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Turning Email Leads into Paying Customers: Using the Powerful Hidden Influences of Nurture Emails [Article]

So, you’re publishing some great social media content onto your social networks, some of which (hopefully) are designed specifically to collect email leads in return for the downloading of a value-added piece of content. Everyone reading this article, will probably have a bunch of email leads of past and prospective customers, that aren’t currently being tapped to grow your business. Depending on the size of your list, this is potentially a big opportunity that can be mobilised quickly and easily. The question is how to convert these email leads into paying customers, a topic that I’ll explore in this article. I’ll explain a quick and easy way of doing this, and reveal why nurture emails have some hidden influences that make them such a powerful tool when you have this objective in mind.

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By Tor Davies

Introduction

If you’re not already collecting leads from your social media efforts, you absolutely should be, because it’s one of the most obvious ways of getting a return on investment from time spent on social media. The article ‘A “Ready-to-go” Marketing Strategy for Therapists’ explains why it’s so important to be doing this, and also shows it can be achieved simply and easily.

However, regardless of whether you are collecting leads from your social media efforts or not, everyone probably has at least some email leads of past or prospective customers that you could be warming up to become a newly paying client.

The question is how you can do this quickly and easily, without it taking up unnecessary time or money? The process is called lead nurture and this is defined as follows:

“lead nurture is the process of developing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel, and through every step of the buyer’s journey. It focuses marketing and communication efforts on listening to the needs of prospects, and providing the information and answers they need.”

That process sounds complicated, but we’re going to break it down and show that it can be made very simple.

This article is specifically about ‘nurturing’ leads, as opposed to selling appointments. It’s about strategies and techniques for moving email leads from initially cold contacts who have little or no awareness of you, to the point of becoming a paying client. This process is achieved by building trust, rather than trying to ‘close the deal’ ie. taking a paid booking there and then (we’ll talk more about that aspect in a future article).

The All Important Leads

So, you may already have a database of email leads from previous business activities, and you are hopefully also collecting new leads all the time using your website and social media at the very least. But the very first time someone visits your website, or sees your social media, they probably know relatively little, or maybe even nothing, about you. They may or may not have an existing relationship with you or your business.

In this case, your first job is to offer them something that’s worth it to them, to give you their email address. For example, someone may have stumbled across a helpful blog post on your website while searching for a solution to a problem, or seen one of your social media posts shared by one of their friends on Facebook.

If your marketing strategy is good, these blog posts and social media posts will offer the viewer the chance to download a document such as a cheat sheet, article, or patient handout, that they’re really keen to get hold of (we call this document a ‘lead magnet’). In order to receive this lead magnet, they need to give you their email address in return using the lead collection form which your social media post or blog links to. This way you’re constantly collecting new prospective customer leads.

Your job is then to warm these contacts up, by giving them the chance to get to ‘know’ you. So that at some point down the line, when they need your help, you’re the first person they think of calling. But obviously, it’s impractical to call each new lead, have a chat and share life stories, so we need to find a way building that relationship practically, with an ever-growing number of leads (if you’re doing your marketing well). So how do we do this?

It’s All About Building Trust

To convert a cold lead who doesn’t know much about you, into a paying customer who is prepared to put their ‘pain’ in your hands (literally), you need to build trust, and this is specifically important within a healthcare setting, in fact it’s arguably more important than in pretty much any other industry or business.

And this is the start of why email, and specifically nurture emails, can be so powerful for healthcare professionals. Remember our initial definition of lead nurturing:

“It focuses marketing and communication efforts on listening to the needs of prospects, and providing the information and answers they need.”

Lead nurturing is all about providing value, and doing it consistently, in a way that builds trust and develops the relationship between you and each email lead. What does this look like in practical terms? It means emails that help to answer questions or solve problems that your leads are commonly likely to encounter. Depending on your ideal customer demographic, this could be common musculoskeletal issues, or sports injuries, nutritional information or advice about the role of exercise for medical conditions like diabetes or heart disease.

Unfortunately, we rarely, if ever, take the time send these nurture emails, because we’re just too busy and it takes too much time (I have a solution to that later). Instead, we resort instead to sales email Band-Aid syndrome to do the job.

Sales Email Band-Aid Syndrome

We have too little time as it is to dedicate ourselves to marketing, so the temptation to go for the hard sell in what are probably fairly sporadic, impulsive customer emails, is too great.

That’s the trouble with most marketing done by small business owners. Something sudden, and usually specific, stimulates the need or desire for new business, which results in a one-off flurry of marketing activity, that nearly always contributes little, and more usually nothing, to the bottom line of the business.

It’s the classic sign of a lack of strategy behind your marketing. That email will probably be an exception, rather than a regular activity, in which you’re looking for a ‘quick fix’ to try and fill out the appointment diary for the next week or month, often by offering some crazy discount deal you can’t really afford to offer. All in a usually vain attempt to patch a hole in your business, which usually just keeps getting bigger with time, unless a proper marketing strategy is put in place.

