If your company wants to do a better job of helping your leads travel through your sales funnel, it should consider making use of lead nurturing using marketing automation. Oracle’s Eloqua defines lead nurturing as “the process of providing highly relevant educational content that helps build brand and product preference long before your prospects are ready to buy.”

The primary goal of lead nurturing is to build relationships with prospects by first displaying how your industry seeks to provide solutions to them and then showing how your company meets their needs within the context of that industry. By following up with the contact, a company can more effectively build relationships. email-campaign-sales-funnel.jpg

Timely or Turnoff? Setting appropriate time intervals for automation

Your first step in developing an automated lead nurturing campaign must be to determine the appropriate intervals of time between each email message. This part of the process is critical because setting the intervals too close together can annoy prospects or discourage them from viewing your content and moving down the sales funnel.

The first email sent out is a confirmation of the original conversion. This isn’t usually part of the lead nurturing campaign, and is triggered every time someone fills out a form. The second email should be sent out the day after the specific action was triggered to keep the topic fresh in the prospect’s mind.

Next, the intervals should be lengthened to the appropriate number of days for your audience. The amount of time between emails will vary based on your industry, target personas and your audience’s tendency to engage with email. For example, ecommerce customers are used to getting emails one or more times daily. But B2B prospects probably wouldn’t like getting emails every day, so consider lengthening the time interval between when building lead nurturing for B2B companies.

If a prospect continues to move further down the funnel, offer content that more specifically relates to your company’s product or service offerings. It’s important to transition at this point from emailing content that broadly pertains to your industry to show prospects both what you do as a company and what sets you apart from rivals. This lays the path for the prospect’s conversion to becoming a customer.

Crafty Content: Choosing eye-catching information

Here’s where you’ll need to choose relevant content for each email in the campaign. Make sure that it doesn’t bombard prospects with lengthy or technical explanations. To catch your readers’ attention, use graphics, simple diagrams and other easy-to-understand visual content that informs readers and keeps engaged. Blog posts are often useful early on in the campaign as well; but again, make sure the posts aren’t overwhelming.

Your content must connect in some way to the action the prospect performed. For example, if a prospect downloads your e-pamphlet on why saving for retirement is important, you could follow up with an email containing tips from those who have successfully saved for retirement or a visual of the different options commonly offered for investing in retirement plans.

If the prospect continues to view the pamphlets and related materials, transition to sending them information about your company’s retirement plan options and features. Again, the key to executing this step correctly is to make sure the content you’re sending is valuable to those viewing it.

Boldly Building: Constructing your campaign for maximum effectiveness

Finally, build out your lead nurturing campaign piece-by-piece. Remember that the content should be distributed in a logical sequence using transitions that make sense to readers. You can build out several campaigns and customize each to meet specific predetermined goals.

Make sure you revise your content as necessary, based on the feedback you receive from the performance metrics you are using. If your click-through rate doesn’t increase as a result of your implemented automations, modify either the content or the sequence of the campaigns.

Lead nurturing campaigns greatly improve marketing efficiency by automatically sending out emails that hook prospects with further bait so that they are more likely to choose your products or services further down the road. In a 2012 study done by The Lenskold Group, 61 percent of those surveyed claimed that marketing automation has increased the quantity of leads generated.

Thus, lead nurturing campaigns are important because they perform the critical actions of moving contacts through the sales funnel, turning them into opportunities, and increasing the chances of turning them into customers. If you’re looking to move prospects through the sales funnel more successfully, begin using a lead nurturing campaign today and reap the benefits!