Sending an e-newsletter to your data base was once considered progressive marketing. Now, isolated email actions are a waste of time either manually or through CRMs and unlikely to even get noticed–much less deliver a message—due to the overpopulation of incoming mail. At the same time, daily, weekly, monthly automated email campaigns alienate customers and clients alike, often beyond amelioration. Today, prospects are so savvy, they notice nothing.
So what do we do? How do increase sales through email marketing campaigns? Say hello to lead nurturing, also known as behavior marketing. According to Jon Miller, co-founder of Marketo, “Lead nurturing is not just sending a monthly email newsletter to your entire database, or calling prospects every few weeks to see if they are ready to buy yet. It is your opportunity to build a relationship with a real person and progressively understand more about his needs”.
Understanding the needs of the prospect lies at the heart of behavioral marketing. The more you know about your potential customers/clients the greater your chance will be to sell them something. But how do we find out about them if they are not willing to tell us? The trick lies in the use of stimuli/response psychology. When an email is sent out—a new product, rate or capability, for example—how the prospect responds, even if there is no response, tells you something about that prospect. Over a period of time, using categories of different email topics (content), the prospect’s behavior tells a story (a.k.a. digital body language) and it’s that story that marketers now have the tools to capture and analyze in order to increase conversion rates and revenue along with it.
The market leaders– Silverpop, Pardot, Marketo and Eloqua–pretty much all do the same thing. Some are as inexpensive as $1000 per month for a basic package, while others can cost north of six figures depending on the bells and whistles. They automate emails and then score responses by dropping them into segments that are then attached to more automated emails and so on. They provide if/then rules, signals for scoring, scaled automation and next-action conduct analysis—all critical tools for increasing conversion rates. But there is something missing. These powerful software systems are dependent on interesting and relevant content. Effectiveness is directly linked to quality content yet few IT departments include writers, editors, much less PR practitioners. While they can design the automation and analyze the responses, they are most often not qualified to provide copy, white papers, and editorial stories and so on, that must come from somewhere else. This is why PR agencies have become the essential handmaiden to behavioral marketers and why so many of us now offer services specifically designed to increase—in some case create—efficiencies in automated behavioral marketing. We know how to write a noteworthy headline, copy that gets noticed, white papers that get read and how to repurpose editorial coverage—each an essential element in the lead generation race. PR agencies are that essential link that makes something great in theory, extremely lucrative in practice.