As I’ve said so many times before in articles and presentations on the same topic, flurries of marketing activity, are at best a waste of time, and at worst a waste of time, money, passion AND energy.

And I know from experience, that nearly all of you reading this article, will desperately hate going for the hard sell anyway, so not only is it costing you in both time and money, now it’s emotionally draining you too. And when you do send the email, and after a couple of hours with little response to your offer, it probably leaves you feeling disillusioned and maybe even a little dirty, because fundamentally you HATE sales pitches. And so does everyone else!

Why the Sales Pitch Never Works

So why will you get little or no response from your hastily crafted sales email? Well the number one rule of any copywriting or sales course is that “people absolutely hate to feel sold to”.

Imagine you were thinking of buying a new car and you quite liked the thought of an Audi. So you walk into a local Audi dealership to check out the shiny new Audis. Within seconds you sense that car sales person walking towards you, and you feel your body tensing with resistance to the sales pitch you know is coming.

But what if that sales person did nothing more than say hi, and ask you what had brought you to his/her garage today, and what you were looking for in a car? They listened closely to your response and then gave you some useful information which specifically answered your questions or concerns.

Wow, no sales pitch in the ear. So far so good. Your resistance slowly starts to wane and you see the car you had your eye on, the Q5. It looks stunning. You engage in more conversation, asking questions about whatever aspect is important to you, and begin to get a better sense of your salesperson. You receive honest, informative, non-salesy replies. Maybe you’re even starting to quite like them, so you ask to take the car for a test drive. OK, now you’re engaged in the experience. Now you have the combination of the immersive experience of the car playing into the situation, the smell of new leather, the beautiful design touches, the acceleration power, the breaking sensitivity. Buying tipping points are nearly always emotional, which we then back up with logic, usually in the process of, or even after the purchase.

And yes, maybe you walk away that day because you haven’t quite hit the buying tipping point, you’re a significant way further down the line than you were when you walked into that garage. You’ll also have a good feeling about the sales person and all your senses will be stimulated when you recall the feeling of the test drive. If that experience has been good and ticked all the boxes, and you’ve reached your buying tipping point, how long is it going to be before you go back and sign the paperwork?

However, there is a key reason why the healthcare situation differs from the scenario above. Booking a physical therapy or massage treatment is rarely an impulsive, walk-in-off-the-street type of action. For someone to get to that point, they need to have reached what I’ve come to refer to as their ‘clinical tipping point’.

Tipping Points and Decision-Making Criteria

So, when is a lead ready to become a customer? Let’s think about the reasons someone would decide to make an appointment to see a physical therapist or massage therapist for that matter.

Clinical tipping points might include:

  • Experiencing a specific injury such as a car accident, sports injury, accident
  • Noticeable or visible physical changes to limbs or soft tissues
  • When the pain becomes so bad that other treatments and medications that have worked before, are no longer enough
  • It becomes too difficult to do things that are important to someone like working, carrying things, playing with grandchildren, or other activities of daily living
  • Concern about long-term implications of leaving things without treatment
  • Pre- or more commonly post-operatively
  • A chronic condition or neurological disease
  • During or after pregnancy.

Very often your prospective new client might have been living in pain for months, maybe even years, before they hit this clinical tipping point.

This is exactly why the gentle, non-invasive, approach of sending value-added emails is a perfect nurture tool. It’s supportive and helpful without getting in people’s faces. It’s also easy to delete if it’s not relevant and it’s easy to share with friends and family if it is. There are lots of reasons why nurture emails have an advantage over many other marketing approaches, particularly for warming up leads, which I’ll cover in more detail shortly. But let’s first look at the reasons why a lead might not be ready to become a paying customer.

When a Lead is NOT Ready to Become a Customer and What You Can Do About It

Here are some key reasons why someone might not be ready to book an appointment with you yet, in fact it could more than one of the following reasons, but they’re ranked in a general order of importance.

  1. It’s not the right time – they’re not at that ‘clinical’ tipping point yet.
  2. Trust – this is a major deal, not only do they need to know you, and like you, but do they trust you?
  3. Confidence – are you the right solution for them, will it work, is it worth spending money on?
  4. Authority and reputation – are you and your business credible?
  5. Location convenience – can they get to you easily, but also can they park and get into your clinic with their given needs?
  6. Price – many people wrongly think this factor is more important than it actually is. In reality it’s likely to be the very last objection (assuming all the boxes above it have been ticked). And frankly if someone does want to prioritise on price, let them go, they’re not the kind of customer you want.

