Senior Marketing Manager and copywriter for Articulate Marketing. Specialist in writing about writing, marketing, strategy, technology and geekery. Writer of puns and the words between puns. They say talking to yourself is the first sign of content marketing. Expert parenthesis user (so it is said).
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What’s logic got to do with marketing emails? (Who, in their right mind, even clicks on those, anyway?) Well, having worked with one too many IT providers, we confess: we’ve gone rogue. We analysed and updated our marketing emails and automated workflows. To use a dated term, we’ve ‘hacked’ our emails. #sorrynotsorry
As marketers, we pride ourselves on explaining complex technology services in a way that makes business decision-makers understand, value and want to buy them. But, we can’t deny there’s been some cross-pollination. We’ve started to behave like techies ourselves. Getting all excited about data and collaboration in the cloud is just the tip of the iceberg. It was when we found ourselves talking about logic trees and Booleans that we realised what had happened. Interacting with computer scientists, cloud computing engineers and – let’s face it – IT nerds, day in and day out… it’s turned us screwy. We’ve even started making our own apps. Madness.
We’ve also approached our own lead generation and nurturing strategy with the rigour of a programmer on a deadline, burning the midnight oil with heavy metal as company and coffee as fuel. Here’s why you should care that much about marketing email workflows, too.
Why create lead nurturing emails?
Ever heard of the marketing cliff-edge? Good, ‘cause we just made that up. It looks something like this:
10000 site visits >
100 new contacts >
Familiar with that scenario? Lead nurturing is the logical next step. You can’t just rely on people raising their hand to sign up for your services, nor can you pass cold leads onto your sales team. They’ll get annoyed at the waste of time, and your potential customers could feel ‘pushed’ and be put off.
Lead nurturing will:
Filter out unqualified leads that don’t match your customer requirements (their business is too small, for example), and
Warm up potential leads by providing more evidence of your authority and expertise.
Lead nurturing emails are an automated series of marketing emails designed to get leads in your contact database to continue to interact with your website, download offers and explore your products or services.
The idea is to turn regular leads into marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and, ultimately, sales qualified leads (SQLs). You can choose to organise those nurturing emails in any number of ways. That’s where workflow logic comes in.
Put your contacts in buckets
For a business just starting out, the simple email workflow is worth a try. If a person has downloaded an offer, send a few relevant follow-up emails over the following weeks suggesting more content that they might enjoy. This is a great place to start, and might look something like this:
To get more sophisticated, it’s worth introducing some sort of segmentation. So, put your contacts in buckets. Here are some options:
Segment by persona
You may have a few different personas that you are trying to target, such as IT managers or C-suite decision-makers. Tools like Hubspot can help you to narrow contacts down by persona. You can then tailor your emails based on that information, so they are aligned with that specific audience.
Segment by stage in the buyer’s journey
The buyer’s journey, again courtesy of Hubspot:
You might want to change what you send to contacts based on how far along they are in the buyer’s journey. If they’ve viewed a few pages and downloaded one offer, then maybe they’d respond well to a few more top-of-funnel blogs, but wouldn’t yet be ready to be sent a middle-of-funnel offer like a free business review.
Segment by service
We chose this option, though it’s by no means the best. We just felt it was the right fit for us. Our lead nurturing is based on the types of services that have caught the attention of our contacts. If they downloaded an offer about website marketing, for example, we send them a series of emails based on that interest.
Boolean logic in workflows
The great thing about Hubspot workflows is that they work on the simple true/false premise of Boolean logic. This can help you use the same automated workflow to segment who gets sent certain emails based on criteria that you decide, rather than building different workflows with different triggers. Then, you can move people from bucket to bucket without any manual intervention.
For example, the workflow above uses an ‘if/then’ branch. If the lead is a ‘customer’, ‘evangelist’ or ‘other’ they get sent down a different branch. This further segments a service-triggered workflow by lifecycle status.
You can use this method to turn your simple lead nurturing workflows into increasingly targeted responses to a contact’s actions. This way, you aren’t bombarding people with marketing emails that are irrelevant and overly frequent. Instead, the recipient should feel that they are receiving useful information that is exactly what they were looking for.
This stuff can get a bit out of hand, though…
If/else - Exclusion lists
Once you have your segmentation sorted and have made sure that everyone’s getting the right emails, you’d better exclude certain contacts in certain circumstances, or you’ll end up with people getting far more emails than you (or they) want. No-one likes spam.
Hubspot allows you to exclude lists of people from email workflows (for example, contacts that last engaged more than 60 days ago and have ‘intern’ in their job title), and, you can choose how workflows interact with one another.
Here’s an example. If someone is in workflow A and they subsequently fulfil the trigger requirements for workflow B, then do they:
stay in workflow A,
move to workflow B,
or do they stay in A and B?
You have to account for this kind of thinking or else you could very quickly annoy your entire contact base. Especially if they end up in some sort of hellish loop of endlessly repeated emails.
The perfect email workflow seems straight-forward, but is built on a foundation of logic and connections that you don’t see until you dig a little deeper and/or break the damn thing. Engineers, programmers, MSPs – we’re looking at you. You know this pain.
Missing pieces of the puzzle?
Of course, there are two really basic things you need to set up a brilliant lead nurturing strategy using email workflows. You need someone to write emails that actually get people to click (says the writer, pointedly). You also need the right tool for creating this kind of automated system. We suggest Hubspot.
If you’ve got plans in place for traffic and lead generation, then lead nurturing is the next logical step in your marketing strategy. It’s time to channel your inner Spock.
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