Email Salesmanship Gamified On The Individual Level
[update: loads of things have changed since this was written but it's still fairly accurate. Expect a new post soon.]
They are new apps, and there is nothing on Earth more likely to get you better at sending email out than these two apps.
When you send out an email - what happens?
Do you know if it's opened? Do you know when you're baking up the wrong tree? Do you know why some emails work? And why others don't?
Gamificaiton can help. Keeping score...will help.
But most email has an audience of one. And it's hard to practice. It's been hard to learn why your pitches work other than gut feel or my own 4x6 cards and tally marks.
Some time ago, I started noticing founder Tawheed Kader on Twitter from - probably - from some recent press coverage. I began to engage. I looked at his service, Tout and had to try it. It had a 30 day free trial (and even a free version). I had nothing to lose.
I had a few friends and clients that I thought could benefit from our "one page product demo script writing guide."
I used Tout to share it - instead of Mail on my mac. I sent it - mostly for the heck of it, making a connection, adding some value. While I always want to sell more Simplifilms, I had no expectation that that would do anything- I was happy about how the article turned out and...connectors connect.
I was surprised by the result.
With 20 minutes work, I started 4 fairly serious conversations with some existing clients about immediate work. I saw that 2 of my other clients frequently referred to the email about writing demo video scripts. They got phone calls. Another deal is on the books. We had just brought our new animator in. So, it was in our interests to get our people to work, so we made a "too good to be true" deal that only happens never and did the Dashter video.
Within a week of using Tout, I was pursuing multiple sales. I closed a sale I never would have had on Friday, after starting Tout on a Wednesday.
I saw (instantly) a ton of fantastic uses for Tout (a 500 startups alum).
Tout can help you promote your blog: I wrote a post that riffed on a Brad Feld idea. I scheduled the post to go live the next day. Then, I used Tout to schedule an email to Brad (and a few other folks ) to share it and spread it. Was out of the office, driving, but I found that Brad and a couple others tweeted it, and it spread.
That post got something like 800 views - (huge for us- posts are averaging about 125 views)- and it was all done in the same batch. Just a simple email about the blog that went out to 10 people. Took but 6-7 extra minutes.
Now, Brad has been "Touting" Yesware for a while now. I blew it off because I had ditched Chrome (and Chrome's insistence on killing my Air battery with it's poor handling of the thousands of tabs I like to keep open).
So, I definitely liked Tout better at first- I had decided to ditch Chrome for Safari and live in the Mail app instead of other places. However, when I finally got around to giving Yesware a try, I found lots to like.
So much, that I changed my workflow, and I will be using Yesware for the foreseeable future.
So, What's Better - Tout or Yesware?
What a question. It's like saying "What's better Mailchimp or Aweber". Great software, both, with different approaches.
I'll cover the shared features, strengths and weaknesses of each application, and which one I'm using for what.
Saying "one is better" is really dependent on how you're using it. They have some overlap, and you'll be able to see what's right for you pretty quickly.
Shared Features of Tout and Yesware
They have ways to create store and organize templated emails. They work well - we have a couple of minor bugs in the interface, but everything is laid out more or less sensibly, and they present the information in different ways.
Tout and Yesware both track opens and responses - they go about it in different ways. Tout is focused on "which emails are working," and Yesware is focused on a "feed" like approach of what's just happened. Both make some concessions to the other approach, but this seems to be the focus for now.
Tout is more focused on "success or failure" of emails than Yesware is. They are going in different directions - as you can see that they'll probably have some features from one another.
So you can send and track emails in both Tout and Yesware- they just do the process differently.
Tout is focused and ready with opens and clicks. Yesware is more focused on what just happened.
Divergent Approaches in Tout and Yesware: What They DON'T Do.
Yesware has no easy way of seeing how individual templates are performing - it'll tell you how many you've sent out, but not what each is doing. Tout is oriented on the template, so you could have 4 (or 100) different messages and pit them against each other, Lean Startup style. That appeals to us because we can quickly see what's what with each message we shoot out.
