Generally, when we’re talking about email nurtures, we’re talking about a series of emails that are scheduled to run without anyone having to hit send. Good nurture campaigns have a few elements in common.
- They are aimed at (and written for) a specific audience.
- They drive that audience toward a specific goal.
- They exist as part of a larger marketing strategy—and they interact with that larger strategy regularly.
Let’s look at these individually.
Good email nurtures are aimed at (and written for) a specific audience.
It’s incredibly tempting to use nurtures as giant buckets to throw leads you to feel like you’re marketing to them. Nurtures seem to make email marketing easier on the marketing team—and from a scheduling perspective, that’s very much true. But if you use nurtures to market to leads that you don’t know what else to do with, it’s easier for you, but it’s definitely not easier on your leads.
The easiest place to fall into this trap is with your “welcome” nurture. Generally, companies use welcome nurtures as a way to say “hello!” to new leads in their database. The goal’s the same as any marketing effort—move them further down your sales funnel and closer to converting to a paying customer—and you could probably qualify for the Better Homes and Nurtures Seal of Approval by saying your “specific audience” is people who are new to your company.
Here’s what’s missing: You should know how your lead came to you. And armed with that knowledge, your welcome nurture can get much more specific—and effective.
If a lead comes from a webinar about developer marketing, you immediately know two things about them:
- They’re interested in developer marketing.
- They’re willing to sign-up for a webinar.
The way you’d want to welcome that prospect to your company is fundamentally different than how you’d welcome them if they downloaded a white paper about building an effective ABM strategy. The ultimate goal remains the same, but the way you’d want to communicate with those leads is wildly different.
It’s so much easier to just have one or two “welcome nurtures” and, again, chuck any new leads you get into the same bucket. It’s also worse for the human being you’re throwing in that bucket.
Treat your leads like people. Give them something to read that they’ll care about.
Good email nurtures drive that specific audience toward a specific goal.
So, the general goal of all nurtures is pretty easy to agree on—a signed contract. The specific goal of your nurture can be a little trickier to figure out. For some leads, the goal might be to get them to do literally anything else, whether that’s trigger the tracking cookie on a blog post, fill out yet another form to get yet another piece of paywalled content— basically anything that will let you attach a persona to that lead.
For some nurtures, it does make sense to push a little harder to convert to a sale. But whatever the direction, good nurtures should address both a specific audience and a goal built for that specific audience.
Good email nurtures exist as part of a larger marketing strategy—and they interact with that larger strategy regularly.
Let’s say you’ve written the best nurture in the history of marketing. You’re sending it to a specific audience, you’ve got a specific goal for them in mind and (praise be to Seth Godin), they’ve accomplished it with the second email of your four-email nurture.
Those last two emails shouldn’t exist to them.
When your nurture has achieved the specific goal you set out for it, that should be the end of the nurture. You’ve done the thing you set out to do! High fives all around.
If that specific goal was “give you money”, even better! But if that lead isn’t fully at the bottom of your funnel yet, it’s a great time to get them into another nurture. Ideally, this happens automatically, as the action you wanted them to take triggers the start of another nurture, which triggers the end of the current nurture they were in.
This is probably the time to talk about what should be moving people forward in your nurtures. The basic way to set up a nurture is time based: email one gets sent and then two days later, email two goes out. The advanced version is based around the actions your prospect takes. Send email one, then wait until they take an action that indicates they’re ready to move on, then send email two.
If that sounds complicated… it’s a little complicated! Setting a bunch of specific nurtures takes time. And it takes time to write them. And get them approved. And make sure all the triggers are firing. And, and, and.
It’s even more complicated when you consider that your nurtures should be a small part of your larger, omnichannel marketing strategy. These nurtures need to fit into everything else you’re doing (think display ads, social campaigns… witty road side signs, even, if you’re marketing shaving cream from the 1960s.) It takes a lot of systems and strategy to make it all work. But it’s worth it.
Your work isn’t done when everything’s set up, though. That’s when you have to make sure it, you know, works. Initial nurture strategies are based on what you think will work, but once you start getting real data, you should plan on revising your strategies based on what’s actually getting traction. There’s a point where revisiting and revising hits diminishing returns, but that’s a further down the road than you might expect. Revise often.
The Iron Horse insight.
When your nurtures fit into a larger inbound strategy, you aren’t building the plane while you’re flying it. You’re deciding what snacks you want to serve on the next leg of your flight. Yes, there are moving parts, things you adapt and switch out and tweak and test. But the bigger thing, the plane, the strategy, is always moving while you’re phoning ahead to let the ground crew know you want to switch from pretzels to cookies.
There’s much more to creating nurtures that drive leads than we could fit into one blog post (even if it’s as long as this one.) Keep an eye on the Iron Horse blog for the next part of this series, where we’ll dive into the specifics of three types of nurtures you should consider making part of your strategy.