I'm following up the Minimum Viable Funnel article by drilling deeper into each component of the funnel.In this article, let's look at the lead nurture emails component.As a refresher, remember that my Minimum Viable Funnel looks like this:Promotional activity (like teaching) --> Lead magnet --> 3 months of "lead nurture" emails that are constantly reminding subscribers about your services via the --> 1-page service description pageWhen a potential lead sees or hears you do some promotional teaching-based activity, your call to action should be learn more by checking out your lead magnet.To obtain your lead magnet, you should ask for an email address in exchange.After you have obtained a new lead's email address, you should deliver the lead magnet they requested. After you have delivered the lead magnet to them, you should follow up periodically.That's where "lead nurture" emails come into play, and I'd recommend that you create this lead nurture content before you start sending traffic to this marketing funnel. Why is that?Because it's hard to do, and it separates the people with a successful online marketing funnel from the wannabe's. Once you build the lead magnet, service description page, and promotional pats of your Minimum Viable Funnel, you'll be sorely tempted to skip creating lead nurture emails.If you do that, you'll be missing out on automated followup with leads, which is perhaps the most powerful part of this system.On my own list, I see three kinds of activity:
- Someone joins my list via http://positioningcrashcourse.com, and within 30 days they have hired me to create something for them. This is a very small percentage of my list, but it definitely happens when the right potential client comes in contact with me when they're about ready to buy.
- Someone joins my list via http://positioningcrashcourse.com, and much much later (after the "magic 30 day window") they hire me, buy a book from me, join my mentoring program, or recommend me to someone who hires me. This is a situation when the right person comes in contact with me before they are ready to take action. That's fine; and that's why I keep regularly providing value via my list.
- Someone joins my list via http://positioningcrashcourse.com, checks out my content, and unsubscribes.
Without lead nurture content, none of that good stuff would happen. Yes, unsubscribes are good too.
Why 12 Emails?
I suggest you write twelve 200 to 300-word tips that are valuable to your ideal client and set up an autoresponder (aka a drip campaign) to send one of these tips every week to people who have signed up for your lead magnet.At that rate, 12 emails will provide 3 months of followup content for your new list subscribers. This 3 months of automated followup with buy you some time to:
- Finish the rest of your Minimum Viable Funnel and then get back to doing your craft or running your business so you don't feel like a full-time marketer
- Think up ideas for more followup email content
So set your sights on creating 12 followup emails. Yeah, if you get on a roll and want to write more go ahead and do it. But this is a Minimum Viable Funnel, so don't kill your momentum by trying to build a Maximum Possible Funnel in your first iteration. :)
What Email Content and How Often?
So what do you put into those lead nurture emails?This is where it gets less crisp and well-defined. Your goal with email marketing is to demonstrate your expertise to and build trust with those who have joined your list and provide them opportunities to get even more value by hiring you. There is not just one way to do that!I email my list something of value every weekday, which is the uh... intense end of the spectrum. I think the other end of the spectrum is to email twice per month.Anything less than twice per month makes your content into a surprise to your list because you start getting the "who is this person and why are they emailing me?" reaction from a substantial portion of your list. Twice per month is barely frequent enough to stay on people's "mental radar" unless their first contact with you made a MASSIVE impression. If it did, great! But if it didn't, then you need to build up your list's level of trust and respect for you by sending them content as frequently as you can. Once per week is a good goal for frequency.What exactly should you email them?At this point, I could say "whatever demonstrates your expertise and builds their trust". That would be the exact equivalent of telling you to draw the effing owl...Here are six ideas for demonstrating expertise:
- Provide how-to instructions on solving a problem that you solve for your clients all the time. Don't feel like you need to pack it all into one email.
- Answer questions you are frequently getting from clients anyway.
- Help your list subscribers avoid common or non-obvious mistakes.
- Tell stories about how you've helped other clients and extract out the transferrable lessons or best practices.
