Not to End up “Just Following Up” Email

 

 

Just wanted to check in with you and see if you’d had a chance to check out my proposal for the 4 of July Business Party.

What? Really?

The opening to my blog post didn’t provide you with any value or reason to continue reading. I hate to admit it, but I even do it every now and then. So why do we still use it when we’re following up with prospects? Because sometimes we’re selfish and lazy. But messages like that are annoying and disruptive to the recipient.

 

The problem is that we all know that following up is critical to closing deals. According to Referral Squirrel:

  • 2% of sales are made on the First contact.
  • 3% of sales are made on the Second contact.
  • 5% of sales are made on the Third contact.
  • 10% of sales are made on the Fourth contact.
  • 80% of sales are made on the Fifth to Twelfth contact.

However…

  • 48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect.
  • 25% of sales people make a second contact and stop.
  • 12% of sales people make three contacts and stop.
  • Only 10% of sales people make it more than Three contacts with a prospect.

It is well known that repeat customers and referral business are the two best (and cheapest to acquire) types of business.

We’ve all sent the “just checking in” email before. So what should you be doing instead? Hubspot (one of the Kings of content marketing…along with one of my virtual mentors: Seth Godin “virtual” because he doesn’t know me, I just obsessively read everything he puts out) says that there are three key ways to drastically improve these “check-in” emails:

  1. Google Alerts – Set up a custom Google Alert for your prospect’s company name, competition and industry keywords. That will create a trigger event to customize your follow up email.
  2. LinkedIn Groups – Find a LinkedIn Group that discusses their industry. That will provide you with content and an actual reason to follow up.
  3. Signals Alerts – Signals allows you to track when your prospect is actually opening and/or clicking your email. That way, you know when they open your email and will help you with the timing of your follow up. (By the way, I’m not an affiliate for Hubspot or Signals…I guess I should be…anyway, there are plenty of email tracking services available. Just Google “email tracking software”)

Hubspot has a great slide deck that you can check out by clicking here.

The point is, you don’t get any value out of the emails you receive that say, “Just checking in” so stop sending them out to your clients and prospects and start sending something of value. You can’t afford not to nowadays in the modern world of constant interruption (how many emails, texts, phone calls, snapchats, etc. did you get while reading this 500 word Blog?)

Make sure your clients and prospects know that you are THE thought leader in your space.

Is Google+ is future? At least Google believe it is !

google+-rich-snippets

It’s common currency in internet punditry circles that Google won the battle to dominate search while Facebook won the battle for social, and that Google+ is just a failed competitor to Facebook. But Google hasn’t given up

It has been clear for a while now that, to make up for the fact that not very many people actively use Google+ as a social network, Google is turning it into a platformon which the rest of Google’s web services are evolving—something that has the effect of making people use Google+ by default. Results from Google+ already clutter search results. YouTube’s commenting system has been replaced by Google+. Chat and Talk, once stand-alone services, were combined into Hangouts and incorporated into Google+.

In a revealing interview with the Indian business newspaper Mint, Steve Grove, a Google+ exec who inks deals with content providers and influential figures, makes it clear that this is just the beginning. Grove tells Mint that “the reason for that is that Google+ is kind of like the next version of Google.”

Why? According to Grove:

There’s a lot of great value here, because Search also shows results from Google+ and this is going to bring more people into Google+; people are going to see that there’s a lot of value in logging into our services, before doing a search.

We’ve written before about how Facebook’s strategy for getting users in emerging markets is to convince people new to the internet that Facebook basically is the internet. Google’s strategy looks a bit like the obverse of this: convince people already on the internet that the internet runs on Google+

But when you look at it longer-term, Google’s strategy is actually very similar to Facebook’s. New internet users, such as the hundreds of millions expected to come online in India in the coming years, will find that being on Google’s social network is increasingly a prerequisite for using Google’s other services. Roping those new users into Google+ from the get-go is the company’s best chance for coming from behind and defeating Facebook’s dominance in social media. And that clearly seems to be Google’s goal, given how much effort it’s pouring into the network.“We focused a lot on Google+ here [in India], and it’s already very active, and people are getting on board on their own,” Grove said.

Facebook wants to know why you didn’t publish that status update you started writing.

 

Facebook-spy

A couple of months ago, a friend of mine asked on Facebook:

Do you think that facebook tracks the stuff that people type and then erase before hitting <enter>? (or the “post” button)

Good question.

