Have you ever filled out a form at the mall in hopes of winning a shiny new sports car or signed up online to win an all-inclusive trip? I have. And let me tell you, I am not driving the car that was prominently displayed by the food court nor have I ever traveled to Tahiti (maybe one day). What I have “won” is an astonishing number of telemarketing calls for deals on my car loan and pre-approved credit cards that would guarantee enough airline miles to fly me across the globe.
Just recently, I registered for “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Mobile Marketing,” a free online webinar that was both entertaining and thought-provoking. My heightened enthusiasm for mobile marketing was quickly interrupted as I was bombarded with emails and sales calls from one of the webinar sponsors. They were pitching a mobile application product that I had no interest in purchasing and which wasn’t even vaguely related to the webinar topic. I was annoyed and quickly hit the unsubscribe button. At that moment, the brand lost me as a potential customer and future brand advocate.
Lead generation is a fragile process that must be nurtured through a two-way engagement between brand and prospect – never forced. Had the brand sent me information related to my interest in the webinar topic with a message that would bridge the gap between mobile marketing and using an app to grow my brand presence on the go, maybe I would have been more willing to hear their sales pitch.
Consider how your brand should interact with your email readers to nurture the relationship and ultimately result in highly qualified sales leads.
What touchpoints do you have in place when your reader is ready to engage with your brand? Contact us forms? Educational content? Branded videos? A purchase button?
Start by auditing your email touchpoints based on reader activity, and create a lead score value for every action. A zero lead score represents a completely uninterested reader, while a lead score of four shows that your reader is ready to buy. The content or interaction will determine where the customer is in the sales cycle and how you can better nurture them until they are ready to make a purchase.
Although lead scoring is based on specific reader actions and personalized levels of interest in a brand, the specific scores can fluctuate based on how you assign values.
To help you get a better idea of what actions are typically associated with a lead score, let’s look at some examples and brainstorm some brand responses.
From zero to four
- Reader Action: Reader unsubscribed from your email list
- Brand Response: Better luck next time. This reader is unfortunately not interested and should not receive further emails.
- Reader Action: Reader opens the email
- Brand Response: An email open is a good start. The reader is interested in the subject line or its topic but was not driven to click on a link after opening. We recommend sending similar content with a similar subject line, but try changing the body copy and/or call to action (CTA) in the next email.
- Reader Action: Reader clicks on a link
- Brand Response: You’re pulling away from the gate now. Your reader is interested in the content or CTA you provided. The next step is to develop your message even further to show your reader the value of your downloadable content.
- Reader Action: Reader downloads content
- Brand Response: The wheels are turning now as the reader has filled out a form. Depending on what type of content they downloaded, your sales team may be ready to reach out directly.
- Reader Action: Reader completes a form requesting more information on the brand
- Brand Response: Time to pounce! Hot lead coming through! Sales takes over from here, but remember persistence pays off – only 10% of salespeople make contact more than three times, yet 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact.
The lead score you assign readers should give you an accurate representation of where they fall in the sales cycle. Tailoring each subsequent message enables your brand to guide your readers down the funnel until they are ready to convert.
It’s a no brainer that you should avoid sending product specs if the reader hasn’t been introduced to your product. Likewise, there’s no reason for introductory emails when your reader is already well aware of your brand offering – at that point it may be time for a more direct message.
How will you know your reader is ready for a branded message with more of a sales tone?
As a B2B brand, we consider a reader a “qualified lead” when a qualifying “contact us” form is completed or they call for more information, but we recommend creating your own list and assigning values to each touchpoint along your brand’s nurturing path.
We place each point of contact into two buckets, “Qualified” and “Non-Qualified” touchpoints.
Qualified – Completes a “contact us” form, downloads sales materials, requests a demo, etc.
Non-Qualified – Downloads educational content, opens email or clicks link in email.
A successful nurturing campaign starts by targeting low to relatively uninterested readers and develops them into inquisitive and highly qualified sales leads. The ultimate goal of your campaign should be to motivate the reader to fill out a qualified form field – only then should your sales team consider the reader a qualified lead. Your nurturing campaign should be methodically planned to address where the reader is in the sales cycle and where you would like to bring them from active reader to brand advocate.
Note: don’t be afraid to include your sales team in the planning process. The more the sales and marketing departments are in sync, the higher the likelihood your brand has to attract new customers.
