Lead generation is an incredibly powerful technique for creating sales. It may not be as immediately gratifying as signing up a big account or getting a temporary bump from your debut on Product Hunt. In the long term though, it’s a way to ensure that you’re creating sustainable sales and growth.
Your funnel will be constantly refreshed with qualified leads, and the relationships you nurture with those leads will be built up on trust—trust that you understand your industry, understand the problems your customers have, and have a solution.
It’s also significantly more cost-effective than direct advertising. One of AdEspresso’s customer shared some data to show how switching to Facebook lead generation changed his whole business model:
Cost to Acquire a Customer: $15
Average Lifetime Value: $167
Cost per Lead: $1.5
Conversion Rate from Lead to Customer: 20%
Cost to Acquire a Customer: $7.50
Average Lifetime Value: $237
He cut the cost of acquiring customers in half, but also generated a 70% increase in the average lifetime value of each one. How?
- It costs far less and it’s much easier to get email addresses than it is to close right away. In the above data, leads cost a tenth of what acquiring customers cost through direct advertising.
- Customers you acquire through lead generation are qualified, which means they’re more likely to stick around and even be upsold.
Why Use Facebook For Lead Generation?
Historically, lead generation is something that’s been done through personal referrals, cold calls, emails, and more recently, AdWords.
But Facebook is without a doubt the most powerful platform on which to generate qualified leads, and here’s why:
- Targeting. No platform has the kind of demographic and activity-based targeting that Facebook has, and that means that you don’t have to waste money hitting the people who aren’t interested in your product.
- Native signup flow. Facebook now lets users send their information inside lead gen ads with the click of a button, erasing the #1 element of friction in traditional online lead generation campaigns.
- Optimization. Facebook has an extensive internal toolkit for retargeting and split testing, and with AdEspresso, you can take full advantage of that.
Massimo’s guide takes you step-by-step through the process of selecting a lead magnet, designing your Facebook ad and optimizing it for performance. In this article, though, we’re going to focus on the next part of the pipeline: lead nurturing.
To achieve the kind of cost-effectiveness we’re talking about, your lead nurturing campaign can’t be run ad hoc. That means having a distinct plan and crafting emails for each stage of it.
Here are the five foundational emails of any successful lead nurturing campaign.
1. The Welcome Email—Send Your Lead Magnet
This is where lead nurturing begins: sending over the content that your lead wanted. Seems simple, right? There’s always more going on: check out this example from HubSpot.
As you can see, this isn’t just an eBook delivery. Two factors make this a strong introduction to the HubSpot world:
- Personalization. Not only am I addressed by name, but the email appears to have come from a real person—Lauren—who has included her Twitter handle and a small picture of herself. Little phrases like “access your ebook at any time here” and “just give us a call” convey a casual friendliness demonstrated in experimental studies to be the tone customers prefer.
- Support. From the moment you get their eBook, HubSpout makes you feel important, inviting you to ask questions, reserve a trial consultation and call them up directly. This kind of accessibility also makes you believe you’re dealing with a competent company, one that really stands behind its product.
Research into first impressions has shown that conveying a combination of warmth and trustworthiness is essential to forming good relationships. When we meet someone, psychologist Amy Cuddy says we make two split-second judgments: what are this person’s intentions toward me, and are they competent enough to follow through on those?
If we’re going to think truly positively of someone, we need to see them as both well-meaning and good at what they do.
When it comes to email, your leads are no different. You may think of this email as purely transactional—my lead wanted an eBook, I’m going to give it to them—but you have to think about how your email is going to be perceived. It can be difficult if not impossible to change initial perceptions.
When it comes to making a great first impression, one reliable way is to always over-deliver. When you send your lead magnet, that’s your first impression with your lead, and you only get one shot to really impress them. So deliver more than they expected, and they’ll always think of you as a company that goes above and beyond.
2. The Regular Update—Provide Consistent Content
The brain, on a very deep level, is pleased by familiarity. In an experiment performed by Patricia Pliner, participants tasted a series of previously unfamiliar tropical juices and then rated each one.
One group tasted each juice 20 times, one group 10 times, one group 5 times, and one group only got to taste once before judging.The results showed that the more times you tasted a juice, the more you liked it.
It’s part of a phenomenon first observed by psychologist Robert Zajonc, who referred to it as the familiarity principle or “mere-exposure effect”: the more times we’re exposed to a stimulus, the more likely we are to think favorably of it. That also applies to lead nurturing.
Your emails are like obscure tropical juices. A few people might love them. They’re well-crafted. It’s just that without exposure, they’ll never become as popular as they could be. But it’s obviously more than just exposure.
You also want to stay top of mind—otherwise people are just going to delete/archive your constant emails. That means putting something of actual value in the emails that you’re sending. Sound hard? Fortunately, with qualified leads, you have all the info you need.
When you acquire qualified leads, you know that they’re qualified because they face problems that you’re in the business of solving. I subscribed to Noah Kagan’s emails because I’m interested in his three main core values: entrepreneurship, marketing, and self-improvement.
I expect to get emails relating to those topics, and he doesn’t let me down—here’s an email he sent out listing several of the “books that changed his life.”
