MarketingSherpa, in their 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, reported that companies say that they see a 119% overall ROI from email marketing. Also, studies have said that nurtured leads spend 43% more than leads that have not been nurtured through email marketing campaigns. Many marketers become quickly discouraged with email marketing with lower-than-expected open and click-through rates. We've recently discussed why email marketing still matters, but today we discuss how to effectively use email marketing to nurture leads and prospects for conversion.


Hello, and welcome to the Daily Brown Bag. Today, we’re going to be talking about email and, specifically, using email to nurture your prospects. I’m Chad Hill and I’m joined by Adam Stetzer.

Yeah, good morning, Chad. Email is often viewed as an antiquated technology, and I think it’s not the sexiest topic in internet marketing. People seem to open the conversation quite often with PPC, SEO, or web design, but the reality is that 81% of marketers do use email for lead generation, so it’s still a very popular tactic, and we believe targeted, relevant email marketing should be a part of every lead nurturing campaign. So, while 80% of internet marketers are using it for generation, what’s interesting here, and one of the top-line stats to open the conversation is that 73% of leads are not sales-ready. So, this means that they need to be nurtured and moved through a sales funnel, and if people have given you permission to contact them via email, you have an awesome opportunity to continue that conversation. But, I think there are some pitfalls and some best practices in how you do that.

Companies that are really tuning their email nurturing in the sales funnel are really looking at things like click-through rates, and from the stats I have, almost 60% are into testing content to see what has the best click-through rate. Others are looking at deliverability and which ones are ending up in the spam filters, and these all inform how well you’re doing moving people down the funnel. Overall, I still get the impression, Chad, that this is still kind of an under-utilized part of online marketing.

Yeah, absolutely, because everyone is always looking for that new thing, that “silver bullet,” but not realizing that the number of people still using email as a primary communication channel is still huge. But, the thing with email is that it’s very easy to do email wrong. So, if you’re not careful about the lists and the content that you’re sending out, email can really become an outbound channel, much like a cold call and therefore doesn’t have very effective results.

Where email is very useful in today’s marketing strategy is using it to nurture people who have expressed an interest in your product and to engage in a conversation to get them sales ready. So, when somebody comes to the website, you basically want to start the conversation. They may not be ready to pull out their credit card and buy at that moment, but they are interested in your product, so this is where you need to really start communicating your value. There was a study done by a maker of automation that talked about some of the email communications that had the best response rates, and some of the things they found were webinar invitations, white paper download notifications, and case studies that were sent out had a much better response rate when compared to some of the more traditional things that we think about in email like coupons, discounts on services, free stuff, and limited time offers. Those things might be a little too played out. So, the key here is that if you’re going to use email, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it, and the right way is to create a conversation that gets someone more sales-ready through nurture email marketing before you have them pull out their credit card.

So this conversation feels a little bit like content marketing, and when we talk about some of the tactics in SEO we have this conversation that’s been started. Someone’s given you permission to contact them via email, but you don’t want to hit them too hard with something too in-your-face or overly promotional, so it’s interesting to hear some of these soft-sell ideas such as a white paper or a webinar or information. Content marketing really gets good open rates and kind of moves people along. So, it’s the softer side of branding and it’s the softer side of sales, for sure.

But, I think it’s something you should consider when you’re putting together a high-quality email marketing campaign. You’ll realize that you get a lot more mileage, because if you do get that permission, you don’t want someone to unsubscribe. You’ve earned their trust, you want to keep it, and we know this, we’ve heard it from a lot of research: with repetitive exposure to your brand and quality message, they will ultimately see you as a trusted source and want to buy whatever it is you’re selling. We’d like to hear your experiences with lead nurture email marketing. Have your opinions shifted from the days when you could blast a huge list with free coupon offers to the more subtle mechanisms we’re talking about today? Please share them in our comments and please subscribe to our YouTube channel.