According to a recent DemandGen Report nurtured leads are 20% more likely to turn into sales opportunities than non-nurtured leads. Lead nurturing allows you to communicate in a more regular and more targeted way, and as a result more prospects will move through your revenue cycle / lead lifecycle.

This 2 part blog is the result of a series client lead nurture workshops. Lead nurture can range from the very simple (can be built in less than 1.5 hours) to the very complex (which could take hundreds of hours to build). This blog illustrates 6 key parameters to keep in mind when designing a simple lead nurture program (less than 1.5 hours to build excluding content) with one very powerful parameter – it makes use of a portfolio of actions to get leads into the right track.

1. How will you segment the tracks? – This is the number one discussion point and remarkably clients usually have their unique way of segmenting that makes sense for them.

Here are some examples of segments:

      • Segment by vertical – Some clients feel it is critical to speak to each vertical differently – for example Automotive leads get one type of message.
      • Segment by product – If you have different products with little or no customer overlap, this could be an important way for you to segment.
      • By buying stage – An example of segmenting by buying stage is early, mid, late and using the status in the lead lifecycle to drive the appropriate nurture.
      • Role or title – At Marketo for example we have different messages for Sales and Marketing roles.

Here are some examples of tracks:

        • Existing customer track – to speak to customers with a different voice
        • Mid-stage track (marketing qualified) – You would send leads to this track if their lead lifecycle status changes to marketing qualified for example
        • Competitive displacement – when you know a lead is using a competitive product or when their contract might expire you can tailor the messaging to their situation
        • Abandoned trial requests – Leads that requested a trial and then abandoned the product are a potentially valuable segment that need to be encouraged to use the trial
        • Recycle track (at recycle stage) – This client wanted a different message just for recycled leads
        • Downloaded product track – The lead downloaded a product and messaging in this track focuses on driving usage
        • Opportunity track – Communications designed to help the sales rep win the opportunity

Yes you can segment in multiple ways. The issue is balancing segmentation with content creation (4 segments x 4 communications is 16 pieces of content). So I usually recommend starting with a priority segmentation – in this example by vertical – and you can always get more granular later.

2. Who will enter any track at all?– Here are some critical questions around who should be entering your lead nurture tracks:

        • Should your existing database enter these tracks? Some clients have a large existing database – you can design the nurture tracks for segments of your existing database.
        • Should new leads enter these tracks? You can also set-up the tracks to look for new leads coming in and add those leads to these tracks in an automated fashion.
        • Should existing customers enter these tracks? Some clients want existing customers to be nurtured through the same tracks as non-customers. Others do not want to focus on this initially and yet others want to speak to customers with a different voice.
        • Should competitors enter these tracks? You may want to exclude competitors from your nurture or if your competitors are also your customers or partners you may want them to participate.

Once you have identified which groups should enter the nurture you can build the nurture campaigns accordingly.

3. Who will enter a particular specific track?This is the most exciting parameter of all! You can harness the power of marketing automation PLUS your sales and marketing team to powerfully decide who should get what type of communication. Here are some examples of how you can route leads to appropriate tracks:

        • If lead visits web page that represents a particular track we can add them to that track automatically
        • If lead clicks on link that represents a particular track we can add them to that track automatically
        • Sales can add a lead to a particular track by letting us know that they belong in that track
        • The Marketing team can identify leads as belonging to a particular track and manually add them to that track
        • You can let the leads themselves opt in and out of tracks

You can use any of these or any combination of these methods to determine which leads should enter a track.

4. Can leads be in multiple tracks at once? – Clients tend to have different views on this. As an example, you may want to pull leads out of the generic track once you know if they enter a more specific track.

5. How much time between communications? – Typically the recommended time between communications varies between 1-4 weeks. This timing should make sense given the length of your revenue cycle. An early stage nurture might have a 3-4 week time-frame while a late stage nurture could be weekly given that the prospect is potentially close to a buying decision.

6. What happens if a lead gets to the end of a track? – One option is to move leads to another track. If they get to the end of a specific track it might make sense to put them back in the generic track. Another alternative is to put leads on a newsletter list if they get to the end of a track.

Each of these parameters is typically a marketing discussion point. You can usually work through all the parameters and create a specification in 1.5-3 hours. Once you have agreement on these parameters you can add this information to your specification. Stay tuned for the 2nd installment of this blog to learn how to create a more complex program.

Want to know more information about designing a lead nurture program? Check out our Definitive Guide to Lead Nurturing!