A client writes: “What’s best practice in terms of how many times per month you hit each key contact in your database?”
This is becoming a common question, driven in part by the trend in B2B towards more proactive lead nurturing and the rapid adoption of marketing automation systems. Suddenly, companies have the tools at their disposal to create and deploy email campaigns to prospects, customers and partners with much greater frequency. The question is: should they?
It’s a cop out, I know, but the answer is: it depends. The primary variable is the type of content being delivered. As a general rule, we’re recommending that most of our clients email their database at least twice per month, but that assumes that the communications aren’t all exclusively promotional in nature – i.e. that one of the two might be a blog or e-newsletter or feature other, more “informational” offers.
Think about your own, personal experience. For me, there are companies who show up in my inbox regularly, whose content is relevant, targeted, and personalized, and from whom even a daily email doesn’t seem onerous. Conversely, there are others from whom even a monthly email seems invasive, mostly because I have no idea why they’re communicating with me in the first place.
The best way to improve relevancy (and thus open rates and response) is to utilize list segmentation. If you’re sending the same content to your entire database every time, you’re greatly limited in the frequency with which you can deliver those messages since, by default, some subset of your database will find specific content completely irrelevant to their interests.
Today’s email broadcast and marketing automation tools such as Marketo provide the ability to segment your database not only based on demographic (e.g. geography, company size, industry) but also behavioral criteria (e.g. visitors to specific Web pages, prospects who have opened past Webinar invitations). The more confident you can be that your content is relevant to a particular contact based on either profile information or past activity, the more aggressive you can be with frequency.
Content is key. If your entire lead nurturing or customer communication strategy consists of pushing offers – Webinars, white papers, case studies – to your database, that kind of constant solicitation wears out quickly. You’ll establish a greater trust with your recipients, generate a greater awareness, and even build thought leadership, if not every one of your emails is an outright call to action.
For example, e-newsletters are a pain to create and manage, but in the context of an ongoing lead nurturing program they serve to mix up the communication by delivering information of value and not just another in a string of offers. A better solution than e-newsletters – and a lot less hassle – is to post what would otherwise be newsletter content to your blog (as we do at our agency), and then email those posts once a month to your database in a newsletter-type template.
For more information on lead nurturing strategy and building a business case for lead nurturing at your company, download a copy of our white paper on Lead Recycling.