You can’t influence the clinical tipping point, well you might be able to accelerate it slightly by making them aware of the consequences of delaying on treatment, but generally that requires you to get face to face with the prospective lead to do it, rather than via email. However, you can influence points 2, 3, 4 and 5 through nurture emails (and 6 as I’ve mentioned, in my view, you should actively avoid considering, because your skills and expertise are worth more than that).

Location you may not be able to do much about immediately, if you’re already committed to somewhere, but it is a consideration you should revisit if need be, when the opportunity arises.

Trust, confidence, authority and reputation are all things you can start to influence now and in fact can be greatly benefited through the email nurture process; however, before we get to the anatomy of the nurture email that will help you do this, here are some quick wins that can give you get a head start:

  • Build up customer testimonials on Google and Facebook – this is probably the single most important thing you can do right now.
  • Make sure to feature these customer testimonials on your website.
  • Add social proofing and reputation to your website by featuring logos of associations you are a member of and businesses or sports teams that you have worked for (they must be genuine and it’s courteous and highly advisable to ask for approval prior to featuring them on your website).
  • Include a frequently asked questions area on your website – this gives people a chance to start building trust.
  • Give people a way of getting to know you – make sure your website features biogs of you and any fellow practitioners, photos, and videos if you can.
  • Use your social networks (particularly Facebook but also Twitter) to introduce Facebook fans to aspects of your business that can help enhance your reputation but remember, avoid the sales push approach!
  • Develop a USP so that you become the ‘go to’ person for that niche. Define your ideal client ‘persona’ so you can be more targeted with your marketing.
  • Get involved with local Facebook groups in the areas you want to attract clients, and offer value and free advice – become known for your area of expertise.

The Hidden Powers of the Nurture Email

This is where we get to the secret sauce. Here are 10 reasons that regular, value-add nurture emails are brilliant relationship building, non-salesy sales tools.

Nurture emails:

  1. allow you to help and add value to people's lives
  2. generate likeability
  3. build trust
  4. help you to develop, strengthen and deepen a relationship
  5. are easy to share and forward
  6. generate a sense of reciprocity
  7. build authority and reputation
  8. are non-intrusive
  9. increase brand awareness
  10. can be done at scale ie. there's no more work if you're sending 1 email versus 1,000 emails

The Anatomy of a Perfect Nurture Email

1. Use it to HELP PEOPLE

You went into this business to help people; to help fix their pains and ease their suffering, and nurture emails give you the perfect opportunity to do that. It’s what you do well, and it’s likely to fit well with your ethos and your internal drivers, which in turn will make you feel good too.

I frequently quote Albert Einstein in my presentations because it encapsulates a perfect marketing strategy for those of us who have chosen a career in helping people:

“Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.”

When you look at words that go with the noun nurture, they include encouraging, cultivating, boosting, advancing – these are all perfect descriptors for your nurture emails. The important thing is to keep this in mind when you’re writing your emails (or editing the ones we provide in the Co-Kinetic subscriptions).

2. Make sure it adds value

It’s hard to reject someone who is offering helpful advice, which is appropriate and relevant and has no strings attached. This is one reason why email is such a great way of offering value. Some helpful advice in an email about a problem that is commonly experienced, along with a link to a more detailed resource, is unlikely to be regarded as rude. If that person suffered from back pain and you sent them details about tips on getting a better night’s sleep if you suffer from back pain, it’s very likely to be appreciated. Better still they may even forward it to a fellow sufferer.

3, 4, 5. Use it to build likeability, trust and to develop the relationship

Trust is the single most important element in purchase decisions, whether that’s trust of a brand name or in your case as a provider of healthcare, of you and your business. When you combine someone’s concerns about whether your solution is the right solution for their problem, along with whether you’re the right person for the job, AND the additional trust required to submit to physical hands-on-treatment, you can start to understand why this element is so key.

Through regular, consistent, helpful emails offering advice about problems they may be experiencing, as well as opportunities to get to know you (and your business) through clinic updates on your social networks, email offers the perfect opportunity to help nurture and build this trust and develop the relationship you have with that prospective client.

It also helps nurture the ‘know, like, trust’ sequence. People want to buy from people who they like and trust. Email nurture is an ideal medium for you to develop this relationship and let your reader get to know and relate to you.

6. Make it easy to share and forward

This doesn’t require much explanation except to say that it’s excellent practice to include somewhere in the email a call to action asking the reader to forward the email to someone who may benefit from it. It’s surprising how small things like this can make a big difference. People are busy, they have a million things on their mind. Just a quick “PS. if this isn’t relevant to you, but you know someone suffering from shoulder pain, please feel free to share this email with them”.

7. Use it to generate reciprocity

This is a really awesome benefit of nurture emails!

Robert Cialdini, in the HIGHLY recommended book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, identifies reciprocity as one of the six most powerful forms of influence. It’s a rule that’s been fundamental to human evolution and is, therefore, deeply embedded in human society. Simply put, if someone does us a favour, we’re predisposed to finding a way to repay them, and feel more obliged to them.

