Google+ The Marketing Survivalist: 7 Ways to Build an Opt-In List for a Lead Nurturing Program

7 Ways to Build an Opt-In List for a Lead Nurturing Program

Building a list of prospects who opt-in to receive information from you can sound like a daunting task, but it doesn’t need to be. Keep in mind a couple of fundamental principles:

First, lead nurturing programs do not need to be large to be effective. An effective lead nurturing program could have 100 prospects in it. This is quite different from a “push” e-mail or direct mail campaign where a list that small may not be worth the expense of putting together a campaign.

Second, building an opt-in list is not a “once and done” effort. A consistent effort over time will allow you to build a list that will become one of your greatest assets. Many companies talk about the size of their database. Show me the size of your opt-in nurturing list and then maybe I’ll be impressed.

Here are some simple but often overlooked ways to build an opt-in list:

1. Your website – You know that the best websites have a call to action on every page. You want your websites to be lead generation machines, but so often, those who download your literature or on-demand webinars are really “just looking.” Every time you put a download behind a form, you should give that prospect an opportunity to sign up for regular emails from your organization.

2. Your newsletter program – I recommended having both a newsletter program and a mailing program. There are going to be some prospects who will sign up for a newsletter, but just aren’t ready to sign up to receive regular emails. It’s far less “risky” in their mind if you give them the choice.

Of course, every newsletter you send should also give them the opportunity to opt-in to your mailing program if they want to receive the same kind of information more often.

3. Your telemarketing team – Most of you probably have someone, or maybe even a team of people, assigned to field calls from suspects who contact you. It can be a mind-numbing job, especially in a down economy when it seems like your hot prospects are few and far between. As any telemarketer will tell you, they are only as good as the number of hot (qualified) leads they’ve delivered to the field.

You want to remain focused on the goal of delivering qualified leads to the sales team, but you should have a secondary goal of building your nurturing list. Most people who call into a company will ask for “more information” if only because they don’t know what else to do. That is a perfect time to ask them if they would like to be kept up-to-date and receive additional educational information.

I am in favor of making qualified nurturing prospects a key metric. You may not compensate your telemarketers on it, but set a goal and celebrate it when it’s reached. Pizza parties still fit into most marketing budgets and it’s a great way to show your telemarketers that you appreciate their efforts and see them as key contributors to the success of the company.

4. Your sales team – If your sales team know you have a solid lead nurturing program, chances are they will begin to send you names. If not, keep promoting your program to them, and keep asking them if they have anyone they would like to add to the program. Once they start seeing the benefits, their attitudes will turn around.

5. Networking events/trade shows – These are different types of events, but they both have one thing in common. You typically collect business cards from people who claim to be interested only to see them fizzle out as the memory of the conversation wears away.

Next time you collect a business card at an event, ask them if they would like to receive more educational information and industry updates regularly from you. Most will say “yes.” If they say “no” they are telling you that they are not really interested and you’ve lost nothing by not treating them as a lead.

6. “Revival” campaigns – If your lead nurturing program is new, chances are you have hundreds of leads in your database that are no longer active. You’ve probably all run, or at least heard about, campaigns where you use telemarketers to do a call down to these “leads” to see if they are still interested.

This approach isn’t much different from the “calling to touch base” that I derided in my first post on lead nurturing. However, since you haven’t had any real contact with these people in some time, you don’t have much choice.

Instead of judging the effectiveness of your revival telemarketing on how many hot leads you find (which probably won’t be many) make it a goal to add qualified candidates to your nurturing program.

7. Your blog – A year ago, this might not have made the list since so few had corporate blogs. Now it seems like everybody does. Remember to give your readers an opportunity to sign up for your e-mail program through your blog as well as on your website. This is in addition to allowing them to subscribe to your posts either through e-mail or a reader.

Building an opt-in list can take some time, but it is an essential element of a good lead nurturing program. Some of these techniques, such as the revival campaign or a well-attended trade show can give you a great jump-start.

Some will tell you that you can buy a list and give the recipients an opportunity to opt-in when you send a one-time e-mail. In my experience, it’s never worth the cost. E-mail lists are expensive and the average response rates are often as low as 1% or less. One e-mail to a purchased list is not going to build your opt-in list for you. It takes work, but it is well worth the effort.

All the best!

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