Thought Leadership Interview: Jep Castelein Provides Tips on Improving Lead Nurturing Programs

Jep Castelein - LeadSloth

The 6 Steps Jep Castelein shared in his section of The Quintessential Marketing Automation Guidebook discussed how to find untapped revenue in your lead database. Building higher engagement to increase the momentum it takes to deliver qualified leads to the sales team is a critical component for marketing performance. Given the interest we’ve seen for this section of the guide, I decided to follow-up with Jep and ask him a few more questions to expand on the six steps he’s already revealed.

CD: What are the most important questions marketers can ask salespeople when designing nurturing campaigns?

JC: Sales people can help you find out:

  • how to define a "qualified lead"
  • the questions and objections you need to address in your lead nurturing campaigns
  • the information that should be included for new leads

Q1: "How do you qualify your leads?" or "How would you describe your best leads?"

It is important that Marketing and Sales agree on the definition of a qualified lead. These questions are to find out how sales people qualify their leads. Often, this is an intuitive process, so you may have to help sales people with making their qualification process more explicit.

Q2: "What are the typical questions and objections that you hear from leads?"

Leads often have the same questions and objections during the buying process. Marketing can speed up the buying process by addressing this in the nurturing campaigns. Sales people can tell you the most frequently asked questions and the most common objections.

Q3: "What information would you like to get on new leads?"

With Marketing Automation technology, we can collect a lot of information on leads. For example: how they found out about your company, how often they visited your website, which emails they responded to, and so on. Tell your sales people about these options, and ask them to prioritize the list.

CD: In your section, you discuss making offers that prospects can’t refuse. Have you found there are specific indications of the ideal time to insert conversion events into lead nurturing campaigns? Can you offer several example scenarios? JC: That's a great question. There is this fine balance between offering great education content, and featuring your company’s expertise and solutions. The first recommendation is to refrain from inserting promos in your education content. That contaminates the content, and makes readers feel that it's one big advertisement.

However, there are several options that strike a good balance between content and promo. The first one is to add offers to content, but keep them separate from the content, just like ads are separate from editorial content in newspapers. For example, if you promote a blog article in a nurturing email, put a small promo below the article, clearly separated from the article itself.

You can also mix content and educations emails, such as sending one promotional email for each three educational emails. Depending on your business, you may find that another ratio works better for you. Monitor the click rates and unsubscribe rates to find the right ratio.

If you want to make sure that prospects only get offers when they are already interested in your organization, you may want to monitor the prospect’s activity level. You then wait on sending offers until a lead has reached a certain activity level. That is something you can usually measure with the lead scoring functionality in your Marketing Automation system.

CD: How do you recommend that marketers re-start dormant leads with a lead nurturing program? Are there a few specifics you can share about how to lessen the abruptness of communicating with leads who haven’t heard from your company for a period of time?

JC: The challenge with dormant leads is that many of them will have forgotten that they ever registered to receive email. If you just add them to your a new email campaign, most of them will think it is spam. That is true even for educational campaigns. Therefore, you will have to regain their permission.

In the many reactivation campaigns that I've worked on, being totally transparent has always worked best. Start your new campaign with an email message that says:

  • You have been on our email list since 2009, but we haven't sent you email in a long time
  • We have created an education email series on ...
  • Before we start sending those emails, we wanted make sure you want to receive them
  • If not, please let us know, and we'll take you off the list immediately

The more specifics you have on the date and reason for joining the list, the better. Use the personalization features of your Marketing Automation system to be very specific, for example:

"Hi Jon, in August 2009 you attended our webinar "Acme Product Overview", but we haven't been in touch with you in a long time."

Also, make the email look like it was sent from Outlook: plain formatting and no images. The "from" address should include both the name of an individual within your organization, as well as the company name. For example: "Peter Pan - Acme Corp". If you want, even put an email signature in the message. By the way: because this message looks like a personal message, people may reply to it. Make sure to answer those replies in a timely manner.