Nurturing leads is great, but you have to get permission from your prospects first. They have the right to opt out of any lead processing campaign – it’s your job to have them opt in instead. This topic is hotly debated among marketers. US marketers must comply with the CAN-SPAM Act, meaning you cannot use misleading email headers or subject lines, and you must afford recipients the opportunity to opt out of receiving further communications. Opting in is not required, though it is desirable from an efficiency viewpoint.
Lead nurturing relies on the Three R’s: relationship, respect and relevancy. That’s why many marketers go beyond the provisions of CAN-SPAM and actually seek permission from a prospect before embarking on a nurturing campaign. When you obtain permission to nurture, you distinguish your emails from the typical junk that shows up in most people’s inboxes. Note that we are concentrating here on business-to-consumer (B2B) campaigns; business-to-business (B2B) campaigns often just add all registrants to their emailing lists, which is legal and frequently effective.
One way to acquire an opted-in prospect is to have a checkbox in your call-to-action registration form (of course, it should be pre-checked) that gives marketers permission to make further email contact. The form should point out the benefits of opting in, such as receipt of valuable e-books or discounts. Another approach is the so-called double opt-in: sending an email to a new registrant asking permission to send further emails. By establishing this kind of relationship, you are displaying your commitment to best practices and respect for your prospect. You find double opt-ins used by many tradeshow and content syndication sites, where the recipient may not recognize your company name.
The double opt-in can be automated to process imported lists, such as purchased lists of sales leads. If a recipient responds, he or she is automatically added to your nurturing campaign. For those who don’t respond, you have the option of sending them a “second chance” email, or you can just suspend them from your campaign. Marketers often fool themselves into thinking that all recipients look forward to their next email message and can’t wait to devour its contents. They figure that if recipients don’t complain, they are paying attention to your material. A safer assumption is this: if leads really value your messaging, they will complain if you stop sending emails to them – they want to know where you went. This category of lead is the most likely to end up purchasing your product or service.