We all know that digital marketing doesn't begin and end with traffic, or even with subscriptions. You could have the biggest email list in the world and still fail to make a single sell. How do you transform those subscribers into buyers?
The answer is a lead nurturing campaign, a series of emails that will transform your audience into customers. Instead of shoving a bunch of advice and theory down your throat, I thought it would be more useful to share two real-world examples.
Here they are.
1. TAB Boosts Email Clickthroughs 650 Percent
Lead nurturing campaigns don't need to be based on massive "big data" insights to be effective. TAB, a firm that helps businesses organize their paper and digital documents, boosted email clickthroughs by 650 percent, and conversions by 33 percent, with a fairly simple campaign. Here's what they did:
- They wanted to segment their audience into leads interested in paper solutions, and leads interested in digital solutions
- They assigned audience members to one of those two segments after they downloaded a related whitepaper, toolkit, or case study, attended a related webinar, or stayed on a related page for more than 15 seconds
- They defined 5 steps for their buying cycle: problem recognition, education, brand evaluation, objections, and decision
- They sent an automated email for each stage of the buying cycle and each of the two segments: one email every 10 days. The first email was sent 3 days after the action that prompted it.
- The landing pages for these emails included no navigation bar and only allowed users to click through to the site at the end of the page, to keep users focused
- They used a very simple lead-scoring process, assigning points to users who clicked a link in an email, downloaded a piece of content, or spent more than 15 seconds on a landing page
- Once a lead's score passed a certain threshold, the sales team was alerted, and informed of which content the user had seen. The sales team could then use their own judgment to decide whether the lead was ready for a phone call.
After taking these simple steps, the process of identifying leads was fully automated, allowing the sales team to focus on selling, instead of digging through customer data and making phone calls to find qualified leads.
2. HubSpot's Process
Almost anybody who follows "inbound" marketing has heard of HubSpot, and while I may not always agree with every facet of their approach to marketing, I have tremendous respect for them, and there's certainly no doubt they know how to make money off of an email list. Here's how they do it:
- Build a lead nurturing map to understand how they branch off each other, what the goals are for each branch, and so on.
- The most important factor is a steady stream of new leads. Even natural attrition, from people changing their email addresses, will cut your email list in half in less than 3 years. This is why you need a steady stream of referrals from search engines, blogs, and social networks.
- Subscribers are sent a steady stream of the most popular content from the Hubspot blog, as well as ebooks, whitepapers, and so on. The key is that only the most popular content is being sent, as opposed to sending out an email every time a blog post is put out.
- Once a subscriber takes an action indicating interest in a product, they are moved from the subscriber nurturing campaign into a more specific lead nurturing campaign.
- Leads are then segmented according to customer "personas." These are based on the content they have downloaded from the website, information they have given about their "company size," and so on.
- Customers are also segmented by their lifecycle stage. HubSpot doesn't share how they determine this, but it's likely determined based on an analysis of behavioral data.
- The most cutting-edge thing HubSpot does is implement lead nurturing on their own site. In other words, the site is dynamic and adjusts itself to better suit the lead, based on where they are in the buying cycle. (Email subscribers aren't asked to subscribe, for example.)
Lead nurturing is the key to transforming an audience into a customer base. To do that, you must segment your audience by their interests and their stage in the buying cycle, pull in a steady flow of new leads, and continue to test and iterate to continue boosting your conversions.
Image credit: D. Sharon Pruitt
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