Nurturing is a critical part of any organization’s marketing and sales efforts. Not every lead you receive is sales-ready, so it’s vital to keep them engaged and moving down the funnel. Once you have their email address, you have a dedicated channel for reaching them. However, you don’t want to do this manually. Nurture email automation saves you time, facilitates your outreach at scale, and keeps your prospects engaged.
To ensure that your nurture campaigns are successful, they also need to be part of your content marketing strategy. Let’s explore how to do this and why it’s so important.
What Is Lead Nurturing?
Lead nurturing describes a process in marketing that involves feeding prospects content that provides education and awareness. Most lead nurturing happens through email campaigns. The goal is to engage the buyer so they’ll keep your brand top-of-mind, want to learn more and eventually convert.
It can be a complex process, but it’s worthwhile. Having the right strategy and content automation tools helps you overcome challenges.
Why Nurture Leads?
Nurturing comes down to deciding whether a contact is a marketing inquiry or a marketing lead. In the sales world, they may be referred to as suspects vs. prospects. Inquiries are likely not ready for sales intervention. They are still early in their buying journey (ex: the awareness stage) — discovering their challenges and researching solutions.
Inquiries make up a large portion of inbound connections. In a Databox survey, organizations responded that 40 to 70 percent of leads are not sales-ready. It doesn’t mean the leads are junk. They just aren’t ready to make a purchase.
Image Source: Databox
A marketing lead is a contact that is further down the funnel. These leads are will typically be “qualified” based on specific parameters or behaviors. There is a clear opportunity to convert. For example, someone that completes a request demo form has the intent to buy.
But an inquiry is different. Their intent aligns more with content offers. If someone downloads your eBook, and that’s their first interaction with your brand, they probably aren’t ready for sales to call them. Instead, you can nurture them with content.
This nurture process helps the prospect learn more about your solutions and expertise. It helps build trust and establish authority.
Does Nurturing Work?
Nurture emails require planning and development. You may have various targeted nurture campaigns based on the audience.
You certainly don’t want to invest time and resources on a tactic without a significant return on investment (ROI). Companies that nurture well deliver 50 percent more sales-ready leads at a 33 percent lower cost. That lower cost is likely because email marketing requires a small investment to execute. Other lead generation tactics, like Google or social ads, are much more expensive and often have a much lower ROI.
Doing it well includes several factors. You’ll need the right content and optimal workflows for automation. Unfortunately, many brands are struggling. The 2019 Lead Nurturing & Acceleration Survey found that 60 percent of respondents gave their efforts a failing grade.
To move from failure to excellence, you can take these steps to improve your nurture directives.
- Make it part of your content strategy and plan.
- Ensure the content is relevant to the audience.
- Automate the execution for efficiency.
Nurture Email Automation and Your Content Strategy
There is no doubt that nurturing should be a foundational part of your content strategy. When you are mapping out customer journeys, it’s vital to incorporate long-term nurturing for inquirers who are not ready for sales.
And just creating some sort of regular “checking in” campaign is not a good approach. There must be true value in what you send to the recipient. Otherwise, the user will ignore you and unsubscribe. It’s a race to be relevant!
Your content strategy should include a section on lead nurturing. By documenting these objectives, you’ll have a clear picture of how nurturing will impact conversions and profits.
Lead Nurturing Strategy Components
- How will you segment to ensure relevance in content?
- What types of content will you use (format, topics, etc.)?
- What existing content assets do we have that would be valuable?
- How frequently will you nurture (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly)?
- How will you deploy email automations?
What Content Should Nurture Emails Contain?
Looking at your content strategy and content plan, you probably already have the building blocks for your email automation campaigns. Because you’re building a consistent content calendar, there are lots of options.
Deciding what content to share comes down to relevance to the audience, based on a segment or filter, and influenced by:
- The topic of the content from their original inquiry
- Industry or role
- Product or service they need
- Stage in the buying process
Being relevant pays off. Aligning content to the right stage elicits a 73 percent higher average conversion rate than content that isn’t aligned.
It’s important to segment in nurture emails because just sending generic content won’t interest your prospects. When content addresses their challenges and needs, they’ll want to hear more from you.
Email Automation: Streamlining Nurturing
Marketing and content automation tools have become invaluable to marketers. With automation, you can set up workflows and campaigns and then sit back and monitor the performance. Once you assign a lead to a campaign, the nurture process begins.
The setup is easy on most platforms. You create rules or triggers to introduce a contact. Then they move into that workflow.
As they interact with your email and content, you’ll want to score their actions. Lead scoring describes allocating a point value to specific actions the contact takes. Scored behaviors often include behaviors like email opens, clicks and conversions.
If you’re using scoring, you should have a point threshold in mind that deems the lead qualified or sales-ready. Marketing can then pass those to sales with context. When a sales rep reaches out, they can now develop a more personalized approach.
Email automation organizes your nurture campaigns seamlessly. It removes manual tasks, and tracks and measures performance at every phase.
What Are the Best Email Automation Tools?
There are lots of choices. Most have similar features. Selecting one involves defining your needs and budget.
We recently provided a comprehensive overview of the best email automation tools. Within the post, we provide an assessment of the tools and how they support your content strategy. Hopefully you’ll find it helpful if you’re currently in the market.
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