Attracting leads is the first part of the equation—the next part is keeping them engaged with your campaign. A surefire way for your company’s name to stay at the top of your leads’ minds is to set up a drip campaign with lead nurturing best practices. Because you’re giving them information over a period of weeks, they’ll see an email from your company appear in their inbox and remember why they searched for you in the first place.
These are called drip campaigns, and they’re a great way to nurture leads from the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey all the way down to the decision stage. But how do you put together a lead nurturing drip campaign that’s likely to get you a high conversion rate?
Why Do Drip Campaigns Work?
When you’re maximizing the return on investment for your marketing budget, drip campaigns work because you keep the most qualified leads in close communication with your company. Not everyone will be ready to purchase at the first point of contact, so drip campaigns are crucial for following lead nurturing best practices because it gives them further entry points for cementing the deal.
Also, in a drip campaign you’re able to guide the lead to the information you want them to see. In this drip marketing campaign example, let’s say you’re in the marketing department of a virtual reality technology company. When a lead first discovered your website, they went straight to the your page showing “peripherals” to see what kind of immersive controllers you offered. With a drip campaign, you can see this data to set up touchpoint emails that highlight some of your most impressive peripherals, or some of the content you’ve developed on this subject. Otherwise, the next time they see your company’s name it may be for the software platform you’ve developed, which they may not be interested in. And then that lead will go cold because they didn’t remember you also made peripherals.
LeadLiasion’s blog provides a summary by B2B marketing influencer Brian Carroll on the benefits of drip campaign for following lead nurturing best practices and how they maximize ROI:
- Decrease the percent of leads generated by marketing that are ignored by sales from 80% to approximately 25%.
- Raise win rates of leads generated by marketing 7% points higher and reduce “no decisions” by 6%.
- Have 9% more sales representatives make quota and decrease ramp up time for new reps by 10%.
- Increase efficiency as nurtured-prospects buy more, require less discounting and have shorter sales cycles than prospects that bought but were not nurtured.
- Generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost-per-lead.
Now that you know why drips work, and what types of numbers they are likely to produce, it’s time to understand what the lead nurturing best practices are and how to implement them.
Know Which Drip to Use
Drip campaigns come in a multitude of arrangements depending on your goals, your audience, and the type of platform you want to use. Though there are more than the ones we’ll discuss in this section, we’re going to give you three major drip campaigns to focus on in the outset.
1. Personalized Email Marketing
Leads are more receptive to emails they believe have been created specifically for them. Think about it: aren’t you more likely to open an email that has your name in the subject line than not?
A personalized email marketing drip campaign follows the same logic, except it goes beyond just using the lead’s name in the subject line. In this campaign type, you’ll use the data collected about a lead to send them specific content related to their interests. Looking back at our previous example, we’d send the lead our peripheral information for our virtual reality company.
Pro Tip: If you have a marketing automation system like Marketo or HubSpot, you can capture these actions easily, and then create trigger emails for an email marketing workflow based on that action.
2. Content Marketing
Content marketing is similar to personalized email marketing because you’re using the same data to learn your lead’s interests. But with content marketing, you’ll have a few defined audience segments, and content developed specifically for each audience segment and the stage of the buyer’s journey they’re in.
Using an automation platform such as HubSpot, you can set up certain qualifiers that then trigger an action. For example, if someone has looked at three of your blog posts and they’ve also downloaded an eBook, you can set up this as a trigger for the automation platform to send the contact an email inviting them to check out more of your content. And if they open that email and click to the content, the automation platform can then create a task for a salesperson to invite the contact to schedule a chat.
With other software tools- you can even personalize the type of Content on your own website when a customer visits. Marketo offers this with their RTP solution (Real-Time Personalization), and LookBookHQ gives you the ability to create hubs with all your content in a specific niche.
3. Social Media Marketing
There’s debate as to how effective social media marketing is for lead generation when it comes to B2B clients. But the takeaway here is you can use social media for drip campaigns and reach a larger audience than is in your database.
Think about this example: if, as a virtual reality company, you invested in a comprehensive infographic about the history of virtual reality, you want to increase the longevity of that infographic. So, instead of publishing it to social media from the start, you can cut it into several micro-infographics and share it bit by bit on a weekly basis. This gives you more content for your social media feed, increases the exposure of the infographic, and can generate more leads!
And, while your audience is waiting for the next series of mini-infographics, you can share some of your other content, like blog posts and explainer videos, to get them even more familiar with your product and company.
How to Capture Leads
After choosing the campaign that fits your goals best, it’s time to start capturing leads. But how do you get people to willingly give you their information when following lead nurturing best practices?
There are several ways to capture leads, with the first being simply adding a form to your website. If people want more information about your services, a simple form lets them give you their email address so you can send them your latest content.
If you’re capturing leads who find your business because of a specific marketing campaign, it’s best to set up a targeted landing page with a separate form for them to fill out. Depending on the campaign and the value of the offer they’re receiving, you can ask more descriptive questions on these landing pages, such as their income level, job title, industry, biggest hurdles, etc.
The biggest reason for creating a new form for each new landing page when following lead nurturing best practices is you can see which campaign is most successful at generating leads. So, you can A/B test and replicate the most successful landing pages for future campaigns.
