Well, today we wanted to document how we got 50 enquiries in a single month from a particular marketing strategy. The article will detail exactly how you can do the same thing, if you please. We are commercial cleaners but this strategy should work for most business 2 business (b2b) companies.
We will go into if we will be doing it again, the effectiveness of the strategy and so on. So strap in and read about how we created 50+ cleaning enquiries in a month!
NOVEMBER 2020 UPDATE: Do we still utilise this strategy? Is this article still worth reading? Yes!
Although we’re focused on other techniques right now, like organic SEO, we like the email technique. Once it has been set up once, you can do it again without THAT much effort. Sure, it still requires some effort – but the most time intensive part is the setup. After you have a large list of local potential customers and your template email written, there’s not that much to do.
While this isn’t exactly a sustainable way of fuelling your business with leads, it IS a way of bringing in leads quickly if you’re experiencing a draught. The technique isn’t that expensive either, and you might land a nice commercial cleaning contract, repeat work and even referrals.
If you really have very little work, we recommend trying this as it’s more time intensive than cost intensive. So you can get your teeth into it while you wait for things to pick up again (or while you make things pick up again!).
While it’s not EXTREMELY technical, this technique does require a few online applications and so on.
Anyway, keep reading to see the original article we wrote some time ago..
How is it done?!
Let’s go into the how first…
Through cold email!
Yes, cold email. The shotgun approach. Throw enough of something at a wall… And eventually… Something will stick. As they say.
The idea is to send out thousands of emails to businesses in your local area, letting them know about your services in a short sharp email.
This is a timing game.
If cleaning is on the mind of the company but they haven’t got round to sorting it, you’ve just landed a nice credible email straight into their inbox saying you’re ready to go and give them a quote for anything that might need doing.
You will receive only a few replies out of every 1000 sent but we’ve had the occasional person come back to us after a few months, so maybe it’s more like a 1% response rate.
Which to be honest, is not horrible.
We can’t expect people to always want our services. Marketing IS a number game, so you shouldn’t be put off by sending out a large amount of contacts. In the article I’m going to detail how you can quite easily and affordable get these emails out there, too.
One strength you have on your side is that not that many cleaning firms are doing something like this, unlike the digital marketing niche. Everyone gets those spammy emails every day saying you can get to the top of Google… No research, no target area, just spam!
This is slightly more targeted. There are a few tricks to making the email more bespoke which we will go into.
Gathering the contacts
You may have gulped when we said ’send out thousands of emails a day’. Don’t fret! This is the easy part. In fact, you won’t be gathering the emails. You will hire someone to do it for you. If you send us a nice email, we will consider giving you the person who gets our emails.
The trick is to get a scraper from Fiverr.com (proficient, fast, cheap, rely on good reviews for their business to appear in the search and for new customers) who can then scrape data from directories like Yell.com and Thompson Local.
The idea is that you tell him the industries (Yell has a massive list of different industries on their directory) and the areas/cities you want to target.
Let’s say you wanted dentists, doctors, builders, schools, nurseries and engineers to target. You tell the scraper, in combination with the cities you want to target.
He can then create the Python script which targets the business categories and areas you want. Request things like no duplicates with your order.
The scraper will essentially gather all the websites of these categories and areas, then scrape the email address from their website, which is public data. Voila!
We get 5000 emails for $50, so about £40 for 5000 email addresses. Not bad. Especially as they are in our target area and the kinds of businesses we want. It took us quite a lot of messaging to find someone that was fast, efficient and would do it at this price. Many other scrapers would want $20 for 1000 email addresses, for example.
Targeting specific business categories also allows us to personalise these emails too. So they aren’t so spammy. Or, certainly less spammy.
Sending the emails
To send the emails we use a software called Sendgrid. I believe it is now owned by Twillio, which is owned by one of the richest men in the world… Jeff Bezos! So the company should be around for a while. It works well and says a lot that Jeff wanted to purchase it, or form Twillio (which he owns) with Sendgrid.
Sendgrid allows us to upload emails into groups. So we can receive the list of email addresses from the scraper and then upload into Sendgrid so they are saved there.
This is where you can be specific with the scraper. Getting them to send you the email addresses in the correct format (CSV) will help your efficiency a lot. Sendgrid also wants you to upload with 3 columns.
Double check on the site, but I believe column 1 is email address and column 2 and 3 are first and second name.
You don’t have to have a real name here, so you can fill this with garbage should you wish. Also request that the file is sent to you separating the business categories so you can easily upload these and send emails out to the specific type of business.
So once we’ve uploaded our business email lists, we can write our email…
Writing the email
We went with a really nice and general email. Something on the lines of this..
My name is X from X cleaning services. We are a [short sharp sales point about you and your firm]. We also [more of the same]. You can throw in your safe contractor number here, or some other obvious social proof you have. Perhaps it’s that you have 20 five star reviews on Google. Keep it short but get it in.