If you’re sending your leads valuable content on a regular basis, you will reap the benefits of the mere-exposure effect and also stay top of mind.
You’ll be the one they remember when it comes time to buy, or when they’re talking about thought leaders in your industry. Send consistently, keep the quality high, and you’ll build a real relationship.
3. The One-Off Special—Go Above And Beyond
Consistency is key, yes, but that doesn’t mean just cranking out a boilerplate newsletter and blasting it out every Tuesday. Consistency is about value, and consistently over-delivering and delighting your users with the stupid amount of value you’re giving them for free.
That means changing it up. Once in a while, give your leads access to something a little more special. Maybe you just wrote another eBook for a new lead generation ad. Maybe you’re setting up a webinar with other thought leaders. Whatever it is, make sure it’s about teaching your customers how to succeed with or without you, as in this email from Janet Choi at Customer.io:
Janet nails the intro in four moves:
- Quick hook—“Hi, Janet here.”
- Problematization—“Getting the first impression right is so vital… they impact future engagement.”
- Drive home the problem—“It’s too easy to sound like a form letter.”
- Provide a solution—“Save my spot”
You can’t just rely on the greatness of your stuff: hype it up a bit, dramatize the problem being solved and show how important it is that your lead learn how to solve it.
Getting your leads into webinars and new eBook releases is a really powerful tool because if you can get involved in their life as a direct teacher—well, then you’re a very large step towards closing a big sale.
4. The Product Update—Announce Big Changes
Your emails shouldn’t just point outward at your leads; they should also point inwards, towards exciting things happening internally at your company. If you can convince your leads that things are better with you than without you, then you’re going to make a sale.
For instance, writing blog posts to help your leads out is great, and an important tactic—but developing a killer feature that solves a problem a ton of your customers have is even better.
Toward the end of 2014, Sprout Social posted an article on their blog: “4 Steps for Creating a Social Media Editorial Calendar.” Good stuff. A problem that many of their users were having; being more efficient when scheduling your social media posting is critical.
About a full year later, I got this email:
Blog posts are great—but if you come out with a feature that solves a big problem, then you should definitely let your leads know about that. That could’ve been the one thing that was keeping your leads from turning into loyal customers.
Even if the lack of a proper calendar wasn’t the #1 factor in the minds of Sprout Social members, they’ve gone ahead and outlined the value of the feature to try and convince you of its necessity. It’s also critical to craft a compelling, low-friction CTA: in this case, you don’t feel a sense of anxiety about trying the calendar because you can try it free for 30 days.
5. The Close—Pull Out The Big Guns
Deciding when to close is tricky. Some like to do it early, some late; what matters is that you have a consistent basis for deciding.
Most email marketing tools will let you set up triggers. If a lead attends three of your webinars, say, or clicks on four blog posts, then you could send them an email like this one from 42Floors:
42Floors sends this email immediately after you download their eBook Find Office Space: The search process, selection criteria, lease negotiation, and office build-out guide. If you download that eBook, it’s 98% likely that you are looking for office space. How do you get to that eBook? Probably by Googling something like “usable square feet” and being sent to one of their in-depth blog articles, which then direct you to the eBook to learn more.
This seems inevitable in retrospect, but it is actually a delicately coordinated dance. First, you bring people to your primary content. Then you show them that they could go deeper, and if they bite, then you know you have a warm lead that you can hit with a closing email.
The email itself uses a couple linguistic techniques that make it successful in other ways:
- It’s direct. It doesn’t waste any time bandying about. “I’m reaching out to see if we can help.” Boom.
- Uses flexible pressure. “Let me know when is best,” i.e. get back to me with some times, because this is going to be productive for you, but whenever’s best for you.
- Personal. The actual person who’s closing needs to be the one to have the email sent out, both so leads know who they’re talking to and so it has a little more authenticity behind it—that adds a small element of pressure to the situation (“This person’s waiting for me to respond!”)
While it can be extremely effective, not getting a response to a direct close attempt is a bad sign for the future of your relationship with that lead.
Instead, you could do what Promoter.io did, and bundle a close CTA with a product update email blast:
Notice the elements:
- Hype. “Exciting changes are on the horizon,” i.e., you should read this email.
- Urgency. Twisting the hype around, you realize that you have to act now if you’re going to actually capitalize on this deal.
The deal being delivered is actually the most intriguing part of this email. Up until that point in the email, you’re excited about the upgrades to your free pricing tier. Sending 1,000 emails a month instead of just 25 is pretty good! But then they twist the screw: if you ditch your free plan, actually, you’ll be getting it at a cheaper price than future customers.
The twist’s effectiveness relies on you getting excited through the first part of the email. If they successfully hype you up about sending more emails, then it proves that you value the product and want to be using it more. That’s when they offer you the discount on a paid tier.
But there might be an even deeper psychological explanation for the way this closing email is structured. In 1987, psychologist Norbert Schwarz performed an experiment where he repeatedly placed a dime directly next to an office copy machine. Unwitting subjects who found the dime, when surveyed, reported a “substantially higher” overall satisfaction with life than subjects who didn’t find the dime.
