What is Nurturing?
Nurture campaigns come from the Business-to-Business marketing methodology “Lead Nurturing.” In the B2C eCommerce world, a lead is a shopper who could potentially be converted into a sale. In the B2B world, generating a sale is a lot more like forging a relationship than initiating a purchase, and takes much longer.
The conventional wisdom is that leads go through a somewhat lengthy sales process, from problem discovery, to research, and then eventually making a decision on a solution. If a business solution wants their hat in the ring during that decision-making period, they have to be there from the beginning, educating potential buyers on the problems they are facing, advising them on solutions and, eventually once they’ve proven their competence, explaining how their product or service specifically can solve their problems.
This is called Lead Nurturing.
The Philosophy of a Buyer
Before I go into why lead nurturing belongs in B2C eCommerce, I’m going to take a step back and take you through the buying philosophy of your average, male eCommerce regular (aka myself).
Typically, my first purchase with a brand will be a small one, something like a t-shirt, which serves as a tryout for them. If I like the t-shirt and the overall experience, I will often return and buy other colors and styles. The expectation that a happy customer will return is nothing new, but what is often lost is how much goes into making that first decision.
Sites like Nordstroms and Revolve clothing are popular because they allow shoppers to buy different brands while remaining under the umbrella of a known store. Even if the purchase is as small as a t-shirt, I don’t just automatically trust a brand with no reputation. I need to get to know them and they have to get me to buy into what it is they’re selling. Though the sales process isn’t very long, it does have elements similar to how B2B brands have to forge a relationship to make the sale.
Why eCommerce Retailers Should Nurture Leads
A brand can help create that customer buy-in with a nurture campaign by rethinking what they offer in their emails. For the most part, eCommerce emails contain discount offers or news about products, but there are other ways to help customers, such as educational content.
With a nurture campaign, a furniture company could email tips on decorating and mastering the art of feng shui. A craft brewery could teach people about different beers, pairing beer with the right food and how to order the right beer on a large menu.
Brands should create email streams to help make customers “brand-loyal” by giving them pointers on how to make the most of their purchases. Harry’s, an online shaving supplies retailer, gives customers a few shaving tips, along with their first order.
These emails feel less spammy because the leads and customers aren’t being prompted to buy anything. Instead, they are being invited to learn more about something interesting and while they learn from the educational content the email offers, they can begin to connect the dots on what the brand is about.
We all have experience being a customer, so it’s relatively easy to assume how the things we send to our audience will make them feel. You know the dismal feeling of turning on your phone for the first time in the morning and opening your mailbox to see mostly promotional emails. And, while that subtle tingle of anger runs through your body and you consider unsubscribing to them, a weird thing happens with certain ones; you begin to justify their value to yourself and what you would be losing if you stopped receiving them.
Now, when you put your retailer hat back on and start putting together your automated email blasts, think back to that feeling and make the effort to infuse value that will make unsubscribing a difficult decision.