As a consumer advocacy business that publishes expert advice and user reviews on brands and products to help people make educated buying decisions, ConsumerAffairs knows a thing or two about identifying the best choices for any given product or service.
The nature of their business requires a two-way street of inbound and outbound communications and outreach - inbound to get brands to participate in their guides and outbound to entice media outlets and online resources to share those guides with the public.
When it came time for an email and CRM platform that could offer automated outreach to a larger number of people than they could manually, while still retaining the personalization to build trust, they chose Outreach.
“If you’re looking to make connections and build trustworthy relationships, and not just blast them with emails, Outreach is the perfect solution.”
It started with the Content Marketing team that acts like an internal PR agency to get the word out. Their job is to build personal relationships with media outlets, websites and blogs, and encourage them to post and share ConsumerAffairs guides and information with users.
For Content Marketing Manager Natalie Sieler, those personal relationships are built on trust forged across multiple touchpoints, not as a hard sell. That requires a light touch and individual attention instead of robotic, automated mass email blasts.
According to Sieler, "Personal outreach is so much better, but it is also so time consuming. Outreach has solved that problem through sequencing and customization. Putting aside the automation aspect, Outreach also allows more personalization and encourages quality emails and timely follow-up."
For Sieler's Content Marketing team, the key to combining personalization with large volume lies in the customization fields that allow a general message template to be tweaked for individual outreach.
It's that level of customization from Outreach that allows Sieler's team to utilize templates to reach a higher volume distribution of core messaging, while still infusing it with personalization.
"A lot of what we're saying to any particular target audience is going to be the same" Sieler explained. If I contact 20 similar companies, the only thing that's going to change is the name, the website and specific details of that company, or how we position our resources to fit their context. We use custom fields for all of those."
"That allows us to send a message to all those people, still make it personal, and still be talking specifically about their site. Custom fields are a huge deal for us."
Once the outbound content marketing team had dialed into Outreach and experienced its transformative benefits, word spread to the Sales team that reaches out to get brands inbound in order to participate in the guides.
“ConsumerAffairs is all about reaching people who are looking to spend their hard-earned dollars on a buying decision, and they deserve to be informed. That requires trust.”
Like Content Marketing before them, they were hamstrung by manually personalizing emails and wasting valuable time that could have been used more efficiently.
"Sales didn't have an emailing tool, so they were manually updating personalized email templates all day long," Sieler said. "But they weren't always writing each individual email from scratch. Instead, each email came from a template, and they were simply updating various fields by hand. With Outreach, they can do that in one-tenth of the time and use the remaining time to make 40 more calls."
"They had shopped around and tried a few different platforms but never found a good fit, especially in terms of integrating with Salesforce. So I gave them a demo and showed them how easy it was. They were excited they could find a tool that both worked with their process and integrated easily with Salesforce."
From time saved prospecting, to timely responses and engagement, time and organization are key factors for both sales and marketing success in any organization. This is especially true for ConsumerAffairs, whose reputation is built on a high level of personal commitment.
In terms of efficiency, Sieler has seen big-time savings.
"It would take us half an hour to send 10 emails, and now it can be done in 10 minutes. Organization would take some people five to 10 hours a week, but with Outreach we can save all that time, as well as work more efficiently, and have peace of mind knowing all activity will be tracked and stored in each profile."
"Overall what's so incredible is that we're able to reach 100 times more people than we could just doing it manually in a fraction of the time,"
And the time saved through the automated personalization has let both Sales and Marketing reach out and really get personal with high-value prospects.
"Our Content Marketing team hits 50 touches a day, and our Sales Team has 45 touches a day," Sieler noted. "These are personalized touches and one-off emails, not including any automated sequenced emails that are sent out through Outreach. With Outreach, we can still hit those 50 activities a day and have hundreds of emails going out in the background. Compared to trying to do that all manually, without Outreach, it may take a week or more to hit those daily numbers."
Just like anything, the bigger the volume, the harder it is to organize and manage. It's a great problem to have when it's a spike in leads and responses, but it's also one that can quickly scale out of hand. It's also a problem Outreach addresses proactively, and for Sieler it's a game-changer.
"Organization is one of the biggest perks. We don't have to dig through a Google doc or keep track of contacts in folders or lists. Plugging contacts into sequences allows us to avoid spending time tracking down information, or figuring out when the last call was and getting notes together. It's all right there in one place, organized into one awesome view. A call, email or tweet is just a click away."
A big key to such success? Sieler credits the dashboard layout and UI for a comprehensive bird's eye view of key information that can be personalized for every prospect, along with the organization tools to manage it all.
"It's amazing how the new layout allows us to see a huge overview of the prospect to whom we are reaching out. Outreach makes it so easy and does so much of the groundwork for us, from pulling in Twitter activity and local weather predictions, to recent company news and even updates about our competitors. This not only empowers us by helping create great talking points that lead to impactful conversations, but also saves us an average of three to five minutes per call."