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Read Time: 3 Minutes 05.25.2016 Strategy Sales

“Will You Be My Friend?” Thoughts on Simplifying Lead Generation

Remember how easy it was to make friends in first grade? You basically just had to ask, “Hey, wanna play together?” or “Want to be friends?” Simple. As we get older, it gets a lot more complicated — especially in a business setting.

It made me think of the lead generation emails I’ve been working on lately, as well as those I receive on a weekly basis. Essentially, what I’m trying to say is this: “Hi, I’m Chase. Can we just get introduced? I’d like to talk to you for a few minutes to understand your needs.” It’s the professional version of “Will you be my friend?”

It’s hard. I get some really good and really bad lead generation emails sent to me all the time. The good ones I keep, modify and reuse. The bad ones, I trash — even though I know there’s probably a very good, nice person on the other end of that email who’s trying the same thing I am: to try to make an impression and connection. I know that many of my prospecting emails also end up in a trash folder. (I see the numbers. Not gonna try that one again.)

The emails I consistently respond to, though, are actually the last ditch emails that I get after I haven’t responded to the first two or three. The subject line of the last one I received was:

“Should I stay or should I go?”

Nice. After immediately doing a little chair dance to The Clash, I opened the email. The message was super simple and to the point:

“Chase,

I know you’re busy. Just give me a 1, 2, or 3 —

1. We’ll pass on partnering with you this year, thanks for the offer!

2. We’re interested in partnering, but it’s not a good time, reach back out to me in 1 month.

3. I’m interested — let’s talk!”

I realize this is right out of the Lead Generation Email 101 playbook. I get these occasionally, with slightly different wording each time. What I’ve noticed, though, is that I typically always respond to these emails (even though it’s usually a 1).

From an engagement standpoint, the sender just wants to know if I’m a real person, if I’ve been receiving their emails, and what the heck is going on in my head. Just respond to me, please! Can we be friends or not? The silence is killing me! Or, more than likely, How do I need to update my Salesforce record for you? 

But it got me thinking…I wish I could send an email like this first, not as a last ditch effort. Wouldn’t it be awesome to send a super simple email to someone of interest asking “Do I have a shot of just having one introductory conversation with you about ________?” Man, that would be a huge time saver.

I’m too “grown up” to experiment with this tactic, and I don’t want to risk coming across as pushy or unsophisticated. We all leave elementary school and realize the days of just asking to be someone’s friend are long gone. However, even though you might not want to lead with this kind of message, you can apply its basic tenets to your next lead generation email experiment.

In a recent blog post I talk a little more about some of the mechanical successes we’ve had with email lead generation.  But pragmatically, I consistently get more opens and clicks (and do so myself when I receive lead gen emails) when it’s very personal, honest, and simple. Here’s an opening line I used recently that seemed to make readers more comfortable clicking through to my content:

“I'm Chase Ezell, VP of Marketing Strategy at Golden Spiral here in Nashville. I know you get tons of these emails — I do too. It's hard to make new introductions any other way, so excuse me for the interruption.”

Personal. Honest. Simple. I’m not sure I can directly attribute click throughs to this opening line, but when used against other lead-ins in my testing, this garnered significantly more click throughs. Test this type of tone and directness in your next lead generation email and see if you don’t get a lift in clicks.

Chase Ezell

Chase Ezell

VP of Marketing Strategy With experience on both the client and agency side, Chase's strategic insight is invaluable. Chase works both with our clients to develop winning marketing strategies, as well as Golden Spiral’s marketing and content initiatives.