Inbound Marketing Lead Nurturing 101

There are a lot of different pieces and different buying stages in the Inbound Marketing methodology. But how can you integrate all the pieces together to make a very clear path for prospects to follow? Well there are a few steps to take, but the most important is Lead Nurturing.

In this blog we will take a look at what lead nurturing is and how you can setup lead nurturing campaigns that will make a big impact on your business.

What is a Lead Nurturing Campaign?

In the buying process, users move through various stages. Here's a quick overview:

  • Top of the Funnel [ Informational Stage]: Here users are simply looking for general information to be able to accurately decide if they indeed have a problem that requires a solution.
  • Middle of the Funnel [Evaluation Stage]: At this point, they have identified that they in-fact do have a problem and are now creating criteria in order to know how to solve it. They are researching different options.
  • Bottom of the Funnel [Consideration Stage]: At this point they know they have a problem and know how to solve it and are now reviewing 2-3 vendors to provide the solution to them. This is many times when they will first come in contact with your business for a demo, free trial or consultation.

You can effectively educate and move users down the funnel with lead nurturing. Lead nurturing, typically done with emails, are a series of communications to help educate and teach the user additional information they want to learn. It slowly offers the user the chance to convert on the next funnel offer.

Can you do Lead Nurturing with AutoResponders?

Yes and No. You technically COULD try and setup an ongoing email chain with an autoresponder. The problem is, with a standard autoresponder there is no way to automatically stop the current emails and move them to a new list if they convert on the next offer. This results in a flood of different emails from different offers.

So if I download a top of the funnel ebook and then the next day I download the middle funnel webinar, now I'm getting two sets of emails and I'm likely to get pissed off and unsubscribe.

Email systems specifically setup for lead nurturing will automatically know you've converted on the next offer and stop the first email list and move you to the next one. This way you're users are never getting overwhelmed and frustrated with too many emails.

How to Setup a Successful Lead Nurturing Campaign

There is a bit of a science to setting up a lead nurturing campaign. To be honest, it takes time and scientific testing to refine it to the point where its results are maximized. However, there are a general "template" and rules of thumb that you can use to create your first campaign.

Timing and Quantity

The timing and quantity of emails is all based on how long the buying cycle is and which stage your creating a lead nurturing campaign for.

For example, let's say you typically you have a 1 year buying cycle from first contact to purchase. You notice that typically from the time someone downloads the top funnel offer to the time they download the middle funnel offer is 2-months. You will then want to develop that lead nurturing campaign to be 2.5-3 months long. This way you are sending out emails at the exact time when the user is interested in that information.

Typically your lead nurturing campaigns will be more front loaded than rear. This means that the user should get more emails right after they sign up (because they are most engaged) and the email frequency becomes wider as they move further along. I wouldn't space them out more than 2 weeks between emails.

Subject Matter

The subject matter of the emails should coordinate with the persona who is receiving the email and what stage of the buying cycle they are in.

Put yourself in their shoes and think about what types of things they would most be interested in at that point in their information discovery. Again, these should be primarily informational and educational and have little to no sales focused push.

General Structure

Here is a general structure you can follow for a lead nurturing campaign where it's a 1 month conversion cycle:

  • 0 days - Thanks for Downloading Email with additional links to blogs
  • 1 day - Educational Email
  • 4 days - Call to action email for the next stage download
  • 7 days – Educational Email
  • 14 days – Educational Email
  • 21 days – Call to action email for the next stage download
  • 28 days – Educational Email
  • 35 days – Thanks for receiving our content. Here's how you can get more (subscribe to newsletter, social media, blog, new top funnel download, etc.)

The Lead Nurturing Email

The email itself should be very short and to the point. I typically recommend sticking around 250 words. If you have content that is longer than that (this is common), then simply write a blog post and add a link in the email to that blog post.

Just like on your website, keep the formatting very light and easy to read. Use short paragraphs, bulletpoints and graphics to help keep it easy for users to read.

At the bottom of every lead nurturing email you should include your signature with your contact information, your social accounts and a picture of yourself. You should be sending the email from whomever that person will be talking to in the future.

Each email should also include a call-to-action for the bottom funnel offer. It can be done in subtle ways such as adding it in:

"P.S. If you'd like to chat about getting started, please schedule a free consultation. I'd love to chat!"

You can also do this by simply adding a basic call-to-action on the right side of the emails. It shouldn't be pushy or distracting, but we want to offer a way for those who are ready to take the next step to very easily be able to do this.

These are simply best practices and some guidelines to help you get started on your first lead nurturing campaign. It's important to remember that this is simply a baseline and you will need to continuously analyze their performance and make adjustments accordingly.