Quick – how many names are in your company’s email marketing list? Do you know where they came from? How often do they hear from you? Do they open your emails?
If you have a strong lead generation and lead nurturing strategy in place, chances are you could answer those questions fairly easily. However, even though most B2B businesses identify lead generation as one of their greatest challenges, many still don’t have strong plans in place.
This is a mistake. As privacy laws continue to take shape across the world, building a list of qualified leads will only get harder.
We work with clients all the time who are looking to get closer to their audience or potential clients. We encourage them to build their first-party data pools by getting emails of growers and then interacting with them directly. By delivering regular resonant content, leads can be moved through the buyer journey to an eventual purchase.
Sounds awesome, right? Unfortunately, it’s not nearly as easy as it sounds.
Email Addresses Are a Form of Currency
Email addresses. Everybody has one (okay, not everybody, but more than 50% of the world’s population does). Of those, around 74% have two email addresses. If you’re a millennial, you probably have at least one that is too embarrassing to talk about, chosen at some point in your teens, when none of us realized how long we would be stuck with these things.
Email addresses may be the most valuable information online. An email address is a gateway to direct communication with your customer. No wonder most sites aimed at consumers are littered with pop-up opt-in forms and lead magnets.
Let’s go back to that embarrassing email address you made in the 90s. At some point, I’m willing to bet you started using it to sign up for things. It’s your spam inbox. You rarely check it. At some point, we (the consumer) started to realize that we didn’t want to give up our email addresses for just any old reason.
This understanding, paired with increasingly restrictive privacy laws, have put the customer firmly in control. In my opinion, that’s exactly where they should be.
What’s In It For Me?
That last time you signed up for an email list, why did you do it?
Because I like their tone, style, or the values we share
Because this brand respects my time and won’t fill my inbox with useless shit I never asked for.
These answers are what you should be thinking about when you’re building a lead generation strategy. You must offer something of value in return for someone’s email address. You must communicate the value you offer in clear, easy to understand terms. And you must keep your word.
Separating the Wheat From The Chaff
Great marketing acts to sift out disinterested or unqualified potential customers, leaving only those who are most likely to take action.
When offering value in return for an email address, it’s important to understand how your offer might influence a person’s decision to opt-in, whether or not they’re actually interested in your product or service.
For example, contests with high dollar value prizes are almost guaranteed to generate a large number of entries. I wouldn’t even call these leads right away. They’re people who want to win a prize. They might be people who are ready to buy your product.
If you have a great marketing automation plan that will help you segment your list and quickly remove those who aren’t actually interested, you might not mind this method. Remember though, that large numbers of unsubscribes or low open rates can hurt your deliverability over time.
On the other hand, product discounts or other offers, especially time-limited promotions, might net you a smaller number of leads, but those are leads who you can be sure are at least in the consideration phase of their buying journey.
Why Don’t We Just Buy a List?
You likely receive emails from vendors you’ve never heard of, offering to sell you 5000+ emails and grow your database. Wow! You’ll hit all your lead goals for the next ten years with a list like that, right?
Now, imagine your email is on that list. The vendor you’ve never heard of sells that list over and over and over again to anyone who will respond to their cold email. How do you feel when a company you’ve either never heard of, or never asked to hear from, emails you? Your customers won’t like it either.
We’ve also had the opportunity to test our client’s owned databases against ones they can purchase from respected sources, and the difference is clear. Client owned lists win every time. First-party data is digital gold.
The Opt-In Isn’t The End
Remember, getting a grower to opt-in to your list isn’t the end of their buyer journey. You must continue to nurture leads with relevant content. Don’t waste their time and don’t spam their inbox. Be transparent in how you collect, store and use their data.
Growing your database takes time and effort, but it’s worth it. A well-maintained list can be a source of deeper insights into your farm customers, especially when paired with A/B testing, scoring, and segmentation.
Maz uses 26+ years of experience to effectively develop, negotiate and tailor media strategies to align with marketing goals. He is actively involved in industry organizations including the IAB (Chair, Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce and Programmatic Trading Committee), and AdClub Toronto (Digital Day Committee). You can connect with Maz on LinkedIn.