an emotion that should be held in the highest regard by sales and marketers. Some teams focus too much on standing out from competition which effects how consumers view their brand. This can be said especially for those who target audiences through digital channels. Marketing Sherpa conducted a survey of around 1200 consumers and found this to be accurate. Online pop-ups, mobile phone ads, online banner ads, and social media ads were among the least trustworthy advertising channel rated by the consumers. And the most trustworthy? You guessed it: 82% of the consumers voted that print ads (newspaper and magazines) are the most trustworthy advertising channel when making a purchase decision.
7. Integrated for use at scale
One of the newest developments in sales and marketing technology are offline engagement platforms. They provide that necessary bridge to scale all offline communication efforts. A sales rep's time is valuable to both them and the company; every platform they use needs to be streamlined and automated to the fullest extent. Fortunately, the ability to send personalized mail at scale is now feasible and there's a multitude of options to choose from. Furthermore, some integrate with your CRM to effortlessly upload contact information.
8. Highly personable
Some 81% of people say that receiving a hand-written postcard holds a lot of value for them. Enterprise companies who contact thousands of people each day need to have a way to get a personable message out. AI handwriting can fill this gap and give your message that deeper meaning you need. As indicated by HubSpot's findings, consumers are opening more messages than ever, yet hardly responding. They're waiting for a more personal and sincere value proposition, something that offline engagement can deliver.
9. Can be used anywhere in the sales funnel
The typical sales funnel has 3-5 stages depending on how technical you want to get. For this case, let's refer to simply top, middle, and bottom. While 38.5% of B2B organizations are using direct mail within their sales processes, there's a good chance most of these companies are using it at a pretty basic level. However, direct mail can be used effectively in every stage of the sales funnel. Even if it's just one introductory brochure as part of an outbound sequence, that's still an offline touch that a potential customer wouldn't expect to receive. In the middle of the funnel, condensed testimonials can be sent to nurture leads as well as postcard follow-ups to emails and phone calls. And at the bottom, try sending a gift or letter regarding a scheduled meeting or demo. Even for enhancing customer loyalty and boosting advocation, direct mail can be used post-conversion as well.
10. Digital channels are over-cluttered
HubSpot's latest findings lay out what's happening right now. Between the news, social media, and email, consumers are showing significantly less engagement on digital platforms. It really is hard to believe what's true and what isn't. Unfortunately for sales and marketers this dilemma reflects in their initiatives as response rates come in at all time lows. Digital channels work great at getting the message out, but a general mistrust across channels and platforms has developed as a result. Competition has become fierce across online channels yet offline engagement will highlight the value you provide in a more meaningful manner.
Where are we going?
One thing is certain with whatever direction we're going- sales and marketing teams will change their ways of reaching people. We may be living through one of the greatest paradigm shifts of our lifetime and may not even realize it.
Once the dust begins to settle, consumers should begin to advance back into a more outward buyer mentality. Mark Cuban mentioned in an interview with CNBC that 'world-changing companies' will be launched in the aftermath. Solutions are coming to problems we won't even know we had.
Organizations across the globe should use this time to rethink their approach. Offline engagement could very well be that missing link to compliment digital strategies.
It's time to think outside the inbox and consider leveraging a traditional channel of communication with a more modern spin: experience marketing.