Lead nurturing is a fundamental must-have for great inbound marketing. According to Gleanster Research , 50% of qualified leads aren't ready to buy . This means lead nurturing campaigns are necessary to help move these 50% of leads through the sales cycle to make them better ready to make a purchasing decision.
That said, implementing an effective lead nurturing email campaign can be much harder than it sounds. There are several variables to consider when understanding just what makes the perfect lead nurturing campaign for your business and its prospects. To give you a leg up in knowing what lead nurturing practices to rule out right away before you waste time and effort creating an ineffective campaign, consider these 6 big lead nurturing no-no's to avoid in your lead nurturing email campaigns .
1. Don’t Lump All Your Leads Together In One Campaign
This is easily the most common mistake marketers new to lead nurturing make: they create one campaign of emails and send the same thing to every lead who fills out a form. It is an absolutely crucial (yet commonly missed) step to segment your campaigns based on lead intelligence . Make sure you always tailor your emails to match the interests of the individual lead. If all of your offers filter into the same nurturing campaign, it will be obvious by how generic the email is to your leads. Provide detailed information in your campaign that references and leverages the specific forms they've completed, their demographic information, and other behavioral triggers. Even something as simple as separate campaigns for each of the major topic areas covered by your offers is a huge step in making your leads feel like the emails they receive actually speak to their particular interests. In short, if your lead nurturing isn't segmented by topic or other distinguishing elements like in the picture from HubSpot's lead nurturing tool below, you are leaving money on the table. The best lead nurturing happens not when you just give your leads anything, but when you give them exactly what they want.
2. Don’t Email Leads Every Day
Unless part of your marketing strategy explicitly calls for prospects to receive an email from you every day (e.g. ecommerce sites like Groupon, LivingSocial, or Woot), your leads will not be excited to hear from you every day after they first converted into a lead. Remember that a lead’s first conversion indicates a certain level of interest in your offer and products, but he/she won’t be ready to "marry" you just yet. If you go on a first date with someone and you call them right after the date ends and continue to leave them voicemails, it will likely be a big, red flag to them to ignore and avoid you. The same rule applies with lead nurturing: if leads are hearing from you too promptly and too often, it will definitely be a turn-off.
Instead, set up a regular schedule for emails in your campaign, and space them out. Even leaving a one day break between emails will make your leads pay much more attention to each individual send. And be mindful that sending too much email overall will also dilute the value of each email.
3. Don’t Forget They’ve Received Your Other Emails
The next no-no is another one I frequently run into in my inbox: a lead nurturing series that acts like every email is the first one I’ve ever received from the company. I sometimes wonder if each email was written by a different person in a different office, because there’s absolutely no coordination between them. If you sent someone an ebook two days ago and are sending them another email, don’t just throw another content offer or ebook at them and hope they'll fill it out.
Replace the endless email offers by asking them for feedback in your next email, or see if they had questions about the previous email's content. Offer to connect them with a sales rep or someone to help answer their questions. At the very least, at least make mention of the content in your previous email and make a connection to the content you're offering in the current email. There is a right way and a wrong way to reach out to people who are in your lead nurturing campaigns, and hitting them with a different offer every day praying for a reconversion will not be as strong as your other options.
4. Don’t Forget Your Blog Content
If you’re just getting started and only have one or two content offers, it can be tough to know what to send your leads in your lead nurturing campaign. Instead, get clever by re-using your blog’s content . Share two or three of your best blog articles with them in your emails to help make the most of your offers. It’ll bring them back into your website and your indubitably awesome blog content. It’s just like sending them a content offer in that way: they will read and absorb your blog’s content and potentially share it socially. Those readers will also get re-exposed to any calls-to-action on your blog, offering opportunities for re-conversions. Ideally, your marketing software platform will also let you see that your lead is revisiting your site, allowing you take certain actions based on that revisit. Proofreading service ProofreadNOW does a great job of leveraging its blog content in lead nurturing campaigns, as you can see below:
5. Don’t Forget to Let Sales Know About Your Nurturing Campaigns
The biggest mistake marketers can make with lead nurturing is to not communicating the deployment of their campaigns with the rest of their company. This is especially true if you have sales reps who may be talking to these leads at the same time your campaign is running or after nurturing emails have been sent. The salespeople on your team will want to know what content their leads received -- and when -- so they can have an informed conversation about the material and be tuned into what their lead already knows. Salespeople hate being surprised by these kinds of things (and rightfully so!), so make sure that your lead management and nurturing software integrates with the CRM that your sales team uses. That way, when an email is sent out to their leads, they’ll have a record of it and be able see what was sent out and when.
If CRM integration isn’t an option or you don’t use a CRM, use other methods of communicating which leads have received emails through another method. For example, see if you can export a list of which leads are in a certain nurturing campaign or have received an email, and provide both the list of leads and a copy of the emails to your sales team so they can stay in the know. Nothing will waste the effort you've put into you nurturing campaigns faster than a sales team that isn’t aware you're executing these campaigns in the first place.
6. Don’t Forget About Your Analytics
The first time you create your lead nurturing campaign is like the first time you started learning how to ride a bike. By launching them, you'll have come a long way, but you won't be ready for the Tour de France yet. A few weeks into your campaigns, you should revisit the analytics for your emails and make sure they're working the way you hoped they would. Look specifically at your click-through rates and unsubscribe rates. Open rate is a very unreliable metric these days, and it's not very useful anyway: what are you going to do with the simple knowledge that someone just opened your messages? Instead, look for how many people clicked through from your emails to your landing pages or other content, which will indicate they're engaging with your business and its content. If your click-through rate is below about 2%, look back at your emails, and try to determine why.
Great lead nurturing emails should generate about 3 times the normal click-through rate of your normal email marketing messages. If your campaigns are performing at the same rate as your general emails, consider revising your campaign. If you notice a lot of leads are unsubscribing from your campaigns, especially early in the campaign, that’s also a sign your campaign could use improvement. If you find yourself in a position where you need to revise your campaign, first test different subject lines for the emails. Try changing the subject line to be a question for them ("Have you seen our new ebook yet?"), or test the other way around if you tried asking a question at first. Test various offers and content in your emails, test the timing and frequency of your sends . In all honesty, there's no shortage of tests you can conduct to optimize and increase the performance of your email campaigns. Sometimes it can take two or three tries to find the right solution for you, so look at the messages that are performing well, and see if you can pick out the differences that matter.
If you can execute on these five items, your lead nurturing will be in great shape. What other no-no's have you learned to avoid when executing lead nurturing campaigns ? Tell us about them in the comments!
Image Credit: Christopher Craig
Originally published Jan 13, 2012 9:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017