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How email and great content can fuel your buyer’s journey

One of the biggest challenges marketers face is finding ways to direct an audience from awareness and interest down the path toward actual conversion.

If you’re not getting leads, or if your leads aren’t converting, they’re falling off at various points in your sales funnel. So you have to find ways to fill the gaps with useful, valuable, and compelling content to successfully keep them moving along.

Thankfully – much like a good, wholesome breakfast fuels a solid day – email and great content work together to energize your leads (so don’t skip ‘em). Here’s a look at how combining them will help drive more conversions for your brand.

Why does nurturing leads with content matter?

Only 30% of marketers say their organization’s content marketing is effective (Content Marketing Institute). That’s a dismal number for today’s marketing landscape: Even though studies show that a solid content strategy drastically improves the success of your marketing efforts, marketers continue to neglect it.

One of the easiest ways to improve your conversion rates is to locate the specific holes your leads are falling through in the sales funnel and develop a strategy for plugging them with awesome content that helps leads address their most common pain points. The key word there is “helps,” not “sells.” Helpful content is what will keep leads engaged and moving down the funnel until it’s time to buy.

Developing your content strategy

Before you even begin creating content, you should develop a clearly defined strategy for the what, why and how of the content you’d like to produce.

You need to understand your audience, what motivates them, and what they need to hear from you in order to make a connection to your brand. Buyers are trying to solve a problem or meet a specific need. As a result, they’re gathering information to help themselves make better informed decisions. By creating content aimed at educating buyers, you can start to build a connection with prospects and eventually turn them into qualified leads.

The top of the funnel, or "awareness" stage, is the perfect place to educate prospects about topics that matter most to their business. This stage attracts new prospects, answers questions on topics relevant to both the buyer and brand, and builds trust. At this point, their value as a lead is low because they are unqualified and the probability that they’ll convert isn’t certain. Before you can qualify them as high-value leads, you need to nurture them.

If you can help them learn, make them smile, and make them feel something positive, then you’re doing it right! It's all about creating (and being a curator of) interesting, educational, valuable, and entertaining information that makes their jobs easier.

Where does email come in?

First, you have to get their email address. You see lightbox forms pop-up all over the place for a reason: They convert. Big time. Lightbox forms average around a 46% uptick in new signups versus static sign-up forms. This precious, effective real estate at top-of-funnel touchpoints can be even more effective when you’re immediately serving value at this interaction, like promising a guide or white paper in exchange for an email address.

Then, once you’ve added those leads to your email audience, say hello in all the right ways. It’s not just about special offers – again, this interaction is about making good on the promise of that exchange of goods. Give me the content I’m looking for, and I’ll become a happy, engaged, high-value prospect. That’s why welcome emails increase long-term brand engagement by as much as 33%.

And to get the best possible results? Consider automating an entire welcome series. Here’s an example of what that could look like:

Email 1: Thanks for signing up and brand introduction. Or, access to that piece of content you promised them in exchange for providing their email address.
Email 2: Exclusive piece of helpful content. This is a great place to make me feel valued and also learn a little bit more about what solutions your brand has to offer.
Email 3: Case study of a customer having success with your brand. Social proof is powerful stuff, so one of the best ways to show me how valuable your brand is by showing me other brands that benefit from a relationship with you.
Email 4: At this point, you can now ask for something by including a special offer with a call to action to buy.

How do you continually nurture leads who are already in your ecosystem?

You can’t stop the line of communication once a lead has downloaded an ebook or attended a webinar. This alone doesn’t qualify them as sales ready – and likewise, one piece of content from you doesn’t mean you’ve won over their hearts and minds. You’ve got to work for it. Once your audience is familiar with your content and they’re engaged, it’s time to take them to the next stage of the funnel: action.

You need to continue talking to, sharing content with, and engaging those leads who may be stuck in the middle of your funnel. The best way to do that? Serve them premium content. This content is more focused on equipping your audience with the necessary thought leadership and knowledge to be more efficient and make smarter buying decisions.

Examples of premium content:
• Guides/eBooks
• Case studies
• Webinars
• Toolkits

And as you continue to nurture your subscribers, keep all of your messaging as personal as possible. 78% of top-performing marketers say list segmentation is the one marketing automation feature they can’t live without (Gleanster). If you can start to put the people into the right segments by paying attention to their behavior, you can set up automated workflows, use dynamic content to truly personalize the experience they’re having in the inbox, and get them closer to converting.

Want to learn more about using email and great content to fuel your buyer’s journey? Check out our full, free webinar with the content marketing experts from Visually here!