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5 Outreach Strategies Every Business Should Use
No business is an island. If you were to sequester yourself away from the rest of the world, your company would wither and die. Outreach is a critical function for continued growth. You need contacts in your pipeline to keep new customers flowing. You also need to keep in touch with existing customers to ensure their loyalty and reduce churn.
It’s equally important to keep your outreach strategies fresh. Basic personalization, like adding your prospect’s name to the beginning of a templated email message, may have felt unique ten years ago, but now people see right through it. Doing the same thing year after year will reduce the effectiveness of your efforts. To stay relevant, your outreach efforts need to adapt to the changing landscape.
Below you’ll find five of our favorite outreach strategies. These are proven methods for enticing new prospects or keeping your existing customers engaged.
1. Leverage the Power of Handwritten Notes
A few decades ago, receiving a handwritten card in the mail wouldn’t have been particularly remarkable. Before email and text messages, handwritten notes were the default for text-based communications.
Today, however, digital communications dominate every facet of our lives, both personally and in business. Handwritten notes have become a unique novelty that rarely appear and produce considerable excitement when they do. Companies can leverage the distinctive character of handwritten notes to raise their messages above the noise.
Handwritten Direct Mail
Despite what you might have heard, direct mail is far from dead. Mailers sent to physical mailboxes enjoy much higher open and response rates than their email equivalents. One study found that direct mail response rates average 4.4% compared to just 0.12% for email. Open rates are significantly higher, too.
But these numbers pale in comparison to what’s available with handwritten direct mail. When you send your prospects a hand-addressed, hand-stamped envelope, your open rate can skyrocket to 99%! Only one in every hundred recipients will pitch your card in the trash unopened. That’s an amazing statistic.
The reason is apparent. Handwritten mail feels special. Your prospects will assume it’s something created specifically for them, and they’ll open it just to satisfy their curiosity. You can take advantage of this behavior to dramatically boost your outreach success.
Handwritten Followup Notes
Handwritten cards aren’t just for cold outreach. They work great for warm leads and existing customers, too.
You might consider sending out handwritten welcome cards whenever you sign up a new customer. You could also use them to make initial contact with leads generated by your website. They’re also perfect for staying in contact with existing customers. You might send out birthday cards, thank you cards, or prospecting cards to older clients you’ve lost touch with.
With a service like Simply Noted, you don’t actually have to handwrite your handwritten cards. Our automated handwriting machines use real ballpoint pens to lovingly craft authentic-feeling handwritten notes. And because the process is digital, you can add it to your existing marketing automation.
You could have a new contact form on your website trigger a handwritten welcome card into the mail. You could automate client birthday greetings by integrating data from your CRM directly into our card creation interface. The possibilities for automated, handwritten outreach are limitless.
2. Take a Stand on an Important Issue
An increasing number of consumers prefer the brands they do business with to support causes close to their heart. According to one study, 81% of Millennials expect companies to take a stand on important social issues. Consumers want to know that the brands they’re supporting are good corporate citizens, and not greedy, exploitive machines.
You can use this to advantage your outreach efforts. Talk to your customers and work out the causes that are most important to them. Then choose one that resonates with you and your employees as well, and make a public commitment of support. Then include your efforts and the progress you’re making with all of your outreach efforts.
You’ll be demonstrating shared values, which builds trust rapidly with your target audience. Good examples are Dr. Bronner’s commitment to socially responsible sourcing and Warby Parker’s “Buy-a-Pair, Give-a-Pair” program that donates eyewear to developing countries.
3. TRY INCLUDING VIDEO CONTENT
A bland, text-based email is unlikely to be read. When you add in some personalized images, the response rate goes up. When you include a link to a video, you start to generate real engagement.
People love video because it’s entertaining, informative, and, best of all, passive. They don’t need to sit and read long blocks of text. They can plug into a video and have the information fed to them. Given a choice, most consumers will choose the video, and the numbers bear this out. In one study, Wistia found that including video in an email increases click-through rates from 10% to 42%.
SEE ALSO: How to Get More Referrals
4. MAKE YOUR CUSTOMERS THE STAR WITH USER-GENERATED CONTENT
Your conversation with your customers shouldn’t be one-sided. You want to make sure you’re giving your audience a voice, and a great way to do that is with user-generated content (USG).
USG is content that your audience creates and uploads to you instead of the other way around. Many clothing companies are leveraging USG to create a community around their products. They invite their customers to post photos to social media of themselves wearing their purchases. These images become billboards for the clothing as well as an exciting feature on the brand’s website. Customers get the chance to interact with the brands they love while simultaneously enjoying other people doing the same.
USG creates a shared experience between a brand and its customers, amplifying its outreach efforts and building a strong bond to help with retention.
SEE ALSO: How to Build a Targeted Mailing List
5. SPONSOR ONLINE QUESTION AND ANSWER EVENTS
Your customers want to engage with you. They have questions, whether they realize it or not, and they’re hoping for answers. You can keep your outreach channels open with occasional Q&A sessions hosted through social media.
Choose whether to host once a week or once a month. Then compile a panel of experts from around your company to participate. That way, no matter what questions you’re asked, you’ll have someone present with the answer.
This is outreach that makes a difference. Your customers will feel heard, and they’ll appreciate the ability to interface with key employees directly. You’ll be surprised how quickly your periodic Q&A sessions become destination viewing for some of your best customers and a great way to bring new customers into the fold.