5 Tactics for Lead Nurturing Success

Too many companies invest in marketing automation solutions and continue to execute the same batch-n-blast email marketing campaigns. It is incredibly difficult to take the first step to lead nurturing, it can be daunting, but a change needs to be implemented in order to realize the full capabilities of their technology. Marketing organizations need to break the habit of sending one-off emails and adapt to a new era of campaign automation, while elevating their marketing strategies to implement a foundation for scalability and intelligence.

However, with decent data and a simplified approach, the path to lead nurturing can be very straight-forward and acheivable. I put the following list together to share my insights on how to take that next step and turn a batch-n-blast email strategy into a revenue-generating machine. At Barnett Group, we advocate a diverse approach to scaling lead nurturing, one that engages customers at each moment of the customer lifecycle. So, it is essential that you have at least a basic understanding of your customer’s path from anonymous web visitor to customer, in order to facilitate a dialogue each step of the way.

Here are just a few ideas to get your lead nurturing strategy off the ground and running:

Customer Lifecycle Marketing

The backbone of any successful digital marketing strategy starts with an understanding of where a lead is in its customer journey—from an anonymous web visitor to a final purchase.  Without this most basic structure in place, marketing automation can be overwhelming and highly disorganized. The idea is that as a lead progresses from one stage to the next, different nurturing tactics and paths will be triggered. Curated content can be triggered at precise moments that provide a positive and engaging customer experience. Marketing automation tools, particularly Marketo and HubSpot, provide easy-to-use tools to help you define and manage the buyer’s journey. For most B2B marketing organizations, the following buyer’s customer lifecycle is the perfect starting point:

Anonymous Lead: Typically defined as an unknown website visitor that has not submitted a form or clicked-through an email yet.

Known Lead: These leads are the majority of most marketing databases and consist of at least an email address. Ideally, these leads are nurtured and scored, constantly evaluated for buying signals.

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): These are the leads that marketing automation platforms are best-suited to find and identify. Among the Known Leads, MQLs achieve a high lead score and are handed-off to Sales for immediate follow-up.

Sales Accepted Lead (SAL): Once an MQL has been passed to Sales, the SAL is the moment where Sales takes ownership of a record and initiates its own qualification process.

Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): A lead that is accepted by Sales as qualified, is typically converted into an Opportunity at this point.

Opportunity: A sales opportunity where the first step of a sales cycle begins and tracked via sales process stages

Customer: A Closed Won Opportunity

With a clear understanding of where a lead is on the path to purchase, a marketing organization can now start to nurture a lead with a clear goal to facilitate the movement of a lead through the process. Of course, micro-processes can be explored within each lead stage to provide further structure and relevance. With the Customer Lifecycle defined as a basic structure, a world of possibilities is offered.

Progressive-Profiling Qualification

For many organizations, the handoff between Marketing and Sales comes with the understanding that, “Hey, this is a good lead which need to be followed up.” However, sometimes more information is required to ensure a smooth transition. Utilize digital channels to gather all required information before passing a lead to Sales, especially key qualification criteria.

Surveys are an option, but click-based updates to records (called a Blind Form Submit) are also an effective measure. Instead of traditional qualification surveys that risk low response rates and tedious maintenance, you can leverage MA tools to trigger personalized emails to gather high-priority data points. Send an introductory email from the Account Executive that is managing the relationship with the new prospect. Include a important qualification question, e.g., “I was about to give you a call, but wanted to quickly confirm if tomorrow morning works for you before reaching out. If so, click here to confirm and we’ll chat tomorrow!” A response to this type of email can trigger internal processes to alert sales and book a meeting. No better way for a Sales rep to start a day than an inbox full of confirmed meetings without having to pick up the phone once.

Reopen a Dialogue With a Lost Prospect

Lead nurturing campaigns are not just for closing deals, they can be effective in re-opening lost ones too. Reasons for opportunity-closed-lost are an invaluable source of information for any organization. Closed-lost opportunities are also some of the easiest to prove ROI with future opportunities, because any response is a huge win.

Consider this situation: Your company loses a deal to a competitor for an annual contract. You can create a lead nurturing campaign that leverages Salesforce.com Contact Roles, and reaches out to contacts that were part of lost deals 9 months ago. A sample message could be, “Just checking in—we haven’t spoke in a while but wanted to see how work was progressing with Company XYZ. Please let us know if you’re open to considering other options for the next year.”

Customer Satisfaction

At Bluewolf, we utilize a NPS (Net Promoter Score) initiative for quality insurance. Periodically, we trigger email surveys to primary contacts on our projects, asking them to provide feedback on our services. Results are fed into salesforce.com which give us access to extraordinarily valuable data related to the quality of our projects over time.

After a couple years of monitoring and iterating on this process, we now have visibility into quality trends and we’ve identified who to contact for reference calls, or any project issues. We use MA technologies to constantly improve the way our services, leveraging actionable data straight from the source.

Further, we can use NPS surveys to collect more information about our customers’ needs to grow existing relationships. These activities provide an additional opportunity to trigger other campaign types segmented by product interest, new offers, or other relevant announcements.

Internal Adoption Campaigns

Internal buy-in and enthusiasm is crucial for the success of any marketing effort. What better way to get the Sales team revved up for a Marketing Automation rollout than a campaign executed from your shiny new tool, truly showing off its capabilities?!

How about this for a formula:

  1. Announce the acquisition of the new tool with a list of some of its great sales enablement features
  2. Include a click through to a landing page with a registration form for an internal webinar to review sales and time saving benefits
  3. Send a confirmation email thanking them for registering
  4. On the registration confirmation page, display personalized information and a link to a tip sheet about the tool
  5. Send another email thanking the rep for viewing the web page 😉 with an optional link to a feedback form

Kicking off your first lead nurturing campaign should be a fun exercise in getting to know your customer as well as your internal processes. Remember, the world of marketing is full of solutions thesedays that are amazing at enhancing your existing marketing efforts, but all require the existence of at least a basic methodology for moving transforming your leads into sales. Technology without process and an deep understanding of your customer’s needs can leave your organization wondering where the investment went, so take some time to ask the right questions to find out what your process should be and then build an engaging experience for your leads.

What was your first lead nurturing campaign? How did you take the first step into the world of campaign automation? Take a few moments to share your experiences below or find out if you’re ready for lead nurturing with our Marketing Healthcheck, designed to help you diagnose and triage your marketing organization’s readiness.