Marketing Automation – Lead Nurturing

How does Automated Lead Nurturing work.

Lead nurturing is the process of making multiple touch points with a prospect to increase the likelihood that they will make a purchase. Automated lead nurturing with email is a tactic that has been proven extremely effective. This has been a staple of sophisticated online businesses for years. As competition has increased on Google and Facebook, it has become important for smaller brands and startups to take advantage.

What’s the best way to lead nurture?

Lead nurturing really cannot be thought of out of context with traffic generation. There really is no better source of leads for product x than people who are actively searching for product x. Thus paid search is the obvious choice for where to get leads for nurturing. Social can work for some advertisers. In either case, the first step in lead nurturing is to buy some traffic and capture some email addresses.

The most tested strategy is to buy the click, present a conversion opportunity (lead or eCommerce purchase), and fall back to just an email address if you can’t get the conversion. A sweet little mouse tracking script can make this seamless and beautiful on desktop. A 5 second delay popover is the go to route for mobile. Both interfaces use a simple call to action and a field for the email address. The copy will offer helpful information that’s relevant to the product or service you the customer was researching. Discounts and access to special deals can also make a good call to action depending on the specific use case.

Step One – Double Opt In

The double opt in is a critical first step. The double part of the double opt in happens when the user opens their email and clicks a confirmation link to verify that you are sending to the correct address. Legal implications of sending unsolicited email aside, the biggest benefit of the user completing this step is that in doing so they’ll send a signal to their email provider that they want to receive emails from you. They’ll often see prompts about whether or not to mark the message as spam and with advanced providers like gmail the interaction will count into how your future messages are delivered. Tracking and optimizing double opt in completion rate is a critical first step in successful lead nurture.

Step Two – Thank You!

Shortly after your customer has verified their email, thank them and tell them you like them. If you’re not convinced about the power of telling your customers that you like them, I’d highly recommend that you take a look at the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. Particularly the anecdote about Joe Girard, the best Chevrolet salesman who ever lived. He accomplished this feat by simply sending every one of his customers a greeting card once per month which said “I Like You” on the front of it and had a short holiday greeting inside. Even better, getting your prospects to open the message where you let them know you like them tells the email service a second time, that the customer wants to hear from you. This makes it another notch more likely that you’ll avoid the promotions tab, or even worse, the spam black hole.

Step Three – Messaging

This is the point at which the path starts to look a little different for different advertisers. If you’re an ecommerce advertiser, you might have an abandoned cart integration, which will allow you to simply send the user a reminder to complete their order with a link to do so in a couple clicks (aka how Bezos got his rocketship money). If you’re a lead generation advertiser a more appropriate message for you could be a quick answer to a common customer question and a call to action link to complete the lead sign up process.

Step Four – Testing & Optimization

At this point, you use a straightforward scientific process to improve performance over time. For example, you could send half the list an email with an “A” variant of your subject line and the other half a “B” variant. Collect the data on open rate to determine the champion subject line. You could use the same process to optimize for open to click through ratio, sending two different variants of the email body with the same subject line. The best process to ensure you’re making valid decisions is to test one element at a time on an ongoing basis.

That’s how it works

That’s email lead nurturing in a nut shell. Of course there’s a giant pile of technical details we didn’t discuss here. I recommend you ignore those and just get started. The best thing about adding marketing automation to your technology stack is that “this will be ROI positive” is a high probability bet. The technology tools to set this up can be had for a reasonable monthly fee and it only takes a professional a few hours per month to keep ROI improving over time.

Stack your chips on “I’ll get more revenue from adding customer touch points to my sales and marketing processes than it’ll cost me to set those up”. Follow that up with just a little bit of investment in time and money creating those additional touch points. Measure the impact then let me know in the comments what your results are. I like you and I think it’ll work out well.

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