March 17th 2014

Lead Nurturing and Marketing Automation – In Four Easy Steps

Image Dylan Touhey

Last month, we wrote a post on how to increase conversions with your website’s sign-up forms. This post is about the next step, showing you what to do with prospects and leads after they have signed up for your newsletter or email list, downloaded a free trial, or demonstrated other early signals of buyer intent.

In marketing terminology, this is called lead nurturing. Before we get into some easy ways to start nurturing your prospects, let’s be clear about what lead nurturing isn’t.

Lead nurturing isn’t…

  • Blasting random tweets at companies you’d like to work with.
  • Sending your newsletter to every business contact you’ve met in the past 10 years.
  • Emailing random companies in your market, telling them about your company.
  • Building an email list and sending out random promotions.

The problem with the tactics above is that they treat every potential customer the same. Developing a system for lead nurturing allows you to segment your prospects. You can then identify warm leads, send more info to less sales ready leads, and not waste your time chasing unqualified prospects.

We’ll show you some easy ways to begin building a lead nurturing system and then move into some of the more complex solutions out there.

70% of your web traffic is looking to buy

According to Brian Carroll, a lead generation expert, up to 95% of qualified prospects on your website are there to research your company. They might not be ready to talk to a sales rep today, but as many as 70% of them will eventually buy a product–from you or your competitors.

DemandGen also recently released a report that showed, on average, nurtured leads produce a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads.

KMA, for example, a small company (20 employees) that offered productivity workshops for organizations, collected most of their leads through live events they produced. But without a system many of these event attendees fell through the cracks. By using some basic lead tracking software–they reported 20-30% of improved contact from event attendees, a 24.16% conversion rate on their website, and a 500% increase in traffic to their website.

Likewise, Demand Metric, a web-based company, was able to use lead nurturing software to eliminate cold-calling. Before moving their lead generation and nurturing online, they typically had representatives making between 100 and 200 calls per day. The team made about one sale for every 328 calls. Using online sign-up forms and a drip marketing track, they were able to qualify better, converting one sale every 70 calls (case study here).

Enticed? But still don’t know where to start. Here are 4 easy steps to start your lead nurturing system.

Step One. Start Simple.

The key is to start simple. Focus on one specific action–such as getting a prospect to join your email list, or sign up to download a resource from your website. You can then set up a simple 1-2-3 touch program: a welcome email, a free gift (such as another resource or collection of popular articles from your blog), and then the invitation to join another tier of engagement: such as a special mailing list or whatever is appropriate and desirable by customers in your market.

The point is that you have a little path sketched out. Three logical steps, each one designed to take your prospects a little deeper towards buying your products or services.

Step Two. Automate.

There are plenty of intuitive lead nurturing software programs out there which can help you build some efficiency into your sales efforts.

For example, you can create custom landing pages for a “free trial” download, collect the prospects email address, and then start moving that prospect deeper into the buying cycle. Major providers such as Pardot, Marketo, and Eloqua will allow you to track user behaviour on your website–identifying prospects that make multiple visits to your product pages and other telling behaviors.

You can also locate telling behavioural triggers on your website (such as shopping cart abandonments, repeated visits to your product pages, or a prospect’s search for “pricing” in your website’s native search bar) and then use that data to direct different prospects down different paths.

If a prospect, for example, spends more and more time returning to your site and begins to download more and more of your content, they can be put on an accelerated track towards the decision phase. If another prospect downloads your ebook and then never returns to your site–you can stop allocating any more resources trying to acquire that user and spend your time focusing on more promising prospects.

If you don’t want to commit to setting up lead nurturing software, you can still automate. Again, just keep it simple. Segment your list in an excel sheet into: cold, warm, qualified, and ready to buy. Track their behaviour manually and adjust your marketing messages and frequency accordingly. If this system is working for you, consider then investing in an automated solution.

This doesn’t have to be complex. For example, free email delivery software like MailChimp gives you instant data on your email open and click-through rates.

Segment the recipients with the highest open and click-through-rates and market accordingly. Likewise, send more educational materials to the prospects who aren’t ready to buy, and decide if other low-interest prospects should either be reengaged or removed from your database.

Step Three. Remarket.

Customer loyalty and retention also needs nurturing. These are your best prospects for repeat sales and it can be extremely profitable to continue keeping your brand on their radar.

You can begin with a basic nurture program. For example, you can send your customers monthly tips and training for using your product better. This can work in a variety of industries–lawn tips from a landscape company to getting the most out of your anti-virus program.

Event-driven emails are an excellent way of building brand loyalty. For example, a 25% discount on the anniversary of their first purchase, a birthday discount, a reminder that their contract is about to expire, or special rates on upgrading to the next product level.

Step Four. Test. Improve.

If you run one of the major lead nurturing automation software programs, you’ll want to take advantage of Google Analytics and AdWords integration. These programs can show you advanced conversion data–showing you how much your leads are actually costing you and whether your SEO or Pay-Per-Click campaigns are profitable.

Most major lead nurturing solutions will also integrate with CRM’s such as, SugarCRM, Netsuite, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Don’t forget that sign-up forms are also one of the most powerful lead generation tools. If a web visitor is taking the time to fill out a form they are exhibiting at least some form of interest in your product.

If you missed our post about how to use sign-up forms to capture that steady stream of new prospects through your sign-up forms, we give some powerful optimization tips here.

We love you reading our blog. But if you are ready to take the next step and find out about how the One Net Marketing Conversion Optimization Team can help you automate your lead generation and marketing contact us directly for a free consultation.

We’re also on Twitter @onenetmarketing and quick to respond to online marketing questions.

Additional Lead Nurturing Resources

HubSpots Lead Nurturing

HubSpot Resources

Lead Nurturing 101

Marketo’s Lead Nurturing Cheat Sheet

Lead Nurturing Best Practices

Lead Nurturing with SalesForce

Eloqua Marketing Automation Benchmark Report

Categories: ALL, Marketing


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