Tout, doesn't have anything close to Yesware's activity feed [edit: when I sent a draft of this article to Tawheed, he said that yup, he sure as heck did- see the bottom of the article, they **just** released this]. With Yesware if you stay on top of it, you can spot when an old prospect jumps in and starts re-reading the email you sent months ago. Tout captures the data, but it doesn't display it in a particularly usable way.
Tout also has a very handy feature- you can schedule when you are sending an email out. Yesware is dependent on your Gmail interface (with Outlook apparently coming soon), so it doesn't do this.
I had better luck with complex HTML in Tout than I did in yesware, but your milage may vary.
Problems, Bugs and Headaches.
Yesware has two major problems. First, it simply doesn't exist in Safari or Firefox. It's chrome only. Kind of a drag. I swore off Chrome when they started being bizarrely sluggish with Google products.
Yesware got me to ditch Safari. Because I could see what people were doing with my email. No, not everyone, but enough that it was pretty friggin' cool.
My other big issue is that Yesware depends on your inbox. The problem with the latter approach is that you can't hire a VA to send out stuff without giving him or her full access to your email. With Tout, you can have an intern (or whoever) send stuff to a list of people, and for the most part, you won't have a major problem. It's got emails, you'll be able to see what's being said, and you won't have to worry about if people get back to you or not.
Tout itself has a couple of bugs- first, not having access to data that it's collecting is kind of a drag. You have to look at individual emails to see what people are doing. Plus, you can only see when people are doing things if you click through to the email itself:
It's cool that you can do it, but it's buried. That's a bummer.
There are also minor quirks with manually editing names - if Tout thinks it knows a contact, it'll fight your manual data entry.
The Feed approach that Yesware favors is useful because I can instantly see when someone I sent an email back a month ago is accessing it again. It can appear that I have ESP that way. I can "just happen" to be thinking of them when they just accessed my email.
Tout and Yesware Feature Wishlist:
Both of these should have some formal a/b/group testing. Tout comes the closest.
Creating a "Google Optimizer" style system of headlines and body text and grouping it for optimal opens is within reach, and at the volumes of email we send, we can quickly learn what people respond to and click on. I'd love to be able to have one "template" and send it out, and have the ap do the heavy lifting for testing in the background to tell me what works better. Of course, it'd have to normalize for time sent and other things, and that might be tricky, but it seems like the thing to do.
I've pinged both founders (multiple times since they are in charge of a VERY important tool) and told them of some other fixes and features- some syncing with Google Contacts and more "proactive" reminders if a dormant lead becomes hot. (I.e. if someone opens a 6 week old email, it'd be fantastic to put that in context ).
For the foreseeable future, I'm using both. It's not a cop-out. They are different tools, and they are probably going in different directions.
Yesware got me back into Gmail and Chrome. It's frictionless like RescueTime. I'll use it. The number of threads Chrome opens and the impact on my Air's performance is pretty ugly. I was using Mail (because I like hotkeys). Yesware is worth the compromise. I might try and Just use chrome in one tab for Gmail .
Tout is great because I can work a list really fast, and send stuff that looks great out with a minimum of hassle.
I'll leave it to the Internets to determine who the original is and who the fast follower is, but for now, I'll be using both services for as long as they stay on the paths they are on. I doubt they'll ever integrate, but we can always dream.
I recommend anyone that's hustling and pitching give one or both a try.
One of the things that I love them most is both Tout and Yes-ware respect you. They aren't going to do anything on your behalf you didn't mean to do. You can't spam your list or embarrass yourself too much here. Worst case you send an email to the wrong guy once or twice. That's low stakes compared to how it could be.
[Edits - New Features In Both Apps Coming Soon.]
Since I wrote this, both Tawheed and Matthew have come up with some cool features.
I emailed Matthew Bellows and told him I was in the middle of writing up this post. He got back to me with a cool feature. This is one of the cool things that the ap will do soon.
It's pretty clear from this that Brad Feld is influencing Yesware.
Tawheed came up with an "emails to pay attention to" feature, that addresses Tout's most severe missing feature. It shows you what's up and why:
So it seems that both are adding features fast.