Ivo Campos - Marketing Automation

Lead Nurturing Plan: 8 critical points you can’t miss!

Lead nurturing programs are a key part of B2B Marketing strategy. B2B sales cycles are usually longer than B2C sales cycles, and so you’ll need to work with different touchpoints that will help the user go through the whole conversion funnel and reach their goal.

However, creating a good lead nurturing program isn’t an easy task, and companies often commit the same common mistakes when they’re trying to implement it:

  • Thinking that a lead nurturing program is just a series of emails: by concentrating all your communication efforts with your lead via just one channel, then you are highly likely to lose many users along the way.
  • Thinking that if a user clicks on an email, then they have a commercial interest – this is only a half-truth. The interest a user may have in our business is always dependent on the type of content we offer them. A user who clicks on a guide in our blog isn’t necessarily a lead that should be directly contacted by a sales rep.
  • Forgetting that the essence of a nurturing program is its content. Only through high-quality content we can awaken the user’s interest in buying from us, and not just through sales messages.

So, if you’re planning to launch a lead nurturing program, we’d like to share 8 critical points you need to do to create a successful program:

Get to know your leads’ current Customer Journey

A good marketing team needs to know all the points of contact the company has with the leads and a current customers. When starting to plan your lead nurturing program, besides identifying all the usual toutpoints established by Marketing (e.g. newsletter, promotional emails, chatbots, etc.), talk to other teams that have contact with leads and customers to get to know which are the most frequent touchpoints and how they follow these up. Here are some examples of possible scenarios:

SCENARIOCOMMUNICATION FOLLOW UP
The Sales Team is in contact with a leadThe lead status in the CRM could be “Following up” and, for this reason, you’ll know that they shouldn’t receive nurturing emails for the time being.
There’s an Open Opportunity with the lead on “negotiationstageConnect the opportunities between your Marketing Automation tool and CRM. In this way, you’ll avoid sending messages by mistake, for example, offering the customer a discount when they’ve already received a proposal from the Sales Team.
The client has activated a trial of your productIf you have this information in your Marketing Automation tool, then you’ll be able to build a client onboarding program.
The renewal date is approachingIf we’re talking about an Enterprise client, then your Customer Success team will probably be the ones who should start renewal communication with the client.

By getting to know the current touchpoints, you’ll be able to start building the ideal customer journey for your company and how the lead nurturing program will fit into this journey.

Segment your database

Before you start working on the content of your lead nurturing program, you’ll need to do some segmentation and identify how many potential leads are going to be part of the audience of your program. Some fields or criteria you can use to create your segment:

  • Customer profile: (position, location, company size, etc.)
  • Current status of the customer journey: Are they on awareness or more consideration phase?
  • Latest interactions: Recently completed forms, type of content accessed, interactions with the sales team.
  • You should also filter users that you don’t want to “touch” right now: contacts that have an open opportunity, or users that have already fulfilled the objectives of the current nurturing program, to name but two.
  • More ideas on database segmentation here.

Once the segmentation is created, check whether the volume is relevant enough in order to create a nurturing program (taking into account all the effort involved in this). A calculation that I always make when I’m looking to launch a campaign is to take into account an average open rate of 20%, and a CTR of 5%, and then a conversion on the landing page of 20% – with this data you’ll be able to make an approximate calculation of your expected response rate.

If the number is too low, then you should either consider opening your segmentation further, or create very personalized content that will increase the opening, click, and conversion rates.

Define your value proposition and how to create your content

Depending on the segment, you’ll need to identify the key messages you want to convey in your lead nurturing program and the content you’ll use to disseminate these messages.

If your audience is on the brand awareness stage, then the type of content of your nurturing program will probably be more high-level and less commercial: articles, guides, videos, etc. What we try to do in this phase is to awaken the user’s interest and to enable them to identify our company as a point of reference.

If the audience is more on a consideration phase, then we’ll try to use content that proofs our compnay is the best option for them, such as testimonials from other clients, success stories, free trials, etc.

Before starting work on the nurturing program, make an inventory of all the content you have available and decide what phase you can use it in.
It’s not enough to just recycle old content; it must be aligned to the purposes of your program, up-to-date, and with a clear call to action. It’s important to work very closely with the content team and make them feel part of this program’s success.

Use a Marketing Automation tool

Marketing Automation tools have one main purpose, which is to help your potential customer enter and fulfill their goal in the customer journey: from their first interesactions with your company website, then their entry into your company database and their first steps in getting to know your product, to the creation of business opportunities, and finally to them becoming a satisfied customer who recommends your product or service.

