Email is a great way to turn “on the fence” prospects into buyers. Automated lead nurturing is the process of sending a series of automated emails to prospects. The idea is you set up your emails in advance within an email marketing program, and once your campaign is launched, emails are sent periodically to your list.
The emails can be triggered to send based on an action taken by online visitors, or on a specific time you’ve chosen. Once your email workflow is created and launched, it’s “hand’s off” for you. If set up right, it should provide your potential clients with the right information at the right time, right to their inbox! The email workflow can continue sending emails to new prospects for an unlimited time period (forever!) with no extra effort on your part. (Or you could easily login at any time and update emails with any changing information to keep it current.)
Studies show lead nurturing (also known as drip marketing) pays off. It’s a very effective addition to your online marketing strategy.
“2013 research found that companies excelling at lead nurturing generated 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost (Forrester Research), and that nurtured leads make, on average, 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads (The Annuitas Group).” (Pardot.com)
Automated lead nurturing is easy and inexpensive to set-up. There are a number of fantastic email marketing software companies on the market. Over the years, I have used MailChimp, Campaign Monitor and Constant Contact. These 3 companies are the most widely used email marketing programs on the market. Today I will point out the highlights and a few differences.
All of the companies I am exploring today offer an automation feature which allows you to set up an email nurturing workflow. All of the companies charge either a pay-as-you-go or a monthly fee, but are all very affordable for small businesses and will not break the bank.
If you’ve used MailChimp before, you know their interface is simple and user friendly. Creating emails in the automation workflow is exactly the same as creating any other email campaign, only with a few more parameters and options.
You will choose the email triggers (what triggers the emails to be sent), the timing of emails in your workflow (once a week? once every two weeks?) and who the emails will be sent to (new sign-ups from your website?).
Once you’ve created the emails and launched your campaign it can work for you indefinitely without you having to lift a finger. Best of all, you can track the results of your emails such as Total sent, opens, clicks and Unsubscribes. MailChimp will send you these reports automatically after each email is sent.
Campaign Monitor is another widely used program for creating and sending automated emails.
As with MailChimp, you can create unique email templates, import subscriber lists and monitor the results. MailChimp offers a little more community support than Campaign Monitor. There are plugins for CMS systems such as WordPress and Joomla.
However, if you want to get something off the ground quickly without investing much time, Campaign Monitor might be the way to go, as their interface is a little more intuitive upfront.
With Campaign Monitor, you can add credit to your account and pay 1cent per recipient, or pay a monthly fee to run your automated email campaign.
According to a study done by Capterra.com, over half the businesses they surveyed had used both MailChimp and Constant Contact. This speaks to the huge popularity of both programs. Importing subscriber lists between programs is easy, so if you do end up wanting to try out both for yourself, or you change your mind, doing so is simple.
MailChimp offers some additional features not found in Constant Contact such as A/B testing. For serious email marketers, this is a pretty important feature. A/B testing allows you to send out a few emails to a sample group and will provide you with the analytics on both, letting you know which email outperformed the other. This will help you optimize your emails and is an invaluable tool.
At the end of the day, all of these email marketing tools will allow you to launch a successful drip marketing campaign. They are all affordable, intuitive, offer support and free trials. Hopefully this blog gives you a good idea of where to start and the basics of what to look for when creating your email campaign