Feeding the funnel: How to build nurture programs that drive pipeline

Article Outline

Get off the hamster wheel of batch and blast emailing and start creating strategic nurtures that bring home the bacon 

marketing pipelines

Landing on a marketing strategy that’s effective in today’s oversaturated marketplace is, well, hard. The answer? Segmentation. Segmentation is all about specifically focusing on your target niches and creating personalized content resulting in optimization, retention, and deliverability worth bragging about. 

You’ll want to pair those segmentation processes with a systematic and refined lead creation funnel – the two should create a harmonious relationship, be tied at the hip, and become best friends for life.

So, just how do we go about pairing these two together? Let’s start from the beginning …

What is Behavioral Segmentation? 

If you’re in the email marketing space, chances are you use segmentation strategies like demographic, geographic, or even psychographic fairly often as it can be a helpful tool for targeting your audience. While these types of segmentation techniques are helpful for maintaining a relationship with current customers and guiding prospects down the funnel, behavioral segmentation can significantly improve the customer and prospect experience overall. Essentially, behavioral segmentation analyzes user behavior (things like what emails they open, content they download, sites they visit on your Website) and then uses what you learn from those actions to accurately identify your audience’s actual needs to create personalized marketing strategies. 

It’s simple— the more relevant and timely your emails are, the more likely you’ll get a positive reaction from your recipients. When you identify possible behavioral triggers, analyze your audience behavior, build your flows and create segments, it can be a sure fire way to drive engagement and achieve profitable outcomes. 

Act-On aliens juggling data results

What Makes It Different?

There’s no denying that knowing your average customer’s gender, age, or lifestyle are important factors in addressing your audience’s needs. However, what sets behavioral segmentation apart from a segmentation like geographic is that while geographic segmentation uses traditional variables of customers, behavioral segmentation works off of customers’ actions. With this segmentation strategy specifically, you can continue to routinely collect sustainable data that will maximize value with your current customers and bring in more customers like them. 

By being able to decipher how users are interacting with your email or product page, you as a marketer can make more informed decisions on how and where to best allocate time, budget, and resources. You can focus more on those that are actually likely to make a purchase rather than try and warm up predominantly cold leads. 

Additionally, when you achieve regular engagement, it demonstrates that your audience finds value in your emails and that increases deliverability. Essentially, if your domain has a good reputation, it will signal to ISPs that your emails are relevant and beneficial to the recipient. Hence, landing them in their inbox. ISPs and Mailbox Providers ultimately decide where emails land and domain reputation is one of the key determinants of that. If you segment, understand, and keep your audience interested, you’ll find yourself with great inbox placement along with happy customers. A true win win. 

How Do You Do It? 

Under the umbrella of behavioral segmentation, there are several types you can test to succeed in identifying trends and patterns that will help predict which customers are most likely to make purchases. Customer engagement, habitual purchasing or brand interactions are among some of these types that can be effective in winning over prospects and strengthening current customer relationships.

By using marketing automation platforms that specialize in getting real time insights that can power behavioral segmentation efforts, you can use these analytics to correctly classify a user’s behavior and find  the perfect strategy to best personalize for your customers.

In Act-On’s platform, you can create these segments that help you identify and group contacts by their interactions with your marketing content. You set up these segments by locating contacts with specific response behaviors, selecting the time period in which the specified behaviors transpire, the behavior in which you want to define and then lastly, the frequency in which these behaviors are occurring. 

By making these segments, marketers can have a better idea about what product or service might appeal to that particular person’s tastes which makes promoting products more effective by understanding target consumers’ behavior patterns. Even if this doesn’t lead to a homerun conversion every single time, the data you can acquire on where people go (and why) can provide an opportunity for targeted advertising on prospects in the future. 

A pull-down menu in Act-On shows options for filtering messages by opened, was sent, clicked on, etc.
Behavioral segmentation helps you send the right message to the right audience at the right time.

What it comes down to is when you streamline your marketing approach by implementing behavioral segmentation, you’ll undoubtedly give your audience exactly the content they’re looking for, incentivizing them to be a lifetime customer. The more specific you can be, the more you’ll be seen as favorable in the eyes of mailbox providers which will consequently result in happy customers. 

While behavioral segmentation is one crucial part of conversion optimization, you can take it to the next level by constructing a funnel based on behavioral segments. While ordinary funnel reports are successful in finding low-hanging fruit, with combining the powers of these two strategies, you can spot the inadequate first touchpoints, track the efficiency of your content and make the improvements you need to succeed. Here’s how.  

What is a Lead Creation Funnel and Why You Need One!

If you were to surmise one key takeaway from our section on behavioral segmentation, it’s undoubtedly the fact that there is no “one size fits all” approach to marketing today. However, there is one thing (typically two) that all marketers are in search of: eyeballs. Grabbing the attention of your target audience is no easy task, but it is imperative that you do so if you are to create a successful lead creation funnel.

In short, a lead creation funnel is the process by which you are attracting, nurturing and converting contacts into leads for your business. As you plan your lead creation funnel will flow, consider the following points to be instrumental to that process:

  • Identifying your target is key and should be clearly defined
  • Spot a problem and provide a solution
  • Accessible, engaging content (CTAs) coupled with email deliverability best practices

Every great idea should be coupled with an equally great plan. As it relates to your lead creation process, your plan should be to attract, interact, and convert your leads into customers. 

The Process


Your lead creation funnel should be aligned with your overarching lead acquisition and sales development programs. In order for that to occur, you will want to implement a process that helps enrich those programs.

This starts with the top of the funnel, or, TOFU. This portion of the funnel is designed to garner awareness and interest, utilizing different means such as:

  • Social Media
  • Email Outreach
  • Targeted landing pages
  • SEO/Pay-per-click ads

Once you have attracted your new leads, it is time to nurture them.

Act-On alien hugging and nurturing a heart


MOFU, or Middle of the Funnel, is where we get a bit more targeted, with specific nurture programs that automate based off of the interest we gathered at the Top of the Funnel. As your audience begins to become more refined, it will give you the opportunity to customize their journey based on their intent, with the goal of driving them to landing pages and obtaining contact information.

This stage is also paramount in ensuring that you are receiving favorable inboxing with your MOFU email campaigns. By sending to recently opted-in contacts, with content that they have signed up for and at a frequency that they are expecting, you are putting yourself in a great position to consistently reach the inbox.

Ultimately, anyone that has made it to the Middle of your Funnel is still weighing their purchasing options. In this stage, we want to capitalize on that opportunity and prove to them that your solution is the best fit for their specific wants or needs.


It’s now time for the conversion phase, also known as the Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU). When someone reaches this stage, they become a qualified lead and are ready to buy. This is the natural conclusion to your lead creation funnel.

However, the work here is not yet done, as we still need to optimize these conversions. To do this, we will want to provide content such as free shipping, discount codes, or even additional products or services to help sweeten the pot. For B2B audiences, this could be things like free trials or assessments. This offer should be so irresistible that there is no way your lead could ever say no!

Final Word

Make no mistake about it, the way in which you mesh your lead funnel and behavioral segmentation strategies will be vital to your success in generating new leads and returning positive ROI. It can’t be understated how important these structures are to bridge the gap between your marketing and sales teams. 

Developing smart and effective behavioral segmentation and lead funnel creation processes takes time, focus and brainpower. But isn’t it time you got off the hamster wheel of batch and blast emailing and started doing strategic nurturing to your customers and prospects that makes a real impact to your sales and marketing team? The answer is a resounding yes! 

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