Warm Nurture Email Campaigns: Best Practices

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Warm Nurture Email Campaigns: Best Practices, Part 1

Financial institutions in the US are expected to actively adapt their warm nurture email campaigns to marketing industry best practices. Emails are one of the most effective means for nurturing leads, especially for Business-to-Business (B2B) relationship building. Educational content, customized content via personalized email subscription, and the combination of emails and videos are three international best practices for financial service providers, such as banks.

Best Practice 1: Educational Contents That Market Products, Services And/Or Organizations

  • Educational email content are known as the best means for leads nurturing, which demonstrate the value of products or services that a financial institution offers to its clients. It is important to ensure this content not be sales-driven but offer clients, such as small businesses, a channel to learn through links to white papers, blog articles, and videos. This content generally meets clients' requirements, for example, the need for online banking and credit against financial distress during the COVID-19 global pandemic.
  • In addition to general educational content, financial institutions could take the opportunity to announce new products. Product-specific emails should neither be too frequent nor boring, which connects product-oriented emails with emails sent earlier in the lead-nurturing series.
  • Financial service providers, such as banks, should personalize email marketing content for specific clients or potential prospects who are interested in banking products or services. Financial institutions are expected to nurture their clients with interesting content and inform them of new and existing products to generate sales. This could be achieved through value-added marketing and service communication that warm-up email subscribers.

Best Practice 2: Personalized Email Access to Customized Contents

  • Clients expect to receive customized emails, which create a personalized experience. For example, a marketing campaign automation software with built-in client segmentation features sends a specific client a link in the email to access customized content. If the client does not click the link, the campaign organizer could send the client a follow-up email. In comparison, if the client clicks the link, the client would receive a different email or a phone call from a salesperson in the bank.
  • To attract more client visits by clicking the access link, banks are expected to provide an introduction to a variety of content, such as articles, case studies, webinars, videos, and infographics, among others. This content should be customized for small businesses, ranging from new start-ups to businesses being acquired. For example, facing the challenge of national lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, new banking offerings are launched for small businesses.
  • To access content that is specifically designed for small businesses, clients are often informed through emails, with links to the advertised content on banks' websites, and they are required to subscribe for the periodic update on new releases via email. A good example is Wells Fargo Works for Small Business, which is a portal aiming to enhance user experience.

Best Practice 3: Combining Email With Video Marketing

  • According to research findings by marketing consultancy First Five Eight, the combination of email and video marketing was one of the most efficient and effective B2B leads nurturing strategies in 2019. Such a combination provides videos created by the Wistia and Vidyard applications, which are high quality and easier for leads to digest.
  • Companies, such as financial institutions, could integrate email and video marketing campaigns with marketing automation and CRM software, track the time leads have spent on watching the video, and build in triggers to notify sales teams of the most nurtured leads.
  • Another form of video marketing is webinars, which pre-qualify audiences, regarding their interests and expectations over the company's products or services. Their email addresses used for registering the webinar could be used to launch a follow-up email nurturing campaign.
  • Research findings by Growth Hackers, a digital marketing agency, reveal that 45.1% of respondents agree that it is ideal to send nurturing emails only once a week. Content should be relevant and interesting to targeted leads.

Research Strategy

Our research began by reviewing a variety of international web portals that focus on email marketing and lead nurturing campaigns. We found some best practices recommended for financial service providers, such as banks, regarding warm nurture email campaigns to business customers, which are supplemented by best practices designed for building B2B relationships. However, there is limited information on how financial institutions have responded to the COVID-19 phenomenon in regard warm nurture email campaigns. We take the COVID-19 outbreak as an example of how financial institutions could apply generic marketing best practices where it is possible and appropriate. Lastly, the marketing industry‘s best practices are international and applicable to the US.
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Warm Nurture Email Campaigns: Best Practices, Part 2

Email campaigns are one of the most effective ways to nurture leads; however, in the COVID-19 crisis, best practices for these warm nurture email campaigns have shifted in order to foster trust and maintain interest. Businesses have scrambled to connect with their audiences, and examples of the best email campaigns in response to the crisis reveal trends in effective marketing strategies. The first best practice for warm nurture email campaigns in the post-COVID-19 era is to segment leads based on their persona, stage of the buying cycle, and situational context during the crisis to target customers with relevant and empathetic campaigns. The second is to communicate important information about safety and digital services rather than pushing products in order to establish trust and authority.

