Next Blog Post
Word Play: Leveraging Machine Learning to Understand Email Sentiment
Outreach's Yong Liu travels to Cyprus to present our advancements in machine learning to understanding of email sentiment.
What’s the status of your Outreach sequences? It’s worth reviewing them, since outbound sales sequences provide the power behind your sales process. Think of your sequences as the digital execution of your sales playbook. That means, as your product and strategy evolves, your sequences should adjust accordingly.
To keep your content as fresh as your strategy, your best bet is to review your sequences every six months. This semi-annual check in provides you and your team an opportunity to dig into metrics, review the results of your A/B tests, double down on email copy that works, and ditch what doesn’t.
We’ve still got a few weeks left in spring, so there’s no better time than now to spring clean your sequences. Ready to get started? Here’s a checklist of what to review— I recommend you set aside at least a half day to look at your sequences and make the tweaks and adjustments you need to turn up your strategy for the summer.
1. Is your target defined?
Know your target for each sequence—it can be a persona, industry, or specific company. Your sequence strategy will vary based on the target, so check to make sure yours is clearly defined. And keep in mind that persona plays a big role in the characteristics of your sequence. If you’re targeting a VP-level persona, for instance, the sequence will likely last longer (five to six weeks) and will involve more manual touches than if you’re targeting a lower-level persona.
2. What is your desired outcome?
Once you have your target audience locked down, it’s time to consider what you want to accomplish with the sequence. Maybe you want a meeting. Or perhaps you’re after a referral. In some cases, the sequence’s purpose is purely educational. Define what you are trying to achieve, and as you review the sequence, make sure every step supports that end-goal.
3. How are your tests performing?
If you want to have top performing sequences you need to have top performing emails within your sequences. To get there, you need to A/B test your emails to learn what works and what doesn't. You should always be looking for ways to make tweaks that’ll improve your results. If you don’t have A/B tests in place, add them. And during your review, take time to check in on test results and act on them: lose the control version if the test outperforms it. (Pro tip: Make sure you just turn off underperforming versions—if you delete them, you’ll remove the data around what didn’t work, and you don’t want to make the same mistakes in future sequences!)
4. Do you have the right mix of sequence step types?
As you review your sequences, look to see what type of steps are involved, from emails to calls to LinkedIn touches. Some sequences lend themselves to more calls, while others are email-heavy. Any sequence, however, should ideally have a mix of step types. This is what makes sellers appear real and genuine to buyers. And that quality, in turn, ups the likelihood of a response and builds rapport.
5. Are the steps in your sequence well timed?
Here is another reason to have a good sense of the target of your persona. Knowing this can help you guess their email habits. For instance, if you’re aware that executives tend to clean out their inboxes on Sunday evening, make sure you’re sending an email in that golden period. Pull analytics to see which times generate best reply rates by persona and adjust the timing of your calls and email sends accordingly.
6. Are your metrics at or above baseline levels?
You’ll need to have a sizable group of people receiving your communications—at least 250—in order to have a benchmark that’ll help you assess your open and reply rates. Make sure each email in your sequences is delivered to at least 250 addresses to get the reliable data you need. Once you have that quantity, here are some more metrics to review:
7. Do you have any bottlenecks?
Take a look at each step with an eye toward pain points -- when you see a point at which prospects stop moving through your funnel, you need to rethink your sequence. For instance, if you have a phone call step with 200 active people in it, and all the steps after it have dwindled down to 20 active prospects, you’ll know you’ve created a bottleneck. This will cause your sequence to screech to a standstill. Take the time to figure out what’s going on during these bottlenecks—if your reps aren’t keeping up with phone calls, it could be due to inertia, an inability to prioritize, or a problematic step in the sequence. Dig into what’s going on, and use this as a teaching moment with your reps, too.
8. Could you add another step?
Take a look at the reply rate for your final step—if it’s still high, go ahead and tack on additional steps in the sequence. If the reply rate has dropped off, you can feel confident that you’ve exhausted all resources and won’t see any gains from adding additional steps.
9. Are your emails effectively constructed?
Sending a lot of emails in a sequence can be effective—but not if the emails aren’t high quality. Here are some tips for sending a strong, effective sales email:
It’ll take some time to go through reviewing your sequences, but the effort is well worth it. With strong and tested sequences in place to execute your tactics, you’ll be able to reap the benefits of your carefully planned sales strategy.