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It might be the most challenging communication to craft — and the most important — in any lead management program:

The email you deliver immediately after, or soon after, someone has accepted one of your advanced content assets (e.g., participated in a webinar, downloaded a podcast or an e-book, etc.).

It’s a moment of truth. Will this next communication invite them further into engagement with your brand, push them away, or leave them feeling and acting neutral, but open to further nurturing communications?

A Lead Management Email Fail

An experience I had last week serves as a perfect example of how NOT to craft that follow-up email.

The e-book I’d downloaded seemed relevant and promising enough: New research commissioned by a technology company (let’s call them WhizBang Communications) on best practices in mobile marketing. Then came the email:

Subject: Thank you for your interest in WhizBang Communications!

Having been focused on the content of the e-book itself, not the name of the firm which produced it, I didn’t immediately recognize the company name. Normally that would cause my spam antennae to vibrate and I’d simply delete the email without opening it. But for some reason, in a moment of weakness, I clicked to open.  

First paragraph: Thank you for your interest in WhizBang Communications! With over 400 clients spanning verticals including retail, grocery, CPG, financial services, healthcare, telecom, and utilities, WhizBang’s multi-channel communications platform delivers integrated…

“Stop. Hold it right there,” I said to myself. “Now I know who WhizBang Communications is. You’re the company which produced that e-book I downloaded just a few minutes ago.”

Sure enough, I went back to my desktop to check the e-book. It was, indeed, from WhizBang. But you wouldn’t have known it from the email. And therein lay the problem: I’d downloaded the e-book because of my interest in getting smarter about mobile marketing — not because I was interested in WhizBang.

Right there, in a split second, momentum stopped. Any sense of dialogue, stopped. Trust, barely beginning to sprout, stopped. Because WhizBang’s follow-up communication violated the first rule of of lead generation:

When I’m at the top of the funnel
and I accept your content,
my interest is in my need, and your content,
not your company or its products.

Continue the Conversation 

You can bet I won’t be calling or replying to the person who’s name is at the bottom of WhizBang’s email. And, in fact, I haven’t even read the e-book. I’m now officially turned off. As a lead, you can officially score me “cold.” And it didn’t have to go this way.

Here are at least four things WhizBang could have done with this all-important communication to keep the potential for further engagement alive. To keep what could have been a conversation, going. See if they make sense for your lead management program.

  1. Entice me to consume the content I’ve already accepted. Interestingly, the follow-up email didn’t mention the e-book at all. Plus, it arrived so soon, there was a good chance I’d yet to even read the e-book. What WhizBang’s marketing team could have done is highlighted some of the most intriguing research findings contained in the e-book, giving me greater incentive to consume, maybe even share, that initial piece of content.
  2. Offer me more content. Instead of hitting me with gobbledygook about WhizBang, the follow-up communication could have invited me to a webinar, or to download case studies about businesses similar to mine that are having success with mobile marketing. I’d probably have accepted that next content call to action, and by doing so moved one step further into the funnel.
  3. Speak to me about my issue. Rather than thank me for my interest in WhizBang (of which I had none), the email could have commiserated with me about the challenges faced by marketers when it comes to mobile marketing. Maybe it could have quoted from the research, letting me know I’m not alone in facing these challenges. And then it could have invited me to call or email if I had questions after reading the e-book and digesting the research.
  4. Don’t send the email. WhizBang could even have elected to not send the email, which is sometimes the best follow-up communication of all. After all, I’m not even remotely a warm lead for them at this point. This is the first time I’ve downloaded a piece of their content. We’re not even on a first-name basis, at least in my mind, and yet their email feels as though they are asking me out on a date.

Lead Management Rule No. 1? Take extreme care with that follow-up email after someone first accepts your content. Assume they’re interested in their issue, and your content, but not your company. And craft your communication accordingly.
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This post, originally published on Hanley Wood Marketing’s Content Is Marketing blog, is cross-posted here for subscribers to Touch Point City. For more marketing ideas and insights from my colleagues at HWM, subscribe to Content Is Marketing.

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