Lead Nurturing basically means keeping a group of prospects engaged enough with your brand and offer while they make up their mind to purchase. This can mean more than just email lead-nurturing, although this is what most of the marketers think of when we talk about Lead Nurturing. I will, for the purpose of this post focus on email lead-nurturing with a slant towards B2B Sales and/or Sales meetings as an outcome.
Why Lead Nurture?
If you took a cross-section of your lead-pool, some of your "prospect" base has barely interacted with your organisation others are on a different point in the buying process. One off offers and sales emails can be interruptive and a bit intrusive. Lead nurturing, on the other hand, introduces a tightly connected series of emails with a coherent purpose and an abundance of useful, relevant content.
In this post we will go through some classic lead nurturing fundamentals to demonstrate how this works. In my personal experience the key has been understanding the buyer's journey and your products sales cycle to then form a lead nurturing program that works for you.
Lead Nurturing - Start with the right information.
Before planning an email nurture campaign keep the following information in mind. I find it handy to have a matrix of benefits by persona, this way you dont have to keep reinventing the wheel when it comes to messaging for your audience. I also keep a list of requirements that are needed to qualifyprospects from a lead-nurturing campaign In or Out. There will always be prospects who don't wish to engage with you or are just not ready to proceed, and this is OK.1) Determine your goal.
Every Marketer's job involves selling one-to-many. As a marketer you are a sales man but without the luxury of spending one-on-one time with everyone of your prospects, you have to be very quick to intercept each one of them into buckets based on how they stimulate to your message. This process starts with expanding on the benefits of your products in terms of what a customer can understand. Refer back to the benefits matrix and make sure you have thoroughly understood the purpose of the message.
Then working with the Sales team clarify the challenge that you are facing i.e "Why do we need a nurture email at this point"? Keep this front and centre of your campaign. Do not lose sight of this objective. Once you have the objective set, it is worth breaking it down into chunks of steps that a customer will need to take before they are ready to pass on to Sales. Not every lead that come through is ready to purchase or sit in a sales meeting. Use the information provided in the first step to create a journey for the next step.2) What problem are we solving?
The second step is all about understanding who you are trying to reach. Use personas to bring to life your prospects, and seek to find their need for contacting your company. Remember, there are many steps a customer will take before they become a customer for your product/service. If someone fills in a fiorm on your site or converts by downloading one of your whitepapers, they may not mean to buy rightaway. However, once someone who has downloaded a whitepaper or converted is then put through a series of 2-3 emails to further qualify where they are in the buying process. Content plays a huge part in this stage of the journey - think blog posts, whitepapers, webinars to learn more about your product. Repurpose existing content that has worked in the past to continue to dleiver results in this nurturing program. If a prospect then reacts by submitting a request for consultation or demo, they can be moved further along to the "Sales-ready" stage. Once a customer gets here, pass on to your Sales team to move them into the funnel.
Note: It's worth noting that 50% of leads passed onto Sales are not sales-ready. Marketing teams are responsible for understanding and nurturing this base before passing it on to Sales. So this is always a good starting point to make it easy for follow-ups; you might want to design an email nurture for these leads.3) Align with your Sales Cycle
Your company has it's own sales cycle. If a normal sales cycle for your organisation is 3 months long, for example, so should your Nurture campaign be of a similar timeframe. Typically a lead-nurturing email program will include atleast 3-4 emails. If you have a 30-day cycle, then adapt your lead-nurture program to emulate the sales cycle. Divide into blocks of 2-3 touchpoint-timing, closely following your Sales Cycle. For example in a 30-day Sales Cycle you could use the following email Nurture program
- Day 1 - Initial follow up email with information requested.
- Day 10 - More information about product use based on Segment, use-case
- Day 20 - Webinar invite / new whitepaper
The last step in setting up a lead nurturing campaign is to ensure the accurate tracking of your emails. You need to make sure you know what’s working and what’s not so you can continue to improve. Have metrics in place that tie to your goals set in step one.
Looking to drive branding and awareness? Measure branded search or direct traffic to your website. Looking to increase lead quality? Measure quality conversions or lead ratings over time. Interested in generating new leads or email opt-ins? Measure how you’re growing your database from your lead nurturing efforts. As your campaigns run, make sure to experiment with the offers you send, the subject lines, and the calls-to action found within the email. There’s always room to improve your campaign.
But most of all go ahead and start implementing B2B lead nurturing email best practices.