Email nurture campaigns were created to do what their name so clearly suggests, nurture the relationship between the brand and the customer. Instead of selling, this form of inbound email marketing focuses on opening dialogue and building engagement in order to get the prospect to the “ready-to-buy” stage. However, many lead nurturing emails fail on the expected reciprocity of dialogue by creating a one-way communication funnel. That, instead of building a relationship, ends up alienating the audience.
Therefore, this article will explore how to bring dialog back into your lead nurture campaigns without compromising on the essential marketing automation.
Traditional lead nurturing is all about sending informative content to your prospects at specified intervals. Marketers track the click-through rate, time on page, subscriptions, downloads of gated content, and try to lead prospects towards the next step in their customer journey.
This kind of approach has proven efficient and has worked reasonably well for some time. However, with increasing consumer expectations, it’s beginning to show a few serious drawbacks. Studies and statistics reveal that many markers struggle to reach their lead nurturing goals.
For instance, according to a 2019 survey by DemandGenReport, a staggering 59% of marketers say their lead nurturing campaigns are failing. Only 37% manage to apply intent data to drive their campaigns. Furthermore, the 2020 Content Management & Strategy Survey reported that 63% of marketers are unsure about the goals their prospects have at each stage of their journey. As a result, 66% struggle to decide what is most important to target leads.
There is no question about the importance of nurturing marketing campaigns for the buyer journey. Nonetheless, the audiences’ shift in preferences from lowest prices towards quality experiences, relationships and instant satisfaction is forcing traditional email nurture campaigns to change as well.
In general, there are three main reasons why traditional email nurture campaigns fail:
Email nurture campaigns, or any other nurturing initiatives, are defined as ways to build and strengthen relationships with prospects in order to convert them into new or returning customers. However, the basis of any relationship is a dialog, the one thing that seems to be missing from most email nurture campaigns.
Hence, instead of a two-way interaction, your lead receives a series of links with content while you wait to see what happens. No matter how personalized your email subject line or call to action, the lack of reciprocity is likely to hinder your chances at success.
It’s very challenging to accurately score leads based only on behavior and engagement rates. Somebody clicking on something or sharing something doesn’t really reveal much about who they are or what they need. The worst of all, it doesn’t even convey whether or not the content they visited resolved their doubts or issues. Hence, it’s quite difficult to follow up that interaction with something you know to be relevant and to the point.
The reality is, most marketers choose to work with limited data rather than no data at all. Why?
The most common form of lead generation is an online form which is not quite so popular with users. Hence, marketing professionals have tried to keep the number of fields to the minimum as study after study proved that the more fields the lower the conversion. And, while the online form is not that popular with users and certainly has its limits, it’s been the best lead capture automation tool for years.
Last but not least, the long-standing crack in the email nurture campaigns is an often fractured, disjointed system. Information gets lost in communication gaps between software. Often, marketers get stuck unsure where the prospect stands in the funnel, who was the last point of contact, and when is the right moment to follow up.
That brings us to conversational marketing and what chatbots can bring to the email nurturing table.
In short, the “why” can be neatly summed up in three points that mirror the three reasons causing your email nurture campaigns to fail:
Integrating conversational experiences into your nurture campaigns enables you to kick-start the relationship with the prospect saying: we don’t just talk, we listen.
Chatbots on the web or messaging apps can be a direct and interactive continuation of the lead engaging with the CTA in your email. Though, instead of landing on another landing page, form, or another kind of passive one-way content, they are pulled into a conversation. A dialog, which is, incidentally, a great way to narrow down what that particular lead/user/customer needs and feels.
Traditional email nurture campaigns might include sending a bulk email with a CTA encouraging users to “Click to Download a Case Study”. Once it’s out, you measure how many prospects open the case study, how many clicked through, how many downloaded it and how many took further action. However, you will have very little idea about whether the content was actually useful to them, whether it fulfilled its intended purpose or whether it was the right type of content at all. Furthermore, when this kind of blast email generates a response, replies either never happen or arrive with a significant delay.
