My approach to building a nurture email program
Being a demand generation director for an email company I often get asked, “What’s your approach to building nurture email campaigns?” There are lots of articles on how to, best practices, etc. so I thought I’d share a real behind-the-scenes look at how I initially approached our nurture programs.
- What’s the story you want to tell and to whom?
My first step was to reconcile/audit our prospect database (those who have opted in) against the reality of who are the people in our database and what do they want to really know.For example, we might want to tell the story of how email will be transmitted to the moon, but as we don’t have any astronauts in our database – it’s not a story anyone in my database will probably care to hear. Based on my analysis, I determined the people who have opted in for information could gain the most by receiving information on our learned insights from the companies we service – how to scale email to send thousands to millions of messages, how to increase customer engagement and revenues (thru improved delivery), best practices in sending/building personalized email programs.
- Determine if you have more than one nurture program present.
Once I had a sense of the relevant stories for my database audience, I then further segmented the database into two groups – those who are looking for general information and awareness and those who are in active discussions with our sales reps and could benefit from a deeper dive into our product and how it can help them succeed. I then divided the database into two buckets – and what became two nurture campaigns – “awareness” and “consideration.”
- Start out by saying ‘hi!’
For the awareness nurture, I ended up building out a two-staged approach. The first stage is what we call our “welcome series.” Following on email best practices, we start by introducing ourselves to anyone new to our database (it’s always nice to start a relationship by saying hi!)Following the initial ‘welcome’ email, I send a couple of follow-up emails in a more rapid succession sharing some of our best performing content. My hope is to really engage with the individual right off the bat so they can get a fair sense of the type of knowledge and insight we have available. After the rapid succession of our welcome series, we slow down our cadence by only sending a small amount of information monthly such as a guide, a webinar, or a link to blog post. The goal here is to keep people updated on some of the latest tips and tricks so that when someone is ready to take the next steps to improve their email platform – they recognize that we have lots of knowledge that we’d be happy to share.As for the consideration nurture campaign, as I stated previously, I recognize that a person in this segment is in an active engagement with a sales representative and is taking an active interest in improving their current email process. At this stage, I like to share more in-depth insights and knowledge on how other customers like them have used our solution to make the most out of their solution via case studies and white papers. But as they are in discussions with us I leave out the welcome series and try to minimize the cadence of sending so they do not feel overwhelmed.
- Tweak and repeat
For each of these campaigns I look at our stats on a regular basis such as, what are the emails and pieces of content that people opened and click on the most? If a certain email isn’t performing too well I try to determine why. Sometimes I’ve found that the email subject line just doesn’t really convey what the topic is about (simple fix). Other times I’ve found that what I’ve found interesting may just not be interesting to the masses and I kill it from the program. What’s great about email is that you can set up tests and refine, refine and refine.
As SparkPost.com, our self-service platform, continues to grow, I am constantly looking at my original assessments about the database and relevant stories and seeing where they can be improved.
Weekly Email Marketing News Digest
Don’t you just love the holiday season? There’s always something new to celebrate. Now that Christmas is over, we’re all gearing up to ring in the new year in just four days!
And as always, at the beginning of a new year, it seems apt to reflect upon your hits and misses and overall individual or company performance. In line with that sentiment, here are a couple of tools to measure your annual email usage statistics.
With over 425 million active Gmail users in June 2012, Gmail is arguably one of the leading providers (if not THE leading provider) of free webmail. The Gmail Meter, developed by Romain Vialard, a Google Apps Script Top Contributor, provides users with basic email statistics to better understand their email usage. These include:
- Volume Statistics
- Daily Traffic
- Traffic Pattern
- Email Categories
- Time Before First Response
- Word Count
- Thread Lengths
- Top Senders & Recipients
The title says it all.
For a deeper more insightful look at your email usage statistics, get a personalised email report card from Contactually. Interesting metrics include:
- Email Mood
- Popular Subject Lines
- Popular Words
- Subject Line Length
With the amount of spam and direct marketing messages that one receives every day, it’s hard to see how someone can get a good grade on metrics such as unresponded emails and email totals. Nevertheless, it’s an entertaining and beautifully rendered report card for one’s own amusement – as well as an excellent way to gain brand awareness in the marketplace.
When it comes to gaming, email is key to gamer retention, increasing customer lifetime value as well as brand recall. MarketingProf’s advice to gaming companies is to provide disclosure and value for gamers when requesting for their email. Here are the recommended guidelines for lead nurturing and enhanced customer service:
- Request for an email early in the gaming process together with details on what players can expect to receive through email – tip & tricks, tutorials, discounts.
- Provide players with a value-add of some kind immediately after they sign up through their email address. For example, when I signed up for Blizzard Entertainment’s popular MMORPG game World of Warcraft, I was immediately provided with a free downloadable online guide to the game through email.
- Use of event triggered emails for more effective brand engagement instead of weekly updates. Has the player just conquered Diablo III? Invite them to start playing Starcraft with a free trial.
- Use analytics to determine the playing habits of individual subscribers, followed by appropriate tailoring of the messages. For example, gamers who play frequently probably wouldn’t mind receiving weekly email updates from your company, but not those who have not played in a while. For these players, reactivation messages with gifts when they resume game play would be more effective.
- Give players control of the messages they receive – let them set the terms and grounds for communication with a preference center. If they opted in to certain types of communication, they’ll be more likely to appreciate those emails from your brand.
The article also calls for branding consistency by ensuring players who have signed up for a specific game are getting emails from the game they signed up for and not the parent company. I have to say, I’m not sure I entirely agree with this one though. While I am a huge fan of brand consistency, I’ll admit that email cross-selling under the parent company’s name has worked on me. If I am interested in Dragons of Altantis from Kabam for example, I’m also likely to be interested in a 50% offer on Kingdoms of Camelot.
Major retailers like Gap and Gilt have found themselves on email blacklists this year – simply for typing errors in subscriber’s email addresses. Such errors typically occur during point-of-sale where customers opt for paperless receipts to be sent to their inbox. Up to 60% of a sender’s email may not make it into inboxes when placed on such blacklists. With the festive season being a prime opportunity for retailers to increase their sales and maximize customer lifetime value, the timing couldn’t be worse. Its impact on these retailers could be akin to Google’s Florida algorithm update in 2003 right before the holiday season, which left many holiday retailers scrambling.
We’ve been highlighting stories about designing for the mobile recently, and with good reason. Consider the incredible escalation in the adoption of mobile devices as seen in John Pinson’s The Internet’s Growing Faster Than You Thought and the fact that 35% of all emails are now viewed on mobile devices.
It’s no longer possible for designers to design specifically for each and every new mobile device that is launched, yet it is imperative to ensure that a companies emails are optimized for the mobile. Hence, here are three tips for mobile design:
- Use a one column design
- Simplify call to actions due to lack of screen real estate
- Use media queries
Gaming emails aside, there’s plenty you can do with your transactional email to keep subscribers coming back for more. Optimize your transactional email today with the help of the Transactional Messaging Best Practices eBook.