Even with all of the new marketing technologies and tactics available, email remains a critical device in marketing's never-ending quest to supply sales with the best possible leads. The channel provides scale, enabling companies to engage with thousands of individuals, all who may be at very different stages of the buying cycle, while keeping costs low. But the way to make your email powerful through every phase of the buying cycle isn't to just make sure it's used as a response at the time the lead comes in. Make sure your campaigns are targeted to how and why the lead comes in as well, using email strategically throughout the buyer's journey to nurture the prospects until they grow into full-fledged customers. Here are five ways to harness that potential.
1. Remember, Not All Leads Are Created Equal
First, you must answer the question, "What is a lead?" Is it someone who downloaded an asset or attended a webinar? That person who retrieved your eBook might just have been doing research and was solely interested in its contents. The person may or may not have any real interest in your products or services. This is an opportunity for you to uncover the leads who matter most. Rate subscribers continuously with a lead score, taking into account their interactions from multiple channels. Use behavior to determine if they're cold or hot leads or if they've moved from one stage or segment to another. For example, if you're a mortgage lender and your lead just called with questions about your portfolio, then you may have a real break. But on the other hand, if your offering doesn't match the person's interests, it may not make economic sense for you to pursue the business.
2. Channel Your Energy Appropriately
You must also consider the channel in which they became leads. Where were their most recent interactions held? Was it the call center? The website? What information did they seek there? Connecting the dots between these channels with a unified customer view and relevant messaging will enable you to treat each prospect as a special connection, keeping the person interested, warm and engaged. Moreover, protect against channel exhaustion by integrating onsite real-time messaging, email and SMS nurturing programs utilizing the lead score you worked so hard to achieve. But remember, wherever the person has opted in to interact with you is probably where that person wants to hear from you. And if the person unsubscribed or hung up on you, that means the person doesn't want to hear from you that way.
3. Use Your Data to Send Automated, Relevant Content
Few tactics are as effective as content marketing when using email to move the right prospects through the funnel. But not just any content will do. Don't alienate one segment of your audience by always talking to another. Personalization by sending appropriate content is as important, and potentially as effective, as personalization of other elements of the email. Content needs to match the buyer's interests. For example, if your lead has identified as being interested in MBA programs, don't communicate with the person about undergraduate degrees.
4. Show the Love—Keep Your Leads Warm and Engage Them
An estimated 70 percent to 90 percent of leads generated by marketing are never followed up on by sales, yet 20 percent of those are highly likely to convert. Real-time follow-up may be best, but it's common for some triggered messages to go out between 24 hours and three days after the lead comes in. Real-time messages convey that you, as a brand, care about your customers. And not only may immediate action leverage the buyer's emotional, real-time state to prompt movement, it will also increase accuracy in your messaging and the chances that the lead doesn't go cold within the hour, as the majority do.
5. Shout Out Your Return
To understand what's working, make sure your attribution is connected into your single customer view by recognizing what's driving conversions at the individual, campaign and program level. This is vital to understanding where you should be spending your marketing dollars and prioritizing your efforts. If you don't have a view at all these levels, it will be impossible to know what's happening at each phase of the funnel and what affect one channel may have on the other.
Customer nurturing programs should deliver a three- to five-time return on investment. If they don't meet this threshold, make sure you're following these five techniques and you can build powerful lead nurturing programs.