As companies become adept at generating leads, the necessity for an effective lead nurturing strategy becomes more and more apparent. That's because in most cases only a relatively small percentage of your leads will be ready to make an immediate purchase, leaving upwards of 90% of your leads on the table.
This is where the magic of lead nurturing happens. When implemented, an effective lead nurturing campaign improves lead to customer conversion rates, lowers the cost of customer acquisition and speeds up sales cycles.
If lead nurturing is so great then why haven't 65% of B2B marketers established lead nurturing as part of their strategy?! Likely because it is a even more complicated process than generating leads and awareness, requiring heavy coordination of strategy, technology, and your marketing team. All of which can leave marketers wondering where, and how, to even start.
Which is why we are laying down the blueprint for you. But first, in case we haven't already convinced you, here is...
Why You Need a Lead Nurturing Campaign
While leads can be “hotter” or “colder”— more or less prepared to embark on the buyer’s journey— the fact of the matter is that over 90% of the leads who come to your website aren’t ready to make a deal. A lead nurturing campaign focuses on actively moving leads you've garnered from lead generation and marketing efforts into paying customers. It involves building relationships and trust with your leads, providing leads the information they need at each stage of their buyer journey, and keeping them engaged with your brand.
What are the Results of a Successful Lead Nurturing Campaign?
Implemented properly, a lead nurturing campaign offers a variety of benefits. Most obviously, it will increase the rate of leads who make it all the way through your sales funnel and become customers. Research conducted by Forrester has shown that marketers see an average 20% increase in sales opportunities from nurtured vs non-nurtured leads. Still not convinced? Their research also reveals that companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales at a 33% lower cost. What's more, 67% of B2B marketers say they see at least 10% increase in sales opportunities through lead nurturing, and 15% see opportunities increase by 30% or more.
Other positive results of lead nurturing include shorter sales cycles and lower cost per customer acquisition, which means increased ROI. Additionally, through building out a nurturing campaign, marketers can learn to better identify customer needs and understand leads themselves, build a stronger reputation in their industry, and set the stage for stronger relationships with those leads who become customers.
The Core Pieces of a Lead Nurturing Campaign
Though nurturing campaigns can-- and should-- vary somewhat in their structure based on the individual needs of both your company customers, and industry, the most successful campaigns stand on a foundation of common elements. Let’s go over these components, and the role they play in the effectiveness of your lead nurturing strategy.
Hook (lead magnets/offer)
This is what initially attracts a person to your brand and gets them into your database. A hook can be a coupon, a free assessment, a month a of free service, or a content piece such as an e-book or guide. Most importantly, a hook must deliver something valuable to your buyer persona.
Landing pages are a primary way of delivering your offers or hook to leads, and are the way in which you collect a visitor's contact information, turning them into a lead (or marketable name) in your database. They redirect the user away from website pages or email links to a lead form, which promises content or an offer of value in exchange for the lead’s personal information. A strong call to action is arguably the most important part of any landing page, followed by a quality offer, and well-designed page template. Check out this article for more tips and guidelines for creating high converting landing pages.
This approach to dividing your database of contacts involves assigning them to groups with similar characteristics, needs, and interests in order to deliver a more personalized experience. 23% of email campaign engagement is dependent on the level of segmentation used. You can segment your lists of contacts and leads using data collected explicitly through forms, as well as from interactions they have with your company after entering your database.
Characteristics of these segmented lists can be based on demographics or behavior. More specific criteria include the leads’ location, position, stage in the buyer's journey, their persona, their entry point into the campaign, content they have interacted with, the products they have purchased (or viewed), and more.
Email remains the primary way you communicate one-on-one with your leads and customers throughout a campaign; they are the backbone of lead nurturing. Marketing emails can be divided into three major categories: blast emails, nurturing emails, and drip campaigns. Email blasts are the most straightforward, strategically simplistic of the three; an email with a contact offer is sent out to the entirety of the lead database. While they have their place in a nurturing campaign, they lack the personalization and timeliness necessary for a stellar email strategy.
This is where drip and nurturing emails come in, more similar to one another while maintaining a few key differences. In contrast with blast emails, drip campaigns are based on well-arranged schedules in order to encourage leads to keep the company top-of-mind as they approach a buying decision. Lead nurturing emails, meanwhile, are based off behavioral segmentation of the leads-- custom emails are sent after an ebook download, webinar sign-up, cart abandonment, etc. The two varieties of email marketing are most effective when combined with one another.
A workflow is a set of automated actions triggered by certain events. In a lead nurturing campaign workflows are used to tie together the pieces of your campaign and progress your lead from one stage of their journey to the next. Actions can include things such as sending an email or an sms message to adding a lead to a segmented list.
For example, if you would like to nurture a lead after they fill out form on your website, you could utilize a workflow to automatically send them a series of nurture emails over time. You could also trigger a series of emails with a coupon to visitors who place an item in their online shopping cart but fail to follow through on the final purchase.
