How email nurturing can build your sales funnel
Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Many businesses intermittently prospect for business when they're not too busy. But your potential new customers might not need your products right now. And then you forget to follow up. The prospect becomes dead again. I want to explain how email nurturing can add value to your reputation and keep in touch until the prospect is ready to buy your product.
Wouldn’t it be great if all prospective new customers needed your product at the exact point you contacted them? Just think of the ease. I’d get in touch, and you’d need a pile of case studies writing, right now.
Reality check: this rarely happens.
Depending on your product or service, the sales funnel might be a month, six months, a year or more. Your challenge is to stay “top of mind” until they’re ready to buy.
Now, I’m not trying to be a salesperson here. You’ll be thinking of your CRM systems and regular phone calls to “keep in touch”. That’s fine, but there are further activities that help to build your relationship and develop their knowledge around your business, in a way that helps them.
Email nurturing that opens doors
You’ll recall companies that bombard you with emails trying to sell something. That is NOT what I’m talking about here.
If you get this right, effective email nurturing doesn’t sell directly. It uses the opportunity to give your prospects something of value to them. And in doing so, they’ll gently learn a little more about your business and warm to you as a future supplier.
Is there a proven formula to follow?
No. In short. You can Google and find someone that’ll tell you there is. But in my experience, there’s not. Your company is unique. Your prospects are unique. And so, your email nurturing should be too.
If it was easy, and there was a fixed formula, everyone would be doing it. And they’re not. Far too many businesses are emailing dull and self-centred content that is not of value to their prospects.
Give it the thought it deserves
Firstly, understand your target audience (and read my post about how to know your customers better here). For a start, ask yourself these questions:
- Who are they? Consider age, location, profile and more
- How long is their decision-making process to buy a product like yours?
- How do they make that decision?
- What worries and hesitations do they have?
- Where are they in the decision-making process?
- Do they make the decision themselves, or are there others involved?
- What do they look for in a supplier? Expertise? Range? Brand strength?
- Are their purchases restricted by budget availability? What are the timescales?
Your answers will depend on the type of product you sell and the type of industry you’re in. It’s why the thought and planning stage is so important.
How to create your email nurturing plan
Let’s consider some worthwhile content routes you might take, once you’ve understood the situation from your prospects’ point of view.
Advise and educate them
You might have much more knowledge than your prospects. Knowledge they need before making a purchase. Why not identify the key areas and build a series of emails around this? It might involve copy, video, posts on your website and even downloads.
Break it into bite-size chunks and easy to understand words. Avoid jargon and acronyms too.
By educating them, you’re speeding up their decision-making whilst also highlighting your expertise. And you’re keeping top of mind without selling.
Focus on their pains and frustrations
If you truly understand your prospective customers, you’ll know the frustrations that prompt them to consider buying your product. Perhaps they lack the capability to develop a particular part of their business? Maybe their current way of doing things creates operational difficulties? And if it’s a consumer product, their current option might only do half a job for them.
Whatever their problems, if you know them, you can empathise. And think how good it feels when somebody UNDERSTANDS!
From there, you could suggest some practical starting points to make things easier. Short-term fixes, if you like. Your product is probably the ultimate answer, but they might not be ready for that yet. Why not help them in their current situation? They’ll remember you when they do want to upgrade or buy a better product.
Let your customers do the talking
So many businesses under use case studies. They might not create them. They might not tell their customer’s story fully. And they might not use them in the right way.
It’s common, so don’t worry if that’s you. Just take note.
Recommendations and referrals work. We all know that. Just look at Amazon. So, why not let your customers tell their stories about how your products solved their problems and frustrations? Chances are, your prospects have the same problems. And it’s far more powerful to hear it from another business, rather than a hard sell.
Not sure how to create case studies? Read my post here. Or get in touch with me.
Keep it topical or seasonal
There might be relevant stories in the news you can comment or advise on. Once again, it positions you as an expert in your field.
Alternatively, your product range might have many seasonal opportunities you can provide advice around. For example, if your target audience is retailers. Help them to understand how to heighten their sales in particular seasons, using display and sales techniques they might not have tried.
How often to email
It’s a question with no exact answer. You want to keep in front of your prospects, but you don’t want to annoy them with excessive contact.
Something else to consider is what level of momentum you can maintain with your email nurturing. And how much quality content you can create.
NEVER send a low-quality email just for the sake of sending something. Each piece of contact must be valuable, interesting and worthwhile. They must want to engage with it.
Rest assured, daily is certainly too frequent. And weekly will be for most. Remember, you can always develop a more regular plan over time.
Listen to your audience. Are they unsubscribing? That might be down to frequency or poor content.
Quality over quantity, I say. And keep the momentum going.
Plan ahead, too. You might be working two or three emails ahead if the content is not too time-sensitive.
Don’t make your emails too long. That’s what your website is for.
Beware typos, bad grammar and excessive exclamation marks. All turn-offs for many.
Commit to email nurturing for at least six months before you assess its worth. This is longer-term, profile building stuff that supports your other efforts.
Consider sending your emails from a PERSON and not your standard info@ address.
It’s ok to throw in a sales message from time to time. Using it as your PS. can work well.
Ensure they can reply to the email address you use. And respond!
Understand why they're unsubscribing. Read my old (but still valuable) post, it'll help.
Let your sales team see who’s engaging most with your emails. They might be worth another call.
Need a hand with your email nurturing? I’d love to chat.