Email marketing is a powerful tool for cultivating leads.
Studies show that 96% of visitors who arrive on a website aren’t ready to buy. That’s why you must cultivate new leads with email. But it's not as easy as just hitting send. There are many nuances to an effective email marketing strategy that nurtures leads into buyers.
In this article, I will reveal all the latest strategies and best practices for email lead nurturing.
Let’s dive in.
What Is Email Lead Nurturing And Why Should You Care?
Lead nurturing is the process of purposefully developing the relationship between a business and leads at every stage of the buyer’s journey. Cultivating leads with email helps you grow your business because cultivated leads converter better than non-cultivated ones.
The advantages of email lead nurturing are clear when you compare it to these alternatives:
Email is less expensive than direct mail or cold calling. It's relatively inexpensive to set up an email account on a web server and to purchase the software, hardware, and network connections needed to manage it. You can send messages to your entire database for the cost of one or two pieces of direct mail. And studies show that email generates a higher response rate than most other forms of marketing.
Email bypasses the gatekeepers who control access to many decision-makers. Whether you're trying to reach an individual, a team, or a department within your target organization, email can get messages directly into their inboxes without going through the traditional channels.
Email is easy to customize for different people or teams within your market segment. You don't have to create different brochures or other printed materials for each group. You can tailor the information in an email message to conform to the interests, needs, and language used by specific people.
Email is compatible with your existing print and broadcast advertisements, sales collateral, website, and other marketing activities. Using a single approach for distributing all kinds of messages—from promotional materials to customer service updates, from email newsletters to event announcements enables you to maintain a consistent business image and present prospects with information that's timely and pertinent to them.
Email is familiar territory for many people in your target market because it parallels the activity they do every day: communicating via email with colleagues, friends, and associates. If you present yourself well, use simple language, personalize the message, and show an understanding of your audience's needs, prospects will give you more than just their attention. They'll also consider your message carefully before deciding whether to respond.
On top of it all, email marketing generates $40 per dollar spent. If you invest in good email marketing tools like HubSpot CRM or Mailchimp, you will get a bang for your buck.
With all these benefits, it’s no surprise that smart small businesses nurture their leads with email to boost sales. Let’s now dig into the strategies you can use to cultivate your leads as a small business owner.
1. Grow Your Email List With A Lead Magnet
Source: Elegant Themes
You can’t nurture leads if you don’t have them, right?
To get leads you need to have an email list. The fastest way to grow your email list is using a lead magnet. Generating leads is the lifeblood of a business.
A lead magnet is a free content piece you offer for someone’s contact information such as a name and email address. Other names for lead magnets are ethical bribes, sign-up incentives, freemiums, content upgrades, or free gifts.
Ethical bribes can be any type of valuable content:
You should always keep in mind the end goal of your freemium, which is to get people's email contact information.
The first step towards creating a sign-up incentive is to identify your ideal customer. What are their interests? What type of content would they appreciate the most? Once you've identified this information, it will be much easier for you to create valuable killer bribes that will help you grow your email list organically.
Now you have a lead magnet, what’s next?
You must make sure website visitors see it.
Turn Your Website Into An Inbound Lead Generation Machine
There are many ways of ensuring your website visitors see your lead magnet and opt into your email list. You can promote your free content gifts:
On the sidebar.
On the site header bar.
Using exit pop-up sign-up forms.
In your blog posts as content upgrades.
These tactics help you increase your lead magnets’ visibility and help you convert more visitors into leads and grow your email list. You can also promote your sign-up incentives outside your site through guest posts and social media promotion. Content syndication networks are another viable option great way to get more exposure and boost lead generation.
2. Set Goals For Your Email Campaigns
You need a goal for your email campaigns. Here are some likely reasons:
To nurture prospects who have requested information from your website.
To get sales qualified leads (i.e. prospects who are ready to meet) into your sales funnel.
To build relationships with potential customers by sending personal emails that make them feel special.
Having goals helps you have focused campaigns that produce results.
3. Segment Your List For Personalized Emails
Source: Email Chef
Now that you have set your goals, it’s time to segment your list according to your goals and audience needs.
A blanket marking approach to everyone on your list kills conversions. That’s why you must segment your list to improve conversion rates. List segmentation is the process of strategically dividing your existing email list into smaller groups based on certain criteria. This allows you to create more targeted, viral email campaigns with better messaging and higher engagement rates for each group.
What type of categories should you segment email lists? There are several options but common methods include:
Geography (divide states into separate segments)
Demographics (divide by gender and age demographics)
Behavior/Affinity group (segment based on behavior) What they read, purchase, or subscribe to in your email campaigns, e.g. divide customers who have purchased a certain product or who regularly opens emails from you about that topic.)
