The secret to effective, irresistible and high-converting nurture programs?

It’s all about the value, the journey, and level of awareness that prospect has about your brand and products or services.

If you’re looking to master nurture programs for your organization, you’ve come to the right place.

Customer Value Optimization

This is one of the biggest hurdles to cross for a lot of marketers out there who know they need to nurture their lists, but don’t know where to start.

Sound like you? Customer value optimization – or CVO – might be the droid you’re looking for.

Without CVO, we cannot realistically apply any marketing or sales tactics to the customer journey and expect to get results or move the needle. CVO forces us to think about the customer journey in true steps and gets us thinking about how to maximize each step and all of its drop-off.

At the end of the day, it all falls down to value – a simple concept, but the hardest to master. CVO also focuses on discovering what makes your product or service valuable to a customer – and those values translate to making a purchasing decision.

This makes nurture programs infinitely more approachable when you think about it. What makes your product or service special? How do they feel before / after? What’s their reality bubble that you know your product or service actually affects?

The Five Levels of Awareness

Before we get into actual nurture programs, I also want to explain the concept of “levels of awareness”.

Some of you might have some type of diagram or chart showing your customer journey and how it applies to each stage of the sales funnel and maybe even your pipeline or demand generation efforts.

I believe the most common set of stages is something like “Attract. Convert. Nurture.” or something to that effect.

“Awareness” is a very common stage marketers use for buyers – but “Awareness” itself actually can be broken down into its own set of stages:

  • Unaware – the prospect is completely unaware of who you are and what your brand is
    • Offer Stories and Secrets
  • Problem Aware – the prospect has become aware of a certain type of problem
    • Highlight Benefits and Anxieties
  • Solution Aware – the prospect is aware that there are solutions for previously defined problems
    • Offer Claims and Proof
  • Product Aware – the prospect is now aware that YOUR product or service offers a solution to the problem
    • Discounts and Deals (Doesn’t have to be a literal discount, but a “Give To Get”)
  • Most Aware – the prospect is extremely familiar with your brand, your products / services, and maybe even pricing information
    • More succinct Product and Pricing information

With this in mind, we must create a nurture program that caters to each level of Awareness while also making sure we understand where the customer is at the time.

Imagine a set of emails for every Level of Awareness – and each set of emails caters to different trigger points in the nurture. 

Because the 5 Levels of Awareness are so crucial to how someone psychologically warms up to your brand, we’re going to use it as the very basis for our nurture program.

Step 1 – Nurture Campaign and Content Strategy

Now that you’re familiar with both the idea of CVO and the Levels of Awareness, we’re now ready to start determining exactly what kind of nurture campaign you’re going to run.

The Core Offer

First, what is the nurture program for? 

Next, let’s move on to the ultimate product (or service) you’d like to sell and work backwards.

There’s a list of products / services that are high(er) priority for you and your marketing team. What are they? Write them down.

Next to that list, determine which one is the absolute most important – that’s going to be the product / service that we focus on for the rest of this post. It’s also known as a “Core Offer”.

Now, on that same piece of paper or document, let’s start thinking about the product / service itself and the pains it solves or prevents. If you are Sales or work with Sales directly, this might sound like a “unique selling proposition”. This list could also include objections. If you’re a Product Marketer, this could be the list of benefits, features, pains, and solutions.

This list will act as a swipe file for when you’re ready to start testing copy, but it will also go ahead and get you thinking about the realm of this one product / service and cutting everything else out.

Defining Success

Next, let’s define what a successful nurture campaign looks like and what kind of engagement we’re hoping to get out of it.

Is its entire goal to get someone to download something? A specific asset? Use a tool? Download your mobile application? Is it meant to lead to actual sales and therefore revenue? Pipeline acceleration? All of these are extremely valuable questions – so take the time to really think about what success looks like.

Oh, and pick just one – just one major goal and success metric.

Content Mapping

Finally, you’ll need a pretty great understanding of the content that you have available to you. While I don’t recommend creating a nurture program that has zero content, I understand its possible to create one anyways.

This might require a content matrix – a listing of all of the content you have available to you in its many different forms (maybe they’re case studies, ebooks, blog posts, etc).

A high-level content matrix for our own nurture programs.

A high-level content matrix for our own nurture programs.

The key here is that your content matrix must be a) sorted into the Levels of Awareness and b) must be related in some way to the product / service you’re hoping to sell.

For example, the Unaware Level mentions “Stories and Secrets” in the graphic. This could be an array of educational pieces or “How I Did This” content. You want to attract prospects by proving that you can teach them something and be of value to them – preferably something in direct relation to a pain or problem they’re trying to solve.

