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This is a guest post from Jim Huffman at GrowthHit.

Email marketing for lead nurturing is one of the most effective ways to generate more sales. This tactic lets you stay in contact with potential customers and provides the chance to get your message across on a personal level, without distraction.

The one-on-one conversation aspect is the reason email beats social by 40x for customer acquisition, delivering $38 ROI for every $1 spent. It’s also the reason you can use your mailing list to reduce your sales close time.

Keep reading to find out how to build an email lead nurture campaign that shortens the sales cycle and ultimately increases your revenue.

How long does it take to close?

To cut the time it takes for a customer to move through your pipeline, you need to get clear on your sales cycle. Namely, how long on average does it take for a lead to become a sale?

Once you know that, you can work out how often to send out content.

For example, if it takes six weeks for a customer to go from initial contact to completing a sale, you might decide to run a nurturing campaign that reaches out to them once a week for six weeks. If you want to reduce close time, you might try emailing twice a week for three weeks.

You can calculate your close time in two steps. As shown in this image by Geckoboard:

It’s a calculation typically used in B2B, but it works just as well with your B2C sales.

Now that you have a level of predictability in your sales forecasting, you can plot how to streamline the cycle through email nurturing.

How to shorten your average close time

When was the last time you bought something significant on impulse? By “significant,” we mean something fairly expensive—like a new coffee machine or a TV, for example. In other words, probably not an impulse buy.

These purchases are often made carefully and infrequently.

This is because the sales funnel takes time, as does nurturing customers. Most people don’t click on an ad and immediately buy what’s being advertised. It’s too risky. Most customers read reviews for the product, research the store, and search for cheaper options elsewhere.

These are known as friction points, and they exist at every stage of the customer journey. Below we’ve listed a collection of friction points:

  • Awareness friction: long signup forms, slow loading pages, lengthy landing pages, and buffering videos may stop buyers from learning more about your product.
  • Consideration friction: cost, trustworthiness, and competition can all stop people buying from you.
  • Purchase friction: data security and checkout process are huge barriers at purchase. Can the buyer check out easily and are their details protected?

And there’s one more friction at play throughout: the subconscious.

As much as we like to believe we’re rational thinkers when it comes to purchasing, we’re often driven by emotion. If we have an emotional bond with a brand, we’re more likely to buy from them.

This is why big brands like Apple and Nike continue to invest so much (time and money) into building relationships through great experiences.

Addressing customer friction points and creating an emotional connection are key when shortening your close time. And email—a communication form unburdened by changing algorithms—is the best way to do it.

Building your email lead nurture campaign

1. Make signup forms simple.

To nurture a lead by email, you need them on your mailing list. And for that to happen, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to sign up.

The first thing you need to do is make your newsletter visible on your website. Toms does this well with a basic section on their homepage.

And with a pop-up that appears after you’ve browsed the site for a few moments.

Both forms are simple, asking only for an email address. For reasons that will become clear shortly, you might want to ask for a name too. But don’t overdo it. Asking for details like a customer’s address and zip code for a newsletter will scare them off. In fact, according to Marketing Sherpa, every field you add to an email form decreases signups by 11%.

Why we’ve chosen Toms specifically, though, is because of how they tempt people to sign up:

“10% off your first purchase.”

With so many brands fighting for attention, people need a reason to hand over their details. This gives them that reason. It’s also building that emotional connection and an incentive to buy.

2. Segment your audience.

For your email campaigns to work, you need to nurture buyers that match ideal customer personas. These are the people your products are aimed at in your marketing and those who are most likely to act on the content you send.

Segmenting your audience means the right people see the right content at the right time.

For example, if you sell sports watches for men and women, it makes sense to have emails focusing on men’s watches go out to male subscribers only and vice-versa.

If you’re unsure of your ideal customer personas, you can use Google Analytics and conduct customer surveys to find out who’s interacting with your content and better understand their needs.

3. Focus on value.

Nurturing is all about the soft sell—delivering value to remove friction and build relationships.

Avoid any kind of blatant selling early on. Instead, focus on getting the customer ready to buy.

For example, for new subscribers, you might send out an email that introduces your company and talks about how you give back to the community.

Another email might give them a peek behind the scenes to show the bond between staff. That can be followed up with a blog post about a product they’re interested in.

It all works to create an emotional bond that fosters trust.

4. Establish goals.

Every email in your lead nurture campaign should have a specific goal.

For example, you might send out an email that includes a CTA for a reader to check out your new blog post. The goal of that email would be to educate your leads.

Another might be to ask subscribers to download your limited-edition watch brochure with the goal of identifying high-value customers.

Setting goals keeps campaigns heading in the right direction—towards the sale.

5. Send out content based on your timeline.

Now it’s time to start your drip email campaign based on the close time you’ve set.

How often you send out content depends on how quickly you want to make sales. But always do it with nurturing in mind.

For example, let’s say you want to sell a watch in three weeks rather than six weeks. You might send two emails in the first week introducing your brand and what customers say about it.

In the second week, you might send out two emails educating customers about your products through blog posts and customer reviews. Once that nurturing is done, in the third week, you can follow up with a special discount on the watch.

6. Personalize and customize the journey.

Remember earlier when we mentioned asking for a name? This is so you can personalize your email campaigns.

The simple act of making an email personal works wonders for sales. Check out these statistics:

  • Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. – Campaign Monitor
  • Personalized emails deliver 6x higher transaction rates. – Experian
  • 74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement. – eConsultancy
  • Segmented and targeted emails generate 58% of all revenue. – DMA

Customizing campaigns through Campaign Monitor’s automated journeys adds another level of personalization by showing customers content they want to see based on their actions.

Another example: say you send out an email featuring two watches, one high end and another at the budget end of your range.

The customer clicks through to the page of the budget watch but ignores the high-end watch. This tells you the type of watch the customer is interested in. Your follow-up content can be centered around that.

7. Measure and optimize.

As your campaigns run, you can use the data to see what works and where improvements can be made.

Run A/B tests to find out which emails perform best. Tweak subject lines, images, offers, and CTAs and measure the results.

There’s always room to improve. The more you experiment, the easier it will be to refine campaigns to improve ROI.

Wrap up

Reducing close time is all about establishing relationships with your customers. The quicker customers get to know and trust you, the sooner they’ll purchase and continue to purchase. Because, once that emotional bond is there, it becomes easier to turn nurtured customers into repeat buyers.

To get the most out of your lead nurturing campaigns, be sure you:

  1. Make it easy for potential customers to sign up to your mailing list.
  2. Segment your audience so that the right people are seeing the right content.
  3. Focus on value, not selling.
  4. Have a goal in place for each email.
  5. Use your desired close time to guide your content delivery.
  6. Use personalization and customization to deliver content that’s tailored to the individual.
  7. Continually test and improve your campaigns for better results.

Follow these steps and you’ll convert more leads in a shorter time, boosting revenue and creating an army of loyal fans.

Jim Huffman is the author of The Growth Marketer’s Playbook, the #1 new release on Amazon in marketing, and the CEO of GrowthHit, a growth marketing consultancy. Jim also serves as a growth mentor for Techstars, a startup accelerator. Jim has led growth at three different startups that went from idea to over $10M in sales and got featured by WSJ, TechCrunch or the TODAY Show.

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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