Buyers And Sellers: The Benefits Of An Email Diet

It’s no secret that the buy side (marketers, ad agencies, etc) receive a tremendous number of “cold emails” from the sell side (publishers, tech vendors, etc) looking to engage in business.  A few digital buyers have told me they will see 50 to 100 on a given day.

It has gotten to the point where buy-side players have resorted to working with email addresses that were created specifically to dodge dreaded vendor email solicitations.  For example, a digital marketing exec at an automotive brand ditched the corporate nomenclature (first.last@company.com) for a combination of initials plus numbers (abc007@company.com.  Has it really come to this?

I think we can all agree that there is significant value in automation. However, it becomes a curse when people start resorting to sneaky email formats to relieve inbox overload.  It’s just too easy for a digital neophyte to blast a list of digital executives with soulless “we stack ‘em deep and sell ‘em cheap” messaging.

This is where I think the folks at LinkedIn might just be onto something with their “InMail” feature.  A user is allowed 10, 25, or 50 outreach emails per month based on their subscription (we’ll leave the debate over whether the numbers or the platform itself are ideal, it’s the concept that is compelling).

If the industry (or a buyer-seller platform) were to inform each seller that they carried a limited number of prospecting emails per day, no doubt they would be much more judicious in outreach, making sure to highlight specific ways their media/tech adds value for a given brand or client (surely sales execs and automated email pundits have indigestion at the thought of this scenario, but let’s continue to weigh benefits).

Consider the inbox of agencies/advertisers for a moment. If they received fewer of those mindless, trolling-the-waters, cookie-cutter emails, then it would seem reasonable they could spend more time reviewing the intelligent “cold emails” as well as closer review of A+ proposals.

And suppose, instead of requesting countless proposals (some of which are given just to appease the seller hounds -- sad, but true!) and never indicating why sellers didn’t win the business, buyers are now required to provide constructive feedback to those who don’t make the cut.

This is a work in progress, but here’s a rough snapshot of a Web 4.0 buyer/seller communication platform:

Sellers:

  • Limited # of emails sent per day
  • Craft intelligent, custom messaging for sellers
  • Bonus email earned for each positive response received (minus 10 for each email with the wrong company name, recipient name, or misspelling of either)

Buyers:

  • Higher read rate and response rate to vendor inquiries
  • More time to evaluate introductions and proposals from qualified vendors
  • Provide vendors with feedback to improve product, features, alignment, etc.

Even if the above platform scenario is a stretch, inboxes are being flooded, and things will only get worse given the proliferation of ad tech, digital publishers, and automation tools in-market.  Standards and some type of quality control would go a long way, mitigating self-medication on the sales side as well as the need for cloak-and-dagger email formats on the buy side.

Do you think?

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4 comments about "Buyers And Sellers: The Benefits Of An Email Diet".
  1. Wendy Hidenrick from AddThis , April 24, 2014 at 2:59 p.m.
    I think these are all very valid points. However where is the solve? Do sales side just simply stop sending emails and then all of a sudden the buy side starts reading the ones they do get? In the Midwest market there is over 3,000 media sellers. Suppose that 10% of those sellers work for Yahoo, AOL, Google, etc. That translates to 2700 sellers not making their quota, because emails that are not sent don't get read. I hear what you are saying, emails sent aren't getting read anyway. So what is the solve? InMails? 50 a month won't get you to your quota. Personally I am not a fan of InMails. The ones I have sent in the past also don't get read or acknowledged and many times are sent back to you. I see agencies changing their processes as the solve and not just an email alias where hope goes to die.
  2. Seth Ulinski from TBR , April 24, 2014 at 4:22 p.m.
    Wendy, I appreciate the feedback. There is of course no immediate solve. However, I like the notion of creating an email currency which carries guidelines for both sender and receiver. Again, it's the InMail concept that's intriguing; I completely agree that 50 emails/mo would result in the proverbial axe for many a rep! I also agree that response rate from "cold" InMails is lower than traditional email. That said, I have landed new business using this platform and also had prospective clients reach out to me. Of course InMail only guarantees communication one-way as it currently operates. This means even a "perfect pitch" from a well-qualified seller can go unread or unanswered. As you mention, the processes are broken. Unfortunately if nothing changes, inboxes will continue down the path of becoming morbidly obese.
  3. William Hoelzel from JWB Associates , April 25, 2014 at 10:33 a.m.
    I wish all email programs -- but especially B2B -- reported rates for "received," "opened," "read," "clicked-through" (to links), and "replied." Like Constant Contact and other email programs do. Right now, sellers don't even know that their email was deleted without opening. If that happened 10 times, a smsrt seller might recognize his approach isn't working -- and he could move on. If the email is opened 10 times with no reply or clickthrough, again the sender would learn something. Right now we're flying blind. But I don't see any way to force the the email recipient to explain why he's not interested --short of locking up the inbox of the recipient till he checks a survey box saying "Never," "Longshot," or "Not Now, But Keep Trying." It sounds a lot like dating, trying to discern outright rejection, indifference, and "someday maybe." But it is too easy for all of us to send "invitations" to the prom queen, without any self-awareness of the likelihood of success, and no feedback from the queen.
  4. Seth Ulinski from TBR , April 26, 2014 at 4:19 p.m.
    Great Points, William. Yes, there are robust CRM platforms that provide great insight into opens/clicks/etc. You are right that we are flying blind for the mostpart- until there is an alternative process, I guess sellers will have to figure out if the recipient is in their respective league -- or if it's more like a 1 in a million chance they'll receive a reply (OK by Lloyd Christmas' standards, but not for most sellers).