The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global shift in the way businesses operate. The transition to remote work, strict social distancing rules, and the changing habits of consumers have all made 2020 a unique year for the global economy. At the same time, companies like PPE Face Shields had to deal with their own challenges as well. The company makes top-quality face shields in the U.S., which are an essential resource for businesses. However, they couldn’t connect with clients who needed the masks, despite offering unique benefits in high demand. The company reached out to Shortlist for marketing help, and because the campaign was time sensitive and they didn’t have a starting audience, we proposed an outbound style. We created a targeted email outreach campaign to inform prospective companies about the availability of high-quality masks in Philadelphia and surrounding areas.
In just a few months, we were able to reach thousands of companies, sending out samples to over 100 of them, and get 16 to place bulk orders for PPE face shields resulting in thousands of dollars of ROI.
Let’s analyze some of the most important aspects of the case study, beginning with an overview of the company and the product.
Our client was producing PPE face shields and supplementary products in Pennsylvania and planned to sell them to US-based customers. We proposed a few options to the client on how we can promote these products from the ground up. The company had a few key assets that made it well-positioned to provide a valuable service to businesses in the region. But for that to happen, it needed to get in touch with companies that could be interested and make them aware of the opportunity.
- Products were manufactured locally in PA, United States. This meant consistent quality, shorter shipping times, and more.
- Various customization options according to the client’s requirements. For instance, the face shields could have custom logos engraved on the shields.
- Around 40% lower prices than the competition, even though the product was locally manufactured and had much better quality than many of the low-quality options. The client’s PPE face masks were reusable and had a stock of spare parts. Because it was manufactured locally, the products could be shipped quickly as well.
- It was tested by US-based health practitioners and approved to be used by government agencies, educational institutions, and health care professionals. This meant that the face shields would meet the regulations for businesses, removing the risk of buying subpar products that couldn’t be used.
Having a clear understanding of what the client offered allowed us to develop a clear plan of action. We knew that the product was great, so we needed to find as many businesses to work with before they bought inferior options. At the same time, we understood that the product was very specific, and was in demand for businesses that tried to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. This helped us lay out a 3-stage email outreach plan that would potentially bring the best results in a short amount of time. Let’s look at each stage below.
Stage 1: Building The Hypothesis
First, we needed to research the businesses working during the COVID-19 lockdown or were likely to open up soon.
Because of social distancing guidelines that needed to be followed, these businesses were the most likely to need face shields for their employees. We collected sample databases (around 200 prospects each) in the following business categories:
- Private & Charter Schools, Colleges, Universities
- Catering Services, Restaurants, Bars
- Beauty Salons, Spas, Barber Shops
- Art Galleries, Museums
- Delivery Services
- Retail Stores
- Health Practitioners
- Non Profit and Religious Organizations
- Hotels Simultaneously while doing this research, we also needed to warm up an email address for the outreach by starting with low sending limits and gradually increasing them to avoid the email address getting flagged.
Stage 2: Testing Various Approaches
Once we had a database of companies for our email outreach campaign, we needed to automate the process so that we could contact many businesses quickly. We configured a dedicated campaign for each business category mentioned above to track the data.
Once the emails were going out, we tested various templates to see which ones generated the best results. We also analyzed the responses to understand which industries and templates were performing the best.
Preliminary results after Stage 1 and 2
At this point, clear patterns were emerging, and we could see some results that were showing promise, especially in a few of the categories that we identified earlier.
At this point, all of the emails were sent from a single email address. We were able to do this because we gradually warmed up the address and avoided getting it flagged.
The best performing categories turned out to be:
- Private & Charter Schools
- Religious Organizations
- Beauty Salons
The best performing email template looked like this, emphasizing the offer’s benefits and leading with a discount that made the offer even more appealing.
With a proper target audience and email template we were ready to scale up our campaign.
We took a methodical approach and started with around 30 emails per day and gradually built up the numbers to 1,000 emails per day by the end of stage 2 using a single email for outreach.
Stage 3: Doubling Down On The Most Promising Categories
After we established an effective outreach method and were seeing results, we started focusing on what was working and scaling our efforts.
During the active prospecting phase, we continued searching for prospects in categories with the highest response rate, which turned out to be schools since they were more likely to place bulk orders.
We also started utilizing more “From” emails so that we could send out more emails daily. We prepared 2 extra email addresses for outreach. We warmed them up and slowly increased the daily sending limit, eventually sending 1,000 emails a day from each of them in a span of four weeks.
At the same time, we were continually monitoring responses and delivery rates to ensure that we were getting consistent results without harming the client’s email addresses.
Preliminary results after Stage 3
At the very peak of the campaign, we sent out around 3,000 emails every day from three mailboxes.We also updated the email template according to the new compliance documents received by the client, which significantly increased the value of the proposition.
We also found that schools and educational institutions were the business category with the most promise and focused all of our efforts in that area.
In the end, the campaign proved to be a success, with the client shipping out sample face shields to more than 140 organizations. In the end, more than 3,000 PPE face shields were sold, totaling more than $45,000 in sales.
What’s more, some of the customers ended up buying additional products, including various customizations. Four orders were fulfilled with the custom partitions in addition to the face shields.
Then, there were the orders that were made directly from the website. In total, over 700 products (face shields and accessories) were sold on the website only.
The sales amounted to $6,600 on the website alone, which was an excellent addition to the bulk orders, which generated over $45,000 in revenue.
Since the summer was over, most educational institutions had satisfied their need for face masks, which is why the client decided to move on to the next big project.