Content and social media marketing are excellent means of nurturing leads through the sales funnel, but they have their limitations. Getting site content in front of leads requires high search rankings for relevant keywords, and social media posts have a short lifespan and heavy competition. There is no guarantee that leads will discover content published on these channels.
There is a way to increase the likelihood that content created for leads will be consumed: email marketing. By adding modern email marketing strategies to existing lead nurturing efforts, you can deliver relevant content and personalized communications directly to leads on a channel they monitor actively.
1. Target Using an Account-Based Marketing Approach
Email blasts are dead. Modern email marketing utilizes targeted and personalized communications to win over—rather than run off—recipients. Today’s email marketing best practices are less like social media marketing and more like account-based marketing. To earn engagement, emails need to cater to each lead’s specific needs.
To cater specifically to needs instead of casting a wide net with an email blast, leads must be segmented into relevant groupings. A good starting point is to segment leads based on each one’s stage in the buying journey.
This is simple if you have a list of contacts who’ve downloaded gated content. Determine the position in the buying journey that each piece of gated content caters to, and follow up with individuals who’ve downloaded that content. Deliver email communications designed to help them gather the information required to move further down the funnel or make a decision.
Make sure sales and ABM teams are sharing their insights as well. While gated content is a good place to start, as you’ll likely have all of the information required, over time you’ll want to expand efforts and include leads from other sources as well.
2. Optimize Emails for Mobile
If emails forgo mobile optimization, you’ll likely lose a huge portion of your audience. People are more likely to look at emails on mobile devices: 68% of emails are opened on mobile, compared to only 32% opened on a desktop.
A good email template is a natural place to start with mobile optimization, but the way you structure content is important, too:
- Use short and succinct paragraphs that are broken up for easy reading on mobile.
- Always lead with the most important information. If you’re going to grab them, you have to grab them immediately.
- Include your call-to-action near the top of the message.
- Make sure buttons and links are big enough to tap easily on a mobile phone.
3. Engage With Trigger-Based Campaigns
Trigger-based email marketing campaigns automatically send communications based on specific actions (or inaction). For example, a trigger-based campaign could:
- Send a welcome email that includes relevant next steps when someone creates an account or signs up for a free trial.
- Send a thank-you email that includes links to related resources when someone fills out a form or downloads gated content.
- Send a reminder or discount code when someone abandons a high-value page without completing the form.
But where trigger-based campaigns really shine in lead nurturing is with the adoption of a marketing automation platform. With marketing automation, you can establish a sequence of emails that trigger based on established actions. In essence, the platform guides leads through the nurturing process for you—based on a sequence you design up front—reducing effort, using data to deliver relevant emails, and segmenting contacts into lists automatically.
4. Personalize Communications
Personalized emails are more likely to be opened and deliver higher click-through rates. But personalization is powerful for more than just boosting sales. It is an effective means of relationship-building. Referring to leads by their names is a good start, but there are a variety of ways to take personalization a step further:
- Use date of birth information to send contacts messages on their birthdays.
- Send a thank-you promotion on the anniversary of the date a contact became a subscriber or created an account.
- Send emails from a personal account instead of a brand account to make the conversation feel more one-on-one than sales-oriented.
In order to personalize emails, you’ll need more than just an email address, but asking for too much information up front can discourage prospects from subscribing or completing forms. Instead, consider using triggered campaigns to collect additional information. If you send a welcome email, use it to gather information about why the user subscribed. If you link to gated content, ask for one additional piece of information on the download form.
Over time, you can build an information-gathering strategy that enables the types of personalization that build both relationships and revenue.
5. Customize Dynamic Content
Take personalization to the next level with dynamic content. Also known as “smart” content, dynamic emails display different content to each recipient based on collected data. There are a variety of uses for dynamic content:
- Specific sections of an email template can use dynamic code to display relevant promotions using historical purchase or brand interaction data.
- Dynamic content can populate specific sections of an email based on when it’s opened, allowing for use of countdown timers, or inserting current blog or social media posts.
- Emails viewed on mobile can be personalized dynamically by location, and app download links can point to the appropriate store using operating system data.
The first step in building dynamic emails is determining what information is important. If lists are already segmented by placement in the buyer’s journey, that data can be used to automatically insert content into templates that caters to recipients’ current needs. Utilizing age and gender data can also be useful for connecting real contacts with buyer personas that guide dynamic content decision-making.
6. Make Emails Interactive
An interactive email mimics the functionality of a web page. Once the email is opened, recipients can perform tasks right from the email itself, such as filling out forms, responding to quizzes, rating content, and providing information and feedback.
Interactive email saves time on the recipient’s end. Instead of opening up a web page—which can be slow if they’re on mobile and out of wifi range—they can respond instantly and easily. This makes it more likely that they’ll take the time to engage and respond, providing the data necessary to segment lists, personalize content, and serve dynamic promotions.
To create interactive emails, you’ll need to find a platform that supports the technology. The first step in finding the right platform is determining the goals you hope to achieve with interactive emails:
- If your goal is to collect information, make sure to choose a platform that supports embedded forms and provides an easy way to access responses.
- If your goal is to make email content more skimmable, look for a system that supports building interactive charts and inserting content into tabs and carousels.
- If your goal is to send more engaging content, look for a platform that supports embedding quizzes or utilizing animations.
The platform you select should be easy to use with simple editing tools, detailed reports, and A/B testing functionality that allows for campaign refinement.
How to Implement Email Marketing in a Lead Nurturing Program
At the end of the day, all of these techniques focus on the nurturing leads in a more personal, direct, and engaging way. Boost engagement with interactive emails, build relationships with personalized and dynamic content, nurture with audience segmenting and automatic triggers, and connect anywhere with mobile optimization.
To adopt email marketing into your current lead nurturing program, start by implementing a single strategy. If you lack relevant data, segmenting based on gated content downloads is a great place to start. If you have more data than you know what to do with, consider implementing personalization using dynamic content or automatic triggers. By starting with a single strategy, you can grow email-marketing initiatives with less stress and more return.
What are your email marketing goals for Q4? Have you started your 2018 planning yet? We’d love to hear what you’re planning. Let’s keep the discussion going in the comments!