The 2 Keys to Lead Nurture Messaging

December 19th, 2011 by Robert Pease

This is a guest post by Igor Belogolovsky, Cofounder of Clever Zebo, a group of online marketing strategy experts. Interested in doing a guest post? Let us know!

The 2 Keys to Lead Nurture Messaging:

1. Get to the point

2. Use your real estate wisely

When you talk about lead nurture, most marketers tend to think in terms of sending useful, relevant content to your users and fans, or personalized, helpful “check-in” notes from customer service and sales reps. I’d like to spend some time looking at different types of lead nurture and transactional messages from 3 diverse companies. I’ll be pointing out some things that, in my humble opinion, they’ve done well — and a few things they didn’t get quite right.

Our first subject is an Airbnb email reminding you to review your recent host. If you’re not familiar with Airbnb — it’s a service that lets you connect with people, private residents, who will rent out their apartments, houses and rooms to you for a  negotiated fee.

It’s a fairly social tool, so after you stay at a host’s place, they’ll send you an email reminding you to leave a review of the host for the benefit of the online community.

Let’s take a look at the email:

I think they’ve done this really well. To elaborate:

1. Small, clean look. This is sectionalized and breaks up easily. It’s clear where the message is and where the promotional / informational stuff lives. People barely have to read a thing to get the point.

2. Get to the point. Immediately, it’s clear to me what the action required is. The second sentence comes with a link whose anchor text suggests that I “leave a review and rating.”  There’s hardly a few dozen words here. Not so daunting to consume, right?

3. Site nav is on top. The nav bar at the top of the email feels like the one on their website. If this email reminded me that I have business at Airbnb, there are several ways I can get there in one click, depending on exactly what I want to accomplish. Easy.

4. 1-second unsubscribe test. Can I figure out how to unsubscribe in 1 second? Yup. It’s the last link in the email. They’ve also told me right there in the message: “We’re essentially assuming you want reminders like this. If you don’t, here’s how you fix that.”

5. The real estate is used wisely. If you’re not sure how it works, you have multiple options to learn more. If you don’t have the mobile app yet — get it! But most importantly, all this stuff is presented in a way that doesn’t clutter the key part of the message and doesn’t take up a ton of real estate. Caveat is, although it’s smart to “promote” these 3 areas of the site across all of their email communications, it doesn’t make sense 100% in the case of this email. If I stayed at a place and am now being asked to review it, why would I need to watch a video about how Airbnb works?

Alright, that’s one small example from a relatively marketing-savvy startup. Now let’s take a look at a large corporation we all know (coincidentally, one that recently filed for bankruptcy): American Airlines.

A few things are done well, in my view:

1. Useful data is cleanly presented. I can immediately find the personalized information I care about: how many miles I’ve accrued, what my account number is, etc.

2. Top nav and footer links. Here we get site nav options, just like the Airbnb email, and more useful links in the footer where you’d expect to find them.

But this routine newsletter / “account update” email has some shortcomings:

1. The right sidebar looks like advertising. The way these sidebar images are designed, they feel like display ads. They’re old-school. People are more likely to block these out completely.

2. Lose the giant snowman. This is the opposite of “using real estate wisely.” It’s cool (no pun intended) to say “Happy Holidays,” but this image could be a third of its current size. Every dozen pixels of scrolling add inefficiency to the experience, and as the Internet is the place where we all have ADHD, where we do 4 things at once, where every millisecond matters — that inefficiency is quickly associated with your brand.

3. Weak marketing copy. When I read or hear a company promise that something is “exciting,” as in “Check out these exciting mileage offers,” I think: “You tell me what you’ve got. I’ll decide whether it’s exciting.” Can you remember the last time you were excited about a mileage offer?

4. Footer jargon. The footer is too long. What is all that stuff? Why do I need to read AA’s terms and conditions in every email? For their sake, I hope there’s a law I don’t know about.

Ok, let’s take a look at one more quick example.

Here’s what I like about this one.

1. Nurture, not sales. This is a true lead nurturing email. Yes, there’s a prominent call to action, but it’s really intended as a brand-building / staying-top-of-mind communication.

2. Making the unsexy interesting. Insurance products are not fun to read about, learn about, think about or buy. They are eternally unsexy. But this is written for people who buy trip insurance — people who chase new experiences and adventure. So they’ve made it interesting: what on earth is “bog snorkeling?” Is it what I think it is? That might be worth 30 seconds of my curiosity.

3. Super simple. This email is bare bones. Either you want to read 2 paragraphs about a quirky event in Wales, or you don’t. I like the commitment. I also like that the copy isn’t part of the HTML image, rendering even when you haven’t chosen to display images in your email.

All in all, simplicity is valued in any marketing message, and especially in the world of lead nurture and stay-in-touch emails, a company that gets to the point is one whose open rates are likelier to climb.

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