While limiting email marketing mistakes is important, identifying and implementing email marketing best practices will all but ensure success, particularly when it comes to lead nurturing campaigns. The adage that “email is dead” is one that many subscribe to, however, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Not only is email still an often frequented communication platform for the leisurely but is a leading distribution platform for businesses and brands alike.
As a key contributor to ROI and conversion rates, there’s no reason why today’s marketers and advertisers wouldn’t deploy its functionality. In fact, email marketing returns those who implement it correctly up to a 4400% ROI; that’s a $44 dollar return on every $1 spent!
Similarly, the global email marketing market is currently valued and almost $8 billion, expected to more than double to over $18 billion in the next five years. Finally, of those who use email regularly, 99% check their inbox at least once daily! Contrary to popular belief, email is a marketer’s most valuable accomplice.
With that said, in what follows, we’ll be focusing our efforts on email nurture campaigns. More specifically, we’ll define what it is, how it works, and what you need to know to successfully implement and execute your very own email nurture campaign to turn those leads into valued customers.
What is a Lead Nurture Campaign?
Defined as the process or system involved in engaging with and building relationships with your target audience and prospective customers, a lead nurturing campaign is a compilation of emails that seeks to strategically provide valuable content and information throughout a buyer’s journey.
Depending on the stage at which a prospective buyer currently resides will largely dictate the type of content provided to them. If they’re not yet ready to sell a product but want to learn more about it, don’t try and shove sales tactics down their throat. Instead, simply answer their questions and anticipate their needs.
This will, in short, ‘nurture’ them through the buyer’s journey, ultimately ‘leading’ them to the decision phase; hence the phrase, lead nurture! If all goes according to plan, they convert and become your customer.
Lead Nurture Campaign Best Practices
Understanding that not all buyer journeys are the same In other words, while learning how to curate an effective and thoughtful lead nurturing campaign is quite a step-by-step process, in practice, it’s not so streamlined or fluid.
While one prospective buyer may travel through the buyer’s journey seamlessly, another may travel back and forth through varying stages with little to no rhyme or reason, until ultimately, they either convert or abandon the journey altogether. Having this understanding will both teach you patience during the nurturing cycle and help you identify which content to deploy and at which stage. With that said, below are nine (9) email nurture campaign best practices that will quickly turn leads into customers.
Segment by Type of Lead
Not all leads are the same. They often vary by source and this should be considered when developing a nurture campaign. In one of my local businesses selling home services (like HVAC) we found that 17% of referral leads were bought within the first 30 days compared to only 5% of web form leads. In other words, referral leads would be more likely to take action from a ‘direct response’ style of email started promptly and we would drive sales with such.
Web form leads on the other hand needed more time to make a buying decision. Rather than hammering them with emails right off the get go, we found it best to delay any email nurturing for 2 weeks, and then ramp up volume of emails in later months when they were closer to making a purchase (based on engagement with our website and email).
Pro insight: This method of ramping up email volume based on engagement helps keep our email deliverability high.
Match Emails with Customer Journey
Throughout the lifetime of lead, the lead probably goes through many phases, and nearly all of your leads follow a similar path.
In the home services industry, we see leads start off by requesting estimates from multiple service providers, then trying to make sense of the details, and then trying to decide on what price point they will pay for the service. At a simple level (for example purposes) this could be broken up into 3 emails:
A journey like this exists in every industry. Map it out and match the emails of your nurture campaign for maximum success.
Focus on One Specific Product or Service
Trying to create nurture campaigns for every lead that drives sales of everything you offer is a futile task. You will drive yourself insane. Seriously. Instead focus on one specific thing you sell, often that will bring the most value to your business and create a nurture campaign that will guide your lead to that. Simple wins.
Use ‘Call to Action’ Sparingly
Many email marketers fail to follow this best practice. They stuff every email with calls to action (CTA) pushing the user to buy something. That may be suitable for promotions, but it will quickly turn off leads that should be nurtured to the point of customers. Think about it; do you like reading emails that are just plastered with calls to action, typically preceded by pain points? Those emails get old fast!
In my experience selling high ticket home service projects, online courses (and a few other things), the best approach is to use email to influence your lead and position your product/service as the solution. Then serve a few emails in the nurture campaign with a CTA.
Value, Value, Value!
The number one priority with any lead nurturing campaign should be to provide the highest value content possible. Too often, however, businesses and brands focus on themselves rather than their prospective audience, opting to sell rather than nurture. In order to remain in the inbox of your valued target audience, you need to give them a reason.
That reason? Valuable, informative, and maybe even entertaining content; anything that results in contentment, satisfaction, and engagement. Remember, you’re the expert here so the lead is relying on you to deliver!
Personalize, Personalize, Personalize
Not only should you be targeting the right audience and providing them with the most valuable, relevant content possible but you should also be personalizing every email sent. With any email marketing software it’s easy to include first names in the subject line and body of the email. But what can you do that is deeper?
Use the date the lead was created to personalize with time relevant content. Consider past transitions with your business. If you’re selling high ticket products/services, other lead details could be captured or discovered. For example when I was working with a high ticket B2B offer, we would personalize nurture campaigns based on the size of the company.
Use Automation to Your Advantage
Whether it’s for identifying, targeting, and segmenting unique buyer personas, scheduling email campaigns and follow-ups, or implementing lead scoring tactics, email marketing automation is essential to the success of your nurturing strategy and email marketing strategy at large.
While leveraging automation is often viewed as impersonal, it’s actually the ultimate tactic for ensuring personalization, providing you with the peace of mind that every email is customized, scheduled, and sent on time, all under the intelligent eyes of the said automated platform.
Withstanding that, it will also save you time otherwise spent on tedious tasks, allowing you to focus your efforts elsewhere while still resting assured that your lead nurturing campaign is thriving.
Remember automation doesn’t imply that you set it and forget it. Instead, it’s simply a strategy that removes human error, ensuring the success of your campaign at large is accounted for.
The email box is an awesome place to put stories in front of leads that demonstrate your expertise and influence their decision. In my local businesses for example we include stories of our customers, with details of why they chose our business for the project and how they are enjoying it. You can link this story based content out to social media content for additional social proof.
Don’t Forget to Follow Up
Because many businesses and brands are timid when it comes to bombarding a prospective buyer’s inbox, knowing full well that one perceived-to-be intrusive or uncalled-for email could abolish the lead entirely, follow-ups are often delayed or ignored altogether.
An effective lead nurturing campaign, however, involves timely follow-ups at all stages of the buyer’s journey; In fact, multiple touches are encouraged, proven to result in higher conversion rates! No matter the action taken, prospective buyers are far more likely to convert immediately after being contacted post-conversion.
Ensuring that the follow-up email is both well-planned and timely is essential to turning leads into customers. That’s where automation comes into play (more on automation shortly)!
Pro tip: Use automation to send follow up emails based on user interactions. For example if someone opens an email, use that as a trigger to send them a follow up. Or if someone visits a specific page on your site. This can be done with ActiveCampaign.
Going Forward With Your Nurture Campaign
Email nurturing is a highly effective way to take your leads from cold to hot. And the best part is, it doesn’t cost much money. Advanced email marketing software like ActiveCampaign starts at a price point of less than $100. While it does take some planning and effort to set up, once implement it can function in the background working like an unpaid salesman!
Further learning on driving sales with email marketing: