Cattle Dog Digital

What’s the Right Cadence & Calendar to use when Communicating with Prospects?

by Deirdre Mahon 

October 16, 2020

This is a tough one. Your team has goals to meet and you’ve spent precious time and resources getting marketing automation setup, adapting to your business process workflows and the sales and marketing teams are fully in sync. With Salesforce CRM dashboards and reporting setup, you’re eager to get started with outbound campaigns.

 

Calendaring is Critical

But wait, upon looking at the calendar over the coming two quarters, you have a lot going on and a lot of KPIs to achieve. The last thing you want is to saturate and turn-off all the contacts you are hoping to engage and convert to active prospects, hungry for more information.

Added to these challenges is a new, aptly named “product-led” sales approach where customers are now self-serving, without any deep level of engagement with sales. Maybe they’re just not ready. What’s now referred to as a Product Qualified Lead (PQL) also needs to be factored into the existing buying cycle process stages, assuming you have a trial process. This requires a different mind-set for the entire GTM team because you have to rely on engagement data and every touch counts to fully understand true qualification and buyer intention.

The Data Won’t Lie

The real answer to this question is “the market will tell you,” so it’s even more important to watch campaign metrics carefully. Below are some obvious ones, which will vary depending on the maturity of your base, the market overall and how far along you are with marketing automation. Assuming it’s an all-digital communication, you will need to look at:

  • Number and percentage of Unsubscribes, over time
  • Email Opens & Click-through-rates (CTR), by send, over time
  • A/B tests on subject lines with the respective open and CTR
  • Day of week and time of day response, over time.
  • Persona response comparisons
  • Global vs nurture response, over time
  • Number of touches by journey phase
  • Latency by journey phase
  • And many more, depending on your model, GTM approach etc.

Assuming you have spent time to deeply understand the personas that matter, you will have a good idea of how often they want to receive information. Some believe monthly is adequate but in certain situations, weekly is expected. The truth is the cadence can differ widely and it will depend on a number of factors. 

Pan-out and Pay Attention to the Landscape

Also what’s the overall market doing? What’s the competition doing? You don’t want to be out-marketed, but tread carefully as there’s no telling how much the market likes the competition!

Put Yourself in the Buyer’s Shoes and Ultimately They Will Tell You

What it comes down to is to put yourself in the recipient’s shoes, measuring it based on previous engagement levels and ideally by journey phase. Above all, keep it useful and informative. In our previous blog we discussed the wisdom of segmentation and the more prescriptive you can be, the better the response, which reduces the probability of becoming a turn-off. If you start out with lower level CTRs such as a ~3-5% response, it could be that your base has not yet engaged because they are still being educated or informed. Over time, this rate should improve but if you see any unexpected down-turns, it could be a signal to back-off and reduce the outbound frequency. 

Ultimately, Have a Natural Conversation with Your Buyer

An aggressive touch strategy is like walking into a store and having someone come up and try to engage or sell the second you land inside the building. “I’m just browsing” means back away and leave me alone, while I figure out what is on offer. It should be the same experience online. You browse the site, read some downloaded content, figure out the competition by researching more and then coming back with a repeat visit. Then if interested, look at the price.

Give Some Breathing Room. Who Else is Communicating?

Besides top-of-funnel awareness building campaigns, the sales team are likely to start engaging, especially if the prospect scores high and is with an interesting, lucrative account. At the same time, if a product trial or evaluation takes place, support and customer success teams may engage with activation and onboarding steps. 

In a matter of days, the prospect could receive too many seemingly disjointed emails, now daily or weekly and they haven’t even figured out if they want to buy. To avoid such saturation, synch all communication touches inside a master system, typically Salesforce.com. If Intercom or a similar tool is used by support and customer success, make sure all teams have the level of visibility needed to avoid further unnecessary communications.

Set Expectations

As a marketing team you need to plan for months and quarters in advance and by panning out, you see exactly what the multi-touches look like. Are you colliding with any major industry events or even national holidays? With less than 52 business weeks in the year, it’s easy to run out of calendar days to conduct outbound campaigns. 

Let the sales team know in advance what outbounds and nurtures are taking place. By working together as one GTM team, you can pretty easily toggle strategic accounts as ‘off-limits’, especially if a big deal is in play and you don’t want any marketing communications.

Once you establish your ideal cadence and reach those ideal KPIs, continue to monitor closely over time. It’s an organic and ever-changing process. Don’t forget you can also poll your base. Ask and you shall receive. Most interested buyers genuinely care and will happily provide feedback that is worth internalizing so that everyone improves and wins. 

Regardless of the right cadence and calendar for you, enjoy the journey and the learning because it takes multi-touches, multi-teams and multi-journey stages. Happy marketing and happy selling.

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