What role should product marketers have in writing email templates for sales development reps?
If you have the opportunity to be involved, snatch it as quickly as possible! The core of product marketing is creating messaging that works, and the fastest way to test messaging is through channels that scale. SDR templates are one of those, along with digital ads and high-traffic web pages.
Our rule of thumb at Mixpanel is that a unified message, either written or approved by product marketing, is the best. While you want to empower and trust your sales development reps, when there are hundreds of variations of emails, there is simply no way to know what messaging actually works. Our product marketing and SDR leadership teams have worked closely to develop every one of our outbound and inbound sequences. From our company’s overarching value props, key product messaging, and customer validation stories, our messaging is used in a consistent way – which also makes it measurable.
Additionally, it’s important to trust your SDR leadership team (they live in email) to know the tactics that lead to a response (ex: best subject lines, email signatures, and CTAs). Using data, we know which emails are the most successful and can iterate on those that are underperforming.
For specific campaigns, we allow for elements of an email to be personalized and rely on SDRs to create the appropriate message. We trust that they won’t embarrass the company with grammar errors, poor use of GIFs, incorrect links, and so on. They're incentivized on booking meetings, so it's in their best interest to write good emails.
In addition to writing sequences, we have also created a messaging matrix that SDRs, Account Executives, and anyone else in the org can reference to know how Mixpanel should be positioned. It’s important that everyone is speaking the same language, whether they’re responsible for emails, sales pitches, or the website.
At some companies, I’ve even seen outbounding report into marketing to force closer collaboration. The last three places I’ve worked did this at one point or another. The right move depends on the background of the sales and marketing leadership teams in place and the needs of the company at the time.
One caveat I’ll add is that it’s best to limit involvement in SDR emails to scalable activities. If it’s just for one or two reps sending one-off emails, you’ll spend a lot of time on something that has minimal impact and creates very few learnings.
- Short answer: build the framework, but allow people to be creative. Don’t micro-manage every single email. But maybe run some audits and always be close with the SDR leaders, and get a good understanding for why they are getting rejected/hearing no.
- Long answer:
- PMM, and especially Brand marketing, are going to be helping in setting the tone and narrative of how we talk to prospects. For many of these prospects, the outreach from SDRs will likely be the first time they have direct contact with the company; so, PMM’s role should be to ensure that we’ve set up a framework that gives teams the freedom and flexibility to adapt their language to specific audiences as needed, but that the messaging remains consistent.
- To get more specific, I would say that the PMM team will set up a structure for expressing the company’s key value props. Under those value props, you might want to create a matrix (could just do this on a spreadsheet) of Persona x Vertical and then fill in those cells with specific use case collateral or customer case studies. So if I sell to IT, and one of my key value props is “Trust”, I would have a matrix that look something like industry: finance, tech, retail on one axis and title: cio/ciso, vp/dir eng, vp mktg, dev on the other axis. In each of the boxes I would want to provide SDRs with easy to access to case studies, one pagers, or even just key quotes that would appeal to that audience.
- This might be a little bit too tactical but it gives you a sense of how you can use a framework -- in this case key value props -- to help organize content and ensure that people have the flexibility to pull what content might be most helpful for them, but still have that content organized in a way that they’re all saying the same thing (e.g., Hi Jane, I saw you’re recent data breach at Y company in the news. Well here at X we’re on a mission to [mission statement] by providing products that [val prop 1, 2, 3]. Here an example of how your competitors are using us to keep their networks safe [pull from matrix]! I’ll give you a call tomorrow at 10am to discuss further.)
This varies by company. I’ve been in organizations where PMM would write email templates and in other places PMM would only provide the messaging framework and key bullet points and the BDR/SDR team would write it themselves.
Regardless of whether PMM writes those email templates or not, it is important for PMM to meet regularly with the BDR/SDR team to understand what is working and what is not, what questions they have and objections they are getting from prospects.
The answer to this question will depend to an extent on the type of people that you have on the Product Marketing and SDR teams. That said, in general, Product Marketing owns the messaging and positioning and will be more familiar with what's going to stand out compared to other solutions or substitutes in the market in the eyes of the target persona that the SDR is emailing. Based on this, Product Marketing should be providing key talking points and content that will help move the email recipient to an appropriate CTA, whether that's downloading an asset or (preferably) jumping on the phone with the SDR. I generally suggest that Product Marketing at least outlines the key talking points in an email, if not actually writing the email itself.
SDRs will have more of an ear to the ground for what's working and not working in the field. As they send out email cadences and see response rates and general reception from prospects, they can make better adjustments in real-time to double down on content that works and discard anything that does not. Based on the real-time feedback, SDRs may also be better suited at adjusting the exact phrasing in the email to elicit the right response. Therefore, it's generally a best practice that SDRs take the content from Product Marketing and either write the emails or at least adjust the wording. Of course, this works best when the SDR is also providing feedback to Product Marketing at the same time as to why they adjusted the content.
Ultimately the exact mix of responsibilities in email drafting between SDRs and Product Marketing will depend on the capacity and positioning and writing proficiency across both teams.
It depends. Not the best answer, I know :)
It depends because it comes down to how your org set up. Is your Demand Gen team closely working with the SDRs vs. the PMMs? If yes, and if you have a robust positioning framework (from the PMM team), it would be pretty easy for a DG lead to carve out a campaign and create the first draft of the email templates. In this case, of course, the lead is flowing through the marketing team (Demand Gen specifically).
I have seen PMMs get more involved in this topic if there is a close working relationship between PMM and DG teams and if the tactics are visible at the onset. The x-functional team API here usually takes the form of an "integrated campaign." An integrated campaign would need positioning and messaging, and this should directly come from PMM. Suppose the tactics for launching the campaign are well defined early on. In that case, a PMM can influence different tactics right at the beginning and creating drafts for various topics such as webinar abstracts, email templates for a nurture campaign, etc. This end-to-end view is usually beneficial because it gives the PMM a lot of insight into how a specific campaign gets rolled out and can better influence campaign performance.
In summary, I think this should be a joint responsibility between PMMs and DG teams.