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Quit Using Email to Train Your Leads to Ignore You

Create an email program to position your company as a trusted expert.

When you were building your website, of course you asked yourself these questions:

Who's going to read it?
What will they get from what they read?
What do they do after that?
What do you do in response?

So how does all that play into your interactive marketing campaigns? It's a similar process, only there's a lot more interaction with potential customers to use for fine tuning as the campaign progresses.

We all get email marketing messages. The ones that really irritate me are the offers that get sent repeatedly with the exact same messaging. If it doesn't catch my eye the first time,  why would they think I want to see the same thing 5 more times in two days?

At this point, I unsubscribe. Or ignore them because I know I'll get ten more for that webinar that I'm not sure I want to commit to now, so why bother? They aren't likely to let me forget about it.

Don't you consider this spam when it's done to you? That your tolerance is being taken advantage of? Why do it to anyone else? It's that "do unto others" rule. There's absolutely no urgency or need to click through right now when I know I'm going to get more of the exact same message. You're training your leads to ignore you.

The difference between being a mosquito marketer and a trusted expert is all about the content and how engaging it is. What does your recipient get, even if they don't take you up on your call to action?

Each email you send out should be different. It should be about your recipient's interests. Each message you send should provide new insights, knowledge and opportunities for interaction because that recipient needs to know more about the subject in order to solve a problem, answer an issue or overcome a challenge.

A month-long email campaign requires quite a bit of content. Here's a typical list for an interactive email campaign focused on both long and short term results:

  • 4 inter-related articles that build a story

  • 4 email messages for non-responders - one to go with each article send (3 alternate email messages to go to those who did open/click-through on the first one)

  • Choice of two follow-up messages and links for each of the article sends

  • Choice of links to go with the follow-up messages


Even if you have  existing links that relate to the articles for this campaign, that's still nineteen pieces of content to create a month-long campaign. Seems like a lot, right?

Here's a scenario to put the content requirements into context:

Week One:

  • Send the first email message with a link to the first article.

  • Monitor views and click-throughs, responding to each one individually with a follow-up email message and another link to match their interest. (Leave alone the ones who don't open or click through).


Generally, you want to respond to each open or click through within 48 hours - 24 is better. Take a look at which content they viewed. Did they only read the article linked to in the email, or did they read something else at the website?

If they read something else, how does it combine with the content of the article you sent? Make sure you select the best follow-up message option and link, given your insights. Customize the message if you need to, in order for it to be personalized. Choose the best linking option to continue the recipient's knowledge transfer about the information they've expressed interest in.

Week Two:

  • Tweak email message #2, if necessary, given the feedback you've received on the previous email. Send the second email blast to the list of all who did not take action on your first one.

  • Send the alternate (the reason for 7 messages) for email blast #2 to the list of all the recipients who clicked through and received a personalized follow-up message from you. This one may also need tweaking based on response.

  • Monitor views and click-throughs, responding to each one individually with a follow-up email message and another link to match their interest. (Leave alone the ones who don't open or click through). One of your follow-up messages should make sure to mention the previous message and article and reinforce the story of how this new article extends from the first one they read. You should be able to tell this from the interest profile/activity history.

  • Note if some of the recipients who open the first time, but do not view your second article, put them back into the big list of non-openers for the next send.

Repeat this process for weeks 3 and 4.

What happens as you work this process is that you're continually interacting and driving conversational opportunities based on what's of interest to the lead. Not to you. This is a marketing campaign. The purpose is to transition leads through the sales funnel to the point at which sales conversations are welcomed. This process develops highly qualified leads.

By the end of week 4 (this may be true for some leads prior to week 4) you will have culled a list of engaged leads who may be ready to be transferred to the sales team for conversations. (This depends on your company's lead scoring process) Along with the lead, the sales team should receive the history of the interactions, views and messaging that the lead has had with your company during the campaign (and, if possible all other campaigns).

Make sure you have closed-loop processes so sales can return the lead to marketing for further nurturing, if their purchase timeline is not in the near term. They should be put into a warming campaign and any information the sales team learns should be added to their history/profile. Sales should have an automatic trigger in the CRM to follow-up.

Inviting subscription to newsletters is one of the other things that can be promoted with your articles. You want to enroll them in learning from your expertise. The more quality interactions you can drive with a lead, the better the chance for a relationship. The more a lead knows about your company and the more satisfied they are with all interactions they have with you, the more trusted the relationship will become. All the more seamlessly the transition to the sales process.

Interactive email campaigns are a lot of work. The content requirements are often prohibitive to companies with limited marketing resources. What makes it worthwhile is that, used in conjunction with Marketing Automation, the accomplishments can transform your marketing-to-sales productivity.

More Stories By Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee, CEO & B2B Marketing Strategist of her firm Marketing Interactions, helps companies with complex sales increase and quantify marketing effectiveness by developing and executing interactive eMarketing strategies driven by compelling content.

Her book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, was published by McGraw-Hill.

Her articles and blog posts have been used for university ezines, published in CRM Today, Selling Power, Rain Today and Enterprise CRM News. Marketing Profs has incorporated her blog posts into a number of their "Get to The Point" newsletters.

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Most Recent Comments
MichelleDunn 07/14/09 06:59:00 AM EDT

Very good informative post. Thanks for mentioning my Mosquito Marketing series, I totally agree with you!
Love how detailed and specific your post is, very clear to readers and easy for them to follow.
Michelle Dunn
Author of the Mosquito Marketing Series

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