You can also find leads by investing in social media advertising and Google AdWords. Contacts from these platforms should also be sent to a separate landing page.
Once you’ve captured a lead, send them a message that’s related to the topic they were originally interested in. That’s to say, you don’t want to send someone investigating VR peripherals an email inviting them to check out your software. You want to stick with the topic they found on your landing page. This opens the relationship between you and the lead, and now they’re familiar with your company in their inbox and the kind of information you’ll be sending them.
“Keeping the copy consistent between the landing page and drip email helps build the relationship between you and the person you’re marketing to.”
Lead Nurturing Best Practices
Now that you’ve got a database full of leads, it’s your job to nurture them and convert them into customers! The process may seem daunting to start, but by following these lead nurturing best practices you’ll be able to develop comprehensive lead nurturing campaigns you can replicate again and again.
- Start with the Overall Strategy
Most companies treat all leads the same. By implementing lead nurturing best practices, you’re going to start creating multiple emails, campaigns, content, and forms to solidify a relationship between your company and your contacts. This type of nurturing takes time because you must know what messages are relatable to your audience, how they like to receive messages, and what kind of tone to use, among other details.
So, instead of diving headfirst into a lead nurturing campaign, the first step is to stand back and come up with a solid strategy for implementing it. Break down the campaign into the essential steps: where you’ll capture the lead, how you’ll capture the lead, what message you want to go out to the lead, etc. Only once you’ve decided all the individual parts of the campaign should you start piecing them together and placing leads in the funnel.
- Identify Leads Most Likely to Be Nurtured
Human beings love to be rewarded for their efforts. That is to say, if you start your lead nurturing campaign and it’s relatively unsuccessful in terms of percentage of leads nurtured and converted, you’ll hesitate to spend any time on a lead nurturing campaign again.
Set yourself up for success by identifying which leads are most likely to be nurtured. Contacts who fill out forms on your landing pages are great targets, but what about leads already in your database? Segment them based on how they’ve interacted to your company’s marketing in the past. If they’ve consistently opened emails, have spoken to you on the phone, or have been a past customer, they’ll be more likely to open your emails than those who never engaged with your marketing.
Keep in mind that some of your contacts will already be in the sales funnel. Lead nurturing campaigns could turn them off to your company if they’re not targeted to their needs—it will make them feel like you’re not listening. So, make sure you identify the lead as ‘nurture-able’ before putting them in the funnel.
Pro Tip: In your marketing automation tool, consider using “suppression lists” for leads already in the funnel. Make sure that these are not enrolled in the new nurture workflows or risk having them feel like you’re not listening to them.
- Automate as Much as Possible
75% of all marketers, according to Oracle, believe automation is paramount to the success of lead nurturing. The reason? The behavior of your audience in relation to your website is highly relevant to your messaging.
For instance, if one of your customers sends you a contact form on your virtual reality software page, your messaging needs to immediately be about the software. Automation will identify the page of your website the form was filled out and send the contact a follow-up email mentioning that topic. This opens the dialogue between the contact and you, and gets them used to opening your emails.
As for the rest of the lead nurturing campaign, automation will send out emails to targeted audiences after they’ve been placed in the funnel at the time sequences you set. So, if after two days you want to send them an email highlighting your company’s most successful blog posts, automation will take care of that without you having to remember.
- Score Your Leads
Just as you needed to first identify leads you would be able to nurture, you’ll also want to score your leads throughout the process when adhering to lead nurturing best practices.
What is lead scoring? It’s a numerical value that’s attached to each contact based on the interactions they’ve made with your marketing. It helps you identify which leads are ready to make a purchase, which leads have gone stale and need further nurturing, and which leads have no intent to buy.
With each interaction, you assign the contact a point based on the value of the interaction. For example, each email opened equals 1 point, and a view of a software demo is worth 5 points.
Here’s an example of a lead scoring system from Marketo:
- Create Consistent Interactions
Scheduling is crucial for following lead nurturing best practices. You want to set up expectations that your contacts will be receiving valuable information from your company on a consistent schedule. It helps you stay at the top of the contact’s mind and also entices them to take action within a specific time period, which makes it easier to plan. By being consistent with your interactions, your contact also becomes subconsciously familiar with getting your emails in their inbox, or seeing your posts in their social media feeds, which increases their awareness of your brand.
- Create a Rule for When to Stop Interactions
Some leads, no matter how much you nurture them, will never become buyers. But because their lead score is so high, you might try again and again to convert them while failing every time. To limit the amount of effort you put into leads that will never convert, you have to set a hard rule for yourself about when to disengage.
Generally, when following lead nurturing best practices, companies like to use a rule of five. That means after five “no” answers—such as not wanting to schedule a call or take a virtual tour of your software—the company either moves the lead out of their database or lowers the priority level of the contact.
Five might be too low or too high for your industry. The important thing to keep in mind when establishing your “no” threshold is that it should give you enough interactions with the client to ensure they’re not biting and that it’s time to move on.
Pro Tip: “Use the “rule of 5” for when to stop lead nurturing cadences.”
According to Marketo, only 4% of all website visitors are ready to purchase when they come to your website. The rest need more information and proof that your company will be the solution to their challenges. Following these lead nurturing best practices is a great way to drip feed that information to your contacts and get the other 96% ready to make the purchase.