Do you experience disappointment when reviewing your email stats during the summer months?
If so, you’re not alone.
Summer is THE prime time of year to travel. And it’s a notoriously difficult time of year to connect with leads.
There’s the winter holiday season, and other one-off holidays—like Independence Day and Labor Day—when leads might not be taking vacations, but you know their office isn’t open.
Are the out-of-office (OOO) replies crazy around the holidays, or what!?
Recently, I wrote about the value which reply emails provide and how marketing and sales teams benefit from mining replies for account intelligence.
They pack a powerful punch that can easily become your ‘secret weapon’ for getting ahead of the competition.
If your business tends to pull back on email campaigns around the holidays because you know “no one’s around anyway,” I’m here to tell you the holidays are the perfect time to improve the health of your database, add new leads in your target accounts, and even increase connect rates.
Yes, you heard that right. So here’s how you can do this.
Don’t Delete OOO Replies
Yeah, I get it. These emails clog your marketing inbox by the hundreds, especially around holidays.
But automated email replies—such as OOOs—contain a goldmine of intelligence which you can use for everything from adding a lead’s cell phone, to allowing a sales rep to connect with a lead at exactly the right time to close a deal.
I promise it’s not as far-fetched as it sounds.
Take a look at this typical OOO reply, and let’s talk about what you can learn.
Let’s assume you only had the lead’s name and email address as the result of an inbound campaign and frictionless form. With this OOO, you now know:
- The date Mark will be back in the office
- Mark’s cell phone number
- Mark’s title
- Mark works closely with Stephanie and Bruce, and that he’s recommending you contact them while he’s OOO
Is your brain already off to the races? Let’s look at how to leverage this intelligence.
Update Your Database
First and foremost, you received an OOO reply to your email and not a left-the-company or hard bounce—so you know Mark is still a valid contact at your account. He’s a good record in your database.
Additionally, you now have a title and cell phone number for him.
Long term, this will help marketing send Mark more personalized and targeted content, and will give sales the information they need to reach Mark directly.
Add New Contacts Within Your Target Accounts
Now let’s talk about Stephanie and Bruce.
You’ve never heard of them, but this is one of your target accounts, so you’re eager to connect with as many influencers in the organization as possible.
Remember, today’s B2B buying decisions are typically made by more than the person signing the checks.
Gartner has found that it takes an average of seven people within a company to make a decision. And those folks are everyone from the C-suite and managers, to end-users whose opinions are valuable.
Many companies are nervous about emailing these “referral” contacts, for fear of penalty under email spam laws, such as CAN-SPAM in the United States, CASL in Canada, and GDPR in Europe.
However, you can lawfully email these contacts under “implied consent” or “legitimate interest” within these regulations.
And while you can legally email Stephanie and Bruce, I always recommend practicing permission-based marketing when adding new contacts to your database.
Reach out and introduce yourself, tell them why you’re emailing them, and ask them to opt-in to future email campaigns from you.
That way, you obtain their express consent upfront, and you’ll always be on the right side of regulations.
Reach out to these new contacts while your lead, Mark, is away.
It’s okay to send the same email you were sending Mark, but personalize it a bit by mentioning Mark is OOO and you didn’t want their company to miss out on the webinar (or whatever your CTA was).
Get Personal With Your Leads
Mark’s title and cell number are huge assets that allow you to segment Mark into the appropriate list and send content that matters to him.
Then, as he progresses through your nurturing process, and when the time is right, sales has a direct means to contact him.
Now let’s look at the overarching purpose of an OOO reply: to tell you when your lead is in and out of the office.
You know Mark’s first day back, January 2nd, is going to be crazy town. Give him a day to catch up and settle back in. Then send him an email.
Re-sending your original campaign is fine, but you can step it up a notch and send him a personal message.
Go the extra mile and write a note, ask if he did anything special for the holiday, mention what you did for the holiday — make it personal.
On a day when you know your lead is in the office, this personal connection could be the catalyst for sealing the deal.
Don’t Let Your Email Campaigns Go On Holiday
You WILL get more OOO replies around the holidays. Pure and simple.
And while I’ve had people ask if that means they should send more email campaigns around the holidays, my answer is no.
Don’t spam your database just to get more replies.
But more importantly, do not let your email campaigns go on holiday because you know people won’t be around.
Keep it running business as usual. Stick to your usual email cadence.
If you want to add an extra email, send a message on the day of a holiday wishing everyone a safe and happy [insert HOLIDAY].
In a nutshell, holidays and high-travel times during the year are a fantastic opportunity to leverage OOO replies.
Use these to maintain the health of your database, add new contacts, and ultimately provide golden opportunities to connect with leads and close more deals.
Photo by Mathyas Kurmann on Unsplash