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Building A B2B Lead Nurturing Email Strategy That Delivers Results

Developing a lead nurturing email strategy starts long before the first email goes out. Here are some best practices for B2B companies.

Building A B2B Lead Nurturing Email Strategy That Delivers Results

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Staff Editor

Good email nurture campaigns identify prospects, potential business partners, including manufacturers and integrators and help build long-term relationships. Poor email marketing programs waste resources and can hamper rather than help critical business relationships.

Developing a lead nurturing email strategy starts long before the first email goes out.

Building email nurture campaigns that build results starts by determining the strategy for the email portion of a company’s overall marketing program, according to Julia Ritter, email marketing manager for Pathwire.

“What is your goal? What are you trying to get out of this email communication? Don’t just send out something that’s going to be just another email in the inbox,” Ritter said. Mark Goren, president of 10|20 Marketing, recommended establishing a foundation, determining how email fits in with the company’s other marketing efforts.

Is it a nurturing play for you? Is it a lead capture play? Retention and repeat? Or is it all of those things?

Related: Integrators’ Email Habits & Refining Your B2B Newsletter Strategy

Goren added that companies need to look at where email fits in with their marketing ecosystem. How do people get added to the prospect list? Some use paid advertising, others use specific lead campaigns, others use a variety of strategies.

“Email marketing programs should always be customized based on the target audiences,” added Eric Fischgrund, founder and CEO of FischTank PR.

“One of the biggest challenges we see on behalf of our clients is a very siloed approach to maintaining a database, or when everyone typically falls into the same bucket. This is inefficient because a manufacturer likely would appreciate and be informed by very different content and insight than an integrator. So, the first step for developing a sound email nurture campaign is maintaining a database that is accurate and constantly growing.”

“You need to listen to your customers,” Ritter said. “If you’re emailing them twice a month, and they’re not opening, why aren’t they opening? Maybe they hate your content, maybe they aren’t receiving it, because your emails are going to spam because your images are too large.”

So step back and determine what is working with your email marketing, Ritter recommended. Then determine if email that isn’t producing the desired results and why. Perhaps the content needs to be changed,

“As email marketing programs mature use of video, surveys, and other engaging content,” Fischgrund recommended. “Put simply, email recipients grow tired of the same mundane emails filling their inbox, even if the content is somewhat interest and relevant to their trade. Rather than pushing a message, try fostering a community — drive people to follow a LinkedIn page, sign up for a webinar, download whitepapers, etc. Create a call to action different than ‘read this email’ or ‘contact this person.’”

Look at the content and SEO, Ritter recommended. Even if email is being opened, are recipients taking the next step? Are they clicking through to a blog, a product page, or somewhere else on your web site? If they do, are they spending much time there? The email needs to work in tandem with other elements of marketing.

Progressing Email Through an Organization

Unlike B2C communications, to be truly effective in obtaining results, emails also need to be able to differentiate stakeholders who might be involved in the decision to purchase a product or to work in partnership (i.e., manufacturer and integrator) to deliver, install and service equipment in a customer’s facility.

There might be a gatekeeper of some type who will handle the initial emails, Ritter said. The email should include content and links to deeper content about how the product or service will be good for the customer and why the gatekeeper should forward the email to the next level.

Getting emails to higher levels of the organization becomes more important the higher the cost of the product or service you are offering. Typically, people at different levels of an organization have different levels of approval authority.

“There are different ways to get up the ladder,” Ritter said. “You can email multiple people in the company, but you need to make sure you have their correct email addresses.”

Companies also need to recognize that emails seeking to build relationships and sales in the manufacturing and tech environment typically will be a process that will take time, which Goren refers to as a drip campaign, rather than resulting in quick sales.

“I’m working with an organization right now, that has, they have a mailing list of over 13,000 people, but they haven’t used it at all,” Goren said. “We are trying to explain to them that the drip campaign is more fulfilling and comes with a bigger payoff.”

And as emails are being used by marketing to build sales, marketing needs to communicate where the campaign stands, so sales doesn’t jump the gun before the prospect is ready to buy, Goren said.

Avoid Spamming

Consent is another critical factor towards a better lead nurturing email strategy, Ritter said.

Sending emails to people who have said not to contact them that way can end any chance of doing business with a prospect. Email frequency should also be considered, Ritter said. “If you see someone is getting stuck at some point, you might have to reconsider your cadence or re-evaluate your timing.

Prospects and customers typically don’t mind follow-up emails, as long as there is something of value to them, marketing experts agree. But sending an email just for the sake of sending an email will result in them being ignored or blocked.

Continue the Process

Even once a prospect becomes a customer, that doesn’t mean an end of emails, Ritter said. “When they’re onboarding, what else do they need for success? Once your customers up and running using your products, make sure that they know you are there for support.”

The messaging should change as you the relationship with the customer matures, Ritter added.

“At the initial stage, it needs to have very basic language. Someone who is a year in is going to be further along than someone who is six months in. Different people will need different levels of nurturing. You have to look at the customer lifecycle.”

Such emails also include opportunities for upselling and cross-selling, Ritter pointed out.