9 Steps to Executing a Great B2B Lead Nurturing Campaign
Do you find too many leads disappearing without closing the deal? It could be that what you need is a more effective lead nurturing campaign. Because when someone drops out, it’s not always that they weren’t a good fit — it’s just that you didn’t approach and nurture the relationship properly.
Let’s talk about how to fix that.
1: What Stage of The Buyer’s Journey Are Your Leads At?
You want to close the deal. Of course you do. The point of a nurturing campaign is to get someone to the decision stage — but they’re probably not starting there. It’s much more likely they’re in the awareness stage, and this is not the place to start with:
- Book a demo
- Book a discovery call
- Click here to contact us
At this point, your lead is still learning about their problem. They’re not ready for your solution, and they’ll need that nurturing to get there.
So first off, be mindful of the buyer’s journey stage. If they’re in awareness, hold off the active selling and send them educational resources designed to move them along to consideration stage offers. Only after that do you move onto the decision stage offers.
2: Identify Why You’re Targeting the Persona You’re Targeting
The cornerstone of everything you do in a lead nurturing campaign is the persona. Understand who the people you’re reaching out to are. We’ve got a guide for building a persona right here, but briefly, at least think about the job role of your buyers, and their industry.
This will help you speak their language — about the problems they’re specifically working with. Use your personas to guide your content in:
- Your messaging
- Your emails — add personalization!
- Your landing pages
- Your conversational marketing tactics, including a chatbot with a preloaded sales script and if-then conversation branches
- The questions your salespeople rely upon when engaging with contacts
Keep your content specific to the persona, according to their position in the buyer’s journey. And to make things easier, segment your contact list in your CRM by persona to help the right messaging get to the right people. This will help marketing, and it will help sales as part of their frictionless sales process.
3: Set Goals for the Lead Nurture Campaign
You won’t have the same goals for every lead nurturing campaign.
Here’s an example. For a soft awareness stage offer, you might share a worksheet on how to move your call centre from in-house to an outsourced solution — and the benefits of doing so.
In this case, your goal is to get the lead to download that offer. Not to get them to request the actual service. It’s too soon for that.
Rather than burn the lead, it’s more worth your time converting the lead to the consideration stage. That’s when you can get deeper.
Often as marketers, we live in a world where it feels the decision stage matters more than any other. You need to get out of that mindset. All stages are equally important and need to be handled with the same care.
4: Map Your Nurture Campaign Strategy
Think about your persona in relation to your goal. Then work on content that will move your buyer from Point A to Point B. You’ll also want to decide at which points you can use to identify that they’re moving forward and when to take them out of a campaign, such as:
- If they fill a long form and provide detailed information about their hardware and software infrastructure
- If they attend a 25-minute webinar
- If their lead score hits 25 of 100, they might be ready to move from awareness to consideration stage campaigns
- If they become inactive or unsubscribe from your newsletter, move them back to an awareness campaign
- If they are now handled by the sales team, moved from MQL to SQL status, and are about to sign a contract with the sales team, you need to stop marketing campaigns and get ready to move them to a customer advocacy campaign
5: Decide on the Number of Emails and their Types
As a rule of thumb, a single campaign should get the story across in 8 or fewer emails. But the number of emails in any given campaign will vary depending on the stage of the buyer’s journey the lead is in.
Awareness stage campaigns do better with more emails, while a reduced campaign length works better further along.
Besides the words themselves, consider how you want to represent your company in these emails. For instance, should your email be plain text, or should it be full of flashy marketing graphics?
There’s no right answer. Some situations call for one, while others, the other. Again, this will depend on the goal of your campaign, how you want to brand yourself, and where the person is in their journey, and what their persona looks like.
6: Plan Your Campaign Timing and Engagement Measuring
The next question is how long should you set the delay between emails? This will depend on your sales cycle — if you have a short cycle, don’t leave people waiting. But if it takes months to close a deal, it’s perfectly fine to not flood people with information right away.
You’ll also want to change it based on the type of campaign you’re running. Educational campaigns will do well to give some time for information to sink in, for instance.
And it’ll depend on how your lead usually responds — the best data of all. If you don’t have that data, then you’ll need to test.
For example, you can A/B test your campaign and measure performance when you send your emails every three days versus every seven.
Then measure open rate and clickthrough rate — but more importantly, measure engagement levels after those emails:
- Did they come back to your website and check the blogs?
- Did they download the offer?
- Are they going to attend your 20-minute webinar?
- Are they coming to your event?
- How many start booking discovery meetings?
7: Pivot If You Need To
If it’s not working as you’d hoped, there’s no need to cancel it. You’ve always got the opportunity to pivot.
Know the objective of the campaigns in the next 30-60-90 days and the KPIs. If you’re not hitting your target, start more.
If your tests reveal one technique is outperforming another, start up a new A/B test with different variations of that to see if you can optimize even further.
But it’s also possible that the overall message needs work, or that the offer must change completely. Take what you did think worked well and give it a totally new spin. Want to know more? Here's what to do when a campaign isn't working.
8: Analyze Your Performance
While nothing will beat your own historical data tied to the value of every sale that comes from a marketing campaign, there are some overall metrics and benchmarks you can look at if you don’t have that data. Here’s a great starting point for creating targets:
- Clickthrough rate 3-5% minimum
- Conversion rate will vary
- Track overall conversion
- Campaign-specific conversion
- Media buy strategy conversion
- Unsubscribe less than 2%
- Bounce rate less than 70%
9: Build a Sales Feedback Process
The handoff to sales is one of the most critical moments for your marketing campaigns. Too soon, and you could burn someone who just wasn’t ready yet. Too late? They’ve already gone to a competitor or lost interest.
Create a custom field for your contacts in your CRM called Qualified. Then, use these four options to make it clear who’s ready for sales and who isn’t:
Pending — The contact could be ready for sales, but sales has not yet contacted
Yes — Sales has qualified this lead as SQL
No — It’s a bad lead, negative persona, competition, or someone trying to sell something
Maybe — Not ready to buy yet because of timing or budget, but did meet with sales and asked to be contacted 6-12 months from now
Your Pending contacts are fine to be marketed to, so go for it. So are the Maybes — these leads just need some time and your education in the meanwhile will be helpful.
The Nos are not relevant, so they shouldn’t get marketing. And neither should the Yes leads — because it’s time for sales to take over there.
Flawless Inbound is a marketing and sales enablement partner that has helped more than 90 B2B organizations improve their marketing through smart lead nurturing, content creation, and campaign execution. If you’ve got any questions about what you just read, drop us a line and let’s talk about how we can help you too!