Hence, if you’re providing helpful solutions to real life problems experienced by your readers and email leads, this can stimulate powerful feelings of reciprocity. In fact, all the power-influencers identified by Cialdini, are very relevant to your work. If you want a fun and fascinating 11-minute overview of the book watch the animated explainer video ‘The Science of Persuasion’ (Video 1), and you’ll pick up some valuable tricks too. I’d also personally highly recommend the book as well.

Video 1: The Science of Persuasion Explainer Video

The other five power-influencers identified by Cialdini are authority, liking, scarcity, consistency and consensus. Watch the video for more information.

8. Use it to establish authority

This is based on the principle that people follow the lead of credible, knowledgeable experts. As the Cialdini book (and explainer video) describes, physiotherapists, for example, are able to persuade more of their patients to comply with recommended exercise programmes if they display their medical diplomas on the walls of their consulting rooms. Just as people are more likely to give change for a parking meter to a complete stranger, if that requester wears a uniform rather than casual clothes.

What this means is that it’s important to signal to others what makes you a credible, knowledgeable authority before you make your influence attempt. One of the best ways of doing this is through social proof and testimonials as well as case studies, all of which can be shared easily through your nurture emails, on your website and on your social networks. This is why association logos and the logos of the businesses and teams you work with can be so influential, you could even include them as a banner at the bottom of your email.

9. Email is relatively unobtrusive, don’t be offended if it’s not always opened

If you deliver consistently helpful, value-added information, the chances are that your email open rates will increase over time (which means click rates are also likely to). And if your emails are generally helpful, it’s less likely that anyone will choose to spam it. They may not ALWAYS open the email, depending on what’s going on in their life at that time, but that’s OK. As the saying goes:

“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people, all of the time.”

It is a good idea, however, to delete people from your email list if they haven’t opened an email for a long period of time. This will help you increase your open rates and is likely to mean your emails get better deliverability because they’re considered more relevant.

10. Use your emails to increase brand awareness

It won’t cost more than £5–£10 to have someone on the freelance services marketplace, Fiverr, create you a standard email header banner ideally in html (so the elements are linked and clickable) or alternatively as a static graphic if that’s easier. The graphic should be between 600 and 800 pixels wide, which is a standard email width.

For the header make sure you include as many of the following as possible (without it becoming too cluttered):

  • your logo
  • your company name (but only if it’s not included in the logo)
  • your contact telephone number
  • your website address
  • social media logos linked to your active social networks.

You can then add this banner or html to each nurture email you send out. Ideally, make sure that visually in terms of colours it ties in with the look of your website, so the brand recognition is consistent across all touch points. The most important thing is to make it easy for people to get hold of you.

Conclusion

Hopefully this article has demonstrated just how powerful nurture emails can be when used as part of a marketing strategy. It is incredibly effective both consciously and sub-consciously at achieving not just one, but several very core components in the lead to paying customer conversion process.

One of the problems with nurture emails is that they require you to find the time to write them, which is why we include a new nurture email in every monthly campaign that we create. We write the content, provide you with copyright-free images, and if you use Mailchimp, we even create the ready-to-go email. You just click a link and it pops straight into your Mailchimp account, ready for you to edit as you need, and then send. If you’d like more information visit [https://co-kinetic.com/marketing].

I hope this article has been useful and if you have any feedback or would like more information on any parts of the article, please post your comments in the discussion panel below.

Key points

  1. Lead nurture is the process of creating potential clients from initial cold contacts by getting them to know, like and trust you.
  2. Create a lead by offering something that makes it worth someone giving you their email address (this is called a lead magnet).
  3. Listen to your prospective client’s needs and provide the information and answers that they need.
  4. Don’t be tempted by the sporadic, impulsive hard sell as a ‘quick fix’.
  5. Make sure you are doing the easy basics on your website and social media, with testimonials, biogs and photos of you, logos of professional associations, etc.
  6. Email is an ideal way to nurture leads as it is relatively unobtrusive.
  7. Use regular, consistent and helpful emails to create trust.
  8. Make your emails easy to forward and share.
  9. Use an email header banner to enhance recognition of your brand.

Discussions

  1. Assess your ‘brand’. Do you have a consistent ‘look’ across all your touch points, with the necessary contact information?
  2. Think about your current email leads – how often/regularly do you send out emails and do they contain information that is helpful to the potential client?
  3. After reading this article, would you change your approach to your nurture emails and what would you change?

Quotations/important points

“As Einstein says, ‘Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value’. “

“Lead nurturing is all about providing value, and doing it consistently, in a way that builds trust and develops the relationship between you and each email lead”

“If your emails are consistently helpful they are more likely to be read”