Hence, it’s hard to speak of a relationship.
On the other hand, a conversational approach to email nurture campaigns helps you fill in the gaps. You can follow up your content with conversational feedback sessions. Or, better yet, offer hyper-personalized content by allowing the lead to converse with your bot first, reveal their needs and recommend a piece of content or next steps accordingly. This way you not only gain more data but also balance the power dynamic in the relationship by allowing the user to form his or her own journey.
Since the system is conversational, users are much more likely to share a plethora of data they would not be willing to share in a lengthy form. Also, the automation allows for real-time personalized treatment for each and every lead. And, even if a lead becomes disengaged during the conversion process, you can track their movements and identify the moment of friction to the dot.
Last but not least, modern chatbots are more than just chatty interfaces. They can function as self-sufficient conversational apps. Their flows can be easily connected to a variety of third-party tools such as Slack, Salesforce, Mailchimps, Google Sheets, email, and pretty much any other CRM and database tools.
Furthermore, these connections often require nothing more than a simple set up since the most popular often come as out-of-the-box features integrated into the no-code conversational builders like Landbot.
Connecting conversations to the management software tools you already use allows you to update your database in real-time. Better yet, it also enables you to further personalize lead experiences as the bot can not only send data to your system but also retrieve it. Hence, the bots can work with contextual memory making the prospect feel valued.
Going conversational doesn’t necessarily mean giving up on email. Email is still one of the most powerful communication tools in existence and should not be “discriminated against” for its age. In fact, the best results can be achieved by combining the old and the new, the familiar and the exciting.
So, what are some actionable ways you introduce conversational strategy into your email nurture campaigns?
The majority of nurture campaigns start with obtaining a prospect’s email by filling out a form to contact you or gain access to content. Whatever the case, an online form is likely to be the first “interactive” point of contact. Ideally, it would be great to score each lead before placing them into your nurture flow. However, the information submitted in a form is often insufficient.
Thus, the first way to introduce conversation into our email nurturing is by transforming the form into a conversation before the prospect even enters the nurture funnel. Doing so, your bot will be able to use the conversation to collect key data, score the lead automatically, and send his or her details to the right nurture email list or even straight to live chat with your sales team.
It’s a win-win. Your prospects gain a sense of instant gratification and personalized attention. You end up with a wealth of data that will enable you to maintain that level of personalization.
For inspiration, feel free to check out our step-by-step tutorial on “How to Build a Conversational Form without Coding”.
Taking into account the bot’s ability to connect to other systems like Mailchimp or other email automation tools, you can leverage this connection and personalize conversations using the email tool’s data set.
Imagine there is a CTA in your email which leads to a chatbot landing page rather than the usual static one. Then, instead of asking for the name or other details again, the bot already knows all the previously collected user data as each chatbot URL is set up to pull the merge tags (or variables – whatever you call it) from the email tool:
The information will then reflect in the conversation automatically:
You can learn more about the process in the Guide to Chatbot Email Marketing Strategy blog post!
After a bot gives you a better idea of who your lead is and at what stage of the customer journey they find themselves, you are more likely to send an email that will grasp their attention and complete the open-click dream combo.
However, besides providing additional content, you can also keep the conversation going. After reading or viewing your materials, the lead can have questions or doubts. Providing an immediate way to voice these questions and perhaps answer them directly through the conversation or by sharing links to other materials can help keep the prospect’s interest alive longer. In other words, you will be able to strike the iron while it’s hot.
Automating your email nurture campaign beyond just sending an email and opening that conversation will also help you improve your content marketing and customer service overall.
Chatbots give your leads and customers the opportunity to share their feelings and opinions instantly when the experience is fresh in their memory. Hence, they provide access to more in-depth qualitative data not just about your leads but about the efficacy of your funnel and quality of your service.
Obtaining this feedback through a conversational chatbot survey gives you an edge against your competition. Thus, even if you don’t start off with the best email nurture campaign strategy you are more likely to improve and succeed in the long term.