It’s spring and love is in the air. How lovable is your marketing? Do your prospects eagerly anticipate your next email? Are they enamored with your newsletter content? Have they shared your social media posts with their friends? You’ve likely spent a lot of time (and money) vying for their attention on your beautiful website and flirting with them on social media, but you’re not sure how to take your professional courtship to the next level…
You know that marketing in today’s digital age is a long engagement, and you must constantly woo your prospects to keep their future business betrothed.
Here are 10 ways to help your prospects fall head over heels with your content marketing:
1. Welcome them
You need to warmly welcome your new prospects, regardless of how they have found you. According to MarketingSherpa, your welcome email is likely to be the most opened and read email you ever send your prospects and is your chance to make the very best first impression you can. Welcome new email/newsletter/blog subscribers warmly by treating your welcome message like your first date. If your welcome letter is late, disheveled, or boring, you may never get a second chance. Your welcome message is your opportunity to elicit that happy, fuzzy feeling that tells prospects that your company is a keeper. They will want to keep seeing you in their inbox for years to come.
Keep your subject line concise, but inviting, and your introductory paragraph should thank them for subscribing to your email newsletter. Remind them about any subscriber preferences they can select and provide multiple contact methods so they can get in touch with you. Keep your message light, friendly and personable. This is your first date, after all. It’s not the time or place for overt sales pitches. You want them to look forward to your next email, not dread it. As a way of “asking them out again,” request that they add your domain to their “safe list”. If they are serious about the relationship, they won’t want to miss your messages.
2. Impress them
Most people think of content as words on a page. But content marketing is more than just words. Think about it – the ads you remember, the newsletters you love, the videos you share – they are all visually compelling, drawing your eye in and attracting your attention first, before you even know what the message is about. Visual content counts. Impress your prospects with quality images, videos, layout and design.
Over time, you may find your click through rates declining. It could be because your emails or social media posts lack luster. Our brains are hard-wired to distinguish new data and ignore things that we’ve seen before. Keep the look and feel of your communications fresh. If your messages are bland and boring (or worse, sloppy and disorganized), prospects may lose interest and dump you before the relationship has had a chance to begin. Spice up worn out layouts and designs with a little face-lift. Update your masthead, change your banners and use new images. Those changes alone will catch your readers’ attention and rekindle your marketing love affair. Dress your email newsletters and social media posts with all the bells and whistles that your brand flaunts. Don’t be shy about including a photo of yourself or your team. Try different layouts and designs on for size and test them to see which one(s) are the most effective. You want to deliver quality content with impeccable style to keep the love alive.
3. Engage them
When customizing and personalizing your content marketing, infuse a little personality into your messages. Your prospects want to know who they would be working with, not just what products and services you offer. Personalize your email newsletters, social media posts and email blasts with a human element to accompany the highly relevant, educational and helpful articles. People love marketing that provides answers to questions and meets their needs. They also love getting to know more about the human being who offers those solutions. And feeling like you are getting to know them by personalizing their content to their interests. Use your prospects’ names in their emails, reference their industries and types of businesses, and ensure that the content you send them is relevant to their needs.
Your prospects will remain engaged with your messages if they are solution-oriented as opposed to product-based. Content marketing is akin to dating: if you only talk about yourself, your date won’t find you very interesting. You need to understand the people you are trying to connect with, and understand what matters to them. Tell them stories that focus on the problems your prospects face and how you can help them. Pay attention to their core pain and how they feel. Hiring a professional service provider of any kind (from a CPA to a bank to an attorney) is an emotional process. If your content focuses on your deep understanding of your buyers’ persona, your prospects will come to love you.
4. Woo them
New relationships take a little extra effort. Your prospects want to be wooed. You are probably not going to get a sale from your first initial contact with prospects. One visit to your website does not a client make. One email blast is not enough to garner a long-term commitment. One new fan on Facebook will not ensure engagement. You need to continue your courtship with consistent drip marketing through a variety of channels – email, social media, mobile and more.
There’s no better way to captivate and charm new prospects than by reminding them that you are still thinking about them after that first date. Follow up your welcome email with a second and possibly third message that reinforces your connection, enhances your brand, shows them that you care about them and begins to build that long-term relationship that you long for. Of course, you don’t want to smother them with emails. But a well thought-out newsletter and email drip campaign will help you establish the rapport you need. Feel free to ask prospects what they would like to read about in your newsletter or on your social media channels without prompting, prodding or nagging. Make them feel special and in control of the relationship. Consider sprinkling in some humor, too. Your industry may be serious, but your content need not always be so austere. If it reads like a dictionary, tweak the tone to make it more conversational or present it from a humorous perspective. Include lighthearted trivia, relevant cartoons, or jokes.
5. Segment them
Prospects love quality content that helps, educates, informs and entertains them. Content that solves problems and answers questions. Content that tickles their funny bones. Content that establishes a bond with you, the sender. Content that is relevant to their lives and their businesses.
You can only give them what they want if your marketing messages are segmented to meet your prospects’ unique needs. There is no better way to accumulate a massive following of infatuated prospects than by connecting them with the right content. Segmentation also allows you to better develop a niche service offering that may need a little extra nurturing to grow into a main practice area.
