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Emailing is NOT an Effective Lead Follow-up Technique

By Simone Design Blog @HomeSpire

For most of us, collecting leads is an important objective when exhibiting at trade and consumer shows. Expo leads are about the best leads you can get - but just HOW does one go about the process of following them up?

Email is the most common way to follow leads up and to stay in touch with Prospects - but it's far less effective than most of us would like to think.

Email Statistics are Frightening!

The "open rate" for emails is abysmal. If we use email as our sole means to follow up our leads we will simply lose most of the leads that we worked so hard to collect.

"Open Rate" is the measure of how many people actually open the emails we sent to them. In any campaign it's quite easy to measure. Click here if you'd like to know more about how it's done and typical "open rates".


Typical Open Rates from commercial ESPs (Email Service Providers) are between 15-40% - which means that if we only use email to follow up our leads, 60-85% of our leads are effectively LOST!

Let's think about that. If you collect 500 leads, you actually only get to contact somewhere between 75 to 200 people. 300 to 425 think you're not interested - which is doubtless far from the truth!

What Can We DO About It?

That depends on many factors but the first thing is to be aware of the problem.

It also depends on how we need to do our follow-up. The more automated we become, the worse the result.

If we can call everyone individually the dynamics change - a lot! But it's likely that such personal service is simply beyond us. The following assumes that.

This article is just that - an article. If you'd like more depth or if you'd like help to achieve the thoughts expressed, contact Best of Show at Sydney Australia (+61) (02)9589-2000 or via our contact form.

Email Through Your Own System

The figures quoted are from using commercial emailing services which by their very nature are prone to be blocked.

Emailing directly from your own computer system might be a partial answer. However that is not so easy to set up and also be aware that most ISP's (Internet Service Providers) such as Telstra or Telecom NZ have "throttling" technologies and policies to prevent your sending very many emails at one time. Last time I used this approach I was limited to twelve emails per 10 minutes. The number may have changed but this is one of their tools to prevent their services being used as sources of "spam".


In the USA, postcards via traditional postal services are popular. They are not as popular in Australia and New Zealand - but it's an option to consider and because it's not as yet overused here it could be quite viable for you depending on what you need to achieve.

There are various services that do a great job - you might try www.sendoutcards.com which operate world-wide, including Australia and New Zealand. (If you use this link, Kathie Thomas, a past Best of Show student in Melbourne will get credit. Best of Show is NOT involved... www.sendoutcards.com/kathiemt )

Check out their website for details.

Here's a thought for you. If someone has in fact opened your email, there is not much point in sending them a postcard. Utilise the services of your commercial ESP so you ONLY send messages using alternative delivery methods to those you did not get to via email. Saves money and reduces the potential for a raised "pest factor".

This of course applies to any of the thoughts raised here

Use Your Fax

Fax is seemingly a dying technology (did you know that it was invented in 1843?) but most businesses have one. So when you collect lead details, you might collect fax numbers too. There are services that will do bulk fax-outs for you if your leads list size warrants this.

Use the Phone

Of course this is time consuming and often very hard to get through or to get a response. But it's surprising just how many people you can call with a concerted effort. Dedicate some time each day and make those calls! If you can make 10 calls in an hour (average six minutes) and if you can dedicate an hour a day for say two weeks, that's a hundred prospects followed up, even if some were no more than leaving a voice mail message. What's the life-time value of a Customer? Do the math and decide if this is for you!

Text Messaging

Hmmm... Personally I'm not so sure about this one. Sure - mobile is the great new marketing horizon and certainly you can get through readily. So if you have a mobile number you might want to think about texting - there are services that will do this for you too. Personally I think that you're inviting permanent refusal to communicate but if your approach, promise and target market lend themselves to mobile marketing, go for it! Just take care!

Social Media

Can you use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media to break through? There are some incredibly interesting services both within and surrounding these services (take a look at www.hootsuite.com for example).

Get Permission

We always ask people that give us their lead details to initial their permission to contact them. It started out as our way to be squeaky clean under anti-spam legislation. But it was very warmly received! Many people expressed their appreciation that we asked so now we also view the permission as a relationship building point as well. They are MUCH more likely to share their details and to remember you when considering whether to "whitelist" your email address.

Tip of the Iceberg

This article is just the tip of the iceberg. Within each of these approaches there is much to consider, especially with technologies such as emailing and social media. The intent is to point out that even when we DO believe that we have followed up our leads, contact is often simply not made and the warm feeling is a myth!

On the positive side, there is a whole NEW treasure trove right in the leads we collect at our Trade & Consumer Shows!

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