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ROI Topic: Best Practices for Prospect Emailing

The vast majority of emailing that occurs today is not prospect emailing, but rather customer-based emailing. In other words, permission emailing. As a result, any statistics you see about emailing are vastly based on permission emailing. This leads to false expectations in that you may expect the higher open and click rates attained in customer email campaigns.


Yet everyone wants to find a way to do prospect emailing because you want to expand your market of course. Although results vary, after 12 years managing our own email marketing company focused on prospecting, and working with numerous other products and services in the market, here is what a realistic expectation is for prospect emailing today:

  • 2-5% opens
  • .25% -1% clicks (of the emails sent) – or 2-4% of the opens.

That may sound low, and it is. But it is what it is. Certainly good practices in creating and sending emails, a good email tool or provider, a reasonable ISP, a good list, market timing and need, good messaging and a good value proposition and call to action can enhance results. But manage your expectations accordingly. It has been our experience that customer expect much better than this because they have executed customer-based campaigns and permission campaigns extensively in the past, or an in-house list of prospects who know you. As a result, many customers become unhappy with the average results posted above and enter into an ongoing testing process with different tools and providers, continually trying to find the magic bullet. But it does not exist.

Best Practices for Results

First, I would recommend outsourcing to an experienced provider who does prospecting emailing regularly and have their own tool. If you have a tool you have licensed and a skilled resource or team to manage this in-house that’s fine too.

After decades of market research and personal experience, the foundational rules of marketing success: frequency and reach, still apply. If you play to run email campaigns, the bare minimum to yield measurable results is 4-6 campaigns. Most people, probably you yourself, delete or ignore 95% of emails that come into their inbox. But marketing is still successful because it only takes 5% over time who are interested to become potential prospects and customers.

Also, after decades of marketing analytics, it is still the case that it takes about 7 touches per contact per year to create and maintain awareness. Further, across all industries, it takes 8-15 touches for those who eventually become interested and take some type of action.

Ongoing emailing is the best way to maximize results. Monthly or bi-weekly will create and maintain the best awareness. But after a year, your email list will degrade by 30-40% so you need a good source to constantly keep your list updated during the year or your campaign results will similarly degrade. In order to run effective ongoing email campaigns, ideally you need a list of 20k to 50k records and perhaps more if possible. But you should not send out all at once. Outlook typically allows 10k per day and whether you use Outlook or a tool, I would say 10k emails sent per day would be the maximum to send. Of course you can’t send to the same people every day so you or your provider needs to create a rotating schedule.

A variation of this email sending practice is to send an initial email out early in the week, then a simple followup email later that week asking if the recipient saw your first email. This often provokes more responses because it looks real and personal and honestly due to a little bit of guilt and courtesy on the part of the recipient who doesn’t want anyone to think they are non-responsive.


So let’s take a look at an example of who to calculate and measure ROI. You really must do it initially based on the opens and clicks as a function of the number of names in your list and sending frequency.

Let’s say you have a 50,000 name list and send twice a month, the open rate is 2% and the click rate is .25% of the opens. Then let’s say of the clicks, 30% go into your pipeline and 20% of those become customers, and your average sale is $5,000. Here’s what that looks like;

  • 50,000 x 26 sends per yr = 1.3 million emails sent
  • 2% opens = 26,000
  • .25% clicks from opens = 65
  • 30% into pipeline = 19.5
  • 20% close = 3.9
  • Revenue = $19,500

From a cost standpoint, let’s say the list (purchased from a top broker) costs $3,000, the emailing service (outsourced to an experienced provider) costs $5,000, for a total cost of $8,000.

ROI is calculated by (revenue-cost)/ cost and yields 144%. Perhaps you are now disappointed. But you should not be, because the purpose of ROI is not necessarily to find a huge ROI marketing tactic (because it does not exist) but rather to produce consistent results that create a positive ROI, which this does. But I purposely used conservative figures to lower expectations. If you have a good value proposition, competitive pricing, a market need, find a good list and email service provider, and perhaps have a higher average sale, your results will be even better.

What is not calculated into this equation is recurring or repeat revenues. Without complicating the issue, let me just say that if you can attain recurring or repeat revenues, the simple example above will result in double to triple the ROI% calculated above. This brings to the forefront the value of customer satisfaction, still overlooked after all these decades, as a key measurement of sales performance. It is a well-publicized fact, and still valid, that it is 3-5 times more difficult and costly to attain a new customer than to sell something additional to a current customer.

Don’t be looking for the silver bullet and think you will find an ROI marketing tactic that delivers 500% to 1000% or even more, not counting repeat and recurring revenue. You will be disappointed. Marketing is hard work. But it is worth it unless you think your sales team is willing to do all their prospecting through cold calling. Good luck with that.

About ROI Outsourcing LLC

ROI is a data services and telemarketing provider with numerous global data sources and offices in the US and India. Collectively ROI has 55 years of experience in marketing, sales, management and business development, 15 years marketing data services, and 12 years previously marketing our own email marketing solution. Please visit our web site at http://www.roioutsourcing.com or call us at +1-678-745-8385.

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