Do your prospects see you as a welcome guest, or an uninvited pest? Believe it or not, the success of your marketing funnel depends on this more than anything else. The moment you come across as “just another salesman” shouting generic ads at them, you instantly become less believable, and gradually get tuned out altogether.
Below, we explore a comprehensive approach to being taken seriously by your readers, and reaching the point where they actually crave your content each week.
Getting Permission To Mail
Lead nurturing relies on what marketer Seth Godin calls “permission marketing.” As the name implies, permission marketing means that your leads have given you their express consent to e-mail them. This is the antithesis of the spam method whereby marketers would purchase massive lists of email addresses of people they have never been in contact with, and blast offers out to everyone in hopes of drumming up some warm leads.
Predictably, this is not the savviest of approaches. After all, when is the last time you opened up an e-mail from a random business you never asked to hear from and made a purchase? Except in some very rare serendipitous occasions, most people never have.
Instead of this shotgun approach, lead nurturing relies on letting interested parties to come to you with their contact information. Let’s explore the two best ways to approach this.
Two Permission-Based List Building Methods
In lead nurturing, there are two approaches to getting warm leads who will actually be excited to receive your e-mails. These are as follows.
1) The Single Opt-In Method: A commonly used method in which the content provider provides a checkbox or opt-in field on their website and registration forms saying that they wish to be a part of your mailing list.
2) The Double Opt-In Method: Much like the single opt-in, this method involves obtaining permission from your website or registration form. The webmaster then goes a step further and sends a confirmation e-mail to make sure the subscriber truly intended to sign up for their mailing list.
While it inevitably results in less overall email addresses, the double opt-in method produces red-hot leads since the only people on your list will be those who definitely want to receive e-mail from you. All future e-mail campaigns will result in higher conversions and fewer opt-outs using this technique.
The Art Of Segmenting Your List
Once you have your e-mail list put together, it’s time to begin segmenting it. After all, sending the same emails to every subscriber who joined your list is bad lead nurturing practice, since these subscribers could all have significantly different levels of interest in your brand. Some might be ready to buy right now, others may just have found out about you and require much more information before making a choice.
Today, the best marketers are segmenting their list into smaller sublists based on a variety of behavioral and informational metrics. The purpose of this tactic is that you can customize the nature of the content you send to each list. Mail management software such as Infusionsoft enable you to build these sublists and target different content to each. Common segmentation approaches include:
- How ready they are to purchase based on their keyword search and on-site behavior
- The specific product they are interested in
- Their profession and age group
Give Customers Options
No matter how good your segmentation is, there is no way you will be able to get inside each individual lead’s head and determine exactly how they want to be contacted. This is why it is important to give each subscriber options for how they will hear from you.
Depending on what their lives and e-mail habits are like, some people are inundated all day long and can’t waste any work day time on promotional e-mails, while others have busy social lives and become unreachable after 6 PM. Consider offering your subscribers options such as the following:
- How often should we send you e-mails?
- What time of day would you like to hear from us?
- What format of communication would you like to receive (graphic e-mails or HTML only?)
- Which areas of interest would you like to hear more about?
Poll Your Audience
Lead nurturing is all about proving to your audience that you understand them, have the knowledge they are looking for, and legitimately want to help them out. There is almost no better way to accomplish all of these than by polling your subscribers on what content they would like to receive from you.
Think about it, you could spend weeks on end writing a comprehensive course on a subject that only a small percentage of your readership is interested in. Had you polled them, perhaps a large majority would have given you an idea you for content that you had not previously considered. This missed opportunity could cost you a significant number of conversions that were yours for the taking.
Furthermore, serving your customers content they explicitly asked for proves that you are listening to them and paying attention to their needs. This creates a personal connection with your audience and builds a high level of trust.