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5 Lead nurturing tips to create relevant and engaging emails

A recent MarketingSherpa survey of email recipients found that 58% of those who stop reading, disengage, or unsubscribe after cite "lack of relevance" as a key factor. This is hugely important because most marketers rely on email as their main lead nurturing tactic.

As B2B marketers, we should have it drilled into our brains that relevance must be an essential part of our lead nurturing touches. But be honest: How well are you really connecting with your audience?

I encourage you to look beyond your unsubscribes and find a true measure. Start by considering all those prospects that are simply ignoring your emails. I read a blog post on by Steve Woods on "Emotional Unsubscribes" that's definitely worth checking on this topic. 

It’s a common phenomenon. I receive emails often from companies that “know” me, but their emails certainly don’t show it. Their creative and graphics-laden emails don’t speak to my concerns at all. And each irrelevant message I receive is basically programming me to ignore or delete future messages from them. I don’t even bother to unsubscribe. I'm sure that's not their intent but they are missing the key idea of relevance.

So, how do we align better align our email and nurturing messages with what is relevant to our audience? 

Consider the following 5 ways to build more relevance into your emails: 

Tip 1. Stage in the buying process: Be sure to provide different kinds of information to your prospect based on what point they are in the buying process. If you have a complex sale, the best way to I know how to do this is to combine a human touch to build relationships with your lead nurturing message. If they are an early stage lead and they are just starting to get familiar with the business issues you solve, don’t send them the same copy that you would send someone who is on the verge of making a decision.

Tip 2. Industry vertical: Industry information will more than likely tell you what pains your prospects are experiencing, while company size will give you a hint as to the resources they have available to tackle these challenges. Be sure to add this information to your marketing data often so that you can easily define your target segments based on these indicators.

Tip 3. Role and job function: What’s their job function? What part to they play in the buying process (influencer, decision maker, information gather). For example, our experience shows that a decision maker is heavily involved at the very start and the very end of the B2B buying process, but leaves the middle of the process up to the influencers. For your niche, you’ll need to investigate who gets involved at which point in the process so that you can segment your messaging. 

Tip 4. Timing factors: Learn about these lead nurturing time factors. You’ll also want to think about the favorable trigger events you can utilize to your advantage. Trigger events are a great way to change the physics of the buying process and yet another way that we marketers can go beyond the lead.

Trigger events matter for two key reasons. First, they may indicate the status quo in an organization is changing, and secondly, they can contribute to the development of timely and relevant sales and marketing messaging. Read The Physics of Trigger Events for Lead Generation to get a look at a trigger event mind map. It will show you some of the possible trigger events you can track.

Tip 5. Message style: This is the hardest to get right. Each audience responds differently to style. That’s why you should test, test, test. Try different subject lines (this is my favorite relevancy booster – I find using the less marketing hype the better). Try different message copy and calls to action. The response to your A/B tests will help you understand which style is most relevant and effective with your audience. Try different mediums (don't rely on email only nurturing).

As you develop lead nurturing tracks this is extremely useful because you can leverage what you've learned to reuse that content again and again.

I realize that new social media trends have opened up many avenues in which marketers can create and nurture relationships. However, I believe email can still hold its own. But, in order to keep it effective, more than ever you’ll have to create meaningful, informative, attention-grabbing content… in a style easily perceived to be directed exclusively to the recipient. 

If you’re not prepared to do the work it takes to stay relevant with your prospects, then at least prepare for more “emotional unsubscribes.”

Additional resources:

Engage prospects while guiding them through buying process” for more advice about being relevant in the buying process from B2Bonline.

For more on email testing, read “E-mail Testing: A Real-World Approach.” This article provides a simple road map to follow and outlines testing scenarios in the way people really think (or should be thinking) about testing.

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