How to Guide the Buyer’s Journey with Email Marketing

Posted by Dan Stasiewski on Aug 11, 2013 7:22:00 AM

email marketingAs marketers, we can all agree the journey a consumer takes from lead to customer today is much different than it was 10 years ago. However, email still plays a major role in that process. Almost a third of repeat customers are initiated by email. And, according Epsilon’s Email Trends and Benchmark report, open rates are increasing with the new benchmark number set at a 31.1 percent open rate. That’s an increase of nearly 4 percent from Q4 2012 to Q1 2013.

Why are open rates going up? Mobile is one reason, according to Epsilon. Inbound marketing has also changed exactly what and how we’re emailing leads, prospects and customers. Instead of a giveaway or email that offers a free quote or consultation, educational offers like eBooks and guides keep leads engaged until they are ready to buy. Plus, providing leads with a flow of nurturing emails after a lead takes action on your site also boosts the chances relevant emails are being opened.

But what happens after engagement? The buyer might not know what the next steps to take should be. It’s your job as a marketer to make sure when a lead is ready, you’re providing him or her an opportunity to move through your funnel. Here are five basic tips you can use to guide leads through the journey rather than letting them go it alone:

Segment, Segment, Segment

At the heart of every good email program is segmentation. Your subscribers expect you to send only the most relevant information because they know you can. Email has been done this way for years now on the B2C side, but B2B companies still have a lot of catching up to do. Get started by creating these segmented lists, and then look for as many additional opportunities to segment your list into smaller and smaller groups. An email with 500 people might get a 15 to 20 percent click rate, whereas an email to 5,000 might only get 1.5 to 2 percent. That’s the same number of actions with fewer annoyed subscribers. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Send Frequent Emails

What seems frequent to you (say twice a week or every other business day) might not be so frequent to the subscribers. Smaller, more targeted segmented lists allow you to send more messages in a shorter time period. To use the 500/5,000 comparison above, targeting the smaller list means you can contact the 4,500 other subscribers with content more relevant to their needs. 

Provide One Offer Per Email

Because your lists are getting smaller and your emails more frequent, simple one-offer emails are necessary both for relevance and your sanity. Customizing an email newsletter with multiple offers and actions for each targeted group decreases the effectiveness of the offers overall and wastes time. Plus, giving the user too many options doesn’t help move the user along on their journey. If you focus on the offer at hand, you’re a much better guide.

Tell a Story with Lead Nurturing Emails

Once a user converts on a single offer, you can continue to provide the user information of interest to him or her with lead nurturing emails. But rather than just hammering leads with offer after offer, tell them a story. Your lead nurturing workflow should have a first, second and third act (top, middle and bottom of the funnel) and should be just as creative and engaging as the content that started the workflow in the first place.

Always Include a Bottom of the Funnel Offer

Now there’s one thing we all know about any journey: It’s nice if you have a shortcut. Whether it’s a line in a lead nurturing email, an image in a footer or a call-to-action on a linked website page, you should always give the subscriber a chance to take the final step in the journey from lead to customer. Without it, you could miss a valuable opportunity to convert a lead when he or she is ready.

How do you guide your leads through the buyer journey? Share your tips in the comments.


Dan Stasiewski is Technology Director at Kuno. When he's not talking about marketing data and trends, he's probably in a movie theater... or randomly breaking into song. You can connect with Dan via TwitterLinkedIn or Google Plus.


photo credit: RambergMediaImages
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Topics: email marketing, dan stasiewski, buyers journey, kuno creative

Qualifying Criteria for Scoring Leads: 3 Important Indications

Posted by Dan Stasiewski on Apr 12, 2013 7:43:00 AM

Don't let the numbers distract you from the real goal of lead scoring: determining if leads are sales ready. See, by quantifying activity driven by quality information, you will know exactly when to pass that lead onto sales. This information needs to come from two places—your lead and your well-aligned sales and marketing teams. 

Historical website activity data and good old-fashioned sales qualifying questions can provide all the information you need to begin scoring leads—and automating communication based on those scores. But not all information is scored equally. Here are three primary types of criteria that should be established in order to properly qualify leads and how each influences the actual scoring:

Engagement

Scoring based on engagement seems pretty simple on the surface. Criteria that fall under this category usually includes interactions like number of pageviews, website visits, social media mentions and emails opened or clicked.

Engagement, however, can provide more false positives than other type of criteria. You can prevent this by taking the average number of interactions for specific criteria (or the median if the numbers are excessively out of proportion) and making that number your top point score. Then work backward, grouping the number of interactions based on obvious patterns in criteria for various points.

Behavior

Scoring based on behavior goes beyond broad-based engagement and really starts to investigate specific interactions, or combination of interactions, that determine a lead’s level of interest.

For example, if we know a user visits or uses an ROI calculator on your website or downloads a specific pricing sheet as they are moving closer to sales-readiness, then you can give an appropriate score for that specific interaction. Behavior-based scoring involves looking at the historical trends for leads who moved to sales-qualified, opportunity or customer stages in the lifecycle and finding patterns in their paths. The benefit of scoring on these interactions, rather than just engagement, is that it weeds out the tire-kickers and is less likely to allow someone’s score to be disproportionate to his actual interest.

Persona

Scoring based on persona is the most valuable type of scoring you can do. Beyond a lead’s actions, the information a lead provides about him/herself can make a marketing automation system do much of the time-consuming qualifying before a lead even hits a salesperson’s queue.

For example, if you’re selling solar panels to homeowners, you might know one of your most likely candidates has a certain income-level, can utilize a state or local tax credit, or is more likely to be married than single. By scoring based on these specific qualifiers, you can quickly determine if the lead is the right match for you.

But don’t forget about disqualifying people. If you know someone’s electric bill needs to be a certain level in order to benefit from your solar panels, you can negatively score someone who comes in way under the number you’re looking for.

For B2B sales, you might know a decision-maker commonly has a certain title (or simply ask if the lead is the decision-maker). You can score a person with director or president in his or her title higher than someone at the management level or below—or even negatively score an associate level employee.

How These Points Are Used

Once your lead scoring is in place, you can do a number of things using a marketing automation platform, including: 

  • Alerting salespeople when a lead in their queue reaches a certain score
  • Sending an automatic email to a lead when she reaches a certain score
  • Changing a lead’s lifecycle stage to marketing-qualified when he crosses a score threshold
  • Providing more specific content to a lead based on a combination of lifecycle stage and lead score
  • Update a lead’s rating in CRM software from warm to hot

Of course, there are many other ways you can use lead scoring, but the primary goal is simple: how your sales team determines a lead’s sales-readiness. Whether you go strictly with a lead score or add an at-a-glance layer (like lead grade) on top of the score, your efforts will help sales focus their efforts on leads who are further along in the buying cycle.


Dan Stasiewski is an Enterprise Data Consultant at Kuno. When he's not talking about marketing data and trends, he's probably in a movie theater... or randomly breaking into song. You can connect with Dan viaTwitterLinkedIn or Google Plus.


 MarketingAutomation

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Topics: dan stasiewski, lead scoring, lead intelligence, kuno creative

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