Instead of casting a wide net and spending more money to produce more leads to close more deals, many marketers are now using marketing automation to keep leads engaged and nurture them into qualified leads.This makes much more sense considering 80% of un-worked leads buy from someone over the next 24 months according to a DemandGen Report.However, in order to close more deals with the same number of leads or less, your lead nurturingcampaigns must be effective.Demand Generation Platforms give you the tools to implement the campaigns; however, you also need an effective strategy in order to be successful.We get questions around strategy all the time, so I thought I would bring an expert to help shed some light on how to create a successful lead nurturing campaign.
Malcolm Friedberg, president and owner of Lead Targets, specializes in designing and implementing customized lead nurturing campaigns for B2B companies.Malcolm’s background includes 18 years in marketing and several CMO positions.We caught up with him and were able to pick his brain a little on how to get the most out of your marketing automation system and create effective lead nurturing campaigns.
What do you recommend as the first step in building a successful lead nurturing campaign?
First, you need to establish a goal. Before you build a nurture campaign, you need to clearly define what you would like it to accomplish.For example, the goal of lead nurturing campaign following a collateral download could be designed to gain more information about your prospect in order to see if they are good fit for your service/product and worth pursuing.By contrast, a lead nurturing campaign following a trial request would look drastically different because the goal would probably be focused on obtaining a signed contract.
How do you determine what collateral piece or messages to send prospects during the process?
Again, this is really determined by establishing your goal.Think of it as a multi-stage process where you are trying to provide the right information at the appropriate time. In the case of new leads, your communications need to move people from knowing little about your offering to becoming an educated prospect.
For example, if I were to create a lead nurturing campaign for selling marketing automation consulting services to companies that recently acquired a system, I might set it up as follows:
Step 1:Send an email to the prospect establishing the difficulty of creating a successful lead nurturingcampaign without consulting services from an expert.
Goal: Establish the need for a consultant
Step 2: Invite them to download a study/report on comparing the success rates of companies that hire a consultant to those that do not.
Goal: Further qualify them and help them understand the consequences of going it alone
Step 3: Send an email educating them on Lead Targets and establish myself as an expert in building effective lead nurturing campaigns through a case study or customer testimonials.
Goal: Establish myself as an expert and help them understand how my solution will solve their problem
How do you determine if a lead nurturing campaign is successful or unsuccessful?What metrics do you look at?
Every sales process is different, but to determine the success of any campaign, you would need to look at your goal and measure how many people achieved that goal.It’s difficult to generalize a “successful conversion rate” because it can involve different variables.If your goal is to get prospects to sign up to attend a webinar, you would expect a higher conversion than if your goal is to get a prospect to sign a contract for services. Measuring your success in a nurturing campaign is important is because it enables you to establish a baseline and evolve.You should be closely monitoring your program and modifying it to increase conversion rates.Look at each step of your process and see where you are experiencing the drop-offs and focus on improving that one step.
What is a good/effective amount of time to wait between messages/touch points?
It depends on the purpose of the nurturing campaign.If you’re taking a lead through an education process, two to four weeks between emails/touch points is usually effective. However, I would recommend more frequent communication toward the end of the nurturing campaign as you get closer to closing.I would also recommend integrating phone calls, personal visits or direct mail into a nurturing campaign.Don’t think of nurturing as strictly emails.
In terms of technology, what features in a marketing automation solution do you think are important to nurture leads effectively?
Obviously nurturing is one key ingredient to fully use.
Dynamic content is powerful because one of the most important aspects of a nurture campaign is that it’s relevant to people’s interests.In order to establish yourself as a solution provider, you need to demonstrate that you know their business and understand their unique needs.The more you are able to be specific and relevant, the more responsive they are going to be.Dynamic content allows you to do this more easily.
Lead Scoring is also an important functionality because it gives you the ability to rank leads.The days of marketing handing over thousands of unqualified leads to sales will soon be done. Lead scoring will help you understand what criteria constitute a “qualified” or “sales ready” lead. Just be sure you get buy-in from your sales guys, so you’re both on the same page about that definition. When you get it right, your sales team will love you. Real-time sales alerts are a useful feature as well because they help sales reps gauge when they should be reaching out to prospects. If I’ve been all over a site and recently downloaded collateral, it’s probably a good time to ask if I have questions. Sales alerts triggered to certain events are another tool for arming your sales team.
Do you have any one tip/piece of advice that marketers should always follow when creating a lead nurturing campaign?
Always keep your goal in mind when creating a campaign. Be sure to take time to understand and consider the customer life cycle, and tailor your campaigns accordingly. Once you implement version one, don’t be afraid to experiment. Nurturing is not a set it and forget it science. It’s more like an art form and the most effective campaigns are the result of adjustments and tweaks.