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Achieving Right Time, Right Message in Email Marketing and Beyond

  |  December 16, 2013   |  Comments

Guest columnist Ida Barrie from PDF software brand Nitro shares tips on email messaging that better resonates with customers, based on changes they've made to their own systems in 2013.

idabarriebioBy guest columnist Ida Barrie

Right time, right message. We all agree it's the best way to resonate with our potential customers, but that doesn't mean it's easy to accomplish.

This year at document software company Nitro, we've made a concerted effort to look at our marketing program in order to evaluate how we can continue to shift away from the old school "batch and blast" method and move toward the "right time, right message" method we know drives sales.

As I reflect on 2013 (and review the numbers, of course!), I notice there were three major initiatives that brought us closer to our messaging goal:

  • predictive lead scoring, 
  • starting conversations with our customers, 
  • and ad retargeting.

A New Way to Hit Your Numbers: Predictive Lead Scoring

At Nitro, we speak to individual users, plus small to enterprise size businesses. Trying to determine which messaging a contact should receive was a perpetual challenge for us, and it wasn't an ideal user experience to include the "business or personal" question on all of our forms.

We decided to look into predictive lead scoring to solve this issue. By studying and building a model around our historic enterprise deals, our lead scoring engine is now able to assign a predicted lead score to each of our contacts. The higher the score, the more that contact resembles an enterprise customer of ours.

We've integrated the scoring process with our web forms, so now a contact is assigned a score as soon as they enter our database. The predicted lead score, along with other information such as marketing lead score and website interactions, helps us decide what type of messaging a contact should receive (e.g. hard sell or soft sell), how frequently we should reach out, or if the contact should be sent directly to our sales team for follow-up.

It's only been a few months, and already our sales team has shared positive results about being able to get in touch with the right people more quickly.

How to Start Conversations with Your Customers

A while back, we launched a moderately successful educational email series to help users get acquainted with our software. While we were proud of the original idea, we noticed that customers weren't getting the best possible service, because the campaign didn't include a "reply to" email address that allowed users to ask questions or start a conversation.

When we revamped the series, we decided to take a more personal approach. Now, our product education emails come directly from our employees. For example, our Director of Product and Support discusses our customer support team; our Head of Security explains how we secure our software, etc.

The best part? Customers can reply to those emails and engage with a live person! Instead of noreply@companyxyz.com, reply emails will go to patrice@companyxyz.com and Patrice will respond accordingly. By giving our customers a way to interact with us directly, they're empowered to start conversations (and those dialogues have yielded everything from valuable product feedback to larger enterprise deals!).

Making What is Good, Great: Ad Retargeting

For select email campaigns, we've started supplementing our sends with ad retargeting to ensure we remain top of mind throughout the buying process.

If we send an email to a contact prompting them to read a white paper or download a Nitro Pro trial, we also begin serving them display ads with the same call-to-action to reiterate our messaging without having to clutter inboxes with multiple emails. Additionally, it means our messaging is in front of users while they're browsing the web and thus they intrinsically have the time to consume our content and research our solutions. This initiative is still in its early stages, but we anticipate seeing a lift in engagement and campaign-driven web traffic.

How All of This Helps Us Achieve "Right Time, Right Message"

Without forcing people to self-identify, we're able to determine appropriate messaging for our incoming contacts through predictive lead scoring. By allowing our customers to reply directly to our employees, we're letting our customers dictate when they want to respond and what the conversation will entail. And, we can now be more confident our messages are being received as we've moved beyond the inbox with display ads that will reach contacts when they are already in browsing mode.

Nitro has made a lot of progress toward our goal of "right time, right message" this year. I'm looking forward to seeing what new innovation and strategies 2014 brings us!

About our guest columnist: Ida Barrie got her start in email marketing 6 years ago and has been analyzing and optimizing ever since. A proud native of Michigan, she relocated to San Francisco 4 years ago and is currently the Marketing Operations Analyst at Nitro, where she manages the marketing systems team and is responsible for marketing automation administration, initiatives and technologies as well as the measurement, reporting, and analysis of Marketing programs. She can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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