Question: How can I use e-mail to follow up on marketing leads without sending "generic" messages?

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Answer: Marketers are often frustrated when "leads" they deliver to the sales team fail to move through the pipeline or convert to sales. Sometimes, the leads just aren't very good. Often, though, the fault lies in the organization's failure to create or execute an effective lead-prioritization and follow-up strategy.

E-mail can be extremely effective in helping with this lead conversion and relationship marketing. When first capturing the lead—on a Web landing page, for example--make sure you capture data in a manner that enables you to quickly prioritize, segment and send tailored e-mail messages. Here's how:

  • Where it makes sense, use multiple-choice questions or lists. Multiple-choice responses enable you to create a set of standard e-mails you can use to follow up, based on which answer the recipient choses.
  • When using multiple-choice responses, make sure you allow respondents to specify "Other" or indicate "I don’t know." Many marketers unwittingly sabotage their data capture and follow-up efforts by forcing respondents either to select a response that is inaccurate or skip the response altogether.
  • Make sure you include "disqualifiers" that automatically indicate when a lead is not qualified.
  • Ask the right questions; remember to focus on those your sales force actually uses to customize their follow up.
  • Track lead behavior. Your follow-up e-mail should include offers that acknowledge each lead’s interaction with your organization. If your prospect has downloaded a technical white paper, your e-mail should follow up with a trial or demo offer of your product. If someone has responded to a trial download offer, your e-mail should solicit feedback or initiate a dialogue related to a potential sales call.

Once you’ve correctly captured the right data, you can quickly create effective follow-up e-mails that appear tailored. Some applications also streamline this process by automatically generating follow-up e-mails based on responses supplied on a campaign landing page.

Marilou Barsam is VP-client consulting services for TechTarget (, an information technology media company based in Needham, Mass.

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