Tuesday, May 6, 2014

crafting your email marketing strategy - part 2: customer or exhausted content

by kirk r gray

in the first post of this series, we looked at the foundation of your program - the welcome or nurture series. this post addresses what to do next in two scenarios, your prospect has exhausted your funnel, or your prospect is now a member of the fold - the long term nurture progam.
the whole point of email marketing is to convert the prospect into a customer. but what do you do when someone has exhausted your funnel? there are a lot of things that can be done with exhausted leads, so don't think that hope is lost.

first and foremost, you should make sure that they are engaged. if anything has come out of the recent gmail improvements and enhancements, it's that engagement is more important than ever. so make sure that your subscribers are still interacting with your communications.

how do you do that? let's think about joe customer from the car buying example in the previous post. joe decided to not buy the car, he didn't even come in and schedule a test drive. it's looking like he is going to be even harder to convert. no one ever wants to lose a customer, but at some point you have to admit that the better thing to do is drop joe from your campaigns, for the sake of your marketing program's health, especially if he isn't interacting with your messages any longer. but before you do that, think about doing a few things.

create a long term nurture series
this is like the welcome series, but it's a strategy where you space out the mailings at regular intervals. remember, joe might not be ready to buy a car right now, but that doesn't mean that when the time comes he'll remember you and what sets you apart from your competition. you need to craft messages that keep you top of mind. here are some ways to keep joe thinking about you:
  1. monthly communications about your company. joe might own the same make of car that you're selling at your dealership, but you have no records of him coming in for service. offer him a coupon for a free oil change - the catch, he needs to do a test drive while he's there. this helps everyone, you've gotten joe in the door, he gets his oil changed - you put him in the driver's seat of the car he wants, joe skips sitting around in the waiting room watching days of our lives. it's a win-win situation. on top of all of that, your service department makes recommendations for follow up service and gives a discount code for his next visit - you've now got the makings of a long-term relationship - when joe is ready to buy, he's more likely to come back to you to make that purchase.
  2. events. in today's economy it's risky to do any type of event, especially when margins are so lean. but think about how you can get people to convert and who you can partner with to accomplish that goal. in the car buying scenario the dealership could partner with the local school and hold monthly carwashes - the school gets a fundraiser, you get good press for being community committed and what is joe going to do while his car is washed - look around the lot and showroom. send invites for these types of events to exhausted prospects.
now you may have some prospects who did everything, they filled got pre-qualified for a purchase, they looked at your inventory, they came in for the test drive - but the deal just wouldn't work. do you know of an upcoming sale? do you know of upcoming special financing deals? have you brought on new lenders with different financing models? what about the new model year and the local autoshows? reach back out to joe and tell him these things, if he was that committed in the start, chances are he still may want that vehicle. this is where you need to reengage him. personalize the message to his experience. it might jump-start the deal.

all of the things you do in your long term nurture should be designed to either re-engage the customer so that your name is the first name that comes to mind when they are ready, but in a way that makes the emails still have value. don't email some one just because you have their address. non-value emails can go unopened and that can turn into a diminished sender score, hurting your overall deliverability.

what about the customers who won't convert?
it happens to all of us, at some point in our communication flows, consumers stop interacting. and like i said above, this lack of interaction can eventually hurt your sender scores and deliverability, which impacts the new active customers that you're trying to communicate with and convert. at some point you have to decide when to stop emailing people. you can do this in a few different ways.

the first is to watch your deliverability, see if your overall subscriber base is being impacted by the non-engaged people. if you are constantly emailing then it's a pretty clear thing to see that your deliverability has gone down.

second, segment your lists. this goes without saying, you have data on your customer base use it to your advantage. you should be able to build out large segments with minimal data...criteria like "have opened in the last 90 days", "have opened and clicked in the last 90 days", or "are current customers" are great places to start. you can re-market to those people, and keep them engaged.

but before you cut your subscribers free one thing that you might want to consider is asking them if they want to stop getting your messages. segment your market looking at people who haven't opened or clicked an email in 6 months and send them a message that communicates that you haven't heard from them in a while, do they still want to hear from you. some esp's have survey tools built right in and you can use that to see if they want to keep getting your messages, if now isn't the right time but they still want to see what you can offer, or if they want to be left alone. this type of messaging is a huge step in the right direction for list hygeine and an important one when you're battling deliverability challenges.

that's an overview of somethings to consider when it comes time to put together a long term nutrure program. the next installment will address on-going communications and low hanging fruit. so stay tuned.

Other posts in this series you might be interested in:
part 1: nurture campaigns
part 3: technology in strategy
part 4: personalization
part 5: meet with your stakeholders

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