Experienced B2B marketers know their prospects will usually not take action from one single digital touch point – it will take a series of engagements targeting various stages of the sales funnel to turn them into paying customers. This process is known as lead nurturing, and experienced marketers also know that email is king when it comes to generating quality leads.
In fact, a new study by Ascend2 identifies email as the top channel for nurturing leads, well ahead of other mediums such as content marketing, social media, web personalization and search engine optimization. In addition, HubSpot concludes that lead nurturing generates three times more clicks than standard emails.
With so much potential at stake, it’s incumbent upon email marketers to not only map email content to the primary stages of the buying funnel but to also personalize that content for the buyer’s unique journey. Here are some tips:
- Awareness (Before the Funnel): Your prospect has a problem. She or he searches for a solution, and, thanks to your relevant content, your company comes up in the search results. Or, to be more proactive, you may have licensed third-party email data to target prospects who share similar challenges. Ideal email content for this awareness generation stage should be topical information such as articles, blog posts, research studies, videos and social media that highlights your understanding of hurdles faced by your targets.
- Interest (The Top of the Funnel): Leads/prospects might respond to your initial, general email messages or come to your website with specific interest in learning more about potential solutions to their problem. Your follow-up email content in the interest phase should emphasize e-books, white papers, webinars and other offers that help to educate the prospect about your potential solutions to their challenges.
- Consideration (The Middle of the Funnel): Now that your lead/prospect has a good idea of the solution they want, it’s time to consider which provider best suits their needs. In this stage, you can encourage them to compare your offerings using email content such as case studies, video product demos, feature comparisons, awards, media coverage or other recognition that helps to set your company apart from your competition.
- Purchase (The Bottom of the Funnel): If your lead has decided you’re the best fit, he or she may still need encouragement to buy NOW. You can help in this stage of the buying cycle with emails focused on customer testimonials, analyst reports and other content that ensures that he or she is making the right decision by purchasing your product or service. To further entice action at this stage, special, limited-time offers, discounts or other promotions can be included in email communications.
- Delight (After the Funnel): Congratulations – your lead converted into a paying customer! But this is not the time for marketers to move on. Now the goal is to keep your customer engaged by encouraging positive reviews, testimonials and social media shares. Emails in this stage can also offer to upsell or upgrade your customers or send additional discounts for friends or colleagues. You can also send out your company newsletter with updates, expert use tips, and award wins that show your competitive edge. Most importantly, post-sale engagement with your customers via email and other channels should continue throughout the entire relationship lifecycle to ensure that value is being delivered consistently and proactively.
By tracking the content that your prospects are engaging with, you’ll be able to determine (or estimate) their stage in the buying funnel. From there, you can send targeted and tailored emails that inspire them to move forward in their journey with your brand. Through these personalized email touch points, your opportunities for converting prospects into paying, loyal customers will multiply.
What are your top tips for nurturing sales and customer success with email?
Outward Media’s accurate, targeted email data can enable you to achieve better email marketing ROI by targeting your best prospects – including top-level executives -- and, ultimately, converting more prospects into customers. Take a look at our case studies to find out more.