B2B Marketing Blog

Lead Nurturing Secrets No One Ever Taught You

By Andrew Nguyen
Jun 4, 2015
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Unless you’re selling water during a drought, you need lead nurturing to keep prospects engaged until purchase. 

In this article we cover tips and tactics for improving your lead nurturing. It’s an important part of pipeline marketing and getting prospects through the funnel. So let’s get started.

Your Lead Nurturing Flowchart Should Be Simple

This is true if you’re starting out. Like any digital campaign, time and data is required to understand what works. Overly complicated flow chart make it difficult to find the flow that works. Complicated flows create too many variables, making it difficult to isolate the one that influences prospects to purchase.

Here’s an example of a lead nurturing flow, it is based on 3 key stages: anonymous visitor, marketing qualified lead (MQL), and sales qualified lead (SQL).

email_marketing_lead_nurturing_flow

Remember this quote when thinking about your flow chart:

“The art of simplicity is a puzzle of complexity”

--Douglas Horton

If you’re beginning or modifying your email nurturing strategy, reduce complexity. Start small. Build your way up by optimizing based on small opportunities for improvement.

There are numerous flow charts out there. They’re complicated. Focus on the small improvements you can make based on results.

Let’s talk how.

People Reply To Your Second Email

Sales automation platform, Outreach, ran an analysis on email reply rates and touchpoints. They found leads are more likely to respond to the second, third or fourth email before the reply rate drops by the fifth email.

reply_rate_of_open_emails_in_lead_nurturing

As you can see in the charts, if the lead hasn’t replied by the fifth email there is a lesser and lesser chance they will reply thereafter. By the seventh email, reply rates reach their lowest rate.

If your reply rates and open rates don’t meet your benchmark by the fifth email, it’s a sign the campaign needs improvements.

Luckily there are a number of tips and tricks.

Segment Your Leads, And Then Segment Further

Reduce uncertainty. Audience segmentation reduces the chance that your offer and content is irrelevant to audiences. When you know which offers are relevant, you can rule that out and focus on other areas of optimization, such as headlines and copywriting.

Segment leads based on these qualifications:

  • Product line fit
  • Company size
  • Web behavior and content downloads
  • Email click interaction
  • Job roles

These criteria narrow down the content and messaging that is most relevant to your segments.

Where leads are in the buying cycle and marketing funnel signals to you the kind of content your audience wants.

Nothing is worse than bad timing.

The saying “timing is everything” rings true when segmenting audiences based on where they are in the buying cycle.

Your content or offer needs to appear when your prospects are ready. In B2B there are free trials and tracks for different user types. Combine these segments with other demographic factors like job role and company size and you have a way to personalize your email.

Personalization increases the chances that prospects respond to email.

Outreach says email open rates increase 12% above the benchmark open rate average simply by using their name.  Imagine what happens when you personalize further based on pain points, profession, industry and location.

When making changes to your email nurturing strategies, consider how you can segment your audience using different combinations of demographic and interaction data.

You Can Always Improve Your Copywriting

Act like you know them. This is what great salespeople -- and those we call a people person -- do to establish a relationship quickly.

i_have_people_skills

This is why personas and segmentation matters. It allows marketers to hone in on the language and tone that fits the audience. Age, profession educational level, and geographic location matter to to the voice and word choice you decide to use.

Using humor is another copywriting tactic.

Bernie Reeder, content marketing expert at email tracking software, Yesware, provides a great example:

using_humor_in_lead_nurturing-1

Using humor warms people up to you and your brand quickly.

Think you aren’t funny? Act like you know them.

What do they find ridiculous? What’s all too real to them and no one else? What makes each audience segment a unique, quirky bunch? What needs to be said but isn’t said enough?

Use exaggeration, comparisons and metaphors to develop humor and break the ice.

Attribute Revenue To Lead Nurturing 

When optimizing email nurturing, marketers should use revenue. Email nurturing campaigns play an important role in the sales cycle, but revenue reporting doesn’t always reflect this.

Traditional attribution models give revenue credit to channels like paid search and paid social, leaving email nurturing out in the cold.

And yet, email nurturing is often the last marketing touch point that educates prospects and gets them ready to engage with sales. This is why we recommend a W-Shaped attribution model to give email marketers the (revenue) credit they deserve.

Some nurturing campaigns perform better than others. Identifying these campaigns provides clues as to why. Why is this campaign targeting this segment working? Why is this campaign with this offer connected with the a high close rate?

Revisit Your Personas and Use Social Proof

New products, features and customer data should signal a revisit to your personas.

Similar to audience segmentation, revisiting your persona is about providing relevant information.

A survey by MarketingSherpa found the number one reason email recipients stop reading and unsubscribe is due to “lack of relevance.”

By revisiting your personas and updating based on new insights gained through product usage and customer intelligence marketers can implement copywriting improvements.

For example, knowing your customers means you can reference them and use social proof.

Social proof goes like this: If my peers are using it, then it must be great.

Below you’ll see an example of using social proof:

social_proof_in_marketing-1If you have data on your customers, use it. It will greatly improve the open and reply rate in your email nurturing campaigns.

By revisiting your personas you’ll get new ideas on who your audience is and what they care about.

You Can Use Retargeting To Extend Email Reach

If you are only using web visitors to run retargeting ads, you’re missing out on a great opportunity, which is Facebook custom audiences. Facebook custom audiences make it easy to run Facebook ads to specific users based on their email address.

For B2B contacts you should expect about a 15% match rate on Facebook since many Facebook users do not list their work email address. When you have thousands of email addresses, it can add up to a sizeable opportunity.

Using this method, one company was able to extend email reach by 77%, since only a fraction of people open their emails.

Always Add Value

Email nurturing is endurance sport. Like each step a marathon runner takes, each email is a step forward. But only when the nurturing program continuously adds value through good content.

Always add value, whether it’s offers, copy, graphics, data, questions, humor or headlines. It’s the key to being top of mind and pushing your prospects through the funnel.

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