Email And Lead Management

Early lifecycle marketing, much like dating, is a balance of how often, how much and what types of gifts you give early.  Lead management through digital channels is much harder to coordinate now. We tend to throw in a lot of industry terms to help define the actions vs. the process.   For instance, email list management, email prospecting, lead incubation, lead nurturing, all terms businesses use to monetize their services, but we tend to use the same process across the board.  What’s important is to understand the logical separation of marketing activities, by the stage of the customer’s brand relationship.

If you separate subscription management from lead management and lead management from customer marketing, you tend to look at things differently.

Subscription management, for the sake of this article, is a value exchange for a digital service.   The marketer has content to exchange for readership and ultimately advertising related value, or there is a product connection for merchandising purposes.  Subscribers are fickle, though.  As we know all too well, the activity of an email subscriber wanes over time.   There is a time of interest and activity, there is time of dormancy and there is time for renewal, then mix in seasonal imbalance (holiday) and you have a heat map that is hard to read.   Take into account that marketing is not the most patient business practice, and we end up where we are today: with a lot of data, a lot of good ideas and very little time/budget to deliver. 



It’s easy to look at lists and subscribers in terms of fractions.   You can’t realistically give enough of your time and attention to 50% of your list that is sporadically or not engaged. 

I have long believed that customer relationship marketing needs to be separated from early lifestage marketing.  This simply makes it easier to classify success.  The functions and tactics of acquisition and customer activation are very different, and budget dynamics should vary accordingly.  The problem with organizing solely around acquisition is you tend to put too much of a premium on acquisition costs and less on prospect to customer activation.  It is a literal hand-off.   Rarely are cost of leads factored into long-term thinking under this model.  Marketing Channel CPA proxies are modeled against each other and what you end up doing is flooding customer management with subscribers, which waters down engagement marketing.

What should the perfect marketing organization look like, and what should the prevailing tactics be?

I think the perfect organization does divide into early, mid and late lifecycle marketing, in order to devote the appropriate attention to each stage.  They will each share in long-term customer value proxies, and customer top line goals, but budget allocation would allow for autonomy.  There would be no “channels,” but simply lifestage organizational make-ups.   This organization would rotate marketing staff by department and by function/channel (search, web, email, social), to recognize the challenges in each stage, appropriate digital channel tactics and the effect of channels on simple goals.

I can’t put enough emphasis on early-stage marketing, though. It is the key to your success and root of your problems if not a vested area of your business.

Here are some other factors to consider:

-       Conditioning is important.   The old way was to enforce an email welcome series with a series of communications over the first few weeks or months.  This can be very effective, but not for every business, since it requires a steady flow of content.    Whether it’s a welcome, new subscriber or lead management process, you must condition them to the channel.  Not just in frequency, but in value. 

-       Be episodic.   The reality of customer engagement is that it runs in episodes, like television series, with a duration and a theme.   Social media is one perpetual episode determined by our environment.  Direct ,arketing should take this to the next level.   You should continually reintroduce the brand.   We are in the age of “content” and “interconnectivity” and for brands to have persistent engagements you must continually strive to be always in motion, introducing new concepts to engage customers.

-       Design for the elevator.   Mobile has changed an entire culture.   The way we used to use email is changing pretty dramatically.  We are brief, we are active, we are transient and we are an even more conscious buyers than we’ve ever been before, with a brief  attention span is brief.  So, think about the elevator!  You have less than a minute and a triage mentality you are designing for.    Some consumers have the appetite to ingest more marketing stimuli than others, direct or indirect. 

The day and age of one customer officer will be difficult to sustain without a really clear organizational discipline in these areas.   There are customers, there are leads, and they have different values to your business.  


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