We spend a lot of time thinking about what to post on Facebook. Should you argue that political point your high school friend made? Do your friends really want to see yet another photo of your cat (or baby)? Most of us have, at one time or another, started writing something and then, probably wisely, changed our minds.

Unfortunately, the code in your browser that powers Facebook still knows what you typed—even if you decide not to publish it.* It turns out that the things you explicitly choose not to share aren’t entirely private.

Facebook calls these unposted thoughts “self-censorship,” and insights into how it collects these nonposts can be found in a recent paper written by two Facebookers. Sauvik Das, a Ph.D. student at Carnegie Mellon and summer software engineer intern at Facebook, and Adam Kramer, a Facebook data scientist, have put online an article presenting their study of the self-censorship behaviour collected from 5 million English-speaking Facebook users. (The paper was also published at the International Conference on Weblogs and Social Media.*) It reveals a lot about how Facebook monitors our unshared thoughts and what it thinks about them.

The study examined aborted status updates, posts on other people’s timelines, and comments on others’ posts. To collect the text you type, Facebook sends code to your browser. That code automatically analyses what you type into any text box and reports metadata back to Facebook.

Storing text as you type isn’t uncommon on other websites. For example, if you use Gmail, your draft messages are automatically saved as you type them. Even if you close the browser without saving, you can usually find a (nearly) complete copy of the email you were typing in your Drafts folder. Facebook is using essentially the same technology here. The difference is that Google is saving your messages to help you. Facebook users don’t expect their unposted thoughts to be collected, nor do they benefit from it.

Facebook, on the other hand, is analyzing thoughts that we have intentionally chosen not to share.

It is not clear to the average reader how this data collection is covered by Facebook’s privacy policy. In Facebook’s Data Use Policy, under a section called “Information we receive and how it is used,” it’s made clear that the company collects information you choose to share or when you “view or otherwise interact with things.” But nothing suggests that it collects content you explicitly don’t share. Typing and deleting text in a box could be considered a type of interaction, but I suspect very few of us would expect that data to be saved. When I reached out to Facebook, a representative told me that the company believes this self-censorship is a type of interaction covered by the policy.

In their article, Das and Kramer claim to only send back information to Facebook that indicates whether you self-censored, not what you typed. The Facebook rep I spoke with agreed that the company isn’t collecting the text of self-censored posts. But it’s certainly technologically possible, and it’s clear that Facebook is interested in the content of your self-censored posts. Das and Kramer’s article closes with the following: “we have arrived at a better understanding of how and where self-censorship manifests on social media; next, we will need to better understand what and why.” This implies that Facebook wants to know what you are typing in order to understand it. The same code Facebook uses to check for self-censorship can tell the company what you typed, so the technology exists to collect that data it wants right now.

It is easy to connect this to all the recent news about NSA surveillance. On the surface, it’s similar enough. An organization is collecting metadata—that is, everything but the content of a communication—and analyzing it to understand people’s behavior. However, there are some important differences. While it may be uncomfortable that the NSA has access to our private communications, the agency is are monitoring things we have actually put online. Facebook, on the other hand, is analyzing thoughts that we have intentionally chosen not to share.

This may be closer to the recent revelation that the FBI can turn on a computer’s webcam without activating the indicator light to monitor criminals. People surveilled through their computers’ cameras aren’t choosing to share video of themselves, just as people who self-censor on Facebook aren’t choosing to share their thoughts. The difference is that the FBI needs a warrant but Facebook can proceed without permission from anyone.

Why does Facebook care anyway? Das and Kramer argue that self-censorship can be bad because it withholds valuable information. If someone chooses not to post, they claim, “[Facebook] loses value from the lack of content generation.” After all, Facebook shows you ads based on what you post. Furthermore, they argue that it’s not fair if someone decides not to post because he doesn’t want to spam his hundreds of friends—a few people could be interested in the message. “Consider, for example, the college student who wants to promote a social event for a special interest group, but does not for fear of spamming his other friends—some of who may, in fact, appreciate his efforts,” they write.

This paternalistic view isn’t abstract. Facebook studies this because the more its engineers understand about self-censorship, the more precisely they can fine-tune their system to minimize self-censorship’s prevalence. This goal—designing Facebook to decrease self-censorship—is explicit in the paper.

So Facebook considers your thoughtful discretion about what to post as bad, because it withholds value from Facebook and from other users. Facebook monitors those un posted thoughts to better understand them, in order to build a system that minimizes this deliberate behaviour.