Create a segment for your inactive or unengaged email subscribers.When you first launch an email marketing campaign, make sure that every subscriber on your list receives the message. However, over time, you might find that some of these people no longer want to hear from you. Put them in a separate group.
4. Master Email Marketing Basics
There are fundamentals of marketing emails you must master if you want to succeed with
Understand your audience. What are they looking for? What do you offer that appeals to them? What are their pain points?
Stick to one topic per email. This keeps your email focused. It's easier for people to scan through if there's a clear purpose for each email.
Don't include too much text. Use bulleted lists to break up the content and to make it scannable for those who are skimming through their emails.
Include an image. Add a photo to each email as this will help to draw attention to your campaign and encourage click-throughs. Also, only use relevant images related to the content of the email.
Communicate value in your subject line. Lead with benefits that will make people feel like they need to open it. Your email should be informative and relevant, not self-promotional.
Include a preheader. Support your subject line with a captivating preheader to boost open rates at the top of your email that's relevant to the content.
Test, test, test. Improve your email marketing response rate with A/B tests.
Double Opt-in. If you are implementing a double opt-in process, make sure that recipients receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to confirm their subscription, and that you send a follow-up email if they don't respond to the confirmation.
Keep track of open rates, CTR, and unsubscribe rates. These will help you know what works (and what doesn't) in your email marketing and lead to continual improvement.
You should make use of five different email content types in your lead generation strategy. For example, you can create:
Welcome email (when someone subscribes for a newsletter)
Personal message (when someone fills out a contact form and requests personal attention)
Blog post update notification (when you publish an article)
Survey questions (when you ask people to take a survey)
Product launch notification email (to announce a new product or service)
5. Embrace Email Automation
Source: Building Story Brand
Marketing automation drives modern marketing. Use email automation rules for your triggered messages.
Automation rules allow you to create complex workflows based on subscriber actions and other triggers. For instance, you can set up an automation rule in your business email server that will send out a triggered message whenever a subscriber becomes inactive. You might send out another when someone opens your email marketing campaign but doesn't open any subsequent email messages. You can also set up a rule to send out triggered messages at specific times of the day or days of the week (e.g. on Wednesdays between 5 pm and 6 pm).
Send relevant triggered emails: Based on your business goals, you'll want to make sure that each triggered email message provides value to the recipient. For instance, if a subscriber has shown interest in your products or services in the past but hasn’t purchased, they might appreciate receiving an offer on something they've previously expressed an interest in. Subscribers who have recently unsubscribed from your email campaign might appreciate receiving a triggered message that helps them understand why they have been removed from your list so they can avoid reading future messages.
Know what customers want: According to Marketing Sherpa's email marketing benchmark report, more than half of marketers feel like it's difficult to know which products/services their subscribers are most interested in, and only 41% feel like they know what really matters to customers. This means that you'll have to make a concerted effort to periodically ask your subscribers how we can improve or update their experience, and you might even want to conduct marketing research (e.g. conduct surveys using tools like Survey Monkey).
Use triggered emails to encourage buyer's remorse: Many people who sign up for email marketing campaigns are unsure if they want to make a purchase, and others know that they're interested in making one but aren't ready to pull the trigger yet. Marketing Sherpa reports that 48% of marketers say that they've successfully generated revenue using triggered emails based on subscriber actions (e.g. abandoned shopping carts, browsing a specific landing page). One way you might take advantage of this is by sending out a message with a time-sensitive discount code that can only be used for a short period.
6. Roll Out The Red Carpet To New Subscribers With A Welcome Series
Welcome emails are not only a great way to welcome new subscribers, but also to give them a taste of what you offer. It is the first thing they see from your business, so make it count. The best part? They have a high open-rate.
How many emails should I send in a welcome email series?
The number of emails in a welcome email series will depend on what educative content you have and when you would like your user/lead to respond. A good rule of thumb is 4-6 emails. That’s enough to get your target audience warm up to your business and ensure your lead generation efforts don’t go down the drain.
What can you do in your welcome email series?
Use a powerful subject line to boost your open rates, e.g. Welcome [subscriber’s name], You’re In! Grab Your Discount Code, Welcome You Are Now Part Of The Club.
Send a friendly email and an excellent content piece for their first interaction with your business. Ask them to subscribe or share if they like the piece.
Ask subscribers to follow you on social media, e.g. connect with us on Twitter.
Tell them what they can look forward to in terms of email frequency, what’s coming next, etc.
What are some best practices to consider for this welcome email series?
If the lead signed up from an automation sequence, then make sure your subject line clearly shows that they are now part of your email campaign. For example: Welcome to the club.
