Marketing is a process of nurturing interested prospects from the awareness and info gathering stages through preference to conversion. E-mail has become our tool of choice because it’s widely used and accepted, flexible, easy to change or update and it’s cheap. So if we assume a prospect needs a series of messages or branded interactions between initial interest and sale, what’s the best way to engage, entertain and grow the relationship?
There is a clear, if unacknowledged, difference between jamming messages down their throats and building a customer-friendly sequence of messages that keep you top of mind without turning off your prospects. Unfortunately, there is a mismatch between marketers’ and their prospect’s perspective. Marketers send out white papers, research studies and content considered “educational.” The marketing effort is rooted in and measured by showing outbound activity rather than on creating relationships, persuasion or sales.
Buyers say they are looking for news and information to stay current, tools or data to help them compare and sort out prospective vendors and make decisions. It’s OK to send them an article, a link or a picture with a quick note. In fact, an “FYI” often builds more gratitude and interest than a full-fledge pitch message. Prospects actually want to get promotional materials so they can see what deals are available. From the buyer’s perspective, less is more. The lighter touch gives the buyer a sense that he or she is respected and in-control of the relationship and the process.
To optimize the nurturing and persuasive quality of your e-mail communication to prospective buyers, do these three things:
Dissect the decision-process. Every product or service has a definable process flow. Understand how your customers buy and where the inflection or hesitation points exist. Plan your e-mail nurturing to anticipate these points. Leverage timing, parse information or make specific offers to proactively drive the process forward.
Isolate key variables. Every sale rests on a finite number of variables. Price and financing are always key considerations as are services, value-adds and the quality of the relationship. Use e-mail to influence the favorable perception of these critical variables. Factor in frequency of messaging, tone, manner and voice. Link the messages credibly to the individuals directly involved in closing the sale and ask for feedback.
Optimize for e-mail scanning. Given that everyone scans e-mail, the big idea or the dominant offer ought to be set apart in bold type for emphasis. Bullets, lists, short sentences and white space help buyers get the point quickly. Don’t get prissy about branding. Logos and graphics are a secondary concern; they add little connective firepower and often impede efficient e-mail delivery.