The Best (Worst) Outbound Sales Campaigns by Growbots

Chris Zawisza, Growbots

28 May 2019

An average office worker receives 121 emails per day. 121 emails. Per. Day. Why emphasize this? Because if you are creating an outbound sales campaign, this is the number one thing to keep in mind – your prospect’s inbox is flooded with emails. Making matters worse, 121 per day is the average. So imagine what it looks like for your C-level prospects!

That’s why our golden copy-writing rule at Growbots is pretty simple: you gotta stand out. Surprisingly, outbound sales campaign is not about selling at all – the goal of your campaign is to stand out from the crowd and to catch somebody’s interest. That’s it. You might have the best product on the market that’s a complete game-changer for your prospect. But it does not matter if you can’t capture attention right away in your messaging. Your distracted prospect needs something to pull their eyes to what you are talking about.

Living by this rule, we are constantly on the lookout for new ways to surprise our prospects and capture their attention. The most effective way we come up with new ideas is through experiments. Usually, we use the 80/20 rule in our campaigns: 80% of our outbound sales activities are focused on the method that works (i.e. we’re 100% sure that it’ll bring us results and our AEs will not starve) and the other 20% are devoted to experiments.

Our 2018 best (worst) experiment

This particular idea came to my mind when I discovered that our tool allows users to fully customize the “From:” part of an outbound email. I started to wonder, is there anything else we can do with it apart from A/B testing “Chris Zawisza” vs “Chris from Growbots”?

Then one of those brilliant “shower ideas” struck me. What if, instead of putting our name in this field, we fill it out with the name of our recipient (using simple first_name and last_name custom fields) and try to imitate an email from “future self” recommending our services?

It seemed a bit risky, waaay too similar to spoofing, but at the same time pretty damn creative. Since we’re reaching out mostly to sales & marketing folks, I decided that they might appreciate the creativity of this approach and that we should give it a go. Here’s how the message looked:

*we were sending those in Q3 2018, that’s why March 2019 is the future here

The results

By now, you’re probably dying to hear what were the results of this campaign and so was I. I honestly don’t remember being more excited about any idea we tested before. That’s why after we launched this campaign to 282 individuals, I hustled to my inboxes right away to see the first replies.

Did it serve its purpose? Did it stand out from the crowd and spark interest? The first reply we got was pretty promising:

The one right after that, not so much:

What’s more, this was followed by two tweets mentioning @growbots_ and complaining about this campaign:

Remember: when you receive negative replies to your outbound EMAIL campaign via Twitter – it’s time to abort.

So, we took that clue and stopped the campaign right away. Another “hit or miss” campaign went to the “miss” bucket.

Here are the overall results: a whopping 0.4% warm reply rate (we usually see 14% reply rate and 7% warm reply rate after sending first messages to this persona):

*warm reply = person that is interested in hearing more about our solution (recognized by our NLP system)

In hindsight, it’s quite obvious this campaign had a 0% chance of succeeding in today’s world. Our world is increasingly security-aware (IT-wise), because of the hackers and phishing attacks and I’m honestly surprised that so many people opened this email.

Anyway, this experiment failed miserably. But do we consider it a waste of time? And why on earth am I sharing with you one of the most failed experiments in outbound sales history instead of giving you some templates that actually work?

Why it wasn’t a waste of time and why I’m telling you about this

Because this is a crucial part of the mindset needed to execute world-class sales & marketing. In today’s world, ideas become obsolete overnight and you need to be on the constant lookout for new ways of doing things. To find new ideas you need to be willing to experiment, and more importantly, you need to be willing to fail. I recently came across Jeff Bezos’ quote that fits here just perfectly (while reading David Cancel “The One Thing” newsletter – great stuff, shout out!):

“…nine times out of ten, you’re going to fail. But every once in a while, you’ll hit a home run that in business terms is more like 1,000 runs. Given a ten percent chance of a 100 times payoff, you should take that bet every time.”

This has certainly been true at Growbots – 9 out of 10 of our experiments fail miserably. What’s even more annoying is usually, the more we think we have a “home run” idea, the more likely it is to fail. But we’re OK with that because, for instance, one good idea in 2018 allowed us to double the output of our Sales Development team (in terms of opportunities created) in a matter of weeks.

Remember, the name of the game is to capture interest. If you keep doing what you’ve always done, how are you going to catch more attention? You also don’t want to spend too much time over-analyzing. That’s why experiments are perfect. Get the ideas out in the real-world and see what happens.

Where to go from here:

  1. Don’t look for ready-to-use strategies/templates on the internet (those are obsolete)
  2. Develop a system and mindset of constant experimentation
  3. Stick to the 80/20 rule to not jeopardize the healthiness of your sales funnel
  4. Don’t be afraid to fail – one home run will make it up to you

About the Author:

Chris Zawisza – Head of Demand Generation @ Growbots – laser-focused on the growth of Growbots’ customer base and research & development in outbound sales area. Always eager to brainstorm and explore new ideas.