Examining the message
While you’re planning your nurturing campaign, keep in mind what you would like to say before you say it. Aspire to be two steps ahead of your reader at all times. We’ve broken down the six stages of the buyer cycle and created potential email messaging so you can start your campaign immediately.
1. Stage one of the buyer cycle calls for an introductory message.
According to Experian, welcome emails generate four times the open rates and five times the click rates compared to other promotional email campaigns.
Message: “Welcome, and thank you for downloading our Marketing Trends Report.”
2. An all-access pass to the content.
Not only will readers appreciate a summarized version, sending the piece again straight to their inbox allows them to store your content on their device, view it again at a later time and share it with fellow decision makers. You are now building trust with your audience and growing their relationship with your brand.
Message: “Here’s your copy of the Marketing Trends Report. For readers in a time crunch, we would like to highlight this section and point out some important statistics.
3. The bridge.
An engaged reader is a hell of a thing to waste. This step is crucial to gradually guiding your reader in a direction that leads to a qualifying action.
Message: “We hope you enjoyed reading our report. Here are some other pieces of content you may be interested in.”
4. While we’re at it!
You have your readers’ attention, and at this point they may already be in the “qualified lead” stage. Now use this time to encourage future email opens.
Message: “Be on the lookout for our next email with our forecast for marketing to Millennials.”
5. The trust fall.
Your goal is to nurture your readers in a way that shows them the value in your brand and, ultimately, establishes a valued customer.
Message: “We’d love to meet with you and show you how these marketing trends could affect your business.”
6. Forget me not.
Once the reader has gone from qualified lead to customer, don’t forget about them. Wouldn’t it be great to have another brand advocate?
Message: “We are 100% dedicated to exceeding the needs of our customers. Let us know how where we can improve or leave us a review by clicking on the link below.”
Nurturing your audience from active reader to brand advocate is undoubtedly crucial to brand marketing success. Lead nurturing emails, also known as drip campaigns, allow your audience to get to know your brand with appropriate messages sent when they are ready to hear them. Nurturing campaigns can segment interested readers and motivate them to take an action no matter where they lie on their customer journey.
There are many variables that can trigger actions along a drip campaign. One of the most common triggers that activates a sequential drip email is if a recipient opens the email. That’s where we start, but definitely not where we end. If an email is opened, you know that your audience is interested, and you can write a similar subject line for the next email. On the other hand, if an email is not opened, you should test the subject line in an effort to attract those who were uninterested. From there, you can analyze aspects like CTAs, messaging and send time to create the perfect email for your audience.
To help you get a better understanding of how an email drip campaign works, we’ve created an interactive Create Your Own Drip Campaign template. This one page diagram is perfect for marketers looking to plan subject lines, send dates and times, messaging, and CTAs for an email drip campaign. After you insert your own campaign messaging, feel free to print it out or use it to show off in your next department meeting.
Still on the fence?
You’re not alone if you haven’t started lead nurturing yet, but if you dedicate your time to setting up the right campaign, you could significantly stand out from the competition. According to MarketingSherpa, a whopping 65% of B2B marketers have not established lead nurturing, and 79% of B2B marketers have not established lead scoring. The same source recorded that 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. They blame the lack of lead nurturing as the most common cause of this poor performance.
What’s more, California-based Gleanster Research recently presented statistics that suggest that somewhere between 30% to 50% of the leads that enter a pipeline represent future opportunities but, for whatever reason, are not yet ready to buy. This prompts an incredible case for nurture-centric marketing campaigns due to the proven fact that not every lead that comes through your pipeline is the same. Each contact is unique to a stage in the sales cycle and will require a separate marketing message, at just the right time.
The key characteristic to any drip campaign is the ability to effectively interact with your audience. It’s time to start building a message not just around your brand, but rather around your audience until they are ready to make a purchase, nurturing them from start to finish. Because shouldn’t your marketing efforts be focused around building a relationship with your audience and generating customers?
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About the Author
Alex Navarro comes to Distribion with a background in developing and executing national brand awareness campaigns. His passion is creating personalized marketing strategies and watching them come to life. Alex studied advertising and marketing at Pepperdine University and has enjoyed working in the field ever since. He also loves meeting new people – connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.