by Marnee Palladino, MARN, Inc.; edited by Stephanie Bray
Maybe it’s “third time lucky,” but this editorial, I knew what we were going to write about. Possibly because back in 2020, we told you: “Next up? Evaluating the automated email-marketing platform that directly integrates with our new CRM to streamline our efforts.” Well, we not only evaluated it — we committed to it!
Any manufacturers’ rep worth their salt knows that keeping in touch with customers and prospects is critical. Things change all the time, and if you don’t stay on their radar, you miss opportunities when those changes happen. But how in the world do you do that when it’s thousands of contacts? There are accounts and people that require your personal attention, and there are those that don’t — that’s where AutoKlose comes in.
The biggest challenge has been “deciding how to decide” who gets our personal time and who gets an automated campaign. Sometimes it was obvious (we never earn the work we quote) but other cases were harder to define. Letting go is hard, but now that we’ve started, it’s getting easier and easier. The automated emails are written just like my own would be, we have multiple campaigns that target different needs, and the responses come right to our inbox.
While AutoKlose is indeed an email marketing platform, it does have some notable differences. The most important distinction is that it uses our email server, so our messages not only look like they’re from us, they’re more likely to be delivered. (I should note that this meant we had to gradually increase our sending speeds, but week by week we did it, and now we can send 400+ emails a day. The downside was that when we switched email platforms, we had to go back to square one and work our way back up — don’t say you weren’t warned!)
We’d had several email campaigns running for a while, but when we did a D2P (Design-2-Part) Show with five manufacturing lines, we had no idea how we’d manage all the new leads after the fact. We had two people on vacation right after the show, plus all the usual catching up to be done after an event. We decided to use AutoKlose, and the results were as gratifying as they were unexpected — we had to pause all our other active email campaigns because we couldn’t keep up with the replies from the show!
Certainly, what we write (and how we write it) matters. For the first time ever, we included pictures of us from the booths at the trade show. (We thought it would help people remember us as well as make it more personal; it seems to have worked.) We also had several campaigns for each manufacturer — i.e., a campaign for people who had an immediate RFQ versus others who didn’t need anything right away but were interested in the capabilities. We spaced the emails out differently too, sending more frequently for those who’d said they needed something sourced right away.
There’s something to be said for “set it and forget it,” especially when we have a platform that allows us so many choices: How many emails to send? How often to send them? What days of the week and between what hours? And very cool: What to do if we get an out-of-office reply. (We can set it to continue the campaign after an auto-response, stop it for any reply, or just keep the emails rolling no matter what when all we want is people to be periodically reminded of us.)
Knowing that so many of our customers and prospects are getting what look like personal emails from us is priceless. It frees us up — mentally and physically — to do the things that we can’t automate. Working smarter by using AutoKlose has gained us more hours every day — and who hasn’t wished for more time?
Marnee Palladino is CEO and president of MARN, Inc., a manufacturers’ representative firm in Middlebury, Connecticut. In 2020 she was elected to the MANA Board of Directors. Prior to launching MARN in 2014, Palladino worked in sales and marketing for Palladin Precision Products (now one of MARN’s principal manufacturing lines). After graduating from Cornell University with a Bachelor of Science in facilities planning and management, she worked in Manhattan for a financial corporation and later launched ML Project Management Consulting.