What is your most valuable asset as a small business? Perhaps you have some expensive equipment, inventory, or maybe you own a building? Whatever the asset, I imagine you would take swift action if you discovered that this asset was lying dormant or was deteriorating from lack of proper maintenance.
If you are like many small businesses, your list of prospects or clients is a hugely valuable asset that may be depreciating with every passing month you don’t reach out to them. When was the last time you reached out to this valuable group of prospects or customers? If you do reach out regularly, how effective is the contact?
Most business owners I speak with will admit that reaching out to their list is a priority, however, if you have a cold list you need to warm up, or you want to begin setting up your nurturing process it can be difficult to know where to start.
It helps to start with the vision. Here are three suggestions I frequently make to businesses seeking to improve their nurture process:
New leads vs. old leads
One great way to begin is by separating leads into groups and nurture the groups differently. I suggest you begin by nurturing your new leads differently from customers. Many businesses collect leads on their website or other location and immediately add them to their generic monthly newsletter.
These shiny new leads just became acquainted with you—do you really want to send the same generic newsletter to new leads that you send to former clients and cold “dead fish” leads from two years ago?
These shiny, new leads may end up on that list eventually but first, they should be nurtured properly. Put these new folks into a short series of educational emails focused on delivering value and encouraging them to take actions to join your tribe. Use automation and educate them.
What do they absolutely need to know about your business? Why are you great? Next move on and persuade them to purchase. Try your hardest to get them to that goal post and if that fails, then put them in the pile with everyone else to receive your normal nurture process whether that be a newsletter or small occasional campaign.
Basically, create a sequence of automated emails for your new leads and a traditional monthly newsletter setup for your older leads.
Newsletter style vs. campaign-style nurture
Many industries use a monthly newsletter to great success. However, I see many businesses struggle to send out valuable content with any regularity.
If this sounds like your business, you could try sending a sequence of emails for your older leads as an alternative to a traditional newsletter. Basically, instead of sending out a monthly newsletter try sending out a series of emails (usually three) that deliver value and persuade them to do something (purchase). Then you do that quarterly, bi-monthly or monthly depending on industry and your ability to produce valuable content.
Some advantages this style has over your standard newsletter include:
- It can be easier to occasionally write targeted emails than to write a newsletter every month
- Newsletters that try to be both value and pitch often do a bad job at both
- A campaign-style series of emails is easier to test—drop a few people in and watch
- A better chance a contact will open one of these emails because there are several
It’s not for everyone but I find this format is easier for some businesses to launch, at least quarterly. Though there can be more time between when clients hear from you, when they do, it’s good, targeted stuff.
Schooner vs. Titanic
Lastly, start small and simple so you can test. Whether it’s a basic newsletter to your whole list, or a small email sequence just avoid building something large and cumbersome. Begin small so you can test to ensure your messaging contains valuable content that drives the person toward doing something. The action could be a purchase or requesting a consultation or some other action that leads to a purchase.
Generally, this means not putting all your contacts in at once. If you have a 1,500 person list for example start by putting 150 contacts into your small campaign and see how it performs.
I recently had a client with an enormous list—100,000 people strong. He came to me complaining that his complex 10 email campaign hadn’t performed well.
It had a dismal open rate, with very low clicks and no sales.
Everyone’s nightmare right!? Well, it was a nightmare! Upon inspecting the campaign we found his subject lines were vague, there were misspellings, and the emails didn’t ask them to do anything.
What was he to do? Since he had just sent them many emails there wasn’t much he could do. He would have to wait a little while and then he could reach out again more carefully. He spent so much time building a Titanic of an untested email campaign and immediately proceeded to dump his whole list into it.
Large boats like the Titanic are hard to turn and are good at sinking. Start small and nimble like a schooner. Test your nurture emails on small groups then put everyone in when you’ve found some success.
Just take action
The bottom line is your list represents a valuable asset to your business but only if you use it well. Think about your target market, write the best emails you can that deliver value and then ask them to purchase or request a consultation. Get to it!