Email is a great marketing tool. A study by the global information services company Experian found that companies generate more than $44 in email sales revenue for each dollar of email marketing expense. That’s a massive return.
There’s just one problem. Customers are getting inundated with sales emails, and fewer of them are clicking through. In the first quarter of 2014, the average email click through rate was 4.3 percent, down from nearly 7.5 percent in the third quarter of 2006, the Epsilon Email Trends and Benchmark Report shows. 
For MailChimp the numbers are even lower. The company reported  that less than three percent of the billions of monthly emails it sends were clicked through last year.
These days, if you want your prospects to read your sales emails, you need to get personal. Sales emails with personalized messages have significantly higher open, click through, and reply rates, analysis  by the Aberdeen Group reveals.
Most business people know this, which is why they have their sales people personalizing emails to prospects. These days, sales people spend a lot of time searching online for personal information on their prospects so they can craft better sales messages.
But these manual approaches take a lot of time. It can take a salesperson a more than half-an-hour to research a single prospect and craft an introductory paragraph to just one email. The way that many people are personalizing their sales emails is effective, but it isn’t very efficient.
That’s where Nova , a San Francisco-based start-up, comes in. The angel-backed company has developed a way to use technology to replace manual search for crafting a personalized introductory paragraph to a sales email. The company’s software searches for personalized information about sales prospects from thousands of data sources — Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and public records — to generate a customized opening.
The software works to improve the sales process. Customers report a three times improvement in click through rates and replies using Nova rather than templated sales emails.
Moreover, this benefit grows as companies use Nova’s product. The software uses the open, click and reply data to improve the quality of the personal messages it creates.
The solution doesn’t have to be completely automatic. Salespeople can review and tweak the messages. But even if they modify them, they still save significant time over a manual approach. That means better sales productivity at the companies using the service.
The average time a salesperson spends on a Nova message is about 30 seconds, rather than the half hour or more it takes to write the same personal message manually. On average, the personalization of sales emails with Nova takes about 1/60th the time it takes to do it manually.
The service is affordable for small businesses. For less than $40 per month, companies can get personalization generation for 200 messages per week.
Any company using Gmail can use Nova. Its email messages can be used in drip campaigns, and its templates can be saved and reused. Moreover, the product integrates with Salesforce.
Every so often a start-up comes along that has the potential to change small business in a fundamental way. Only time will tell if Nova falls into that camp. But my money — literally as I am an investor — is on the company changing the way businesses design sales emails.
Online Sale  Photo via Shutterstock