How do you build nurture campaigns that aren’t annoying?

In a perfect world, all of your potential customers would land on your website, qualify themselves via real-time conversations (with humans or chatbots), and then buy from your Sales team. That’s how conversational marketing works in its purest form. It’s fast, it’s streamlined, and it connects you with people who are ready to buy NOW. But what about the people who aren’t ready to buy now? How do you keep them engaged?

That’s where lead nurturing comes into play. For years, email marketers have been enrolling leads in nurturing sequences (a.k.a. drip campaigns) in order to re-engage them and help nudge them through the sales process. It’s become a default component of every email marketing strategy. The problem, however, is that it’s become so easy to set up these automated email sequences that marketers are abusing the power. They’re sending way too many emails, and enrolling the same people in multiple sequences. It’s annoying. And chaotic. And, as Drift’s VP of Operations Will Collins explained, it’s part of an outdated approach to marketing that doesn’t match the way people prefer to buy today:

We get to use sites like Amazon. With one click we can buy anything we want and it’s delivered the next day. This is what B2B software providers are competing against. 

On the B2B side, you ask a site visitor to fill out a form to become a lead in your CRM. Then they get like 50 nurturing emails…until someone finally decides they’re qualified by some arbitrary process. THEN and only then do you finally get to talk to a human (if you’re lucky).

 

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So, how do we reimagine lead nurturing for today’s real-time, on-demand world? For starters, we need to stop being so annoying. We need to send fewer emails to more targeted lists of people. And we need to have technology in place that will automatically un-enroll people from nurturing sequences based on the actions they take (e.g. they convert into a customer, or they reply with the words “Unsubscribe me!”). Another way to reduce the frustration factor: Schedule sequences so that emails never land in people’s inboxes on weekends or holidays. You can also use a smart sending tool to send emails based on timezone and the time of day leads usually open their emails.

All of these little changes will add up to a better experience for potential and existing customers. But in order to truly bring your nurturing strategy into the modern era, we suggest you do the following (assuming you haven’t already): Connect your email to chat. Instead of treating email as a separate, isolated communication channel, make it as easy as possible for leads (and customers) to move from an email to having a real-time conversation.

For example, for people who are new to your sequences, you could start by adding a simple “P.S.” to the ends of your emails that let people know that your company is available to answer questions via chat. Meanwhile, for people who have moved further down your funnel, you can have starting a real-time conversation be the primary call-to-action of your emails. Pro tip: Be sure to add your chat link at the very beginning of your emails, even if you include a “proper” CTA at the bottom with the same link. After all, there are people who might be ready to chat right right away. Don’t force them to scroll.

From a customer experience perspective, connecting email to chat gives you another opportunity to make email feel more personal. Because when a lead (or customer) comes to your website from an email, you can greet them with a personalized welcome message. In addition referencing a person by name, or referencing the company they work at, or the industry they’re in, you can use your welcome message to say something as simple as: “Hey, we saw you were just reading one of our emails. We’re glad you’re here!”

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Delivering this type of streamlined, hyper-personalized experience is something we explore in-depth in our Conversational ABM guide. The guide, which we created with our friends at Demandbase, gives a step-by-step breakdown of how you can roll out the red carpet for your company’s target accounts and provide a real-time, on-demand buying experience.

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PUT IT TO THE TEST

When it comes to nurturing sequences, one of the most important things to test (in addition to everything we mentioned in the previous sections of this guide) is timing. Specifically, how many days, or weeks, should you let pass by before having each successive email in a sequence send? Spoiler alert: There’s no magic number here. So pick a number that feels right (you need to start somewhere) and make adjustments over time to see if a quicker or slower cadence has any impact on reply rate. For example, you could start by testing…

  • sending 1 email per week vs. sending 2 emails per week
  • sending 1 email per week vs. sending 1 email every two weeks

Which cadence gets you the most replies?

 

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