Today, marketing execution is hypercomplex. It has multiple moving parts with multiple tactics running simultaneously, and it’s supported by technology that needs constant care and feeding. Finally, as your marketing strategy adjusts, so does everything you’re doing.
If you adjust that strategy regularly, like we do for most of our clients, that adds another layer of complexity to the challenge of keeping up with all this work.
Lead nurturing campaigns are just one of the many tactics that fall into this category of needing ongoing attention.
Before we get into it, I think lead nurturing campaigns need some support. Some people think they’re a waste of time and not an effective way to stay connected with prospects. Some camps even think they are annoying and unnecessary.
I don’t agree. While I wouldn’t run lead nurturing campaigns for every piece of content on my website, nor would I universally set them up for every single conversion point, I do think they have a very important place in the process of staying connected to prospects.
Take these data points into consideration before you decide on whether lead nurturing is right for your company:
If you want to leave these touches up to your paid advertising campaign, that’s one approach. I would much rather do one-to-one email nurturing based on their intent behaviors and areas of interest.
Here are Square 2’s latest learnings as it pertains to lead nurturing campaigns.
Nothing can be applied universally, and lead nurturing is one of those tactics that should be used correctly. For example, some early buyer journey offers should not be gated, and so no lead nurturing would be necessary.
There are also late buyer journey offers related to setting appointments with sales that wouldn’t need marketing-automated lead nurtures, because the sales team has its own sales sequences to keep sales prospects connected and engaged.
You want to make your lead nurturing campaigns as personalized as possible. So we are clear, I’m not talking about Dear Mike. That type of personalization is table stakes.
I’m talking about making the emails personalized based on the recipient’s expressed interest and pain. Personalize the emails and content offered in the ongoing lead nurturing campaigns based on their industry, pain, role and specific website behavior.
Our research in this area has proven that the more personalized the emails, the better the results. Fully personalized emails generally outperform less personalized emails by a factor of 5X.
This tip has to do with the number of emails you’re using and the length of time between emails. For us, this decision has everything to do with the length of the sales cycle and the length of your prospects’ buyer journeys.
This also has to do with where your prospects are in their buyer journey. Let me try to explain.
If you have a six-month sales cycle and your prospect is early in their buyer journey, you might want to consider a longer lead nurture campaign with more time in between touches.
If you have a six-day sales cycle and your prospect is early in their buyer journey, I’d recommend fewer touches and making them closer in frequency.
If you have a six-month sales cycle and your prospect is late in their buyer journey, I’d suggest a shorter campaign with less time in between emails.
You should know where they are in their buyer journey based on what content they’re engaging with. This makes launching the appropriate lead nurturing campaign with the appropriate timing easy.
It’s important to the experience you’re trying to create that these lead nurture emails stop once someone has engaged with you.
This means the rules associated with your lead nurture campaign are critical. Does the campaign stop as soon as someone opens an email, clicks on the email or completes another action on your website?
Generally, the email campaign should continue until the person takes another action that would trigger a different set of actions. For example, they click on a link and schedule a call with a rep. That should stop this nurture and trigger the rep’s nurture that leads up to their first call.
These stop rules need to be agreed on in advance, set up properly, tested before they go live and then monitored to make sure they’re executing properly.
This is a common mistake we see often. These automated lead nurture campaigns get set up but never reviewed. They are easy to forget about because they’re not massive email campaigns that get sent to 10,000 people.
As a result, people rarely ask this important question: “How are the lead nurtures performing?”
We recommend reviewing as many of the automated lead nurture campaigns as possible on a weekly basis. You might not be able to get through ALL of them each week, but if you’re regularly reviewing them, you should be able to cycle through your entire portfolio in a month.
Don’t worry about the amount of data – just check to see if they are working as expected. That means they’re getting sent out, they’re getting opened and they’re getting clicks.
For those that are getting opened and clicked, take a minute to see if people are progressing through the sales process. That movement is really the key indicator of whether your lead nurturing campaign is working correctly or not.
When it comes to making adjustments, upgrades or optimizations, I’d consider doing them on a monthly basis. Unless there is something egregious, making optimizations monthly allows the time it typically takes for you to get enough data to draw any significant conclusions.
Three or four data points aren’t really enough, but 30 or 40 are probably plenty. I’m also not suggesting any detailed statistical analysis either. If you feel like you have enough data to draw conclusions, then it’s very likely you do.
Try to make only a single change, then compare the results next month. Remember, you want to learn something during these experiments. If you make more than one change, you’ll never really know which of the changes drove the improvement in results.
I know this takes more time and a lot more patience, but your goal is to learn, not just to see improved performance. When you find improvements that work, you can deploy these universally, which will dramatically improve results in short order.
We’re big believers in strategy before tactics, and the strategy being deployed here is one that should (if used correctly) pull your prospects along in their buyer journeys, signaling you along the way.
To do this, you need to think about what you’re writing in those emails and what you’re offering.
If someone comes into your system at an early stage, offering them middle- and late-stage offers gives them a chance to tell you they are progressing.
You want to give them the opportunity to send you that signal. This requires that you have enough relevant offers based on role, industry, interest and potentially their pain.
If you don’t have the right offers, you need to go back to your content, website and conversion strategy to fill in the gaps.
You might be wondering where the ½ a tip is, so here we go. It’s more advice than an actual tip or trick. It’s so easy to set up automated lead nurturing campaigns in your marketing automation platform that you might find you have 20 or more of them running at the same time.
If you neglect them, you’ll end up with a massive project that eventually you’ll have to work on for weeks to redo emails, reorient conversions, update landing pages, sunset old offers and more.
Instead, set aside a few hours each week to review one or two of your lead nurturing emails. Check them for messaging. Are they still telling your story?
Check them for offer relevance, and make sure the pages, calls-to-action (CTAs) and related assets are still appropriate and working. Make sure people are opening them, clicking on them and moving through the buyer journey with you.
I’d even consider checking your customer relationship management (CRM) system to see how aggressively your lead nurture emails push people through the sales cycle.
If you do this weekly, you’ll always have a highly optimized and effective set of lead nurturing campaigns that are helping you generate more leads, sales opportunities and new customer revenue.