A lot of marketing emails used in B2B nurturing programs don't have a live person tied to them. Signature lines that reference Your [Company] Team, or no signature at all are the norm. This bothers me. Not only is it impersonal from companies that are trying to prove to you that they're putting your needs first, but it represents a hands-off attitude that is a bit offputting for your buyers. Not to mention it screams "I'm a marketing email."
Even worse is the dreaded "Do Not Reply" email moniker. I cannot believe that marketers think this is effective. You want to talk to me, but you don't want me to talk back? Nice.
Then there are the companies who use what looks like an executive's email and signature. Nice try, but I'm not buying for one minute that the Executive VP from a global company is using his or her personal email to do nurturing sends to thousands of contacts. Do you really think your prospects are buying it? If it's true, good for you, but I wonder what that exec's inbox looks like...
There's a big opportunity with sig lines. Some of the benefits include:
- Building a personal relationship
- Improving your responsiveness
- Inviting replies
- Showing you care
- Giving buyers an alternative to the anonymous contact form that goes who knows where?
- It's really easy to hit "reply"
In fact, I was on the phone with a client the other day and he was sharing some of the latest reactions the inside sales team has had from replies to nurturing emails. Yes, each rep has their signature on the emails sent to leads they'll be speaking to when the time comes. This company has their inside sales team set up as concierges who are helpful, coordinate the introductions and hand offs to the sales team and act as the connective tissue as much as needed during the entire buying process.
Here are a few of the responses they've received via replies to nurturing emails:
From a customer in a nurture stream:
The contact replied to a nurture email informing her rep that she's been promoted to a different area of the company, but she's been sending the emails on to four other colleagues who have asked to be added to the list. She providing all their contact information and faciliatated their request to personally receive content from the client because they find it that valuable.
When's the last time that happened to you?
From a targeted prospect company:
The executive who'd been receiving nurturing emails forwarded one on to a staff member and requested that he set up conversations to discuss their upcoming project. With the contact information on the email, the process was super simple and he also acted as if a relationship was already established because of the way his boss forwarded the email and request.
From an active prospect:
This contact sends his rep suggestions for what he'd like to see in the content we're sending to him. This helps to evolve their content process and editorial calendar. Mostly, what she wants is for the client to connect more of the story so she can keep following the thread. How's that for engagement?
Responsiveness is Critical
It's bad enough that many companies never respond when a contact form is submitted from their websites. But when marketers are actively trying to engage prospects and retain customers, responsiveness isn't a maybe, it's a must do!
Why in the world would you want to make it difficult for prospects and customers to start up a dialogue with your inside sales team?
Oh, I've heard the excuses - bunch of wimpy stuff in my opinion that includes stuff like:
- We don't know which rep they'll speak to
- We have a lot of attrition - why set up a relationship with someone who might not be here when they call?
- Field sales doesn't want inside sales building relationships with their leads
Change your processes. Hire better people, train them better and keep them up to speed about the content your prospects are engaging with. I don't know one inside sales rep who wouldn't be ecstatic to have an interested prospect reach out to them!
And if field sales has a problem, put their signatures on the nurture emails.
Just get out of your own way and set the stage. Let the dialogues happen as they will. Otherwise, what's the point in creating great content that promotes the urge for prospects to continue the dialogue in the first place?