Lead nurturing is one of the most critical activities for any marketing department. After all, if a marketer intelligently leads a prospect down the funnel and gets a conversion, they're a hero. If they don't, questions are inevitably raised. Ultimately, the effectiveness of your team's lead nurturing workflows have a direct effect on your bottom line and marketing managers need to make sure these workflows are well-constructed, transparent and measurable.
When Lead Generation Workflows Go Bad
Before we look at how to optimize this critical workflow, let's first look at some of the all-too-common problems facing marketing teams regardless of size. The following scenario may sound familiar. Joe in marketing gets a lead and follows up with a phone call. Jennifer gets a similar lead and shoots over an email. Meanwhile, a prospect visits a landing page and alas, no one from the marketing team contacts them at all. What's wrong with this picture? Simply put, many marketing teams are plagued by a lack of a standardized lead nurturing workflow. Parts of this process aren't automated and therefore can't be measured. Other elements treat all leads as equal and don't roll out customized content accordingly. And exasperated marketers decide to "go rogue" and nurture leads on their own, independent of any standardized process.
Map Out Your Current Workflows
The first step to effectively evaluating and optimizing your lead nurturing workflows is to map out your existing workflows. Whip out that dusty dry-erase board and trace customer actions across a given prospect interaction. Let's take the example of when a prospect fills out a form on a landing page. What, exactly, happens after that? In this case we'll say the prospect wants to get an eBook. So your marketing team is alerted of the contact and your workflow automatically sends a response email with a username and password to access the eBook. So far so good.
But then what? Naturally, you'll want to generate additional contact with with this prospect and move them down the funnel. Therefore, it's important to understand the important lead nurturing components of the workflow — that sometimes-ambiguous but highly critical area between initial contact and conversion. So ask yourself: what do we know about this prospect? Why did they download that eBook? What was the topic of that eBook and what can we infer in terms of other topics the prospect will be interested in? How else can we contact this prospect? And above all, how does our existing workflow address these questions?
Components of Your Lead Nurturing Plan
The challenge at this point is to operationalize this plan by building it into your workflow. It can't be an informal process whereby a marketer shoots over an occasional email when inspiration strikes; rather, your workflow must include key details of this process like:
- Method of contact — E-mail, phone call, etc.
- Timeline — How often to contact prospect?
- Deliverables — What kind of content to send to guide them down the funnel? What kind of follow-up questions to ask when the marketer talks to prospect?
The Importance of Measurement
Lastly, make sure that all automated components of your workflow are measurable. This will allow you to do two important things. One — most obviously — track the basic metrics that reflect the prospect's movement down the funnel: open rate, CTR, conversion rates, etc. And two — and just as importantly — successful measurement can help you create more targeted marketing approaches like "smart lists." For example, you can run a report to surface prospects who downloaded a "Commercial Solar Energy" fact sheet, work at a firm with under 25 employees, live in the Central Valley and are at the "top" of the purchasing funnel.
As we all know, there is no such thing as a "perfect" workflow. You'll always be tinkering with it, making adjustments and calibrating components based on what your data tells you. But at the end of the day, make sure you get the "big" stuff right by rolling out workflows that are standardized, measurable, and customized towards unique prospect needs.
Now we'd like to turn to conversation over to you. What's so difficult about managing your lead nurturing workflows? What approaches have proved successful? How do you get team members to buy-in when you make changes to the workflow?