A lot of skilled content marketers create amazing and valuable content for their readers, and through that generate lots of leads. Now the task becomes to move those leads further into the sales funnel and ultimately to paying customers.
Emails can be a powerful way to nurture leads, if done right. Why? Because you have control over staying connected to those leads in a way you don’t have with your blog or your social media channels. Leads have to take the initiative in order to access your content on those platforms. Your emails, on the other hand, arrive in the inbox that they check every day, and they only have to click to have your content personally delivered.
The trick, of course, is to get those emails opened and to have content that will engage and generate interest. There is a lot of clutter in inboxes these days, and you have to break through the monotony. When you do, you will find that email is a powerful lead-nurturing medium. Here are some tactics that will help you with your email strategy and do just that.
Begin with Some Effective Tools
Tools will not substitute for great content, but they can help you organize, personalize, segment your audiences, automate your delivery too. Here are a few tools that stand out:
Campaigner.com: While this tool provides several different sub-tools for email marketing, it’s segmentation feature is very good. You can divide your leads under various sales funnel stages based on the specific products or services they have demonstrated interest in, previously purchased, etc. Segmented emails are more personalized and the open-rates are better.
LeadIn: This is Hubspot’s free lead marketing tool. While it has many features, one is to analyze your leads and provide information about their web activity, social media profiles, etc. This will give you insights about what is important to them, their demographics, etc.
Agilecrm.com: Agile is a comprehensive CRM tool that includes web engagement, marketing automation, helpdesk, marketing via mobile, and email campaigns. Its email software includes templates, custom layouts, personalization and segmentation, and lead scoring, among other things.
ConstantContact.com: This tool focuses only on email marketing. There are numerous features – custom templates, personalization, automated delivery and tracking, analytics, surveys and coupon generation, etc.
Pardot.com: This tools is specifically for B2B enterprises and provides comprehensive marketing solutions that include email campaign.
Now for the Specific Tactics
All of the latest and best tools, while convenient and effective, cannot substitute for your efforts in crafting emails that really work, once all of the automation and tool features are in place. Here are seven proven tactics that will ensure you get the most “bang for your buck” as you nurture your email leads.
Use Personalization Carefully
You may have the names of your subscribers and you may be tempted to use them as soon as you have them. Resist this temptation. People are suspicious, and they really don’t want you to be too intimate too quickly. Relationships are built gradually, over time, and using first names in a subject line too early can be seen as possibly “sketchy.”
Initially, try to use other methods of personalization, rather than individual names. This is where segmentation comes in. If you can segment your email audiences by other criteria – demographic, what they demonstrated an interest in on your site, what they have already ordered, a freebie they got in return for giving up their email address, then you can personalize in a more generalized manner.
Segmenting audiences, and sending emails by products they have purchased with similar products that may be of interest, has proven to be very effective. In fact, a Temple University study found that 98% of customers who received these types of emails looked upon them favorably. So, if you sell music, and your customers are divided by types, using that type in the subject line personalizes your email but not in a sketchy way.
This is a critical part of getting the “email opens.” There are several things to think about here:
- Don’t put your company name in the subject line – it already appears in the “sender” item, and it just wastes space (not to mention it is boring). You want a catchy, engaging subject line.
- Think in terms of a journalist writing a headline for an article – the subject line must both engender interest and show some type of value or benefit.
- Use action rather than boring, dull verbs. “Becoming a better marketer,” for example is boring. Replace that with, “Smash your competition with these 5 tactics” provides a great action verb as well as a real value.
When You Send Your Emails – It’s Important
People are busy during the day, and their inboxes can be filled up with all kinds of work-related and personal emails from friends. At night, however, fewer emails are sent, and yet people tend to have more time to go through them. Studies have shown that the best times are between 8 p.m. and 12 midnight, related to numbers of opens, click-throughs, and actual sales. Of course, you should use your own analytics to determine if this works for you. Weekends are also good. Do some testing to see what works best for you.
What Can You Give Away?
One of the best ways to give value right in your subject line is to offer something free – how about an e-book, a free trial, or a coupon for a deep discount?
Beauty on Mobile
Your emails will have to include visuals as well as text (more on that later), and because a large percentage of emails are now opened by mobile devices, they must be designed to look great on those devices. Here are a few tips:
- Use a one column template
- Use a larger font for small screens
- Follow guidelines for pixels for photos
- Remember fat fingers and also that most users scroll with their thumbs. Buttons should be large and perhaps toward the middle of the screen.
Look to Re-Activate Those “Lost” Subscribers
If your tracking tools are putting subscribers into an “Inactive” category, let’s say after 90 days of no opens or responses, then it might be time to “personalize” an email to them. You can provide a subject line about an exciting new product, program or service; if the holidays are coming up, you will want them know about huge savings and free shipping.
Your Content Matters a Lot
Obviously, the content of your emails is what will keep your leads opening them. Promising value and engaging and intriguing via your subject line is great, but the content must not disappoint. As you craft your content, think of the following:
- Particularly for B2B enterprises, case studies are really effective
- Share other really great content – powerpoints, videos, etc. Your readers may in fact share those emails with others and grow your email list in the process
- How-To’s are great – teaching something is always popular
- Tell Stories – of your customers, of yourself, of your team
- Use humor every once in a while, – people like to be entertained and you seem much more human
- Give tips – Promise them in your subject line and what their value is
- Offer coupons, discounts and other perks, especially to those who have abandoned their shopping carts, who have spent time looking at your products or services.
Use lots of visuals in your emails – no one wants to read blocks of text anymore.
The Right Tactics
You may have a great blog; your social media posts are getting lots of “play.” But if you are ignoring the power of nurturing leads through emails, you are ignoring proven methods of converting those leads into customers.