The example above is not sorted into Levels of Awareness or directly tied to a product / service, but you get the idea.

content-matrix

Having a content matrix and understanding how some content might fit in different places will be helpful when actually building your nurture program. It eliminates a lot of the guesswork when it comes to “should we offer content here? Or here? If we offer content, what kind should it be?”

Lead Magnets, Give-to-Gets, Tripwires, and Profit Maximizers

This next big section is in direct reference to both the content you’re thinking about using along the nurture program and how it all fits together. I’m going to use language here that might be a bit confusing, but once it makes sense, it will make the nurture program that much more powerful.

Within your content matrix, there’s a set of content that is extremely valuable both to you and to your prospects. Perhaps it’s a study that took months to prepare. Maybe it’s an infographic, a webinar, you get the idea.

This is what we call a Lead Magnet.

“The Lead Magnet is an irresistible bribe that gives a specific chunk of value to a prospect in exchange for their contact information” according to Ryan Deiss.

Lead Magnets are usually a) guarded by some kind of form and b) provide immense value. Lead magnets are typically exactly how someone ends up in your nurture in the first place. 

They’re extremely important not only because it’s an entry-point to engage directly with the customer, but they are also giant indicators as to what the prospect is interested in, what their needs are, and what they could be nurtured to do next.

If you get nothing else from this blog post, know that identifying your Lead Magnets and what kind of nurture they get put into will determine how successful it will be – because if the two don’t match up and progress the recipient along the next steps and actions you want someone to take, then it’s light out.

In addition to your content matrix, you’ll need to identify the Lead Magnets in your content repertoire and match them against each Level of Awareness.

The next three types of offers – Give-to-Gets, Tripwires, and Profit Maximizers – are useful for the respective business you’re in and are easily consecutive components of the nurture program.

While most B2B organizations can make use of lead magnets, Give-to-Gets, Tripwires, and Profit Maximizers tend to be very specific depending on the organization. If you’re B2B, Give-to-Gets and maybe even Tripwires might come more naturally. Tripwires and Profit Maximizers might come more naturally to B2C organizations.

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Give-to-Gets is a concept learned directly from Moe Bunnell of BIG Sales Training. They are a “next step” – if you will – to getting the prospect to get an idea of what it’s like to work with you.

Give-to-gets are FREE for the customer, RELEVANT to the product or service you’re selling, and are LOW COST to you. It could be as simple as filing some paperwork for free if you’re a lawyer, helping a prospect complete a document that’s relevant to a service you can later sell, or maybe a free hour of consulting.

The whole point of the give-to-get is to get the prospect to know what it’s like to work with you and also give you both the opportunity to form a real relationship.

Personally, give-to-gets are our favorite for B2B organizations. We sell on the principle of relationships, so this works best for us.

Tripwires, however, are different. Tripwires are essentially glorified lead magnets, except they’re generally offered for an actual dollar sum – anywhere from $1 to $500. The idea here is to actually get a prospect physically paying a small sum of money to change the relationship from prospect to buyer – just, a small buyer.

Tripwires can be tricky for B2B organizations – there’s a few technologies you’ll need in place to be successful with it since handling payments for small amounts is surprisingly challenging. There’s also the issue of value – what’s actually valuable enough to charge for in your organization?

Lastly, Profit Maximizers are exactly what they sound like – maximize the amount of profit earned by offering something on the last few pages of purchase or the checkout process. You might have seen this while shopping online and then a pop-up comes up saying “Wait! Have you seen these?”.

Panera Bread’s Rapid Pick-Up ordering service actually does this by showing a popup and asking the user if they’d like to add any drinks to their order.

Profit maximizers are perfect for B2C organizations, and they go hand-in-hand with Tripwires. If you end up using one, try using both and seeing how it impacts purchases and conversions.

 

Step 2 – Define the Activation Steps

Next, we move to thinking about what’s called “activation steps”. This is a concept I’ve learned over the years from CRO and demand generation geniuses like Neil Patel.

Activation steps are the concrete, finite steps it takes for someone to get the most out of whatever lead magnet you put in front of them. You can also think of activation steps as the bridge between a lead magnet and a tripwire or give-to-get. 

So for example, let’s say someone downloaded the lead magnet Customer Journey Framework, a lead magnet we consider to be in the Unaware Stage, from one of our blogs. Our activation steps might look something like:

  • Step 1 – Thanks so much for downloading; offer high-level overview of plan to get the most of out of this Lead Magnet
  • Step 2 – The first part of the plan; relevant articles / links / low-commitment content
  • Step 3 – The next step of the plan; maybe a video here in this email – still providing value
  • Step 4 – The third step of the plan
  • Step 5 – Final step of the plan, Offer Tripwire or Give-to-Get or Lead Magnet in next Level of Awareness

Activation steps are exactly what’s going to fill the gap between each major stage of the nurture, and therefore each Level of Awareness.

