Segment your email subscriber list

Using email to nurture leads can help you build and maintain effective relationships with potential clients.

Lead-nurturing emails generate an 8% click-through rate, compared with only 3% for regular email marketing, according to research by Cambridge, Mass.-based Hubspot Inc. This increase occurs because “these leads are already in your pipeline,” says Walid Abdelaty, partner at Techlicity Ventures Corp. in Toronto.

To be effective, your lead-nurturing strategy must involve “dripping,” or sending emails to prospects on a regular basis, says Javed Khan, chief marketing officer with EMpression in Aurora, Ont. Your strategy might also involve other nurturing methods, Khan says, such as social media, advertising and website marketing.

Khan recommends placing your leads on a segmented auto-responder list associated with various types of pre-designed content. Such content can either be personal, educational or promotional, with the aim of keeping prospects consistently engaged. (Prior to sending any emails, make sure you have express consent to contact recipients by email, and include the option to stop receiving your emails, as required under Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation.)

With the appropriate technology, specific content can be emailed at pre-determined intervals, Khan says. “You can sit on a lead-nurturing program and forget about it.”

Khan advises that you drip seven to 10 emails to prospects before thinking about “turning the switch off” if they show no further interest. But before you do so, you might try sending prospects a personal email inviting them to attend an event such as a webinar or to have a conversation with you. This invitation should come at approximately your eighth email.

“You want to tap them on the shoulder to find out if they’re still there,” Khan says. You may find that some clients are still interested in receiving your emails but are not ready to make a commitment. In such cases, you may decide to switch this person to your monthly newsletter list, taking them off your regular drip program, with the expectation of re-engaging them at a later date.

Below are some best practices for nurturing leads by email:

> Segment your leads
Organize your email list, taking into consideration the stage of the nurturing process clients are at and the message you would like send, Abdelaty says. Segmenting your list would make it easier for you to automate the nurturing process to send relevant content to clients at a pre-determined frequency.

This series of emails would be disrupted only if you are fortunate enough to engage the client prior to the completion of your nurturing cycle, Abdelaty says.

> Design content in advance
Khan recommends that you design your nurturing content ahead of time, focusing on specific messages you would like to communicate to leads at various stages of the process. Avoid pushing products and, instead, focus on issues such as education, what you do, and how you can help them.

The more you know about your leads, Abdelaty says, the greater are your chances of sending them content they can relate to. “This means having a library of customized content,” he says.

> Take a systematic approach
Your leads will be at various stages of the decision-making process. So, you should take a systematic approach in determining how long they should stay in your pipeline, when you should change the type of content you provide and whether you should switch them to your general mailing list.

“That would depend on the interest the client shows in what you offer,” Abdelaty says “and the probability of re-engaging them at a later date.”

This is the first part in a two-part series on nurturing leads.

Next: Creating content to engage your leads.

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