Segment and Group Leads to Send More Relevant and Empathetic Email Campaigns

  • Each lead will have different interests or be at a different stage of the buying process, and it is important that they do not receive too many emails that do not apply to them, or they may unsubscribe.
  • It is also important for businesses to determine who on the email-campaign list needs to receive emails about the COVID-19 crisis to ensure customers do not perceive a business as simply "capitalizing on the current situation;" for example, if a bank branch has closed its lobby, only customers in the surrounding location of that branch would need to be informed of this closure.
  • Through segmentation of the leads by demographics, one may send emails that are relevant to a specific group; these emails are more likely to receive attention and clicks.
  • For financial services institutions, these demographics for email marketing segmentation include the following: presence of children, which may mean a customer for whom emails about college funds are appropriate; homeownership status and income, which may determine whether a lead is better served with an email campaign about how to prepare to buy a home or how to apply for personal loans and credit lines; and finally, education level, which may be used to decide whether a subject line should be technical, for example.
  • Hubspot's Product Marketing Manager Jeffrey Russo groups their leads by "marketing persona" and their stage in the buying cycle; for example, leads may be grouped into marketing heads at large enterprise organizations with well-developed infrastructures, mid-sized organizations with small teams, or small business owners without much marketing experience.
  • The Weidert Group recommends tailoring content towards where customers are in the buying cycle; for those at the beginning of the cycle, "tip sheets and simple how-to guides" can give them the basic information they need, while those in the middle may seek "whitepapers, eBooks, and videos that provide head-to-head comparisons or case studies" to find solutions to specific problems, and those at the end of the cycle want "demonstrations, webinars, and no-cost evaluations" to cement their trust and move forward towards purchases.
  • In addition to buyer personas, lead nurturing in the current crisis requires empathy; this is achieved through understanding more than just the audience's demographics, but also how they have been affected by COVID-19, and targeting email campaigns based on these segments.
  • To better empathize with customers during this crisis, Jon-Mikel Bailey at Wellspring Digital, LLC, recommends analyzing the customer's context: first, physical state and location, meaning finding out if they are telecommuting from home or a healthcare worker on the front lines; second, mindset, or gauging their mental state; and third, motivation, or using the lead-nurturing triggers and resulting actions to help them solve a problem or address a need.

Use Emails to Build Trust, Avoiding Promotional Language

  • In business-to-business relationship building, trust is essential; in the aftermath of COVID-19, use email campaigns to communicate helpful information to leads and establish authority during this tumultuous time.
  • This important information may include updated safety policies, "business continuity, inventory or supply chain updates, and any changes that customers or vendors should expect."
  • During this time of crisis, "promotional-sounding language and tone" can alienate potential customers, so build trust by focusing on critical information rather than marketing services.
  • In this time of financial distress and uncertainty, customers will have more questions and require reassurance; in anticipation of this, one suggestion is to implement more "financial-fitness tools and dialogue in customer interactions."
  • Another suggestion for how banking institutions can build trust during this time is to "launch positive and safety-oriented messaging" that focuses on promoting digital banking services and remote support options like chat boxes and online tutorials, as well as offering discounts.

Research Strategy

To research best practices for warm nurture email campaigns in the post-COVID-19 era, we reviewed a variety of online marketing resources. We focused on sources that addressed marketing strategies in response to the COVID-19 crisis, specifically those discussing financial institutions and business-to-business relationships. Some of the COVID-19-related best practices address nurture email campaigns in general, as there was not sufficient information available on how financial institutions specifically have adapted their marketing to the crisis. We also included information on best practices for warm nurture email campaigns outside the context of the pandemic where they were still applicable.