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6 Ideas to Create More Relevant Lead Nurturing Emails

I’m writing this post while attending the ExactTarget Connections 2014 event. I’ve learned a lot from listening to the sessions and speakers here.

As I listened to attendees and speakers, I frequently heard the same keywords, such as:

  • Personalizationexacttarget
  • Segmentation
  • Customer focus
  • Data
  • Connection
  • Authenticity

But something I wanted to hear more about was relevance.

People aren’t trying to open and click your emails. They’re looking for reasons to delete them.

A recent MarketingSherpa survey of email recipients found that 58% of those who stop reading, disengage or unsubscribe later cite “lack of relevance” as a key factor. This is hugely important because most marketers rely on email as their No. 1 lead-nurturing tactic.

For example, I receive emails often from companies that claim to “know” me — in some cases I’m their customer — but their emails certainly don’t show it. Their creative and graphics-laden emails don’t speak to my concerns or motivations at all, and each non-relevant message I receive is basically programming me to ignore or delete future messages from them. I’m sure that’s not their intent, but these companies are missing the key idea of relevance.

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

 

Idea #1: Build relevant messages based on problems that matter to your customer

It is critical to know what customers want in order to serve them better. Do you know what motivates and matters to your customers? If not, ask them. We can spend more time guessing wrong, or we can just ask our future customers what matters to them. You can do this in person, via phone, events and more.

Read more on how to put your customers first in lead generation.

 

Idea #2: Understand where your prospect is in the buying cycle

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 I know how to do this is by combining a human touch with your sales pitch to build relationships with your lead-nurturing message. Also, you can tell a lot based on the content people are engaging. If they are at 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.

Read more on Email Marketing: 3 lead nurture paths you should automate.

 

Idea #3: Create message based on industry vertical or company size (Hint: Segmentation)

Industry information will most likely tell what pains your prospects are experiencing. At the same time, 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.

 

Idea #4: Map content and message based on role or job function personas

Effective lead nurturing starts with listening to customers to truly understand them, and then it requires identifying the personas of your audience.

What’s their job function? What part to they play in the buying process (influencer, decision maker, information gather)?

For example, based on my experience, 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.

You’ll need to investigate who gets involved at which point in the buying process so that you can segment your messaging. What content do they need? What are the problems their facing?

Read more about effective content marketing here: Content Marketing: 4 stages to mapping your content strategy.

 

Idea #5: Leverage trigger events to your advantage

Do you know why favorable trigger events matter? 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 that 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 more on 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.

 

Idea #6: Test your messaging

This is the hardest part to get right.

Each audience responds differently to different styles. That’s why you should test, test, test.

Try different subject lines (this is my favorite relevancy booster — I find that the less marketing hype used, 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 only rely on email nurturing).

Developing lead-nurturing tracks is extremely useful because you can leverage what you’ve learned to reuse that content again and again.

Read how to create more effective content marketing that your audience will actually be interested in reading here: Content Marketing: Consulting firm nets 388% more leads with 4-step strategy.

 

Photo Attribution: Exact Target Blog

 

You might also like

Lead Nurturing: 5 tips for creating relevant content [More from the blogs]

Digital Marketing: Be relevant, data-driven and precise [More from the blogs]

New Chart: Top tactics organizations use to improve email relevancy [MarketingSherpa chart]

Email Relevance: 8 tactics for leveraging timing, segmentation and content [MarketingSherpa how-to article]

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