Lead nurturing is the process of warming people up to the idea of new business with you. It’s often accomplished using email marketing, because email is one of the easiest ways to avoid gatekeepers and reach decision-makers. That said, effective lead nurturing is by no means a short or limited process. It requires a lot of preparation and maintenance from your marketing teams so that they continue to push qualified leads over to Sales. Here are the two factors that are essential for making this happen.
Protect Your Core Domain
Finding email addresses for the people you want to contact may seem like the hardest part of prospecting, but it’s actually protecting the reputation of your core domain (website).
What Puts Your Domain at Risk
Getting contact data for potential customers can be done in a number of ways. Maybe you purchase a lead list from a data aggregate source, or you ask for a list of attendees at a tradeshow. Or you use prospecting automation. However you obtain their information, you have to keep a few things in mind when contacting these leads through email:
- This is the first time they’ll be hearing from you, which means you’re at the greatest chance of being flagged as spam by their inbox filters.
- They haven’t asked to be contacted by you, which means you must abide by the CAN-SPAM Act, include an unsubscribe option in all of your automated outreach, and honor any unsubscribe requests that you receive.
- Many of the email addresses you think are valid may hard bounce because lead lists can be outdated and inaccurate.
What does this have to do with your core domain? If you get flagged too many times as a potential spammer, it puts your website’s reputation at risk.
An email inbox could interpret you as a spammer based on the language you use and the images you include. A person might manually report you as one if you don’t honor their unsubscribe request. And the act of emailing too many inaccurate addresses on those lead lists (hard bounces) could also get you flagged by ISPs.
You can avoid damage to your core domain by using our prospecting automation tool, Prospecto.
What does Prospecto do? It uses firmographic information about the leads you want to target in order to find and verify their current email addresses. These leads do come from lists that are obtained from a data aggregate source, except they don’t contain email addresses. This is because purchasing contacts with email addresses is usually expensive, and, as we mentioned, often inaccurate.
Will Prospecto find every email? No. A certain percentage of contacts on every list uploaded to Prospecto will hard bounce, as those contacts either no longer exist at the companies they’re listed for, or their inboxes simply aren’t reachable. That’s why we encourage pulling a large volume of contacts for each list in order to offset the expected hard bounces you’ll experience.
How does Prospecto protect a core domain against hard bounces? Our process relies on companion domains when sending out email campaigns on your behalf. This automated lead nurturing will have the appearance of your core domain, and will even redirect to your core domain if it’s typed into a search browser; however, its configuration is separate enough that your domain is protected from potential blacklisting.
Prospecting automation adheres to the CAN-SPAM Act. Unsubscribe options are included in email footers, and we encourage all clients who use this software to send relevant content that is non-salesy and free of spam-related keywords.
Plan Different Emails for Each Stage of Prospecting
Lead nurturing is exactly that: nurturing. It’s a process that doesn’t happen with a one-off email. Your marketing strategy should be about sending leads different types of emails depending on what stage of prospecting they’re at.
Why Many Emails Are Needed
Prospecting is essentially the beginning of the buyer’s journey, and should be treated as a necessary step in that process. It may be tempting to use email as a means to shorten that journey — send a one-and-done kind of message, for instance — but this can easily backfire.
Most people aren’t ready to buy the first time they hear from you. (That’s actually a good thing, considering plenty of others have probably emailed them about the same thing already — or they soon will.) If you treat emails as order takers or singular attempts to qualify leads, you’ll end up excluding a lot of people simply because they don’t immediately respond, or they don’t want to buy, or they’re turned off by your messaging. Prospecting is about reaching a wide geographic footprint that will slowly build relationships and establish trust with your leads, so that you’re always moving some of them into your normal sales funnel.
Note: Going completely 180 degrees and thinking you can sell to everyone is also doing yourself a disservice.
Lay out a series of emails that encourage leads to take the necessary steps toward a single goal: a phone conversation that will qualify them for your sales reps.
The first type of email you send should confirm who the right person is to talk to about new business. If the current recipient isn’t, see if they’ll refer you.
The second type of email should invite the right person to a phone call to talk about new business. If they aren’t interested now, ask when it’s okay to follow up with them.
If the right person doesn’t agree to a phone call, but doesn’t unsubscribe, they should receive a third type of email focused on content. Content emails educate leads about their market and push them to your website to gain trust and brand familiarity. The pages they land on should also include calls to action, whether it’s to download free material, check out a demo, or schedule a call to learn more.
A fourth type of email will go to leads who click on links and visit specific web pages. These follow-up emails serve as reminders about the content they’ve viewed, and again ask those leads for a call. If they agree and it turns out that they’re the right fit, they’ll move to your normal sales pipeline (along with any relevant emails that your sales team uses).
Note: Should you follow up with leads who consistently open your emails but don’t click through to your website? It depends. Open rates are important, but they’re also changing. Some even think iOS has shown that open rates aren’t a good indicator of actual engagement, and that focusing on click rates may be the better metric.
Are emails the only method of contacting leads? No. Direct phone calls may work, too, with the caveat that you reserve them for use with leads who have already been engaging with your emails. Cold emails still perform better than cold calls to get your foot in the door to speak with the appropriate decision-makers, but calling warm leads could be the impetus they need to finally agree to talk with you.
Will your website matter? Absolutely. You want your website to reflect the quality of the messages that you’re sending. That includes the use of specialized landing pages that you can link to in your emails to drive lead engagement and encourage more phone calls.
Find the Right Balance
If your Sales and Marketing want to reap the benefits of lead nurturing, we encourage you to start with the two factors above. Make sure that you have a means of finding and verifying new leads that also protects your core domain. Develop a series of emails to engage your leads through realistic, non-salesy language.
Not satisfied with your current return on lead generation? We’d be happy to walk you through our process and show you how it can be applied to your business. When you’re ready, click the link below to schedule time for a free consultation.