Even a minuscule surprise, Schwarz concluded, can have serious positive effects, at least temporarily. And when we’re full of those positive feelings, Schwarz later found, we’re more open to new experiences—like paying for something we’ve been getting for free.
With asynchronous marketing, it’s practically impossible to get your closing CTA in front of customers at the precise moment they actually want it. That’s why Promoter.io hypes you up with a pleasant surprise (you’re getting 9975 more emails a month!) to prime you for happiness, then offers you something even better exactly when you’re most likely to hold them in a positive light.
6. The Bonus—Use Feedback Loops to Upsell
Yes, there’s a bonus! When people hear the word “upselling,” they often think of sleazy sales people trying to capitalize on their lack of expertise or knowledge.
Being sold something you don’t need is not what anyone wants. But think of upselling as part of a deeper relationship with your customer, and you can start to see why it’s actually something that’s desirable for everyone involved. Take a look at this example from Hello Bar:
Here, the upselling comes bundled in with a weekly summary of how your Hello Bar is doing. This is critical. Your text selection, views last week and total conversions are all listed—then, and only then, do they show you what you should buy to get even better results.
This is what they call a feedback loop. Another example of a feedback loop you might be more familiar with is those speed limit signs with radar to tell you how fast you’re going. Turns out they actually work. According to Stanford’s Alberto Bandura, providing people with information about what they’re doing and then giving them an opportunity to change for the better is an incredibly powerful technique.
The key is transparency. You need to make sure that your customers have all the information they need to make an intelligent purchase if you want to upsell them. And if you’re going to succeed, the upsell needs to be formed around helping that customer succeed. Otherwise, you could easily betray their trust and ruin the relationship you’ve been building.
How To Get Started Nurturing Your Leads
Here are three quick tips to get your lead nurturing campaigns in shape for 2016!
1. Decide On Your Campaign’s Timing And Frequency
Depending on your product and the level of complexity involved, you might decide to send out the emails listed above in rapid succession or over a fairly long time.
- With a complex product, take it slow and truly educate your leads. AdEspresso does this: the topic of Facebook ads is deep, and there’s a lot to know, and the more you understand the more likely it is that you’ll see AdEspresso’s value proposition. Plus, some people aren’t even convinced they want to use Facebook ads, so AdEspresso also shows them why they’re great.
- For a simple product, you can go for the close more quickly. 42Floors sent me a personalized close email right after I downloaded their eBook. That made sense: no one is sitting around deliberating about the different ways they could find real estate, nor are they likely to back out if they’ve embarked on this buying journey.
It’s best to follow up with your leads almost every day after you first get them, at least until you’ve sent about four emails. Then, start spacing it out more—send you regular updates weekly or biweekly and your one-offs as they emerge.
2. Set Up Your Email Workflow Tool
Export a CSV of the leads you got from Facebook, import them into your email marketing tool, and you’re ready to start planning your emails.
You don’t want to be considered a nuisance, but you also want to make sure that you stick in their head initially.
Start with your lead magnet email, then drip little bits of content over the days that follow: lists, infographics, blog posts, videos, etc.
How To Build A Smart Campaign
Customer.io (pictured above) and other email marketing tools have a whole smorgasbord of complex triggering and segmentation tools that you can use to:
- Segment your users by new leads, by the lead magnet that brought them in or by behaviors undertaken on your site
- Schedule each email in your campaign
- Review open rates, click rates and then split test to make each email better
For instance, if you send your leads a white paper your marketing team just wrote, you could segment by who downloaded it and who didn’t:
- For those who didn’t open it, you might send a video—something a little easier to consume. The leads who open that will be kept around, but those who don’t should maybe be added to a re-engagement campaign for later.
- For those who did open the whitepaper, you might send an eBook—something that goes a little deeper. If they open that, you could schedule a product demo. If they don’t, a video overview—something to keep them interested.
The beauty of it is that you could set this all up in advance. Having a smart and responsive lead nurturing campaign isn’t something hard, you just have to plan.
You need to approach your lead nurturing emails with the same rigor you apply to your ad optimization. No email should be sent out without some plan for learning from its performance, whether that’s:
- What kind of content certain leads engage with the most.
- What headlines lead to the most opens.
- What kind of copy gets people to click through to your site.
3. Learn, Retarget, Repeat
After your first campaign, you can take the leads that wound up converting into customers and retarget to a lookalike audience.
You know how much information people give to Facebook. That’s what makes lookalike audiences such a powerful tool: once you know what your hot leads are like as people, you can tap into what Facebook knows about them and double down your efforts on the specific demographic that wants your product.
Of course, constantly running lead generation campaigns and managing them with an email marketing tool that’s not integrated can be a pain. All that exporting and importing every time you want to update your list of leads or sync them back into Facebook!
That’s why AdEspresso has been working on something special for the New Year: coming soon, they’ll be putting out a full sync engine that will let you
- Upload your ad (including magnet) directly into your email marketing tool
- Sync the leads you get right back into Facebook Custom Audiences
The only way to pull off an amazing lead generation and nurturing campaign is to try it yourself, learn from what you did, and try again, so get started now! Make it your late New Year’s Resolution.