A critical aspect of a welcome series is doing a quick survey. The reason? To gain more insight into your leads' needs and preferences. Some questions that you might want to consider:
What lead source brought them to this email marketing campaign?
How did they hear about us? (Insert a message thanking each one for referring their friends or colleagues to your email campaign)
What has been their experience with previous automation chains?
Do you have any questions for us?
You must watch your welcome email open rates to see if you are sending the optimal number of emails. What is the result of sending too many emails in a welcome email series?
The lead may get annoyed and not engage.
The lead might permanently unsubscribe.
You will waste time and money on the email campaign.
Key Takeaway: create a welcome email series that will help establish your business image and build a relationship with your subscriber at the same time.
7. Scrub Your Email List To Boost Engagement
It’s important to only send emails to people who are excited to hear from you.
From time to time remove subscribers who don’t engage with your emails.
Eliminate old or duplicate email addresses. Always be sure that the email addresses you're collecting are still good. Do this by checking the historical contact rate and complaint rates with the email provider. This will show how effective your campaign has been in soliciting and retaining customers. You may have to clean up any old email addresses in your mailing list regularly.
Use more specific contact information. When you ask for an email address from clients or customers, always use an input box that allows them to enter their email address directly into the form field itself. If possible, create different fields so that they can input any name they want before supplying their email address. That way, you're more likely to get the correct email addresses.
Verify all of your contacts' information. If you have a business that has customers with physical locations, then you must verify where these people work and if you can contact them via mail. This requires you to input their address and then get a response from the email provider that the email addresses are valid or not.
Collect all of your client's information into an easy-to-use database. There are many platforms you can use for creating databases that make it easier to collect contact information, store names and email addresses, as well as other details such as mailing addresses and phone numbers. You will then be able to organize the information for easy access.
8. Optimize Your Email Call To Action
Emails generally have a call to action (CTA) button. Your email copy should be clear about what you are asking recipients to do.
Use direct active language that drives action, e.g. buy now, grab my roadmap, read blog post, go to landing page, etc.
Make sure that calls to action are consistent with your marketing efforts. If you lead with a free trial offer on landing pages and opt-in forms, you shouldn't promote a paid version in your email marketing campaigns.
Be clear and specific in your cta, if you want them to see a demo or fill out a form. Use "click here" sparingly–it's better to use text that communicates where the link will lead (e.g., "Register for a demo" instead of "Click here to register").
Include a brief (1-2 sentence) description that will entice the reader into opening the email. Be sure to link directly to where they will go - don't make them follow another link to get there. For example, if your email is about an upcoming webinar, include a link to the registration page directly in the email.
To grow your email list, incorporate social media so they can easily share the content with friends on social media using built-in features like Twitter and Facebook widgets and plugins.
Add a compelling call to action at the top of the email, such as "Add to your calendar: July 25 from 3:00 - 4:00 PM EST for our free webinar."
9. Follow Lead Nurturing Best Practices
I’ll round up by highlighting lead nurturing best practices.
The success of your lead nurturing program depends on how well it is designed and implemented. Start with a plan—what you want to achieve, who it's for, and the results you expect. Change it as needed along the way.
Clearly define your target audience, including their demographic characteristics (age range, occupation, income levels, geographic location, etc.) and their job titles.
Craft email messages that speak directly to these people in terms they will understand and appreciate.
Make sure your lead nurturing program is consistent with the rest of your organization's marketing activity so you don't create confusion or unintended consequences among prospects. For example, if you have a hard-sell email campaign for one of your products, the nurturing messages should focus on more than just price and purchase information.
Deliver emails to prospects at all stages in their decision-making process. The most effective lead nurturing strategies involve continuous contact with prospects throughout the entire sales cycle.
You can't expect to build a relationship or even have someone remember your business at a later stage in the buying process if you don't communicate with them as they're making their purchasing decisions.
Deliver the right message to the right person and at the right time. This requires choosing email software that includes an email marketing engine and a database of customer information or creating one yourself by working with your IT department
Keep your contact data current and accurate by updating it frequently. If you have more than one database, synchronize changes so that information is accurate across all databases and customer lists.
Review your lead nurturing program to make certain it's well-organized, focused on the right activities, and producing desirable results.
Change key areas, such as lead generation sources or email marketing software, if you find that your lead nurturing program isn't meeting your expectations for high-quality.
The most effective email marketing programs also include at least some offline activities—such as direct mail, face-to-face meetings, and telephone calls that bring prospects closer to the point of sale.
Lead Generation And Lead Nurturing: A Powerful Team
That’s a wrap of lead nurturing.
Lead nurturing finishes what lead generation started.
By deepening relationships with leads using email, you ensure your qualified leads are ready to buy your products or services.
Cultivate leads and increase conversions and sales today!