Activation steps, however, are not chaff.

They are supposed to actually still be helpful and still focus on providing value and eliminating pain. Here’s another version of activation steps for a different asset:

  • Step 1 – Unaware Stage – Blog Post about Customer Journey; Primarily educational and stats
  • Step 2 – Unaware Stage – Blog Post about Customer Journey Mapping; More stats proving industrial relevance
  • Step 3 – Unaware Stage – Blog Post + Video about How We Owned Our Own Customer Journey
  • Step 4 – Unaware Stage – Video about Client Success Story – How they used customer journey to their advantage
  • Step 5 – Unaware / Problem Aware Stage – Blog Post about Actual Benefits and ROI from Customer Journey Mapping – Offer Tripwire “CMO Guide to Customer Journey Mapping”

These steps are just for the Unaware stage and they move into the Problem Aware stage. Imagine that the activation steps keep going until you’re in the Most Aware stage.

Also, it doesn’t have to be 5 emails for every stage – it could be 2 or 10 depending on the nature of your business. It’s something you’ll have to test.

Below, you’ll find one of the best diagrams out there illustrating the entire process – including your future template for the nurture program.

Source: DigitalMarketer.com

 

Step 3 – Defining a Lead to Conversion Sequence

Finally, we can move into actually building a nurture program for the exact function we’re looking for.

Build a document that looks something like this:

Nurture Campaign Template

Nurture Campaign Template

You will want a few columns – Level of Awareness, Activation Step Name, Subject Line, Main CTA, and Lead Magnets / Tripwires / Give-to-Gets.

Next, fill out this document with the information you’ve compiled for this specific nurture. It should look something like this.

completed-nurture

Ignore the terrible subject lines, but you get the idea.

This is what we call a “lead to conversion sequence” or “nurture program that’s actually going somewhere”. 

Lead to conversion sequences are the set of emails and actions (or activation steps) required to move someone along the buyer journey.

And even though the above sequence was thrown together for the sake demonstrating what this actually looks like, you can start to see how all of this comes together.

Here’s a simplified version of the above:

sample-nurture

What’s beautiful about this entire process is that it’s completely flexible and will absolutely need to be tested – but that just means you get to learn tons about your subscribers.

Now – some of you might be saying – But I don’t want to or need to send that many email to nurture someone! My sales cycle is comparatively short, but do I really need to setup such a long nurture cycle?”

Luckily, if you have the right tools, you can setup your new and enlightened nurture program to only send that many emails over your specified timeframe and you can also setup what some marketing automation programs call “streams” or “series”.

campaign-automation

This is ClickDimension’s Campaign Automation feature.

You’ll notice above that each blue box up here is labeled by the stage name – Unaware, Problem Aware, etc.

unaware-series

Inside of each series is its own respective set of emails. The emails are only set to send every 6 days – and it will listen for engagement from the recipient. If the recipient clicks in an email, that means they were engaged enough by its content to move into the next stage and will no longer receive emails in this series.

This campaign will continue to nurture its recipients along the Levels of Awareness and listening for specific actions along the way.

Conclusion

To sum up all of the concepts we touched on:

  • Start with your nurture strategy and your core offer
    1. Work backward from your core offer to get an idea for steps involved
  • Define success early – it will force you to stick to your guns.
  • Identify key pieces of content that will support movement along the Levels of Awareness
  • Use Lead Magnets as entry points for the nurture, but make sure they’re relevant to your core offer!
  • Use Tripwires / Give-to-gets / Profit Maximizers as building blocks to the Core Offer
    1. When the recipient doesn’t bite on the tripwire, switch it out with a different tripwire and new activation steps and rinse, wash, repeat until you see results. The same is true for profit maximizers.
  • When recipients stop engaging, scrutinize your stages of Awareness – did you skip a step? Was it the wrong content? Why are they dropping off? Was it too long / too short of a time frame?

 

Asia Matos was the Director of Marketing at ARKE Systems where she oversaw all of the marketing channels and operations for the organization. In her role, Asia managed lead generation-focused content strategy, traffic acquisition, campaign execution, and event planning. She worked daily with content management systems like Sitecore and Wordpress, the analytics platforms of Google Analytics and the Sitecore Experience Platform, and contributed her extensive experience with email service providers like Silverpop and ClickDimensions. Asia was the editor and writer of ARKE’s blog MarketingTechnologyInsights.com. Asia is now the #FlipMyFunnel Demand Generation Manager for Terminus.