From friends and family to clients and prospects, we all have relationships that require some form of nurturing on a regular basis. Just like you know that giving Mary a dozen yellow roses on your first date is only one step in the courtship process, you also know that sending her one email (or one generic email campaign) is not enough to impel enduring trust and devotion. Nurturing is a long-term commitment. As in any relationship, lead nurturing involves more than simple delivery. It’s about communicating clearly and regularly, understanding and addressing your intended’s concerns, and establishing a cohesive bond over time.
Can you nurture prospect relationships via email? Absolutely.
Email campaigns nurture leads when they tell stories, allowing your prospects to get to know you and your areas of expertise. They avoid overt sales pitches, which is a major turn-off (particularly in the early stages of your relationship). Mary doesn’t want to know how much you charge to draft up a will – she doesn’t know you well enough to care about that yet. She would prefer to read about you and your team, learning about your proficiencies, and determining whether or not your firm can meet her needs. She does not want to be threatened with the overt expectation of an immediate response. She wants to be wooed with highly relevant content that speaks to her needs.
The more relevant your content, the more you demonstrate your commitment to the relationship. Make sure that your email databases are segmented by topic of interest and that your prospects receive exactly the kind of information that they yearn for. One of the best ways to ensure that your prospects get what they need is to let them tell you what it is they want – let them choose categories, topics, and other preferences when they subscribe to your email newsletter.
Do not confuse mere delivery for nurturing. In order for email nurturing to be effective, it’s all about the content: what is being delivered and how well it addresses your audience’s needs, priorities and objectives. The perceived relevance of the delivered content is the key to your prospect’s heart (and business).
Another way to find out if you’re sending out the best kind of content to nurture your subscribers is to track their activity. Use an email program that enables you to track click activity. For example, if Mary receives your general litigation newsletter, but she only seems to read articles about estate planning, use that data to update her member record so that she receives more information about estate planning than any other topic. Put her on your estate planning list to receive special offers, reminders, tips and strategies about estate planning. That shows her that you have noticed her interest (without her having told you), which will elevate your status and push your relationship forward.
Jazz up your standard email content to make it more compelling by incorporating a personalized note, great photos of yourself and your team, or link to one of your videos on YouTube or your website. Make sure that your email campaign is branded consistently so that Mary recognizes it as coming from you, but keep the content fresh and engaging so that she’s not bored by the same old thing.
But don’t stop there. Mary needs more from you than one-way communication, even if what you’re giving her is exactly what she’s looking for. Give her alternate ways to interact with you and get to know you better. Ask her to join your Facebook page, follow you on Twitter, connect with you on LinkedIn, sign up for a webinar, or fill out a prospect survey. Mary may prefer to see how you communicate with existing clients on Facebook before she takes the next step in your relationship. Or perhaps she wants to see and hear how you present estate planning strategies via a webinar before making a commitment to a face-to-face meeting. Allow her to communicate with you in a variety of methods by delivering options to her in your nurturing email campaign.
Prospects who follow you on social media or sign up for webinars are essentially winking at you. It’s their way of demonstrating a sincere interest in your content and a willingness to continue the conversation with your firm about a particular topic. Keep track of who your social media fans are, monitor which subscribers interact with which articles in your emails and newsletters, maintain an activity log on your hottest prospects (like Mary) and watch your metrics. That data will tell you when the time is right to give Mary a call and ask her to be yours.
Lead nurturing is a cumulative relationship-building process. This process consists of several components, including: 1) understanding the unique needs of your prospects, 2) communicating that understanding via educational content and demonstrating expertise, and 3) developing respect, trust and rapport.
As with any relationship, multiple communication methods used in combination are often the most effective. Use your email campaign as the foundation for your lead nurturing efforts, and utilize the data you glean from the campaign to integrate additional relationship-building behaviors as your prospects glide through the buying process.
Let the courtship begin.
Becca Fieler is an Online Marketing Specialist for BizActions, a Thomson Reuters Business, serving as a strategic partner in the planning and implementation of electronic communication and marketing initiatives. She develops and oversees comprehensive programs that present marketing strategies and solutions to diverse audiences, including attorneys, accountants, banks and credit unions, human resource companies and other professional service providers.
Academy Guest Blogger
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128