Case Study
Incendium vs. Salesloft

At Incendium, we consider ourselves growth hacking experimenters first and foremost. This often requires some degree of ego dissociation, particularly as it pertains to whether the email sequences that we write for clients are “good.” After all, it’s the data that make this determination, not our client (or us). 


To that end, we’re always interested in testing ideas for how to do our work differently, even if (and especially if) we don’t like an idea! One of our awesome clients turned us on to SalesLoft’s email optimizer a few months ago. It’s a very powerful Chrome tool that uses data from across SalesLoft’s vast customer base to suggest subject line and email best practices to maximize responses. With the volume of data that a provider like SalesLoft can put behind it, there’s certainly an argument to be made that it can add major value when used to write sales emails. We decided to run a test.


Before sharing the results, we should be clear that this wasn’t meant to be a John Henry-eque man vs. machine contest. I am confident that, on the margin, there are elements of emails that the email optimizer tool can write better than us. I’m equally confident that, in some contexts, the particular phrase, subject line, or word choice would be better handled by a live person. 


Instead, the test was meant to understand whether we could find any optimization of email content that would make a bigger difference than good targeting. We have consistently seen that better analysis of target markets and identification of excellent market fit drives 10%+ improvements in cold outbound email performance, while “crafting” ideal wording in email copy drives single-digit improvements. 


The email optimizer test did nothing to change that thesis, but the tool did help us write better emails! Here are the results:

  • Sales optimizer copy performance: 12.98% responses; 0.75% CTA conversion
  • Incendium copy A performance: 12.88% responses; 0.90% CTA conversion
  • Incendium copy B performance: 10.74% response; 0.60% CTA conversion

And some specific improvements that we picked up from the sales optimizer tool:

  • Very short subject lines yield excellent open rates.
  • At least for some audiences, less formatting and shorter emails that get straight to the point can perform better.
  • The practice of editing our emails to make them short enough to fit with SalesLoft’s “ideal” was useful in and of itself to force us to more clearly enunciate value propositions.

Ultimately, we still believe our core thesis: The identification of strong prospects who are ready for the solution we are selling is a market-moving strategy in a way that edge case improvements to email copy never can be. But in the interest of capturing every small advantage for growth possible, following the SalesLoft recommendations are–at the very least–worth trying.

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