One of the greatest misconceptions about lead nurturing or even email marketing is that it is just about sending generic emails to prospects who have expressed some level of interest but who are not yet ready to buy. Effective lead nurturing is actually about sending the right content to the right person at the right time in the buying cycle.Effective lead nurturing is all about sending the right content to the right person at the right time. Click To Tweet
This can only be achieved if you segment your lists properly and map your content by buying stage. And since, according to Forrester Research, email is still the primary lead nurturing channel, you should be aware that some email types are more appropriate for certain stages of the buying cycle than others.
Use different types of emails for each stage of the B2B buying cycle
For prospects – Prospects typically fit your definition of an ideal customer, but they may not be aware they have a need. At this stage, you are typically trying to convince them that the problem or opportunity they didn’t know they had is significant enough for them to take action.In the early stages, offer informational research-based content. Click To Tweet
It is the perfect stage for informational emails that promote analyst reports from third-party research firms, survey data or even white papers that emphasize the impact of not tackling a specific issue or not taking advantage of a specific opportunity. Prospects should receive emails that tell them WHY the solutions you are offering make sense.
For leads – Leads are prospects who recognize they have a need but may not have defined the next steps of the project, notably their budget and timeframe. They are the perfect audience for educational emails such as how-to guides, best practices articles or even frequently asked questions.How-to content is ideal for middle-of-the-funnel leads. Click To Tweet
This type of content should focus on HOW to move from the status quo. Also, it is important to note that, depending on the length of the sales cycle, you may need a lot more than one email for each stage. When that is the case, it is often judicious to alternate educational emails with promotional emails. In a B2B context, buyers rarely make a decision simply because they receive an offer, but if they have been a “lead” for a while, a limited offer may just be the extra “push” they need to make a decision.
For qualified opportunities – At last! You are engaged with someone who is actively looking for a solution. At this stage in the buying cycle, potential clients are more interested in validating content that will help them justify their choice, such as customer success stories, testimonials from happy customers, positive reviews, competitive comparisons, online or live demos, product brochures or data sheets, etc.Offer qualified prospects content that convinces them you're THE best option. Click To Tweet
This type of email should answer the why they should work WITH YOU and not with your competitors. Again, promotional emails may be appropriate, but at this stage, Sales should also be more actively involved by sending more personal text emails.
For existing customers – Research indicates that nurturing your existing customer base can lead to increased levels of customer retention and customer satisfaction as well as up-sell and cross-sell opportunities, and let’s not forget excellent references. That said, there is a real risk of over-soliciting your existing customer base.The content you send to your existing customers should make them feel special. Click To Tweet
A better approach would be to offer exclusive content such as invitations to VIP events, online communities, tips and tricks for products or service as well as more interactive content such as surveys. The whole idea is to make them feel special and to reassure them in their decision to do business with you. In other words, do not just contact them to sell them more or more often, but to show your appreciation.
So, here you are: whether your emails are informational, educational, promotional, personal or interactive, they all have a place in your content marketing strategy. You just have to figure out which ones work best for which audience and at which point of the buying cycle.