Marketing automation offers a lot of functionality that many marketers aren’t using to the fullest. One great example is how you can tie together classic inbound marketing techniques with activity tracking and lead scoring to drive very targeted trigger-based nurtures.
Let me give you an example of a trigger-based nurture I created with a previous client that was extremely successful.
This particular client already had some nurturing campaigns built out, and was seeking to pull in new leads for a specific solution around background screening. We had some good assets available that included a relevant case study, and a series of podcasts on the importance and value of using a background screening solution, so I saw this as a top-of-funnel nurture targeted at someone just starting to do some research on this topic.
Now, how best to draw people in and push them through? We came up with a four-part program, consisting of:
- Paid search
- Relevant assets, gated to capture leads
- Nurture campaigns relevant to the specific assets selected
- Progressive profiling to improve lead score over time
- Paid Search. People just starting to explore technology solutions tend to start online by looking for specific search terms. So, we invested in paid search for some of the top keywords we identified for our solution.
- Relevant Assets. We tied those paid search terms with landing pages that offered white papers and case studies that focused on those exact terms. Those assets were gated with forms that asked only a few questions such as name, title, and email.
- Trigger-Based Nurtures. A lead downloading an asset was added to a nurture campaign that was directly related to the content of the asset that was downloaded. We knew that a trigger-based campaign would ensure that we delivered exactly the kind of resources each lead needed, at the right time in the buying cycle. So this nurture campaign consisted of six emails offering a series of podcasts on the importance and value of background screening. The lead received another offer two weeks later. The entire campaign took place over about 12 weeks, so as not to inundate the lead with emails, but to provide a steady voice during the period of research.
- Progressive Profiling. In the background, not only did lead scoring continued to take place for implicit data (to give us a sense of the individual’s activity, such as emails being opened, links being clicked on), but progressive profiling enabled us to also continually gain a little more explicit data each time the lead took an action. In the initial offer we asked for name, title, and email, so when the lead clicked through on the first nurturing email offering the first podcast, the gate form was prefilled with that information but also asked for title and company name. Each subsequent offer captured another 1-2 fields of demographic data, to help us determine whether this lead is the right fit for Sales follow-up.
This trigger-based campaign demonstrated very impressive results:
- Email opens were in the 35-50% range (average range is 14-30%)
- Clickthroughs were in the 20-30% range (average range is 2-5%)
(Average ranges from MailChimp research, June 2015)
Why are these response rates so good?
- First, it’s because the leads identified themselves. So many marketers trying to generate more leads just go out and buy lists. Purchased lists perform so poorly! When you use paid search to capture people who are actually researching the topic your solution addresses, your campaign doesn’t have to overcome the #1 drag on response rates: lack of interest.
- Second, it’s because people wanted the material we sent. We know this because they were actively searching for exactly that kind of information, and we saved them time and effort by delivering it right to their inboxes.
Now, one caveat. Do make sure you have good quality, valuable, (relatively) objective, personalized, and most of all targeted content to offer, in order to come across as a “trusted adviser” who is trying to serve the best interests of your lead. If you go to all this trouble but then simply send a generic data sheet about your product, you are going to lose a lot of the goodwill and momentum you built up. Make the most of your efforts with content designed specifically for the right buyer stage, industry, objections, and so on. (Take a look at Building a Content Wardrobe to Nurture All Funnel Stages for some suggestions on targeting your content.)
Just Get Started!
Many marketers are still doing batch-and-blast emails with their marketing automation systems, and don’t feel ready to attempt nurture campaigns yet. If that’s you, try to think of this as more of an inbound marketing process. You know that the buyer’s journey today typically starts online. So the important aspect is to make sure you are there when they do the search: that you have search optimized for your keywords and that you show up on the first page. Capturing them is the first step; then it’s up to you to continue the conversation!
Ready to move ahead? Read David Lewis’s Recipe for Building a Successful Nurture Campaign.
John Bokelmann leads the Managed Services team that supports DemandGen clients in digital marketing campaign development, production, and deployment. He provides strategic marketing operations leadership, develops and implements optimized workflow processes, and reinforces marketing best practices for both B2B and B2C clients.