As more and more business buyers draw from their consumer experiences and take research into their own hands, your B2B brand can’t afford to wait for prospects to come to you. Instead, it’s up to you to identify and reach out to leads while they’re at a crucial point in their decision-making process — or risk losing out on their business.
One of the most effective ways of doing this is through an email-based lead generation campaign. The goal of email-based lead generation is to introduce yourself and your solutions to a potential buyer, create a demand for your product, solve the felt need of the buyer, and drive engagement (or even inquiries) that will lead to deeper sales conversations.
In a recent post, we discussed the role that high-value content can play in lead generation. Today, we are going to look at how to leverage that content in a targeted email-based lead generation campaign.
Creating & Testing Your Email Campaign
Creating a lead generation campaign involves a simple process: compile your list, create a series of messages, experiment with subject lines and send times, leverage content to provide value, monitor engagement, and follow up accordingly. Email lead generation is like a game of pool: you should always be thinking about, and setting yourself up for, the next shot. A “one-and-done” email strategy will not yield results. Consider a campaign of 4-6 emails.
After locating emails for top decision-makers in your industry, the next step is to create compelling messages that drive engagement and click-throughs. Often, these emails refer prospects to content, such as blog posts or videos. It is possible for this to be content that has been created in the past, but it is critical that the resources you offer be tailored to facilitate the conversation you are wanting to have with your customer. It needs to clearly establish and demonstrate your expertise in the area.
We begin any lead generation campaign with a series of test messages. These can usually be accomplished in about one week. This involves taking small sample sets from the overall email database, including different geographies, companies, and titles. The subject line, message, and call to action for lead gen emails is critical. It will typically require 2-6 test emails to small groups in order to learn, refine, adjust, and win (depending on the size of your target list).
Reporting & Analytics After Launch
Feedback via analytics from email is instant, with 90% of responses occurring in the first 48 hours. This is the beauty of lead generation using email: you have the ability to quickly optimize the emails for business goals and objectives.
Based on the analytics from the first email, we refine subject lines, messaging, and click throughs to optimize the email, and revise day and time for the next send. We also adjust the lead capture mechanism if needed. You can repeat this process until you land on the optimal day, time and email components that meet or exceed typical benchmarks: 15-20% open rates and 2-3% click throughs for B2B technology targets.
Of course, each campaign will vary slightly against these benchmarks depending on the target audience, strength of the message/offer, and other factors. After you have sent a few lead generation emails of your own, you will start to get a sense of what success looks like for your business.
Following Up with Generated Leads
Engaged leads can go stale quickly, so it’s important to strike while the iron is hot. Managing and following up with engaged leads, continuing to move them deeper into the sales funnel, is critical. As a rule, we typically:
- Follow Up Quickly and Consistently. Send two emails per week (say on a Tuesday and Thursday or Friday). Repeat the following week.
- Start by Providing Value. Send messages that build on one another, and never begin with a hard sell. In fact, many of our initial emails have very soft-selling messages, with calls to action to simple check out a free case study, blog article, or something we found interesting in the B2B technology space.
- Segment Your Audience. Segment engaged users, and as patterns emerge, start increasing the sales message. If you see visitors’ consistent engagement with email and content, follow up with a direct email message such as “Hi Dan, we use a tool that allows us to see visitors to our website. We’ve noticed some activity from your company lately, and wanted to introduce ourselves more personally. If you’re need B2B marketing expertise, we’d like to know more…”
- Include a Call to Action. Always include a call to action to get an engaged lead into your system. Signing up for a newsletter or nurturing campaign, downloading a white paper, registering for a webinar. Capturing engaged leads gets them into your database (if they are not already) for continual nurturing long term. This can be a subtle invitation in the footer of every email, or a dedicated email that promotes the value of doing this.
It is rare that sales conversions (purchases) occur within a lead generation campaign — that will require a human element. But this approach to email-based lead generation has a proven track record of targeting prospects, connecting with them, and leading them into the sales funnel. Questions? We’re happy to share more. Shoot us an email or give us a call.