Mention the areas you operate in.
We operate in X, X and X areas. Feel free to get in touch if you want to get a free quote from us!
Then go into each service you offer. We use a bold title of the service, like “traditional reach and wash” – with a one line description branching off the title of the service.
Include 5/6 services. Again, we want to jig their memory if they’ve been thinking about it.
Then we finish with another comment that suggests we have picked out their industry specifically, like “just let us know if your place of worship needs a quote for anything!” Again recognising their industry and not appearing too spammy.
Sign off with accreditations, website, Safe Contractor number etc., contact number you want them to get you on, your name and so on
Remember. Make the email look GOOD! We don’t need any spacing issues, ugly text, mistakes etc. A nice feature with Sendgrid is that you can send yourself a demo to see exactly how the email looks. So you can play with the email until it looks how you want it to.
Subject of the email
For the subject of the email, we played with a few things, but keeping it simple worked the best.
We won’t give away the exact words we used, but it was blatantly saying we were introducing ourselves to them as a company. Everything we do with this strategy is just upfront, kind and honest.
Again, it’s a numbers game. We aren’t going to persuade someone who doesn’t need cleaning to get cleaning (who knows, maybe you can and you can tell us how you did it!), but we can catch those that are thinking about it.
So write your email as if you’re speaking to someone who has been on the fence about getting it – but now has a really professional email right in front of them with a number to call and a name to go with. You’re writing the email for that person, don’t forget it.
Everyone is extremely paranoid over GDPR. Perhaps for good reason. Perhaps not. It was our thinking that no small firm sending out thousands of emails is going to get into trouble. The ruling was more to target massive firms sending out millions of emails, or doing other data stealing activities.
So, GDPR states that we must have genuine interest in the business we are emailing. Well, we are specifying the business type that we are targeting. We have legitimate interest in serving their business. We are expressing we have cleaned loads of hospitals before and that we are based near to them. That is legitimate interest, not mindless spam.
The other thing we have to do is give them the option to never get emailed again by us. All we have to do is to add an unsubscribe email at the bottom of the email.
Sendgrid should send anyone that clicks on the email to the global unsubscribe group. If you ever want to email a list of email addresses again, the people that unsubscribed won’t be emailed. Simply tell them that if they click on the unsubscribe link, they will never hear from you again.
And that is the bulk of the process!
Now, let’s go into some FAQ’s…
The quality really varied. Most people responded via email. Some were really good, but most were small jobs. We are a commercial cleaning company, so the bigger the better for us. Sometimes you would get an email back saying can you clean our carpet… And we’ve seen bigger rugs than their carpet. But this is going to happen when you cast a wide net.
Some really good leads were created. Large jobs. Ongoing projects. Quite a few were landed also.
However, the bulk of the leads were either duds, too small or never followed through with hiring us. Out of every 50 leads, only a handful converted.
Again, perhaps more would have converted if they fit in with our business model (large commercial and industrial style cleans). We also managed to land quite a few kitchen and carpet cleans, which we know a lot of people are interested in.
Is it sustainable
For a short while, sure. But then you start hitting business categories that you don’t really want as you run out of email addresses. A way to combat this would be to get more business directories to scrape from. Again, we used Yell and Thomson but there are probably more good ones out there. Or if you can target other areas in the UK, this would be a way to drag the technique out for longer.
I suppose in about 6 months you could do another email, change it up a bit and catch anyone new that is thinking about getting a clean done. They’ll also know your name and perhaps admire the tenacity. The more areas you operate in the more consistent you can make these follow up emails. E.g. you have another email going out to your Nottingham list in January, the same for your Sheffield list in February and so on.
How well did the leads convert?
This is going to depend on you and how well you can close leads. Getting people on the phone after their initial email is probably the best way to do this unless they are very open and frank about setting up a day to make a quotation happen. Of course there is then the followup to think about. Many will email you then not respond to your next email. So you’ll need to hit these people up in the near future while you are still in their head.
Will we continue with the strategy?
Most likely not, but the lists of businesses are still there and ready to go. Perhaps we’ll do another followup email in the near future. We think it’s a great strategy for anyone that needs some quick hit leads into the business, but should understand that it isn’t the best long term play. It’s probably better to invest into longer term plays than a short term strategy like email shotguns.
For example, something idk a really optimised Google Ads campaign or really strong SEO would be far superior. These solutions are more long lasting. They can also be outsourced quite easily, whereas this email strategy is a bit more bespoke.
Whereas there are Google Ads and SEO experts ready to go right now. Also, being on Google puts you in front of people actually searching for what you do rather than trying to hunt out business yourself. These people are looking to pay for your serviced and you’re putting yourself in front of them.
Of course, SEO has it’s own problems and difficulties… But if this was all extremely easy, we would all be millionaires! Marketing is hard. Let us know if you have any questions or if anything needs specifying, just comment below or drop us an email!