Workflows can also help bridge the gap between marketing and sales. For example, an email alerting a sales person could be triggered anytime a lead crosses the threshold turning them from a marketing qualified lead to a sales qualified lead. You could also use workflows to update contact information (such as stage in the sales funnel) based on actions they take with your company on and offline.
A steady and relevant flow of content on various platforms is imperative in guiding leads and eventually converting them into customers. This goes from everything from the body copy in emails to landing pages to social media posts! Thoughtful lead nurturing campaigns begin with content mapping, a process in which content is designated to be received by leads at appropriate points throughout the campaign.
The 3 stages of the buying journey-- awareness, consideration, and decision-- serve as effective guidelines for content mapping, as do the phases of the marketing funnel.
ToFu content addresses the awareness stage where your buyer is trying to identify their challenge or an opportunity they want to pursue. They are also deciding whether or not the goal or challenge should be a priority.
MoFu content addresses the consideration stage in which your buyer is ready to evaluate the different approaches or methods available to pursue their goal or solve their challenge.
BoFu content addresses the decision stage where your buyer is making an actual purchase decision. They’re ready to buy, but that still doesn’t guarantee that they’re going to buy from you. In most cases, leads at the bottom of your funnel just need that final nudge and that compelling call-to-action to get them to make a purchase decision.
Personalization consists of tailoring content, offers, communications, and as many other elements of the campaign as possible to accommodate specific individuals. Personalization can be tied to groups or segments of individuals-- a primary reason that lead segmentation and scoring are so important to a lead nurturing campaign. In the context of a modern marketing landscape where automation is ever present, it’s fully possible to create customized experiences for your leads with the help of analytics and foresight on the part of the marketing team.
“Optimization” may sound like a vague term, but aside from general tips like maintaining detailed schedules and keeping campaign content consistent, optimization of a nurturing campaign is founded on a basic principle of “test-and-tweak.” A/B testing and closed-loop reporting are primary ways of accomplishing this, as they provide feedback on major elements of your campaign.
A/B testing, in particular, offers a high level of control of your email campaigns; individual variables can be tested and modified accordingly with nearly the precision of a scientific experiment. But testing is not limited to emails and can be applied to landing pages, social media messages, CTA's and more.
Closed-loop analytics refers to how your marketing team can use and exchange information with your Sales team to create more comprehensive analytics for a lead nurturing campaign. It creates insight into the entirety of the customer life cycle, from the time they enter the funnel to the point at which they make a purchase. General analytics require the help of the proper software tools, as we’ll discuss below.
An operator refers to the type of marketer and/or skills sets needed to execute a nurturing campaign successfully. They may be an existing, permanent member of your marketing team, or be acquired from an outside source like a marketing agency. Campaign Creators has extensive experience with a variety of lead nurturing campaigns for a multitude of clients. Contact us today for free consultation regarding your nurturing strategy.
Automation at some level is crucial to implementing a lead nurturing campaign. The type of automation software required varies from email automation programs to full-stack marketing automation systems. Another important tool needed is customer relationship management software (CRM), which allows you to synchronize the activities of your sales and marketing teams and record your leads’ relationships with your company. General marketing software that manages marketing data, like HubSpot’s Marketing and Sales software, is also needed to manage analytics and track the effectiveness of your campaign activities.
Your email campaigns can be managed by entirely standalone clients (MailChimp, Constant Contact) or integrated with the software mentioned above. Even smaller elements, such as landing page design and email layouts, can also be handled as features in software like HubSpot Marketing.
The Difference Between B2B and B2C/ eCommerce Nurturing Campaigns
The element of lead nurturing campaigns vary somewhat depending on whether they're designed for B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-customer)/e-commerce marketing.
B2B Nurturing Campaigns
B2B campaigns tend to require more strategical work up front and less after launch (with the exception of SaaS or membership models which incorporate retention and upgrade marketing tactics), with a longer period of time needed to see results and test. Promotion all happens at the top of the funnel, though it can change over time with the addition of more entry points and awareness channels, while the middle of the funnel stays rather constant. Once a lead is successfully converted into a customer, they no longer have marketing value and become the responsibility or the customer service and sales teams.
B2C NURTURING CAMPAIGNS
In comparison, B2C campaigns are characterized by a ToFu that remains constant, while the middle of funnel is very dynamic. They require a fine-tuned promotional content calendar and a stronger hook, and in the case of eCommerce need to be fully integrated with your company's online store. Finally, because lead behavior is more prone to fast-paced changes and conducted through multiple customer pathways instead of one, B2C lead nurturing is more hands-on after launch.
We will be going into greater detail with Blueprints for B2B and B2C/eCommerce campaigns in the next articles in this series. In the meantime get a head start by checking out our Lead Nurturing Masterclass!
This blog post is part of Your Definitive Guide to Lead Nurturing blog series and Your Definitive Guide to Conversion Rate Optimization blog series.