A marketing team that doesn’t invest time in a proper lead nurturing campaign could be missing out on a major sales opportunity. Lead nurturing through marketing automation allows you to deliver the right message at the right time to your prospects in order to accelerate their movement through the sales funnel. It allows your marketing team to become much more efficient at delivering high quality leads to your sales team. If you’re thinking about getting started, here are five challenges you may run into and how to overcome them.
One of the first challenges you may run in to is determining how long a lead should be nurtured. The answer depends on a variety of factors, but start by determining your average customer’s buying cycle. If it takes an average of three months for a lead to become a customer, you should plan for a lead nurturing campaign that moves a lead from the top of the funnel to the bottom over the course of three months.
Once you know the length of your customer’s average buying cycle, you can determine how long to nurture a lead based on where they currently are in the inbound marketing sales funnel. Using the three-month buying cycle as an example, TOFU (top of the funnel) leads may need to be nurtured for one-and-a-half months before a MOFU (middle of the funnel) offer is made. Once a lead becomes MOFU, her lead nurturing workflow might last for one month before a BOFU (bottom of the funnel) offer is made. The remaining half-month would be used to send BOFU content in order to nurture a lead to a conversion.
After you’ve determined the time frame of your workflows, the next step is to set the frequency at which offers should be made. For most industries, TOFU offers can be made most frequently as their barrier to consumption is very low. Their purpose is to educate, not to sell; so they are typically received well because of the value they provide. As time goes on, offers should come less frequently.
MOFU content requires a lot more commitment to consume. If it were sent as often as TOFU, your leads would become overwhelmed and likely remove themselves from the workflow. Reading three or four blog posts in a week is easy. Watching three or four webinars in one week? Not so much.
Now that you know how long your leads should be nurtured and how frequently you’d like to touch base with them, it’s time to determine what kinds of offers are necessary to reach your goal of a qualified, sales-ready lead. For this step, it’s best to start with a content audit.
Determine how many pieces of content you have to offer and where they fall in the sales funnel. This step will help you identify any gaps. You may find that you need more content on a certain topic to educate your leads well or maybe you’re lacking a form of content such as videos, ebooks, or case studies. Some of your content may be outdated and need a refresh in order to be effective.
Now it’s time to place each offer in the appropriate workflow. This process will help you determine if you need one more TOFU offer before you can make a MOFU offer and so on. Consult your sales team to see what content they use when speaking with prospects and what forms of content they may need to close the deal. Once your workflow is full of the right content, you’re ready to go live.
Unfortunately, the work doesn’t stop once you go live with your offers. This is where many marketers drop the ball on lead nurturing; marketing teams must monitor workflows and track their progress. An Excel document that maps out each workflow and the analytics for each offer can serve as a helpful tool for this. Mapping out the analytics can help you identify when contacts become disengaged, or which offers aren’t being received as well as others. You should be tracking email open rates, click-through rates and form submissions to know if your workflows are effective at moving a lead down the funnel.
Email workflows should constantly be optimized to improve over past performance. Tracking each email offer will tell you which emails need to be updated or should be overhauled completely. You may also find that the buying cycle you determined in the beginning is actually shorter or longer than expected.
Lead nurturing workflows are a living process that should constantly be analyzed and updated as time goes on. These top five challenges will repeat themselves over and over but as long as you understand how to overcome them, you’ll be producing more qualified leads and hitting sales goals month after month.