To give prospects what they want, you have to create appropriate segments. It may take a little time and elbow grease, but the results will be well worth it. First, identify your target audience and then break that list up into smaller categories based on their specific needs, desires and demographics. Segment your campaigns so that your content is a perfect match to each recipient. You may have some prospects that fall into more than one category – that’s fine as long as they don’t receive duplicate messages. Make sure that you send out only the most relevant content to each of your prospects to reinforce the idea that you know and understand them and what they need.
6. Move them
Your goal, ultimately, is to move your prospects. Move them emotionally. Move them through the buyer lifecycle. Decision-making is an emotional process. You need remarkable, relevant and compelling content to move your prospects through the traditional buyer decision-making steps of awareness, interest, desire and action.
This can be done most effectively with a combination of email marketing and social media marketing. As long as you keep your finger on your prospects’ emotional pulse, you will be able to guide them from being aware of your firm to wanting to hire you. A common rule of thumb for content marketing is the 10:4:1 rule:
- 10 pieces of relevant, informative industry content that proves that you have a clear understanding of and expertise related to your prospects’ businesses
- 4 helpful articles (i.e., “how-to” or “why” content) that are applicable to people who don’t use your product or service
- 1 piece of content that moves your prospect to the next stage of the buyer’s lifecycle, such as an invitation to a webinar, a whitepaper, a client’s case study or a product spotlight with testimonial
7. Respond to them
Now more than ever, your marketing has to be responsive to prospect’s needs. Keep an eye on your metrics and analytics so that you can make changes to the content, frequency and other attributes of your content marketing campaign for each subscriber as needed. You can track your data to improve your content categories to better meet your prospects’ needs, so when someone habitually ignores a certain content topic but consistently clicks through articles on other subjects, you can update her preferences and send her more of the content she will love (including auto-responders and drip campaigns). This will not only demonstrate your interest in and understanding of your prospects, but also help to move your prospects through the buyer life cycle by giving them more of what they want.
Do you have inactive prospects who haven’t engaged with your email or newsletter content at all for some time? Respond to their lack of activity by sending them a personalized note asking them if their content preferences have changed, a poll or survey to see if you can initiate two-way communication, an email to re-confirm their subscription or a direct message that asks them flat-out if they would like to unsubscribe from your campaign. Sometimes, just the fact that you have asked will be enough to reignite your relationship. You might also try a special offer or a free give-away (see #9, below). Approach inactive prospects with a welcome campaign in reverse: make them feel special and valued, give them a variety of ways to connect with you, and finally, say goodbye if your actions don’t solicit the response you had hoped for.
8. Protect them
Give them additional peace of mind by including an unsubscribe link so your prospects know they don’t have to be tied to you forever if they change their minds or just don’t want to sustain the relationship anymore. Not only is that necessary for CAN-SPAM compliance, but it’s important that your let prospects know that it’s perfectly fine if they want to break off ties with you, no strings attached. And then honor that request promptly.
9. Reward them
You don’t have to be in an exclusive relationship with each and every prospect in order to provide them with benefits. Surprise your new prospects with gifts in your messages. Delight new and old prospects alike with your willingness to share your knowledge. People are hungry to learn and they yearn for educational content. Whether you have the perfect whitepaper or segment-specific articles for each of your prospects, titillate them with something of value. They will reciprocate by giving you their time and loyalty, which will eventually turn into new business.
Develop delightful resources that you can interpret into calls to action and give away to loyal followers, subscribers and prospects when the time is right. Your box of goodies might include branded whitepapers, webinars, videos, meet and greets, Q&As, ebooks, or other freebies. Accompany any product or service spotlight with how-to guides or one of your other gifts to balance out the sales pitch with a helpful, no-strings-attached reward.
10. Thank them
Don’t forget to thank your prospects every now and then. Thank them when they subscribe. Thank them when they download a resource. Thank them when they register for a webinar. Thank them at the holidays. Thank them on their birthdays. Thank them on their subscription anniversary. Thank them for sharing your content. Thank them for following your posts. Thank them for everything.
When HubSpot conducted a comprehensive analysis of open rates and click through rates (CTRs) on automated thank you emails and compared those statistics to those reported on general campaign emails, they discovered that thank you emails generated a 42% open rate and 14% CTR on average, while generic campaign emails generated a 12% open rate and a 6% CTR.
Clearly, people like to be thanked. Saying thank you is not only nice, it’s nice for business. And its expected when you’re developing a relationship. Just like the rewards mentioned above, you can thank your prospects by giving them free resources you have developed or, depending on what stage they are in, access to a free consultation or meeting.
Add some passion to your content marketing for more profitable returns
If you haven’t given much thought to your content marketing strategy, you are likely missing out on opportunities to establish fruitful connections and relationships that will remain loyal for years to come.
Relationships drive sales. Marketing establishes relationships. Content propels marketing.
Will your content marketing strategy develop enough relationships to improve your sales? If not, give it a good, long look from the dating perspective. Remember that the professional-client relationship is a long-term courtship that begins with the very first impression and continues until the prospect is sufficiently enamored with your company and needs your services. Woo and nurture your prospects with quality content for the long haul and you will win more business.
How to Cultivate Relationships With Prospects via Email
Technology enables us to reach out and connect with more people than ever through mediums like email. Although developing rapport electronically can be more challenging than interacting directly with prospects, many of the same rules apply. This complimentary whitepaper from Thomson Reuters Checkpoint Marketing for Firms outlines best practices to keep in mind when cultivating relationships with prospects via email and explains how, when done well, email marketing can be an asset to growing your business and connecting with new clients.