Often, you hear marketers say: “email marketing has run its course” but, nothing is less true. Email continues to be the online marketing channel with the best ROI. Email is – especially in B2B – a particularly suitable channel in each content marketing and lead nurturing strategy. However, it is important to use your email as part of a cross-media approach. Because channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Ads and your website play a role as well.
A few advantages of email include:
- Everyone has an email address.
- The email address is a digital ID that links personal data to an IP address. The email address allows you to monitor clicks on your website but also in apps, and to creates links with social media.
- Email is an excellent method for communicating with buyer personas. Indeed, every buyer persona is looking for different information.
- Email is interactive. It is a suitable channel for asking customers to participate in a poll, to share product experiences on a comparison website or for asking prospects about their preferences.
- Email is not visible to everyone. Some people – and particularly in B2B – do not want to share everything through social media.
- Email can be used for integration with social media. You can give every email campaign a social boost simply by having your message shared through Twitter or LinkedIn. This way, you expand your reach and you can boost brand perception. Automation even allows you to see which of your recipients have a wider social reach (the so-called ambassadors) and to tailor specific campaigns accordingly.
- Measuring and monitoring the results of email is very easy. For example, you can track exactly how many times a particular image has been clicked on.
Tell people what they get in return for their email address
There is one condition, however, you must meet in order to be able to use email as a marketing tool: you need permission and, with the GDPR you must be able to prove it. This is also referred to as opt-in. Opt-in can be obtained through channels such as your website (leave your email address in exchange for a discount, to receive a monthly newsletter, download the whitepaper, etc.), at fairs, via telephone or face-to-face contact and through social media.
People do not just give you their email address, so be clear about what they can expect if they provide their email address and honour those agreements. If you promise someone a monthly newsletter, then make sure you send the newsletter every month and not biweekly or bimonthly.
REAL model: four steps for a successful email lead nurturing
Because of the above characteristics, email lends itself perfectly to use as a lead nurturing strategy. The REAL model is a basic lead nurturing model that shows how you can get from cold initial contact to a warm customer relationship in four phases. Email plays a key role in each phase.
In this phase, you determine your target group, what you communicate to that target group and how to make sure that your message stands out from the mass of messages that they received on a daily basis.
In this first phase, you do not know much about the prospects yet. And so it is important to gain knowledge. You can do this by, among other things, asking for areas of interest of the person who opts in, allowing you to tailor the email newsletters. You can also analyse the search behaviour of that person on your website. This will also give you an idea of his or her interests. Make sure that the content you send matches their interests. You can further define the area of interest by monitoring which articles a person does and does not read.
In this phase, you convert leads into hot prospects. In other words: you create customer engagement. You do this in the first place by communicating relevant content. In the Reach phase, you have determined which topics the prospect is interested in. In the Engage phase, you try to find out more about your prospects. Consider for example someone’s susceptibility to persuasion strategies.
This susceptibility determines the trigger you use. For instance, if someone is looking for assurance, then the fact that many others have gone before him is an advantage; on the other hand, if somebody wants to be innovative, you will need to emphasize the completely new character of your product or service. We call this persuasive profiling.
A second aspect in the Engage phase is to optimise opens, clicks and conversion. You do this by measuring all elements of your email campaign: the opens, the clicks and the conversion rates. Test different variations of a mailing to find out what kind of expressions scores best.
In this phase, you encourage the hot prospect to make a purchase. Research has shown that 70 per cent of the leads are approached too soon to make a purchase. On the other hand, you do not want to activate leads too late as they might already have opted for the competition.
In BC2, the most important aspect of activation is usually the landing page. This should match the areas of interest of the recipient, both in terms of design and topics. Think about a good call to action, the most important part of an activation page.
When it comes to more expensive and complex products and services, mainly in B2B, activation often consists of a sales call. When making such a sales call, it is important that the account manager who is going to call this customer knows exactly what information the prospect has read, allowing him to tailor his conversation to the knowledge of the prospect. Therefore, make sure that sales has access to this information.
If a prospect makes a purchase or opts for a pilot, make sure that the “honeymoon period” is the most beautiful. As with a marriage, the first weeks following purchase determine your feeling about a product, service or supplier. During those days you see everything through rose-coloured glasses. As a marketer, it is up to you to maximise the effect of those rose-coloured glasses. You do this by explicitly welcoming customers (e.g. by means of a thank you email) and possibly make them even more satisfied by giving them discounts on additional products (through communication by email newsletter, for example). Moreover, ask customers whether they are enjoying their purchase. If so, encourage them to share that experience. If not, you should know what to do to change this customer relationship into a happy marriage.
Successful businesses spend an equal amount of time and effort on existing customers as on new ones. In fact, the process described above starts from scratch once a purchase has been made, where the email address is the basis to collect increasingly more information about customers.
The key activity in the leverage process is to identify ambassadors, followers and zombies. The ambassadors are the people who let everyone know they are customers. They retweet messages sent by your company, they will forward your newsletter to friends and they like you on Facebook. In B2B, these are the customers who want to participate in a case study or who want to be a speaker at your event.
There are also customers who are simply satisfied, but who do not shout this from the rooftops. They have subscribed to your email newsletter and read it whenever they have time, but sometimes it ends up unopened in the bin. These are the followers.
And finally, there are the zombies: people that are completely passive, who haven’t made a purchase or done anything for a long time. Each newsletter ends up unopened in the bin and you wonder whether they will ever make another purchase.
Of that third category you want as few as possible in your database. So, this group requires action. Upgrade them to followers or say goodbye. This may be a permanent goodbye or a temporary one. A pregnant woman temporarily does not wish to receive information about dieting or waste products. But later, once she no longer breastfeeds, she will most likely be more interested than ever. Therefore, make sure that the unsubscribe process includes an option that allows customers to temporarily unsubscribe from the newsletter.
In addition, take action in relation to the followers and ambassadors. Try to upgrade followers and foster the ambassadors. Do this by keeping the dialogue alive. Mind you, that doesn’t mean sending them as much information as possible but continuing with targeted communication, in line with the information needs that people have.
Marketing Automation campaigns for your customer journeys
Automatic campaigns can help us identify the latent needs of current and potential customers. Each company will build its campaigns according to its customer journeys, for example, for a dealership a campaign may be related to changing tires in summer and winter; or in those products that have a limited life cycle, a campaign can be activated to renew the order; another possibility is to inform about complementary or additional products to a previous purchase.
It is more than proven that relevant and timely communication with potential and existing customers increases conversion rates. So it’s time to stop and think about how you build your REAL model using an email marketing automation tool.
Do you want to create your own automated email lead nurturing campaigns?
Contact us and together we will determine which type of campaign suits your organisation best.