On the face of it, creating clever emails with embedded graphics and other gee-whizz stuff that acts as a smart sales tool should be pretty easy.
But (apparently), there are only three companies around the world have pulled off the feat – including Auckland-based LiveLink Connect.
The three-year old six-person entity (you can hardly call it a start-up now), was incubated through The Icehouse and has had two angel funding rounds for a total of about $450,000 invested.
Its founder and managing director Jason Roberts (disclaimer… an old mate of mine) had been in sales and marketing roles for a number of years and more often than not found email a terrible sales tool.
“It was hard to share information between distributors, retailers and customers, and, if as a salesman you sent an email, you had no idea if it was opened,” says Roberts.
“As a salesman, you want to ensure your email dresses to impress and ensure the ability to perfectly time your follow up call, so that was one of the things we set out to do.”
Roberts et al have created what they call ‘everything email’, which as well as being robust technology is also able to work with other email products LLC has on a collegial basis.
For example, company logos are rendered properly no matter what type of device the email is read on (and estimates now are that 50% are done so on a mobile device), whether it has been opened, or even if a disclosure document has been read.
The latter ability is especially important for those selling financial services such as insurance or broking other products – and having an electronic proof of a disclosure having been opened is becoming an increasingly important sales tool for LLC.
“What we’ve created, and continually improving is technologically complex, though, being cloud-based means it has to be simple, easy, secure and cheap,” he says.
“The information and data we can provide back to our clients about what actions have occurred as a result of the email makes its an invaluable marketing and sales tool – exactly what we set out to achieve.”
Roberts says LLC’s next major development is a sophisticated and integrated ‘statement stopper’. That is, to halt the sending of letter-based bills such as electricity, and instead has them sent by email.
LLC’s tracking ability indicates whether a customer hasn’t opened a company’s email, and a paper statement can then be automatically sent by snail-mail.
At that stage, Roberts expects to feature on the radar of a larger company looking to expand its offering, “so in five years or less we’re definitely looking to be acquired.”
Given that LLC is export-expanding, and is now trialing its technology with CMC, a division of giant Indian company Tata, that five year window may be short.
Not too bad for a sales tool that seems a sitter but obviously is a difficult one to pull off.