What to Send Email Contacts in Different Stages of the Marketing Funnel Print

Your email database probably has a lot of leads or would be leads in it. But that is not the sole type of contacts you have, nor the sole type of contact you should have. Over time, you will naturally acquire a variety of contact types within your database, and you need to know who is who, and what message you should send to each type.

We will try break down the 5+3 types of contacts you may already have in your database, following the stages of a typical sales and marketing funnel.

Think about your business and your sales and marketing funnel to identify which types you have right now, and whether you are emailing them with the appropriate types of email marketing content.



A regular contact is the most basic type of contact you will have in your database. This is someone who has simply opted into your email communications or ended up in your database one way or the other, but you don't yet know much about them, or how interested they are in your company.

Your priority is to send them something of value to encourage them to give you more information about themselves in exchange. For example, you would send them an important report from an industry analyst so that they will fill out a conversion form and tell you about their business, role, etc. From there, you can tell which type of contact they truly are and send them more relevant content.



A lead is someone who has taken the time to fill out a conversion form on your site, or attended one of your seminars and hence may be a potential customer for you.

You already know a bit about this person, so you're more able to tailor your follow-up based on their interests with something that's relevant to them. This is someone who is a potential customer but is only at the research phase. Your goal, then, is to move them further down the sales and marketing funnel to make them more qualified for your sales team to contact. Taking your goal and their interests, you can craft emails that combine content aligned with their interests (e.g. a case study on a customer in a similar business or of a similar size) along with calls-to-action aligned with your goals (e.g. a consultation with a specialist or an online assessment tool).


Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

Leads that have met some qualification criteria can move to a stage of Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) or Sales Accepted Lead (SAL). The qualification criteria often revolve around, having a project with a budget and timeframe, being involved in the selection or decision making and finally whether you have a product or a service that can satisfy their needs. Basically a *good* potential customer, and someone who warrants a sales follow-up.

What to send them? Now is the time to facilitate the handover from marketing to sales. It's best to reinforce the call-to-action of talking to the appropriate sales rep, while giving this lead content that is still valuable to them, but more aligned with your product benefits.



An opportunity is someone who has successfully connected with a sales rep and is in a conversation that's working towards purchasing your product or service.

At this stage in particular, marketing is supporting the sales process. That may mean *not* sending content anything separately from the sales team, but rather, arming the sales team with the content their opportunities may request. This content includes case studies and product collateral but most importantly invitations to meet likeminded customers who are already using similar products and services.



The customer is someone who actually purchased your company's product or service and hopefully become a happy user. There is plenty of segmentation you can do among your customers: new customers, happy customers, repeat customers, etc., to better target these emails, too. What you are trying to do is to make each and every customer a repeat happy customer, make sure they are buying more types of products and are acting as good references from your company.

At this stage, a customer likely wants to keep learning from your educational content, but also wants to learn how specifically they can better use your product or service. Case studies are great to send for this, because they both motivate and educate your customers with product- or service-specific tie ins.


Evangelist, Advisory Consultant and Reseller

This group represents people who are not end customers or buyers themselves but as many organizations have already discovered each of the three categories in this group is very important. Evangelists are not potential customers but are fans of new technologies or your specific set of products. This may include journalists, bloggers or influencers. Advisory consultants are often hired by your customers to help them with the evaluation and selection process while resellers take your product to their customers and may add products and services from other vendors to create a broader solution for the customer.


What do you send evangelists, advisory consultants and resellers?

With evangelists, you want them to access and share your content and messages. So, in your communications, encourage them to do just that! Keep them in the loop about all your latest and greatest content (even consider getting them early access) and encourage them to share it with their networks. This will help grow the top of your funnel by expanding your reach and generating more contacts.

Advisory consultants look for the comparative type of communications, by providing them with information about how your product compares to competitive products you make their job easier and give them tools to use in their day to day work. Also sharing customer success stories with them assures them that by recommending your product they will be serving their customers well.

On the other hand, your resellers need to learn how to position and sell your product, need timely access to your most recent promotions, they are like your own sales people but often much less loyal because they have many other products from other vendors within their portfolios.


What About Competitors?

Sure, there are probably competitors lurking in your database. I hear the concern from a lot of marketers about their competitors getting their email messages, reading their blogs, and getting all their super secret intelligence.

You can certainly make it harder for your competitors to find your content by scrubbing for brand domains during your list building, but all it takes is for a competitor to put in their personal email address to start getting your content.

Focus on creating great content for your contacts whatever their lifecycle stage and let your competitors always be one step behind. It is much easier than wasting your energy taking out your competitors one by one from your vast database.





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