Not All Content Should be Served the Same Way

Think email marketing is a tactic of the past? Not so fast.

New data suggests emails sent via marketing automation drive 18x more revenue than email blasts, and email ad revenue reached $156 million in 2012, making email marketing one of the most powerful sales engines in a marketer’s playbook.

This is due, in part, to nurture-based emails. Nurture email campaigns go beyond the limitations of a typical email marketing platform and use marketing automation features such as list management, automated sends, behavior history, and A/B testing to tailor specific messages to the right consumer.

At Kapost, email nurturing results in significantly higher open rates (~40%) compared to one-off email blasts (~8%).

But while marketing automation software automates outbound marketing, it’s not as simple as turning on a switch and walking away. The best marketers empower their marketing automation software by activating theme-based nurture tracks, monitoring lead behavior, and modifying campaigns to drive the best results.

Here’s are a few pointers to rock email nurture campaigns.

1. Start with Theme-Based Topics

First, you’ve got to discover what irks and works for your prospects. This sets the stage for successful emails that are tailored to your contact’s interests. If you don’t know what motivates or compels your prospects, email nurture tracks can be like playing blind darts. Aim before you shoot.

Theme-based nurture campaigns are a good way to do this. Send new contacts two emails, each related to a different theme or topic. By dangling two different themes in front of your prospects, you’re providing them options and asking, “Hey, what are you interested in?” Their engagement behavior with those emails will start to answer that question.

For example, did the contact open on the email? Did they engage with the content by clicking on a link or downloading a resource?

If the answer is yes, set up your marketing automation to move the prospect into an email nurture track dedicated to a similar theme. The lead has shown interest in that topic, and now you can now tailor subsequent emails and content around those interests.

If the prospect doesn’t engage in our first two emails, try sending them another email on a different theme. Keep doing this until you (1) find a topic that works or (2) don’t have any more topics and start over. The goal is to correctly identify what topics your buyer cares about.

2. Give Your Lead What They Want, When They Want It

Once you’ve identified your leads’ interests, start getting altruistic…and give!

Develop nurture emails that deliver highly curated, supplemental content for the identified topic or theme in a personalized fashion.

Personalized subject lines are 22.2% more likely to be opened.

Of course, this requires a healthy amount of content, especially if your campaign has several emails long (like 6-10 emails per track). And it’s not easy. Creating enough content is one of the biggest challenges the modern marketer faces. In fact, lack of content is the number one reason marketers give for being dissatisfied with their marketing automation program.

But it IS important in moving your buyer toward purchase. Ideally, you have a healthy mix of assets to work with, including:

  • Several blog posts
  • eBooks
  • White papers
  • Survey Results
  • Event photos/ presentations

The content should match the genre of the original theme or topic, thereby arming your marketing team with a sampling of content offerings to deliver in the emails.

With each email sent, marketing automation software tracks contacts’ behavior, further narrowing in on who the person behind the email address really is, and why they might be interested in your product or service. Moreover, each email sent provides marketers with insights about what move to make next to keep the lead engaged.

For instance, Kapost’s Marketing Operations Manager, Christine Leas, oversees our marketing automation. She says she strategically adjusts email send rates depending on user engagement levels. 

“We will speed up or slow down a nurture track based on their response,” she said.

3. Be Wary of the Gooey Egg Yolk

Finally, make sure your delivery takes content type into account.

It’s good to know the things that your leads are interested in, but it’s equally important to understand the specific ways in which they consume content. It’s like eggs. Many people like eggs, but while some love sunny-side up, others gag at the idea of a gooey yolk.

To gain insights on buyer preferences, serve your contacts a mixed bag of content.

To gain insights on buyer preferences, serve your contacts a mixed bag of content. As always, monitor online behavior to develop your understanding: Does the person engage more with shorter content like blog posts or infographics? Or do they seem to prefer longer-form content like eBooks and whitepapers?

Engagement metrics such as open rates and click-through rates will demonstrate the content that is actually resonating with your prospect and moving him or her further down the funnel.

An Example

At Kapost, we might send a buyer an email that links to a blog post about hiring for content marketing, and another one about creating content marketing workflows. If the prospect ignores the email about hiring, yet opens and engages with the workflow email, it tells us that topic is relevant to their current needs. Knowing this, we add them to a nurture track that focuses on building content marketing processes and workflows.

The next email might contain a short video interviewing content marketers on building out workflows. If they watch the video, we could speed up the nurture track to deliver more information more quickly. The next email encourages them to download a full-length eBook with workflow templates. As they continue to engage, we eventually serve up content that ties the challenges of workflow management to our software as the solution.

Connecting the Dots

Sure, there’s plenty more to be said about how to master email nurturing. But in this post we’ve gone over some of the essentials. To recap, to make email nurture campaigns rock you must:

  1. Identify the interests of your contacts
  2. Provide your contacts with supplemental content around those interests
  3. Deliver the content in the medium your contact prefers

Following these steps will activate your email lists, broaden the number of people who are exposed to your company, and drive more users into your sales funnel.

Learn More about How Marketing Automation Can Work for You

Creating great content isn’t enough if you don’t follow up on the lead. Find out how to drive your customers down the funnel and keep them engaged in your brand. Download the free eBook.

An ebook explaining how producing the right kind of content for the right people at the right time fuels you marketing automation.

Jean Spencer

About Jean Spencer

Jean is a Content Marketing Strategist, Cloud & Enterprise at Microsoft, focused on pushing and redefining the limits of what content marketing can be. She also likes to do crossword puzzles and rock climb.