Lead Nurturing is one of the most effective methods to engage with new leads and prospects to create marketing qualified leads, yet it is one of the most underutilized tools by marketers today. Getting started is no easy task and requires planning, forethought, and the right technology to truly be an effective tactic.
Originally published in The Partner Channel Magazine - Winter 2019/2020
Lead Nurturing is one of the most effective methods to engage with new leads and prospects to create marketing qualified leads, yet it is one of the most underutilized tools by marketers today. Getting started with an automated campaign, drip marketing, lead nurturing… whatever we want to call it, is no easy task and requires planning, forethought, and the right technology to truly be an effective tactic.
As marketers we love CRM technology – it provides us with an amazing amount of information about our customers, our leads, and our prospects. Information we can utilize to build our strategic plan and measure the success of our marketing efforts. But the cog that makes it all turn is a good marketing automation solution, integrated with our CRM (like Microsoft Dynamics 365). Our marketing automation solution will provide the tools we need to funnel new prospects into marketing qualified leads. From email marketing, landing pages, and forms, to web tracking, lead scoring, and yes, automated campaigns, a marketers best friend is their marketing automation solution.
But how do we get started?
Before we craft that first email and hit send there are several steps and best practices that we need to consider.
It all starts with establishing our goals.
We know that nurturing our leads is important and that it is effective (for others). By establishing goals from the start, this will help us measure the success of our lead nurturing strategy and program. It will provide us a benchmark to strive for and to base program improvements around. If lead nurturing is a new tactic, we may want to consider some of these goals or key performance indicators (KPIs) as our targets; delivery, open, and click rates, number of marketing qualified and sales qualified leads generated, lead to opportunity rate, and of course sales wins and new business gained.
With these goals in mind, it’s time to get our emails started right? Not so fast. First we need to know who we are targeting. We want our content, our messages, and our calls-to-action to appeal to our specific buyer’s needs.
We need to develop our buyer personas.
This may be one of the most overlooked tasks by organizations today. Marketers may feel they know who the target buyer is, but are they on the same page as sales? Has the profile changed since it was last done? Take the time to complete a simple exercise, together as a team, to develop or confirm each buyer persona. If the organization has multiple divisions, products, or service lines, the buyer profile may differ. What role or job title is the person we are targeting? What is their background or demographic? What are their goals, or the challenges that they face on a regular basis? What are their common objections? All these factors will play into the development of each buyer persona and is critical to ensure our messaging and content are on target. With the buyer profile(s) complete, segmenting our marketing lists and campaigns becomes a breeze. But as you begin to engage with new potential customers we want to make sure we are able to track their interest in us (as well as our interest in them).
We do this through lead scoring.
Lead scoring is one of my favorite marketing tactics. As targeted buyers continually engage with us through both inbound and outbound marketing, it is thrilling to see those lead scores rise. Clicking on our emails, downloading our eBooks and case studies, registering and/or attending our webinars (live vs on-demand), and perusing our website and landing pages. It all adds up as they progress down the marketing funnel towards becoming a marketing qualified lead (MQL). Developing a lead scoring program is a separate animal all in itself so take the
time to carefully craft a scoring system using both implicit (action/engagement based scoring) and explicit (demographic/relationship) models.
We have our goals, we’ve built our buyer personas, and we have established our lead scoring. Now it’s time to visit the library. Take stock in what content and assets that are in place to use in our automated campaigns.
Just like we would inventory our products, do we have enough marketing assets for our nurture campaigns? Do we have the RIGHT assets that fit the buyer persona and our calls-to-action? Are the eBooks, videos, case studies, and data sheets current and still relevant?
If we think in terms of our funnel, we want our content to match our buyer’s needs but also be used as a tool as we move them through the funnel. As we attract new leads and prospects, we can use blog posts, surveys, infographics and videos to move them to the middle of the funnel. As interest levels grow, utilize eBooks, check-lists, in-person events, both live and on-demand webinars, and ultimately provide demos, trial offers, and case studies as they push to the evaluation and consideration stage.
Keep in mind creating content and assets doesn’t have to be a challenge. If we host one webinar, that can produce a flurry of assets! One 30 or 60 minute webinar can translate into an eBook, 4-5 small tips sheets, 2-3 infographics, several blog posts, and a month worth of social media posts. And think about how we can share each of these assets with our leads, prospects, and customers over time via email in our nurture campaign – all from just one webinar.
With a full library of resources it’s time to build our automated lead nurture program but there are a few best practices we want to consider. Test, test, and then test again. With marketing automation, marketers should utilize A/B testing with subject lines, body of emails (including graphics), and calls-toaction to see which is the most effective and resonates with our audience as the progress through the buyers journey.
Determine the email send cadence and timing of each message. What the optimal day of the week and time? Don’t forget to consider the time zone of the target buyer! Is it different than where we are located?
Determine how long to wait in between messages. We don’t want to bombard new leads with a message every single day. How long does it take them to process, and engage our information and/or share it with others? And finally consider what happens when the nurture runs its course. Did the lead or prospect engage with us on some level? Not at all? Do we disqualify them or shift them to another marketing list and a new nurture? All considerations we need to take into account in developing the journey. Finally, measure the results against the goals established. Learn from failures (and yes, there will be failures) and built off successes. All these steps and best practices can help create an automated nurture campaign that can make even the smallest of marketing teams achieve amazing results.