As defined by HubSpot, lead nurturing is the practice of developing a series of communications (emails, social media messages, etc.) that seek to qualify a lead, keep the person engaged, and gradually push them down the sales funnel.
For the sake of this post, I’m going to strictly stick to lead nurturing best practices for email marketing. Just to name a few, lead nurturing email campaigns can be tailored and setup to trigger based on a variety of enrollment criteria:
- Lifecycle stage
- A particular resource download
Did you know that businesses who nurture their leads make 50% more sales at a cost that’s 33% less than non-nurtured leads? After a stat like that, I know you want to jump right into creating a lead nurturing campaign – but first, it’s important to follow these lead nurturing email best practices:
1. Define a Goal
First things first, what’s the goal of your lead nurturing email campaign? If you’re building it around a particular lifecycle stage (let’s say marketing qualified leads, or MQLs), your goal is probably to get your leads to perform a particular action or series of actions to convert to the next lifecycle stage (which would be a sales qualified lead, or SQL).
Defining a goal not only applies to your overall lead nurturing campaign but also to each individual email within your campaign. If a contact doesn’t know why you’re sending them an email, it will neither add value to them nor drive the results you want.
2. Segment Your Contacts
If you received an email that was completely unrelated to your interests or something you never signed up for, chances are you’d unsubscribe or mark as spam, right? The same goes for your leads. This is why it’s important to segment your contacts by dividing them into smaller groups that are based on similarities or particular completed actions. This way, you can tailor your lead nurturing emails to be more relevant and engaging to the contacts receiving the emails.
3. Targeted Educational Content
Writing targeted content for your lead nurturing emails goes hand-in-hand with segmenting your contacts and leads. Don’t forget to keep your goals (email specific and overall campaign) in mind so it’s clear what action you want your readers to take in each email. This also means including a simple and clear call-to-action (CTA) that’s easily visible in your email.
While writing the content for your emails, don’t be too sales-y. You want to build trust with your leads and position yourself as an industry leader by including related content, such as:
- Blog articles
- Premium content offers
- Case studies
4. Keep It Short and Sweet
How long is your attention span when you’re reading a marketing or promotional email? Probably not long. For this reason, keep your lead nurturing emails educational and concise. This will encourage people to read the email all the way through and increase your chances of further engagement.
5. Use Personalization
Personalization is a simple and easy way to make your leads feel like they’re more than just a number. Using personalization tokens such as name, company, location, industry, etc. makes this even quicker and easier for you. If you have the opportunity to use personalization in the subject line or preview text, even better! It can help increase the overall open rate for your lead nurturing emails.
6. Space Out Your Emails
This should be an unspoken rule, but please don’t set up your lead nurturing campaign to email your leads every single day. If you choose to do this, you’ll see your number of unsubscribes sky-rocket within a couple days. Also, there’s no magic number for how long your lead nurturing email campaign should run for; this number is closely related to the length of your sales cycle. Basically, the longer your sales cycle or buying process, the longer your lead nurturing email campaigns typically will last.
7. Monitor Analytics and Make Adjustments
So, you’ve got your lead nurturing campaign set up and turned on – way to go! But, don’t just forget about it now that you’ve got it turned in. Once your campaign has been running for a while, make sure to review the analytics to see how it’s performing. Look at things like open rates, click rates, number of unsubscribes, time spent reading the emails, etc. These types of analytics can provide insight as to what parts of your emails need some help. For example, if your open rate is low on a particular email, take another look at the subject line and preview text to see how you can make some adjustments.
Practice Makes Perfect
Like many aspects of inbound marketing, lead nurturing takes time, patience, and dedication. Keep making adjustments, be creative, and don’t be afraid to try new things to improve your emails and, ultimately, reach your goals. Following these best practices will help you on your way to better lead nurturing email campaigns!