With 81 percent of small business owners now being contacted by between one and five sales reps each week, according to a survey by Street Fight and Thrive Analytics, it’s becoming harder for digital marketing vendors to stand out from the pack. In this case, pitching smarter doesn’t mean casting a wider net. It means building on the experiences of others to come up with the types of strong, quick messaging that small business owners prefer.
Email is the go-to channel for pitching within the hyperlocal community, with 63 percent of merchants in Street Fight’s survey saying they prefer that marketing service providers contact them via email, compared to nine percent who said they prefer being contacted by phone.
We wanted to know what service providers can do to increase the effectiveness of their email pitches, so we went directly to the source. Here are six strategies vendors say they’ve successfully used to break through the clutter in local merchants’ inboxes.
1. Include differentiating information in the email subject line. “Subject lines are the most important thing for cold emails. We try to grab their attention using a variety of differentiating information. Include a mutual acquaintance or the fact that you’re traveling to their city in the subject line.” (Winston Lord, Venga)
2. Lead with a free service. “Lead with the free, valuable service they usually have to pay for and make it clear why and how you are able to provide this for free, so they know there is no ‘catch.’ At SiteJabber, we did this with our free reputation management tools, which usually cost SMBs thousands of dollars.” (Jeremy Gin, SiteJabber)
3. Use the names of existing clients. “When you get great partners on board (we work with restaurants), others become more interested in your service. If you want merchants to think, ‘they partner with such great restaurants, so we should try too,’ then you should try to onboard big names first. It’s great to use these names in emails for initial outreach or when you meet in person.” (Dimitri Nikulin, Allset)
4. Include your company’s mission. “Once you’ve made clear the value you can provide, make it clear why you’re different —your company’s mission and values and why they should choose you. Give your company a purpose, mission, and values that are about more than just yourself and your business. For example, at SiteJabber, we value fairness and transparency with businesses and consumers.” (Jeremy Gin, SiteJabber)
5. Set an implementation plan. “The most important thing for [our] team when dealing with potential users is to effectively convey the capabilities of the system. To do this we utilize a consultative approach, especially with our SMB owners. After we have made first contact and established that iConnect is a viable solution, we set an implementation plan that tackles our three key cornerstones: software, hardware, and processing.” (SJ Kim, iConnect POS)
6. Follow up after each milestone. “You should follow up [with potential clients] each time you reach a major business milestone. For example, once you get great launch PR, it’s much easier to pitch. Shoot an email about the launch, including the list of partners you’ve onboarded and the media publications that covered it. Always push new partner names and new publications out via social media channels. Let them know about users’ traction.” (Dimitri Nikulin, Allset)
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.
Interviews have been edited for length and clarity.