Nowadays, traditional e-mail marketing is not sufficient to reach customers and encourage them to make a purchase, it is also necessary to personalise and automate communication. But how can we increase sales using lead nurturing and marketing automation?

Effective e-mail marketing: from lead-nurturing to storytelling

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As research conducted by Forrester Research shows, a well prepared Lead Nurturing program can increase the conversion ratio on obtained leads by as much as 50%, and at the same time reduces the cost of obtaining leads by 30%1.

What is lead nurturing? How does it increase sales efficiency so much? One of the most common definitions indicates that we have to provide the customers with end-to-end knowledge which will allow them to make the correct purchase (implicitly, our company’s product).

What does this look like in practice? We have a large group of potential customers – companies we have already managed to reach or those companies that we will be willing to reach in the future. If we possess the contact data of those organisations, they will become our leads. Further action may persuade customers to purchase the product or to change their mind and approach a competitor. We determine whether:

  • we will manage to maintain contact with the customer,
  • the customers will receive answers to their questions – they may be related to various path-to-purchase issues such as price, quality, customer service availability, etc.,
  • those answers will be satisfactory enough to enable the customer to make a purchase.

Why is the process of informing customers so important? Regardless of their budget, customers like to feel that they are investing their money in the best product. The quality of contact with the Sales Department and efficient marketing activities determine whether our product will be perceived as the best in the market.

Marketing automation – let’s automate sales

Lead nurturing, as discussed above, and marketing automation are inseparably linked to each other. Efficient and effective sales require the automation of certain processes – this enables us to save a lot of time that may be spent performing other tasks.

Sending an e-mail to the customer is definitely not enough. Marketing automation facilitates the segmentation of the customer database (e.g. based on certain purchasing interests, residence, age, gender, position, etc.) and sending newsletters prepared especially for a certain database. For example, only women of a given age will receive a brochure featuring summer dresses and men interested in cars will receive a newsletter about tires.

Personalisation can go one step further – we all enjoy receiving e-mails beginning with: “Welcome... (your name)” instead of the formulaic: “Dear Customer”. Sending some form of communication on various occasions is another form of personalisation. This activity should go further than Christmas greetings; it should, for example, include information about a discount related to the first anniversary of joining the loyalty program. This is an easy and incredibly effective way of creating customer loyalty.

Important

  • Personalised e-mails using marketing automation have a 70.5% higher opening ratio and as much as 152% more clicks than regular e-mails. (Epsilon Email Institute1)
  • 70% of marketers believe that sending personalised messages increases customer involvement. (eConsultancy)2

Does it work? Marketing automation tools facilitate a detailed analysis of actions – how many people opened the e-mail, how many of them clicked on the link, which content was the most interesting. This and much more data can be found in marketing automation systems available on the market.

However, before we decide to buy a certain package, it is a good idea to learn more about its capabilities.

Marketing automation is related to a less well known term – recovering abandoned carts. This is one of the most interesting and widely praised uses of marketing automation. How does it work? Let’s take a look at an example.

Example

Customer A visits the website of store X, browses information about an interesting product but due to the high price decides not to make a purchase and leaves the website. After a while he receives an e-mail from store X with information about a lower price for the product and returns to the website. This time he decides not to make a purchase again. After a moment he receives a text message with a personal discount code. He returns to the store X website and makes a purchase.

What are its effects? Without marketing automation, the customer would have changed his mind about the purchase while visiting the website of store X for the first time. Thanks to additional tools and the possibility of arranging personalised communication scenarios with the customer, the transaction in the example has been completed. Let’s think for a while – how many customers visit our website and decide not to make a purchase for whatever reason? It is likely to be a large group. Marketing automation gives us another chance to convince them to buy our products.

Storytelling – tell a story

Personalising the content of messages and marketing automation are basic tools which facilitate the use of e-mail marketing in B2B sales. What else can we do? Tell a story!

“Nowadays – due to an information surplus – masterful storytelling that focuses the media and public attention and supports success far beyond our own environment or industry is most effective,” says Eryk Mistewicz, the author of Marketing narracyjny (Storytelling Marketing)2.

How can we stand out? We are all aware of the Black Friday concept, a day of sales and shopping madness. REI, a company that sells tourist clothing and equipment, closed its stores on this day and encouraged people to leave their houses, not to go shopping, but, for example, to go for a walk. The Internet was flooded with photos tagged #optoutside in which people showed how they were spending their time outdoors. News of the event reached the media and reverberated all over the Internet, increasing brand awareness. Simple, but very effective!

Why is it a good idea to tell stories?

  • People remember them for longer as they appeal to the imagination.
  • An interesting story makes a brand stand out from its competitors.
  • An interesting plot encourages action and involvement.
  • Many users are becoming immune to advertising. However, it is much more difficult to become immune to stories.

Sales Department tasks

When a customer is already “content”, which means that the storytelling is operating at the highest level, it is the Sales Department’s turn. Here the customer service process begins, which may or may not result in a conversion. The department’s task is to achieve a business goal, i.e. to sell a certain quantity of products or services. Sales Managers have a difficult task: they have to develop a strategy which will result in the achievement of synergy between targets and customer satisfaction. Salespeople should focus on working with the customer as partners.

We are already past the time of using manipulative sales techniques. Customers prefer to have a partner who they trust and who acts in their favour. Such a policy will help to create long-term relationships and guarantee an increase in revenue. After all, this is our ultimate goal. We also know that a positive relationship with our customers guarantee a positive opinion that will spread in a flash and help us all to run our businesses.

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Source: Szef Sprzedaży no. 32/2017

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