How marketing automation can help you attract and nurture leads
Marketing automation can make your monthly marketing efforts more efficient and effective. By allowing software to handle some of the tasks that would typically clog up time, a marketing team is able to focus on more important things - like developing a plan to nurture leads for sales teams.
According to Forrester Research, companies that do really well at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales leads at 33% lower cost per lead than businesses that don't. Developing a lead nurturing strategy is definitely something that is best left to the humans, but automation can lend a very valuable helping hand.
What is lead nurturing?
Lead nurturing is the process of guiding an individual towards becoming a prospect via marketing tactics, that the sales team should then start a conversation with once the prospect is ready.
As a prospect comes into view of your business, lead nurturing will enable you to better identify their interests and actions. This will then help you provide new, relevant content to them which helps them find a solution to their challenges by delivering value-added content - at the right time.
Sounds simple enough, but the process can be paved with speed bumps that cause prospects to fall away instead of become qualified leads for sales.
Because lead nurturing is done early in the marketing mix, it can be best handled by automation rather than direct communication. At this stage you're not looking to begin a sales conversation, but are looking to build rapport with the prospect through insights and valuable content that they will find helpful.
Types of lead nurturing
There are many types of lead nurturing a marketing team may look to deploy. Each is suited to different levels of interaction by a prospect, and for different buying journeys and solutions sold. Here we'll explore a few options to help identify the ones best suited to helping attract and nurture leads.
Conversion point nurturing
With this type of lead nurturing you're taking a conversion point on your website and hooking a nurture stream to it. This is most likely to be based around a form submission, with expectation that marketing automation will manage this conversion by sending the contact content related to the conversion point.
Improving the above workflow would involve adding a delay of a few days or a week, and then sending a follow-up email offering another helpful piece of content the prospect would value as a suggestion.
When a prospect shows significant interest in your product or service, it may help to convert them if they were enrolled in a demo or consultation nurture.
This can be best implemented by identifying a few key triggers that show a prospect as being a likely candidate for a demo or sales consultation. Beyond them actually requesting a demo, of course!
This may present itself in the form of a number of visits to your website in a relatively short space of time. It may be when they download a key document, such as a comparison guide between you and a competitor. It could even be when they hit a certain value in your lead scoring system. This lead may be identified as a hot lead and may need some active nurturing to get them to take action.
You may lead into the nurture with an offer to gauge the prospect's interest. This could be as simple as offering them a free service like a consultation or a demo. If they took advantage of the demo then the workflow may set-up the demo with a member of the sales team.
This type of lead nurture works best when you have developed a large bank of content at each stage of the buyer journey. These stages represent how far along the education process the lead is towards finding a solution to their problem. What this type of nurture will do is help the contact identify a solution to their challenge, and come to the point where they evaluate if your business solution is a good fit for them.
TOFU - Top Of FUnnel (awareness)
At the top of the nurturing funnel the prospect doesn't have a well defined problem, but is experiencing symptoms and is investigating the probable cause of the problem. An example in marketing may be a business that wants to grow website traffic, but doesn't know how this is possible. They'll research something like 'How to increase website traffic'. If they're lucky they'll find a handy blog on exactly that. After reading it, they'll have a list of possible solutions to increase website traffic.
If this TOFU blog article has been well written, it will link to a follow-up article that helps the prospect in their journey. They will be sent to a MOFU blog offering, or a download/guide that sits in the middle of the funnel where they can continue to educate themselves.
How does marketing automation help?
At this stage automation may be focused on delivering other pieces of content that may be of interest to the viewer. Smart content can be used to deliver a different Call To Action (button) to the viewer based on what they've done before. If you've already read a blog on improving SEO the Smart CTA may suggest a way to convert more website traffic, or a way to increase visits.
MOFU - Middle Of FUnnel (consideration)
In the middle is a piece of content that is designed to help the prospect identify a possible solution to their initial problem. It's built to convince the reader of a solution that the writer probably offers!
The TOFU offer highlighted ways that the reader could increase their website traffic and maybe highlighted that blogging could help. The MOFU offer would likely be something along the lines of '20 ways to write blogs that attract website visitors'. Or there may even be a downloadable guide to some SEO hacks that will help get a website higher on Google.
It's at this point a lead nurturing workflow may come into play. A workflow may be set to identify when a prospect has viewed the TOFU piece of content, and then gone on to read the MOFU content. The prospect may be sent an email that offers an additional piece of MOFU content that adds value to the developing relationship.
How does marketing automation help?
At the top end of the funnel workflows are best at nurturing a lead through a very basic email workflow. When the prospect downloads the guide they receive it via email. A week or so later they're emailed a blog article relating to the topic, or another guide.
BOFU - Bottom Of FUnnel (decision)
This type of content is designed to identify that the reader is really in the market for the solution you provide. It may be an enquiry form on your website, or it may lead to booking a demo of your software, or booking a free consultation with a specialist to discuss their needs.
How does marketing automation help?
A/B testing can be deployed here to test landing page layouts in an effort to increase conversion rates and have more visitors submit the form. This type of automation speeds up lessons learned from trialling new approaches and can be very valuable to a business looking to gain extra leads.
Ideally your lead nurturing has lead the prospect to this point, and you can now pass them over to sales as a qualified lead!
words by Thomas Emmerson