April 08, 2014

Marketing Research Chart: How marketers are using emails to help the sales force

SUMMARY: "Since expanding into email marketing, our sales force is showing a higher rate of qualified lead conversions, as they are better prepared with the working knowledge of what the prospect has proactively shown an interest in." – Marketing Director

The above quote is from the MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Benchmark Report survey, the source of this week's chart showing where in the sales funnel marketers are most, and least, likely to use email marketing.
by Daniel Burstein, Director of Editorial Content

In the MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Benchmark Report survey, we asked marketers:

Q. Which of the following types of email campaigns does your organization use to manage your customer's lifecycle? Please select all that apply.

View Chart Online

Click here to see a printable version of this chart

Using emails to help move the buyer through the funnel

While conventional wisdom is to focus lead generation on, well, generating leads, as we see from this data, more marketers are using nurturing email campaigns (64%) than simply prospecting and qualifying leads (53%).

This trend is even more pronounced for B2B and/or B2G marketers, with 69% of this segment utilizing nurturing email campaigns.

Read on for two ways you can use nurturing email campaigns to help your sales force — with one major challenge to overcome.

Use analytics of nurturing sends to inform the sales force about the customer

Let's go back to the days of traditional marketing. Imagine if a rep could pay a sales call to a prospect with this background knowledge:
  • That morning, the prospect read an article in The Wall Street Journal about the cost savings of shipping grains via rail versus truck.

  • The night before, the prospect saw an ad from the rep's company in a trade journal highlighting three customers who have saved money shipping by rail.

  • That same night, she read an article in a trade journal about how to write an RFP for commodity shipping.

This sales rep would have an amazing arsenal of background information about this prospect to call upon in their discussion about rail shipping.

He could know to focus on the cost savings and how his company could ease the client's transition from trucking to rail, as opposed to focusing on another element of the train company's value proposition.

While a 360-degree view of the customer is still quite complex, emails arm the sales force with an understanding of which nurturing topics the prospect was most interested in based on what she clicked through and what she deleted.

This gives the sales force valuable data to help focus the limited time they have with a prospect on what elements of the company's value proposition best serve the customer's needs.

As the marketing director quoted in the summary of this article mentioned, emails have helped the sales force become " … better prepared with the working knowledge of what the prospect has proactively shown an interest in."

Use marketing automation to focus the sales force's time on prospects ready to buy

Let's take a trip back to the days of traditional marketing once again.

David Ogilvy said, "Advertising is still the cheapest form of selling. It would cost you $25,000 to have salesmen call on a thousand homes. A television commercial can do it for $4.69."

If Ogilvy liked advertising for this reason, he would love nurturing sends combined with marketing automation.

Nearly every industry from banking (ATMs) to airlines (self check-in) has automated simple processes in order to focus expensive human capital on high-level, complex tasks.

In the same way, you can shift your sales force conversations to later in the funnel by leveraging marketing automation powered email nurturing campaigns to answer prospect questions mid-funnel, and save the high-cost, high-touch sales rep interaction with the prospect for later in the funnel.

As one marketer replied in the Benchmark Report survey, "It will tremendously help us automate the art of getting the right message, to the right people, at the right time. With the help of lead scoring, nurturing and dynamic content on automated email schedules, this will be the No. 1 way to improve the traditional versus the new way of email marketing."

You need high-quality content to truly help the sales force

I would be greatly remiss if I only trumpeted how you can help your sales force with lead nurturing email campaigns by overlooking the greatest challenge.

If you want to use email analytics to learn about customer opportunities and paint points, you need to serve high-quality content through your nurturing campaigns.

If you don't, the reason they are not engaging with your emails may have nothing to do with the topics and everything to do with the fact that the content you're presenting does not convince prospects that your company can help with these pain points.

If you want to automate lead nurturing, you need content good enough to provide information that is valuable enough to replace human interaction.

After all, while many industries are using automation and robotics to replace humans, there are also many that are doing it poorly and are unable to replicate the service and information a human can provide.

As another marketer replied in the Benchmark Report survey, "Our greatest challenge is switching from batch-and-blast email sending to automation. We cannot get the content we need to be able to set up multiple, nurturing emails to move leads along a sales cycle."

Related Resources

Email Marketing: 133% ROI for B2B's first-ever lead nurturing program

Marketing Research Chart: Messaging tactics for effective lead nurturing

Lead Nurturing: Pilot campaign increases conversion 32.6% with automated emails

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