Why Email is Less and Less Effective

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I remember when I had my first email address in 1993. It was from Compuserve (which eventually became part of AOL). People who didn’t know what email was thought I was lying when I said I could send a message halfway around the world for free.

Fast forward to today, I have 7 email accounts for various things and receive over 300 mails a day. I end up deleting a large majority of them – Amazon, etc. When chatting with other industry associates, I am disappointed to report that I am not alone. Some people in the industry receive well over 1000!

The average investor usually has it worse than the fund ‘sales side.” When speaking to investors, I have found that some of them have two, even four corporate email accounts that vary in degrees of importance. Here is the break-down:

The Collective Email

This email is typically the public face of the company and is used for many reasons. Sometimes it is used as a depository for fact sheets and other information that needs to be shared among multiple users. If the organisation is large, this inbox is monitored on an hourly or daily basis. Relevant email is directed to relevant parties. I always hated the “research@” address because I thought it just goes into a black hole, this (usually) isn’t true. Some investors have this address because they want to remain nameless or for HR reasons. If someone leaves, they don’t want the “flow” to be interrupted. Just because it is collective doesn’t at all mean it is the email junkyard.

The Personal “Public” Email

This is email is what you will typically get on business cards and is email destined personally to the individual. The problem that many investors have with this email is that it soon starts to get a whole bunch of spam fact sheets, etc. and clogs this inbox. However, it is monitored closely for relevant 2-way communication.

The Personal Email

This is usually a non-advertised email that is used to get work done. It is rarely used outside the firm with the occasional exception of key accounts and outside, client facing communications. It obviously the one that your potential client cares about the most.

Most of the time, it is generally best to use the email that they have given you; even if you are aware of other addresses. There is nothing more annoying than having mails pop into communication channels that are designed for other things. I know some investors will delete fact sheets de facto from their personal address because it is easier to do that, than keep having to ask the sender to change the address.

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This starts to beg the question: Are emails an effective form of communication? The short answer is “No.” In many ways they are intrusive, time consuming, selfish time-wasters. Because sending an email is free, there is very little investment on behalf of the sender. Mail costs postage, voice takes time.

People read emails that they have to, or because they are enjoyed. However, sending an email to someone that doesn’t know you isn’t an effective stand-alone solution. We know of a lot of business developers that complain that investors don’t respond to their email. Of course they don’t! How many times have you responded to a sales email?

Unfortunately, the best way to establish an effective relationship is the old fashioned way: get on the blower (phone) and introduce yourself. If they know who you are and if they have the slightest interest in your fund; then you may start a dialogue. This isn’t to say that sending an email first just to prep the call isn’t a bad thing. However, you will get a faster response if you call to give them a heads up and find out when to follow up.

Don’t forget that investors are people. We all naturally react better to social interaction. But, also don’t forget that investors are very busy people and need to be efficient at their jobs. Don’t be surprised if you need to call back a number of times to get a hold of them or if they ask for you to call back later. It is the nature of the world they live in.

There are other ways to communicate with investors that are more engaging: social media, events, etc. Perhaps for another blog? However, the traditional phone is probably the top tool for institutional private placement.

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