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How does e-mail marketing help the lead nurturing process?

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Answer: E-mail marketing provides an essential element to the lead-nurturing process. Lead nurturing helps keep prospects—those not quite ready to buy—warm. The Internet has dramatically changed the buying cycle because so much data is instantly available. Now, research and education start way before a prospect is ready to make a purchase. Therefore, once a prospect is engaged with your company—for example, she has downloaded a white paper or case study—it is essential to stay in front of the lead so that when the prospect is ready to buy, your company is first in mind.

E-mail marketing provides the most efficient and effective way to nurture leads. It can be used to target specific groups, track for true interest and provide up-to-date, valuable information while being reasonably inexpensive to execute. By segmenting leads based on interests, industry or other important parameters, e-mail can be targeted to a particular buyer, therefore having greater impact. E-mail provides the flexibility to easily alter text for each lead segment and provides immediate testing and tracking capabilities. Sending out e-newsletters with timely articles is important, but seeing who actually clicks which links, what pages on your Web site they visit and for how long they stayed offers true insight. This real-time insight into lead interaction enables marketers to measure precisely those leads that are ready to be passed to sales and those that are not quite ready to buy.

It takes commitment to effectively use e-mail marketing for a lead nurturing program. It’s not expensive, but it’s critical that it occur on a regular basis to be effective. ROI is another important factor that must be accounted for in the lead nurturing process. You must measure the return you receive through the nurturing process to accurately determine the value of your investment.

Lisa Cramer is chief sales & marketing officer at FirstWave (www.firstwave.net), a provider of marketing automation solutions.

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