Make way for multi-channel: research heralds an end to email-only outreach

Sopro, a sales technology expert, has uncovered significant shifts in the effectiveness of various outreach strategies, as detailed in its State of Prospecting 2024 whitepaper.

The research, based on analysis of over 75.2 million emails and insights from more than 350 sales and marketing professionals, reveals a challenging landscape for businesses and marketing experts.

In 2023, there was a noticeable 22% decline in the success rates of email-only outreach compared to the previous year, coinciding with a 49% increase in marketing emails as businesses vied for prospects' attention. Despite this, email remains a preferred contact method, with 67% of buyers favouring it and 88% open to supplier communication during purchase research.

Interestingly, 75% of B2B companies surveyed believe that combining email prospecting with other outbound channels enhances marketing results, and 68% see email prospecting as complementary to inbound marketing channels.

The decision-making process in companies is becoming more complex, with an average of four stakeholders involved, up from 3.6 in 2023. Additionally, 11% of companies report having between six and nine people in the decision-making process. Top marketing concerns for 2023 included lead generation (46%), lead quality (38%), and creating quality content (36%).

Ryan Welmans, CEO and Co-Founder at Sopro said: “It is clearly a tough environment for businesses and marketing professionals, with increased competition and stricter regulations on the way, against a constantly evolving economic backdrop. But this also presents an opportunity for those who have the knowledge and tools to follow best practice and stand out from the crowd.

“The new regulations echo a belief that we have always held at Sopro - that emails should be personalised, relevant and value-driven. When combining expertise with new tools – in particular AI – businesses can offer recipients real personalisation that goes beyond email and that can be maximised across all relevant channels. We hope that the information in this new whitepaper will act as a practical guide for sales and marketing professionals, prompting them to set strong multi-channel strategies for 2024 and beyond.”

An emerging trend is the increasing acceptance of postal contact, with 18% of people open to it, more than double the previous year's figure. This indicates the potential value of personalised direct mail in prospecting.

The study also found that gifting can enhance lead quality by 36.1%. Branded merchandise was reported as the next most successful gift (49%), followed by alcoholic beverages (44%). Notably, tree planting was the least redeemed gift option, with a 45% non-redemption rate.