In my business, we often talk about the best way to generate leads. This is, after all, how we get customers in the door and clamoring for our product or service. There are several ways to generate leads—inbound and outbound strategies, content creation, and social media. These all have their place in your marketing toolbox, but there’s a single cornerstone in your lead generation program—and that’s email marketing.
Understand Email Marketing
As far as marketing campaigns go, email marketing is what I would call an oldie but goodie. Marketing technologies have all the bells and whistles, but the latest research from the DMA UK estimates that for every $1 spent on email marketing you can expect to reap about $38 in returns. There are a couple of reasons for this:
- Users are comfortable with email. While consumers may shy away from big data tactics and other types of initiatives, even laggards are, at this point, familiar with email.
- Email is ubiquitous. It’s one of the only universal marketing mediums.
While email is one of the most powerful tools in your marketing kit, it’s important to be aware that it has changed drastically over the years. We’re no longer at the stage of buying email lists and loading them into your customer relationship management program. In fact, with legislative initiatives such as CAN-SPAM and more sophisticated email filtering, doing those sorts of things will only get your IP address blocked.
Today’s B2B marketing requires a different approach—attracting leads and prospects through opt-ins and delivering engaging, high-quality content.
Create B2B Leads
When we talk about lead generation, we need a working definition of what a lead is. In terms of email marketing, a lead is anyone who fills out a form on our website, downloads an e-book, or attends one of our webinars.
Here’s the rub: Oftentimes, these leads only download that e-book or attend that conference because they’re interested in the content. That individual or company might not have any interest in your product or service, at least not at this time. Some reports suggest only 25 percent of your leads will buy from you in year one while 75 percent will not buy until year two or three.
That’s where our job as B2B marketers comes in. We take that curiosity and nurture it, turning that first action into interest in your product or service. But how do we do that with thousands of potentially interested leads? The answer is a combination of email marketing and marketing automation, or MA.
Make the Most of Email Marketing
MA software allows a marketing team to designate “tracks,” or a group of emails over time that are automatically sent on a pre-determined timeframe to a certain buyer type or area of interest in your product or service. Say, for example, you sell a considered purchase with an extended sales cycle. You might, in your email marketing campaign, have three different types of prospects—the end user, decision maker, and the financial authority. MA software allows you to create these emails ahead of time and schedule deliveries. When paired with engaging and relevant content for each persona, you gain client trust while establishing your own credibility.
Write the Perfect Lead Generation Email
We’ve established that email marketing is a cornerstone of your lead generation campaign. Observe some basic best practices:
- Craft a compelling subject line. This is, after all, how you get someone to open and read your email. Whenever possible, make your subject lines actionable and consider using personalization, such as “John, did you get your white paper?”
- Be brief. We’re all bombarded with dozens of emails every day. Make your content snappy and to the point.
- Include imagery. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, but according to inbound marketing expert Amanda Sibley we process visuals 60,000 times faster than we can comprehend words.
- Make it shareable. Include options to post on their favorite social network, whether it’s Facebook or Twitter. Don’t forget Instagram and Pinterest for your image-heavy emails.
- Create compelling calls to action. Above all, give your readers a reason to further their journey through the sales funnel, whether it’s downloading another resource or attending a webinar you’re sponsoring.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Email Marketing
Email marketing may not be the fanciest marketing technique out there, but it remains one of the most effective. Combine your email campaign with MA to segment your population and create targeted messages for everyone with a potential interest in your product or service. Use these best practices to engage leads or move them down the sales funnel, eventually creating loyal customers.
This post was first published on Integrated Marketing Association.
Shawn is recognized as a top marketing influencer, experienced marketing automation and conversion optimization specialist, provides advanced email marketing and database management expertise, and has a proven track record of helping brands develop demand generation and lead generation programs that deliver results.
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