Following up with leads and cultivating them to eventually get them to buy is called ‘lead nurturing’.
Effective lead nurturing requires more thought than just sending emails to your target audience. You have an end goal, and lead nurturing campaigns – a series of planned follow-up mailings or touchpoints – help you work towards that end goal. In this blog, we take a closer look at mailings in particular. To ensure powerful lead nurturing, you also want to use as many other channels as possible. So if you can get a link to social media, definitely use that too. If you have an address from your lead, it might be a good idea to get a representative involved for the final push.
There are different types of lead nurturing campaigns. In this article, we take you through 7 different lead nurturing campaigns that you can run on your way to making your lead your customer.
For us, a customer is someone who actually buys your products or services. Someone who has placed an initial order or has requested a one-off trial pack, for example, is not yet a customer. Through lead nurturing, you build a relationship with your lead, establish trust and help them have a good feeling about buying.
Figure 1: Lead nurturing campaigns at various levels
1. The welcome campaign
Whenever you meet someone new, you probably take a moment to introduce yourself. That’s what you should do as a company, too. When a lead leaves their email address with you, they have already contacted you. It’s your turn now. In a welcome email and subsequent campaign, you can introduce yourself as a company, set the expectations and develop a relationship with your lead. You can give a gift in the form of a promotional code. You may even have to take a certain action if the trigger for the lead entering their email address was a promise from you.
The welcome email hits your leads at the time they are most engaged with you. On average, your first email has 4x more views and 5x more clicks than your other emails. That means a well-thought-out initial email is truly half the battle.
We will explain all 7 campaigns using the example of a fictional soup factory. Now suppose we are working as marketers for this soup factory.
Example: In the welcome email, we will certainly mention our bi-weekly newsletter with products, recipe ideas and inspirations, which will arrive in your inbox every fortnight from that point on. In a second mail, we talk about our app. And in the final mail, I refer to the many videos that are available on my website.
2. Progressive Profiling
This campaign is used to find out more about your leads. You want to make their profiles more complete. The sooner you gather information about your leads, the sooner you can send those people relevant messages. You get behavioural data once you can start tracking your leads. For that, they have to have at least clicked on one of your links. When you send a mailing out with the five most recently viewed articles, you can already instantly see which links they click on.
Behavioural data reveals something about the actions your leads ultimately take. You can then use that to gauge their interests. But it’s also possible to get a lot of preference data by simply asking them for it.
Example: As soup factory marketers, we are going to ask our new contacts a few questions. “Imagine… that we won’t send you any annoying emails, but only messages on topics you find interesting. That’s possible if you let us know what your interests are.”
3. Guide your leads through the funnel
Probably the most obvious campaign, but often poorly executed. The goal of lead nurturing is to help your leads move through your funnel. From recognising a problem and finding a solution, to finding that solution in your product. And this is eventually followed by a trial run or a purchase. That’s a process that sometimes takes a long time in B2B.
The trick is mainly in finding the best possible order and timing. To find the right moment, you need to understand where that particular lead is in the funnel exactly. If you notice a higher response rate to solution-oriented content, then you can safely assume that person knows what kind of solution they are looking for. That’s the moment when you should demonstrate the solution in your product. If your product is not viewed in detail at that point, then it’s probably too early to offer a sample.
Example: For our contacts in elderly care, we create inspiring content on Dutch soups. About the taste of days gone by and enjoying good old-fashioned company over a bowl of soup. Our soups are featured, but in a more subtle way. Anyone interested in tasting our soups are offered the opportunity to request a sample. And the email we send in response to that request does contain all of the commercial information about our products.
If you are attending a trade show next month, giving a webinar or maybe even organising your own event, you will want to let your leads know about that, too. This campaign is then working towards a specific event. You pique their interest, provide some information about possible programming and invite them to participate or visit. Of course, you can also touch base with a short retrospective after the event. You create your own campaigns for events that are separate from your other campaigns.
Because an event-based campaign has a natural end – you certainly can’t keep on writing about a webinar that took place months ago. With these campaigns it’s very important to create a bridge to a new campaign. We call that a follow up.
Example: Our chef will be hosting a live stream on “10 variations of gazpacho”, a delicious treat for summer. We then warm up our leads for this event with up to three invitations. Once the contact has registered, a confirmation email will automatically follow. And then another reminder email will come shortly before the livestream starts. After the livestream, a few more emails will be sent, encouraging the lead to purchase gazpacho.
Leaving leads behind in their journey through your funnel would obviously be a wasted opportunity. Nor is that something you would just do. Yet we often see leads being lost once an intermediate goal has been achieved. In fact, the entire lead nurturing process is made up of one goal after another. When a lead has requested a trial package, it is only natural for everyone to think that you will then engage with that lead to actually convert them. But how do you follow up with a lead who has just asked you a question? It is essential to standardise these processes so that everyone knows exactly what needs to be done and so that no leads fall between the cracks. This is best done through marketing automation.
Example: When someone has visited us at a trade fair, we then send that contact a thank-you email at the end of the day. In that email, we once again send our message in a powerful summary and offer the opportunity to continue our conversation after the trade fair.
6. Scheduled newsletters
Keeping up with your lead on a weekly or monthly basis with your newsletter is perfectly fine. This tool is generally used for short updates, announcements and retrospectives.
If you have all of your lead data up to date and can gauge where in the sales funnel a lead is, you can use a personalised newsletter to spark their interest in your solution or product, which in turn supports your other campaigns.
Newsletters are an ongoing campaign that you yourself are unlikely to ever end. It is then up to you to ensure that you remain relevant enough that your leads also don’t jump ship.
Example: As soup factory marketers, we don’t consider the newsletter a means of converting leads, but a means of retaining our contacts. We see the newsletter more like a kind of pilot light, ensuring that leads are more likely to think of us when they start looking for solutions.
Re-engagement involves winning back leads. The further you try to develop your leads, the more that will disengage. That is inevitable. In the beginning, it can actually be a good thing for leads to opt out, because no matter how much effort you put into it, you probably never would have been able to lead them through your funnel.
The leads that you have already made some progress with and whose interest you are in danger of losing, are the ones that you will want to try to keep on board. In this case, you use re-engagement campaigns. With re-engagement campaigns, it is perfectly acceptable to re-use messages you have already sent to the lead. For example, you can reaffirm your promise, reminding them of why they signed up with you in the first place.
With re-engagement campaigns, you are essentially throwing a rope, attempting to bring the lead back to the phase of the campaign where they left off. Or guiding them to another lead nurturing campaign if necessary. In that case, you will have to start all over again in the funnel, but that’s still better than losing a customer.
Example: Some of our contacts haven’t opened a single email from us for 6 months. You can safely call those people ‘unengaged’ at this point. As soup factory marketers, we send them a special email in the hopes of reactivating them. We use our best content and send an offer that’s hard to refuse.
You have now been able to see a few examples and are perhaps able to identify some additional opportunities for your situation as well. Have you got a tangible example in mind right now of how to start moving forward with lead nurturing in your company, brand or service?
To help you get started, we’ve developed a start-up guide with checklist, which is available as a free download.
Complete guide to lead nurturing Salesforce Pardot
Not Another State of Marketing Report, Hubspot