If you’re using an adaptive marketing platform, like Act-On, you can take advantage of the latest technologies, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, that can automatically segment, lead score, assign content, and predictively send your emails.
What to consider when creating a lead nurturing automated program
What we’ve found at Act-On as best practices for creating a lead nurture process can be grouped under three pillars:
- Segmentation: Creating segmented nurture campaigns for your prospects and customers
- Content: Matching relevant, actionable content with the customer’s journey
- Workflow: Regularly testing and evaluating programs to ensure you’re optimizing your automated nurture campaign workflows
Segmenting your nurture programs
Lead nurturing, at its best, is done first with segmenting to your audience.
It begins with understanding your ideal buyer and buyer personas. If you don’t have an updated persona, you can reverse engineer your closed/won deals over the last few months, the last year and the last two years. What types of companies and industries are purchasing from you? What is the title of the champions for your product or service within that prospective companies? How big are the buying committees? Who is making the final buying decisions? Who will be using the product or service day to day? What trends are you seeing?
Additionally, you want to look at your own company and industry over that period. Has anything changed with the product, for the good or bad, that would have changed your typical buyer? What macro trends may be changing your marketplace? For example, the European Union’s GDPR and proposed legislation in California are changing how marketers and organizations think about privacy, ranging from how they market to prospects to how they will be in compliance with new laws.
Still curious on how you can segment your nurture lists? Start with customers and prospects. According to the Vidyard study, marketers are segmenting by:
- Title/role (55%)
- Industry (54%)
- Buyer persona (41%)
- Account (34%)
- Company size (31%)
One of the wonderful things about creating lead nurture programs is that you’re only limited by your capacity to think about what to segment. You could (and should) create nurture programs for onboarding customers, for customers that are not actively using your product or service, and for customers who are heavy users and ripe for cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. The more programs you currently have integrated into your overall marketing strategy, the more ways you can engage with prospects via your lead nurturing program.
How to use content marketing in your lead nurturing programs
Look, your content was, is and will always be the key to your overall marketing success, as well as specifically your lead nurturing success. A first step would be to take an inventory of the content you have: eBooks, on-demand webinars, original research, customer success stories, product reviews, industry reports and so forth.
The next step is to begin matching your content your audience’s buying journey and segmented interest. For example, a user will be interested in an on-demand webinar about how to use your product or service, but the CEO or executive in with buying authority will be more interested in content that talks about how your product or service integrates with their existing processes.
You can reuse content in very effective ways by breaking them into series pieces. Also, less is more with delivering content. People don’t have time for long emails. It’s better to present your content in 150 words or less, perhaps in list form, and include a CTA to a landing page that can go into greater detail.
Now is also time to recognize what content holes you may have and need to fill. Often, this is bottom-of-funnel content (although a quick remedy for this can be testimonials from customers that match however you segmented the list).
Often, when folks are inventorying their content, they are thinking only about what can be sent in an email. But advanced lead nurture strategies will include trigger events that will send direct mail (a postcard or a gift bag) to a prospect or customer. You can also create triggers that can prompt a sales rep to reach out to the prospect with a “soft open” piece of content. This could be a 1:1 custom video that is sent to prospects whose lead score is approaching being qualified to send to sales. It could also be invitations to upcoming events or webinars.
My pro tip is to include videos in your nurture programs. People like watching video testimonials, feature or use cases, industry trends and more.
How to optimize your lead nurture automated programs
According to the Vidyard report, 49 percent of marketers report that one of greatest challenges they have with their lead nurture programs is building the right timing and workflow for their campaign.
Your workflow can be simple or very advanced, it really depends on your segmented list, your typical sales cycle, the quality of your content, and a host of other factors. Below is an example of a simple workflow.