Using a tool such as Pardot or Hubspot will allow you to implement a nurturing program with automatic steps, thereby reducing manual tasks that can lead to error.

Having to carry out fewer manual tasks means you’ll have more time to analyze the results and improve, too.

Here are some learnings when creating a nurturing program on a Marketing Automation tool:

  1. Don’t overcomplicate your program: The best thing is to start off simply and then improve it according to the response of your users.
  2. Use several channels: Marketing automation tools allow you to create segments and pinpoint them through different channels. Take advantage of this feature to reach your client through a number of different channels.
  3. Relaunch messages when possible and when relevant.

Connect with other tools

Having a Marketing Automation tool is awesome, but there might exist other tools in your company that contain information about the relationship you have with your customer and leads. Here are some tools you should consider connecting to your Marketing Automation system to make your nurturing program work properly.

The company’s own database

If your product is a SaaS, then it’s likely that there’ll be a lot of relevant information in your database that should be sent to the Marketing Automation tool. Some fields that can be useful are user “creation date”,
“user last activity”, “account status” (active, blocked, inactive), and the features the customer uses the most in your software etc.

CRM

The connection with the CRM won’t only be beneficial regarding coordination, but will also avoid communication errors with the client.

Paid advertising & Web Analytics

Payment platforms allow us to perform remarketing actions and, because of this, they have great potential to communicate our messages to our segment via different channels.

Outbound tools

As with CRM, Outbound tools, such as Outreach or Salesloft, should be connected to your CRM to coordinate campaigns better and avoid communication errors.

NPS tools

Knowing customer satisfaction levels will help us know if we have opportunities for expansion or not. It also means we can follow up promoters (product recommendation campaigns) as well as detractors (to solve their complaints).

Customer Service tools & Chatbots

As these are channels the client uses for quick communication, often to tell us about their issues and objectives, it’s important to connect properly with them in order to avoid duplicated communication or miscommunication.

Learn how to integrate Salesforce and Google Analytics data here

Have several conversion options

Offering different conversion options to your lead can increase the chances of generating opportunities. I’m not talking about using several “Call to action” (CTAs) in one single communication, but offering different options to the user depending on the stage they are, and even personalizing the conversion if possible.

Examples of calls to action you might have in a B2B company:

  • Read this case study
  • Activate your free trial
  • Request a demo
  • Register for this product webinar
  • Talk to a consultant
  • I want to be contacted
  • Schedule a meeting
  • Etc.

A couple of pieces of advice relating to this point:

  • Organize your CTAs by how close they are to the conversion. In this way, you will know at which moment you can use each of these options.
  • Coordinate further action with your sales team: for example, if the lead starts a free trial, should they be contacted or should you wait for the trial?

Coordinate your lead nurturing program with your sales team

A lead nurturing campaign focused on generating new leads risks failure if the sales team isn’t committed to follow-up. These are some of the points you must bear in mind in order to achieve this coordination:

  • Time: The sales team must know when they’re going to start receiving leads and the level of priority of these leads.
  • Content: The sales team must at least know the content that the leads are going to receive so they can prepare their pitch.
  • MQL: The definition of MQL must be clear between both departments, yet for specific campaigns, it can be more flexible based on the response of the users.
  • Connection with the CRM: Ensure that you know which of the lead’s fields will be updated in the CRM. For example: name of the campaign, date of the contact request, status to be used if the user responds negatively, information at the time of the conversion, etc.

Be sure to follow up the sales performance of the nurturing campaign from a sales perspective, and don’t hesitate on having meetings to analysis this performance and identify actions for improvement.

Understanding how to measure the success of lead nurturing actions

In order to measure the success of a lead nurturing campaign, it isn’t enough just to take into account the opening of emails or clicks.

So, first of all, you need to be clear about the objective(s) you want to achieve. Do you want more demo requests? Do you want to identify the potential customer’s usage scenario? Do you want them to request a meeting with a salesperson? Connecting your campaign with these micro objectives is important and Marketing Automation tools like Hubspot allow you to define this objective in each campaign.

And, secondly, ensure that you have adequate tools that will allow you to define an additional attribution model for the first or last touch. If you only measure your results based on these two models, then it’s likely that your program’s analysis won’t be very effective. Use multi-touch models to find out how your program has influenced the creation of opportunities and, subsequently, the business achievements.

If you want to learn more about B2B Attribution Software implementation, click here.

In conclusion

As you can see, creating a nurturing program requires commitment and effort from the members of the Marketing team, as well as the collaboration of other departments. Starting simply is the best option, and you can then optimize at a later date and improve the results, being as relevant as you can for your users.

See below a summary of the 8 steps to plan and launch your nurturing program: