White papers are a great lead generating tool. Research indicates that 82 percent of consumers have downloaded a white paper to research a purchase decision.
However, creating a white paper is only half the battle. Once you’ve created a white paper, you’ll have a healthy list of leads that you’ll want to follow up with. So, now that your white paper is racking up downloads, what do you do next?
To help businesses create an action plan that follows up on leads collected from white paper downloads, you can follow these four steps:
1. Make initial contact with an automated email
You know the phrase, “Strike while the iron is hot?” Well, once your white paper is downloaded and in the hands of a new contact, you need to do just that.
Research shows potential customers are most engaged in your business in the first 48 hours following the download. That means, you need to make initial contact fast.
To make sure your business takes advantage of this crucial window of time, it’s a good idea to create and send email through automation. In other words, you’ll create an email in your account specifically for new leads that are generated from the white paper and you’ll use automation to ensure that the email is delivered to their inbox.
You can send it immediately following the download, a few hours later or early the next day. Using automation, you can trigger the email to send whenever you’d like. Just make sure it’s within 48 hours.
Now that we’ve talked timing, you’re probably wondering what this email should say. The email should include:
- A warm greeting and a thank you
Welcome the prospective customer to the family with a warm welcome. You’ll also want to say thanks for downloading your white paper.
- Highlight your business
Be sure to include a few sentences that highlight your business, and the product or service that you’re trying to promote. It’s okay to brag a little here.
- Explain next steps
Tell prospective customers that will happen next. Do you plan to call them? Is there another email you plan to send with more resources? Explain your plans and be sure to follow through with them.
- Include a call to action
Your call to action might be a link to your website to learn more about business, or a button that allows customers to schedule a consultation. Depending on what you’re trying accomplish, the call to action will vary. Just make sure the email contains one.
- Social media buttons
By providing links to your social media pages, customers can learn more about your business in a pressure-free environment. Don’t forget to add these to your email. They’ll help contacts stay engaged with your business now and in the future.
2. Set up a drip campaign
Ok, you’ve sent an initial email to prospective customers, now what?
Now, you’ll want to start nurturing these leads. What’s the best way to do that? Use a drip campaign. A drip campaign sends a series of automated emails to clients based on specific triggers.
For example, let’s say you want to educate consumers about a new product that you’re introducing. The first email could highlight its benefits while pointing out the inconveniences of competing products. If a contact opens that email, it could trigger another email to send the following day that offers a special promotion on the new product.
The idea is to walk the potential customer through the buying process with specific emails that automatically land in their inbox. Companies that excel at drip campaigns generate 80 percent more sales at 33 percent lower costs. Needless to say, they’re effective.
Of course, the content of a drip campaign all depends on your business goals and its sales funnel.
To help, use this guide to create an email that’s right for your unique situation:
If your goal is to educate customers about a new product or service, you should create a series of emails that do the following:
- Show the benefits of your product
- Explain why your product beats the competition
- Explain how your product solves a problem
- Share customer testimonials that provide social proof
- Provide links to resources on your website that provide more information
Remember, you’re creating a drip campaign, so you’ll send a series of emails, so you don’t want to cram all of this information into one email. Spread it out over several bite-sized emails that are easy for the customer to digest.
Goal: Make a sale
If your goal is to make a sale, you’ll need to create a drip campaign with this as its end game. You have to consider your sales funnel here. If customers need a little wooing before they make a purchase, don’t skip right to the “Buy Me” email.
As a rule of thumb, if you want to make a sale, you should create a series of emails that do the following:
- Remind customers about the benefits of your products
- Provide links to news articles or press releases that show off your product or service
- Reinforce your company as the one to buy from
- Provide links to testimonials or a case study that can convince customers to buy
- Provide an incentive to buy, like a limited-time offer or coupon
Again, you’ll want to spread these messages out across several emails.
Some businesses use white papers as a retention tool. If your business wants subscribers to renew a subscription or upsell current customers, you should create a series of emails that do the following:
- Remind customers of the value they get
- Remind customers when their subscription is about to expire
- Provide an incentive to sign up again, or renew a subscription
- Provide links to more attractive features that customers can upgrade to
- Offer a free, limited-time upgrade to entice customers to move up a tier of service
- Provide an incentive to stay with your company for another term
Using the list above, create two or three emails that make sense for your business to help retain customers.
3. Run through an email checklist before sending
While each email will vary depending on your business, there are a few key elements that every single lead nurturing email should have. Before hitting send, run through this checklist:
- Create a subject line that meets the double “I” criteria
Your subject line should be both intriguing and informative. The new contact is interested in your business, so provide a subject line that grab’s attention and explains what’s inside.
- Personalize emails
Personalization sells. Personalized trigger emails, like the ones you’re creating after a white paper is downloaded, have a 25 percent higher open rate and 51 percent higher click-through rate than those without. Needless to say, if you’re going through the trouble of creating a white paper and a follow-up drip campaign, you shouldn’t skimp on the personalization.
- Write with the customer in mind
Throughout the course of a drip campaign, you’ll likely do a little bragging about your business. That’s okay. However, you’ll want to make sure that you use a tone that fits your business.
If your business is casual, write in a conversation manner. If your business in more of a buttoned-up, serious company, than make sure the message in your email reflects that.
No matter what your business is, make sure that you don’t talk down to prospective leads. Educate without judging, and sell without being pushy.
- Include a call to action
Every email – no matter what its purpose – should have a call to action. Whether you send an email intended to educate or sell, there should be a follow-through action that the prospective customer can take.
4. Track everything
When it comes to digital content, one of the best features is its measurability. As a business, there’s power in data, so make sure you’re reviewing every measurable statistic that you have.
Creating a white paper and nurturing the leads through an email drip campaign is time consuming, so you’ll want to know what your return on investment is.
Depending on the metrics you have access to, you should watch the metrics surrounding your initial white paper. Look at the number of downloads and engagement ratings that can tell you things like how long readers stayed on a certain page and how many people read the paper from start to finish.
In addition, you’ll want to watch the metrics surrounding your email campaign. Pay attention to the big three: open, click-through and conversion rates.
Using these statistics you can begin to gauge your return on investment. Remember, return on investment isn’t just about the amount of money that the white paper helps you bring in (although that is an important one). Your white paper also created brand awareness and put your company in a position of authority, which are also valuable returns that you’ll likely reap in the long run.
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