- Point to publicly-visible things and discuss what's being done right or wrong.
- Help subscribers understand the why behind what you do or how you do things.
Hate writing? That's OK. Either keep your emails short (200 to 300 words is often enough to make a single, important point) or use some other media you're more comfortable with and use your emails to link to that media, which could include screencasts on YouTube, podcast episodes, or even talking head videos.
Should You Sell?
Yes. Next question?:) Kidding...Yes, you should use your emails to sell.There's a common idea that you need to make 3 or 4 "deposits" into a metaphorical "account" of goodwill before you make a single "withdrawal" by pitching something you have to pay for. I think this idea comes largely from Gary Vaynerchuk's book _Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World._Gary may be right within the domain of social media, but I see things a bit differently when it comes to email. Pitching your services is not subtracting goodwill from your list subscribers. Instead, it is offering them added value if they want or need it. Of course you charge for that added value, but letting your list subscribers know about your services is a perfectly natural way to provide them more value.Do this by linking to your service description page somewhere in each email, perhaps at the end. Don't worry about whether the link is relevant, and don't try to hide it in the body copy of the email. Here's an example of how you could handle this:
That's it until next week's email on [topic of next week's lead nurture email]. In the meantime, if you need help with this stuff, we're here for you: http://link-to-your-service-description-page.com
All Content in the Email Body or Link Back to Article on Site?
Default to just sticking all the content in the email unless you want one of the following:
- You want to "train" your email subscribers to click links you put in your emails.
- You want to send email subscribers back to your site for some specific reason, like to show them an offer there, get better analytics on their behavior, etc. This is a ninja move, and probably not something you'll need to do when you're starting out.
- You think reading your lead nurture content on your site will be a better experience than reading the same content in an email app.
What About After the 12 Emails?
I am hoping that those 12 emails sent out over 3 months get you some kind of early win that inspires you to build more lead nurture content.I think you should ultimately build at least a year's worth of lead nurture email content. I know that takes a real commitment of time or other resources.If building that amount of content seems out of reach, see what results you get from the initial 12 emails. Hopefully that will produce a positive ROI and lead to building more.
What Metrics Are Normal?
Your email marketing software will provide you with metrics about how your lead nurture emails are performing. Here's my take on those metrics:
- Open Rate: This is largely a vanity metric and one where larger numbers are not necessarily better. This metric is generated using a tracking pixel that is far less than 100% reliable. A low-ish open rate (30%) with a lot of engagement from list members is often more profitable than a high open rate (60%) with low engagement.
- Click Rate: This is the percentage of recipients that click a link in your email. This is tracked in a way that's close to 100% reliable, but can also be a vanity metric depending on what kind of links are included in your emails.
- Reply Rate: Some email marketing software can track the % of recipients who reply to your emails. I find this metric far more interesting than the two above because conversations with potential buyers is a prerequisite to selling them anything, so more replies can lead to more conversations which can lead to more sales, or at least more insight into the concerns of your list subscribers.
- Sales: While end-to-end funnel tracking is still super difficult to implement, looking at your overall sales of services or products is not. And increased sales is what makes email marketing worth investing in. To me, this is the metric you really want to pay attention to. Is your lead nurture campaign increasing your sales?
- Unsubscribes: People who are new to email marketing tend to fear unsubscribes. That's understandable. An unsubscribe seems to be some kind of repudiation of your efforts. Almost an insult. But to the contrary, unsubscribes are part of doing email marketing, and a high level of unsubscribes (3% or more per email) are simply a sign that you are delivering value that is very specific and appealing to only a certain type of person. That is a good thing.
The next article in this series will cover the final element of your Minimum Viable Funnel: a teaching-based promotion activity. Stay tuned for that soon!
- Gary Vaynercuk's Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BATNNZY/
- My article on The Ideal Service Description Page: /the-ideal-service-description-page/
- If you need a good email marketing software, check out http://getdrip.com. If the price seems too much, consider http://mailchimp.com