Lead-Nurturing Email Workflows Vs. Educational Emails
As Chief Inbound Scientist, I’m always on the lookout for intriguing inbound marketing data, especially when it pertains to lead generation.
The Kissmetrics blog has an amazing infographic with some data about lead nurturing. Here’s a highlight that should scare you:
Companies that try to contact people within the first hour after a request are seven times more likely to have a meaningful conversation than those that wait more than an hour to follow up.
The research went on to show that almost 50% of opportunities went to the company that responded first to an inquiry. It also found that 73% of B2B leads were not sales-ready, 50% were qualified leads but not ready to buy, and 79% never converted into sales-ready leads.
Inbound marketing leads crave nurturing. They need more information about your product or service, and they want to feel safe and well-informed as they move through their buyer journey.
Our hypothesis is that poor follow-up and a lack of proper lead nurturing are two major causes of what we call “lead fumbling.”
Inbound Marketing With Lead Nurturing
Now that we know what the challenges are, we’re better positioned to fix them. That’s where inbound marketing and strategic lead nurturing come into play.
Lead nurturing is a key to getting highly qualified inbound marketing leads for your company. It's a keystone in building an effective inbound marketing strategy.
We use two different types of lead-nurturing emails at our inbound marketing agency:
- Lead Nurturing With Email Workflows: Workflow-format emails are sent based on a trigger event, such as a request for a whitepaper or a webinar registration.
- Lead Nurturing With Educational Emails: General educational emails are sent rhythmically each month, regardless of the prospect’s action.
Lead Nurturing With Email Workflows
Both lead-nurturing email types have specific, and different, goals. Lead nurturing with workflow emails represents a strategy designed to keep the conversation going with a prospect who has taken a specific action on your website. That action, such as a download or a registration, demonstrates an interest, and we want to maintain that interest as long as possible.
Better yet, we want to actively move this lead through the buyer funnel, so we nurture them with educational materials and offers designed to do just that. Top-of-the-funnel prospects are moved toward middle-of-the-funnel offers. Middle-of-the-funnel prospects get bottom-of-the-funnel offers. Finally, bottom-of-the-funnel offers get deliberate, direct, strategically designed sales follow-up the same day that they requested the attention.
To know if lead-nurturing email workflows are effective, you have to look closely at engagement rates and funnel progress. You should see contacts opening those lead-nurturing emails, and the open rates should be extremely high. Typically, we see open rates between 70% and 80%. If you’re seeing open rates lower than that, consider re-optimizing your subject lines to make them more about your prospect and as value-engineered as possible.
But the open rate really isn’t the end game. Instead, we want to see click-through rates around 50%. If your click-through rates are too low, look at the copy and the new offers you’re promoting. Consider the collection of emails as a whole, and the click-through rate associated with the series. Images also make a huge difference: Our research shows that emails with images typically increase click-through rates by about 25%.
Don’t forget about deliverability best practices. I’m shocked at how many people are still sending emails from info@, sales@ or, even worse, contact@. Don’t do that. Savvy businesses actually configure their spam filters to catch generic email addresses like those in the "from" field. If you don’t want to use your personal email address, create a personal alias. For example, if your email address is email@example.com, create an alias such as firstname.lastname@example.org and use that as your sender "from" address. No matter how you configure it, you need an email address with a person's name in the "from" line.
Lead Nurturing With Educational Emails
Now let’s shift gears and talk about the more generic educational emails. You’re probably more comfortable with these, and may already be using them as part of your marketing program. These email campaigns are just as important as the more targeted lead-nurturing emails. However, a lot of businesses look at them as advertising instead of educational content marketing. As a result, they broadcast discounts, announcements and other content about their business, instead of continuing the educational inbound marketing approach.
General email metrics continue to be on the low side. Open rates drift between 15% and 20%, with click-through rates averaging between 1% and 5%. While these numbers look low, email continues to deliver a regular flow of information for prospects who are not ready to buy from, or even personally connect with, your business.
If you’re looking to improve your email performance metrics, consider personalization first.
Go beyond just “Dear Mike” and personalize the rest of the copy, too. Most of the email tools being deployed today allow you to create personal messages in the body copy, offer, images and general messaging. Personalization typically delivers a nice lift of around 20% across the board.
Another quick tip: Human nature leads us to respond to offers presented in the "PS" line, below your signature, more than offers in body copy. If you want to test improvements to the click-through rate, consider moving your offer or one of your offers to the "PS" line.
The final tip for today involves video. We’ve been a huge proponent of video for a long time, and we’ve seen our Video Marketing Minute and other client inbound marketing video email content perform almost twice as well as non-video content. Many people prefer to watch as opposed to read, so video makes your email marketing more engaging, more interactive, more compelling and much more useful to almost every one of your prospects.
Discover more ways inbound marketing accelerates growth for B2B enterprises by downloading our e-book, How To Crack The Code To Inbound Marketing.