I was reviewing a few email messages I'd developed for a B2B lead nurturing program with a project team when they said the equivalent of - Gosh, these are short. We should include links to events, products, etc. We're missing a big opportunity to give our prospects more choices.
Then there was a pause and one of them asked, "What if they don't like the one link we're including?"
And there you have the ultimate email challenge - being perceived as relevant enough to get the level of attention that motivates action.
This said, inundating prospects with more links and choices rather than improving the personalization, value and contagiousness of your email message is not the right answer.
The purpose of a lead nurturing email is NOT to:
- Be everything to everyone.
- Get any old click.
- Ask for a lot of time.
- Make a sale.
At the rate inboxes fill, you've got to pass the Catch Factor test. This means your email - within seconds - must communicate:
- Urgency - Do I need to know this right now?
- Impact - Is this subject matter relevant to my priorities?
- Effort - How easy will it be to get the information?
- Reputation - What's my perception of the sender?
- Intent - What do I think they want from me?
Attention spans are fleeting. Your email needs to get attention, motivate the action and be done with those two things really fast. At the outside, within 10 seconds. Bury your hook, use dense text not written in a scannable format and you're probably out of the game.
The only job of your lead nurturing email is to get the prospect to take an action that shows you their interest in the subject matter of your content offer. There's just simply not time for much else.
Instead of worrying about adding offers, start focusing on how you can improve relevance and create higher connection rates.
One of the biggest issues for gaining attention is uniqueness. The ease of publishing content has saturated the Web with redundancy - at varying quality levels. As a marketer, how many articles have you seen on the value of lead nurturing, or the top ten ways to use content? Repetition is great for creating awareness and acceptance, but how many times do you see the same words before you start tuning them out as so much blah, blah, blah that you assume you've heard before?
The same is true for your prospects. The challenge is often to say what you need to differently than others with similar messages. It's hard because you're also used to seeing all the same words used within your market.
Additionally, short is good. You should be able to compose an active email that does it's job in less than 150 words. In fact, aim for 100. Break it up so that it's easy to scan. Think about what it might look like in a mobile device. I often send emails to my smartphone just to see what they look like, how easy they are to read.
Dump the HTML and use text. Seriously. I don't download graphics if I can help it. Do you? I don't have time. Most business people I speak with don't either. In fact, if all I see is the emptiness of graphic boxes waiting to be downloaded in a preview, I just delete. Who has the time?
You may be proud of those gorgeous graphics, but if they impede your message getting through, are they worth it? At least do some A/B testing of text vs. HTML to see which perform better. I'd save them for your landing pages. That's where you want prospects to spend their time, right?
Now we're back to the job of lead nurturing email. Getting prospects to take the action you request of them.
After all - the metrics you can measure from an email are limited to clicks, opens, and bounces. But, get them to a landing page and you've got much bigger possibilities. You can learn about interest levels, topical interest, time spent, where they go next, if they share it with someone else, and what stage of buying they're in. [Much of that depends on the quality of your content offer, but that's another blog post.]
And, when your email message is confined to one focus, you're challenged to make it even more meaningful and relevant than you'd be if you relied upon throwing in the kitchen sink to try and just get any old click.
When your lead nurturing email is focused on doing its job, you're focused on doing yours.
Oh - and the thing about choices: More choices equals less response. It's too hard to decide what to do. Keep it simple and direct. One step at a time. Each thing you ask them to do is an added burden. If yourlead nurturing emails look like too much effort, the prospect deletes them and moves on to something easier to deal with.
I've done tests with email to prove just this to clients who've wanted to keep multiple links in their emails. The educational and thought leadership links got the clicks. The others were basically ignored. And the emails with many different links received higher unsubscribe rates - likely due to the scattered focus the emails presented.
What are you doing to make your lead nurturing emails more actionable?