How to Nurture Leads

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 5.52.31 PM

This is the 27th post of a 50 article series for beginners building marketing at B2B startups.

Inbound marketing is all about attracting targets to our website, providing them with valuable content and capturing their contact information when they download the content, thus making them to leads. Once we have leads, our goal is to further educate them about our product until they request a demo to talk to our sales team, becoming a marketing qualified lead (MQL).

So what happens between when we get a lead and when they become an MQL? The key is to nurture them in a systematic, automatic and effort-free way. To do this, we need to build lead nurture workflows. This is simply a drip campaign of emails: a series of emails that are scheduled to send in a series, one after another, until the lead takes a desired action, like requesting a demo.

Setting up lead nurture workflows is straight forward. Let’s break it down:

1. Gather the highest performing content offers

To start, we should review the content campaigns we have sent out and see which performed the best (i.e. had the most opens, clicks, content downloads and desired conversions to MQL). It is ideal to have at least a month of campaigns — one per week — before setting up the nurture workflow so we have enough data on campaign performance.

Keep in mind, if we sent out a content campaign offering a new ebook 3 weeks ago, and we got a lead that downloaded a newer piece of content 1 week ago, that lead will have never seen the ebook from 3 weeks ago. So, if that ebook performed well, it’s a solid candidate to be included in a nurture workflow for that new lead.

2. Build a story by ordering the content into a list

Now that we have our best content offers organized, the next step is to determine the order we should send them that best crafts a story about our product. This is typically based on content topics. We always want to start with the broadest content (i.e. top of the funnel) and work down to specific content about our product (middle and bottom of funnel).

3. Set a clear goal (i.e. become an MQL)

We want to keep nurturing a lead with our best content until they request a demo to speak to the sales team, thus becoming an MQL. Other goals might be to download a specific bottom-of-funnel content item, like a case study about our product. Either way, a nurture workflow should have a specific goal. Once a lead achieves that goal, they exit the nurture workflow and no longer receive those emails.

4. Configure the workflow in the marketing automation system

Setting up the workflow in the marketing automation system is simple. Within Hubspot, we can setup a Workflow > add emails with CTA buttons that link to  content landing pages > add delays between each email (say for 7 days) > send the next email > repeat this process for however many weeks of content we have to nurture leads. Here is what this looks like in Hubspot:

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 11.38.11 AM

5. Measure results and optimize

As leads start to go through the nurture workflow and get content emails weekly, we can easily measure how each email performs: clicks, opens, content downloads and conversions to MQL. If we find that one of the week’s campaigns is getting very little attention compared to others, we can quickly take action and swap it for a different piece of content. Since the nurture workflow is a hand selected list of the best content, the performance should be high.

Next Steps

This post shares a high level approach to nurturing leads that downloaded a content offer and haven’t yet requested a demo to speak with sales. There are many different strategies to move that lead along the funnel, and hopefully a nurture workflow is a helpful one. From here, try selecting some content, build a workflow in your marketing automation system and measure the data on how it performs.

Join the discussion