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How to Build a Successful Lead Nurturing Program [Expert Interview]

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When we first started our summer camp series, we conducted a poll to see which topics our audience would be most interested in — and lead nurturing topped the list! Today, Maureen Flaherty, Pardot’s Email Marketing and Campaigns Specialist, steps up to the plate to answer your burning questions about putting a successful nurturing program in place. 

Let’s hear it, Maureen!

Alright, Maureen, no pressure — but you’re about to speak to one of our most highly-requested topics in this series. Let’s start with the basics. What are three things that marketers should keep in mind as they build their first lead nurturing campaigns?

1. Define Your Goals: When you begin the planning stages of your nurture, the most important thing you need to do is to define the goal of the program. All of the other factors that go into building your nurture, such as content, your audience, and time duration, will be affected by the goal that you set. These factors will help you figure out your intended audience and also help you build the best email for your purpose. For example, if your goal is to move people through the sales funnel and get them ready to buy, then you may have a very different strategy than if your goal is to simply engage your audience.

2. Strategic Targeting: Who is the desired audience for this specific program? Depending on your goal, you may be targeting a specific group based on your buyer persona.  Consider creating nurtures based on job titles, activity on your website, industry, etc. Once you decide on the target audience, you can then put together a content plan.

3. Content strategy: Once you have your goal for the campaign, you need to figure out which content will be most effective in your nurture. Is the goal to move leads down the funnel? Maybe start with thought leadership content that ties to your business. As the nurture continues, share content that is ROI-focused and goes more into your product solution. If the goal of the nurture is to keep prospects engaged, maybe you include a series of infographics or blog posts with relevant topics.

What types of nurturing campaigns should marketers focus on first? What about as they get more advanced?

Consider these nurture programs as you are getting started with lead nurturing:

  • Event Follow-up: This could include follow-up from third party events, webinars, meetings, and more. This will keep your business top-of-mind even after the event has taken place. Follow up with content that is specific to the content covered in the webinar or event.
  • Thought Leadership: Use this as a way to stay engaged with your prospects and give them content that is relevant to their needs and interests. It doesn’t have to be your own content — you can also provide third-party articles or blog posts that tie back to your industry.
  • Sales Enablement: One of the most powerful aspects of lead nurturing is that you can control the sender of the program. Create an automated nurture program that sends directly from your sales reps to their customers. This way, your marketing programs can be working in the background building relationships while reps are actively reaching out to their customers.

Mastered the basics? Try out these programs as well:

  • Journey Based on a Form Complete: Based on the offer that your prospect converted on, create a nurture program with similar, topical content. Creating a custom, automated path gives a unique experience to your audience while also making work easier on the marketer. Let’s say you are sending an email with a call-to-action (CTA) for an email marketing e-book. If your audience clicks and shows interest in that specific topic, have an automated email that will share more resources on the same topic to adhere to their specific type of engagement.
  • Welcome Nurture: If someone converts on a piece of your content and enters your database, why not put them on a targeted path based on their role or activity? Thank your audience for showing interest in your business and supply them with CTAs that will encourage further engagement.

Definitely some great programs to start with. So once you’ve decided on a campaign that you’d like to run, how do you choose the best content for each nurturing email?

Biggest tip here would be to communicate with your other team members. Reach out to your content team to see what has performed the best in terms of clicks and downloads. Talk to your social media specialist to see what content has resonated the most on your social channels. Also, don’t forget to communicate with your sales team. They can be your best point of contact when it comes to understanding the type of resources and messages that hit home with your customers.

And do you find that certain types of content perform better for the different stages of the sales cycle?

I think thought leadership content is great for bringing in new customers and making them aware of the problems they have and how your company can help. For people just learning about your product, try sending them easy-to-digest content like blog posts, infographics, or video clips. For customers who have more research under their belts and are ready to find a solution to a business problem, try sending them content that provides more information about how your product can solve key pain points and improve their return on their investment. At Pardot, our team created product feature guides, an ROI e-book, infographics, and even an interactive guided tour of our product to appeal more to customers who are in the final stages of the buying cycle.

[Editor’s note: We’ll be covering the best content to use at each stage of the sales cycle in more depth in an upcoming post in our series. Stay tuned!]

Great tips! Speaking of tips, what is your favorite lead nurturing tip or trick?

Definitely dynamic content. With Pardot, I’m able to use dynamic content within our emails to populate specific fields based on the data on our customer. Instead of creating different emails for different groups, you can use dynamic content and variable tags to populate name, company, location, and more. On top of that, you can use it to populate different messages or CTAs based on custom information you have about your email recipients. If you have not tried out dynamic content with your email programs, I highly recommend it!

You and Susan Spicknall, who spoke about her favorite marketing automation tricks last week, have a lot in common! So let’s move on to some more fun questions. What is your favorite 90s jam?

May count as more of a 2000s jam, but I have to go with “Bye Bye Bye.” Team *Nsync all the way!

Last one — when you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Definitely a veterinarian. I actually volunteered at a local vet office when I was in middle school. This was pre-driving age so I got to ride my bike to and from the office every day. Totally worth it when I got to be in charge of playing with the animals!

I bet! Thanks for your time, Maureen! Stay tuned for another helpful summer camp interview next week. We’ll be talking to CRM Engineer Rob Phillips about integrating your marketing automation tool with your CRM: what to expect, how to prepare, and how to get the most out of your new system. See you then! 

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