A few years ago we created our first automated nurture program to support our inbound strategy efforts.

Since there’s no substitute for real world experience, I’m excited to share our insights. My hope is after reading this you’ll understand how to create a nurture program that generates responses.

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Why You Need Nurture Programs

A lead nurture, drip campaign, or nurture program, is an organization’s way of following up via email to inbound marketing leads. I want to show you how to create a nurture programs that generate responses.

Survey results of marketing companies generating less than $100 million in revenue from Salesfusion suggest 68 percent of companies invest in marketing automation tools for the purpose of nurturing leads or prospects.

Successful Nurture Programs

Successful nurture campaigns are based on your organization’s goals. What are your goals for numbers of conversions, phone calls, attendees, actual purchase? These should be quantifiable values that are realistic and attainable.

But if I don’t reach my goals are we unsuccessful? Not necessarily, especially if your team is new to running nurtures. If you don’t reach your goals, reassess them. Make sure they were realistically set and think about why you may have not been able to reach the numbers you set.

Generating High Value Responses

Here are a few factors that will allow your nurture to generate high value responses.

Valuable Content: We can’t stress the importance of offering valuable content enough. For your leads or prospects to view you as an authority and turn to you in order to solve their problems, the content you produce must be perceived as valuable. After prospects read an ebook, blog post, or other asset, do they feel they’ve learned something they can apply to their problem? Better yet, have they been so intrigued they want to see more from you and learn more about your product or service?

Strategic Placement of Content: If you build it they may or may not come. For a nurture to work you need people to add to it. If your team is in a place where its nurture is generating leads organically, it may be time to think about paid media. Many PPC platforms allow you to target based on demographics or facts you know about your ideal customer.

We’ve had our fair share of unqualified leads come through our inbound efforts. You have no control over who is searching and finding your content. It become a different game when you’re paying to place content in front of the right audience.

In the chart below, you can see 21 percent of B2B marketers identify quality of leads as their top marketing challenge.

salesfusion-b2b-smb-biggest-marketing-challenges-may2016

Supplemental Content: Sending messages just isn’t enough anymore. You should have a thought process for reaching leads and prospects outside of the nurture email messages. It’s a cadence for those in your nurture who are highly engaged or fit your customer profile.

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Think Outside the Box: Be Strategic

There are two big things thinking outside the box promotes, including (1) offering non-digital touches and (2) involving the sales team. Both are key to creating a successful nurture.

On thing we learned later into our nurture program is there should be touches outside marketing email efforts that support establishing a rapport between the organization and lead. Save these efforts for people your team considers marketing qualified leads (MQLs).

Non-Digital Touches: People receive emails all day long but when do they receive hand-written notes saying I’m thinking about the problems you face at your organization in the mail it’s more memorable. It’s growing but still rare.

Involvement of the Sales Team: As stated before you would only place this type of effort on your highest scoring MQLs. At this stage your sales team should have insight into highly qualified leads and how to reach out to them.

Based on how a lead entered the nurture — e.g. a customer experience ebook download, and their level of engagement with your other sent emails, your sales team could send them a subject related book, a personal note, or special piece of content. We like to call this sales and marketing alignment. It allows the sales and marketing team to align processes and learn from one another.

How to Optimize Nurture Programs

The things that will help you generate responses to your nurture aren’t difficult; they just take time.

It takes time to develop relevant content, come up with outside reaches, and create a process for involving the sales team. But, if you’re willing to put in the time and effort and not be afraid of failure then you’ll begin seeing responses.

Here are your three big takeaways for creating a nurture that generates responses:

  1. Add value to your assets
  2. Think outside the box and be strategic
  3. Let data guide your decisions

It’s a Learning Process

Marketing is an ever-evolving field.

There is a constant stream of new tools. Best practices and strategies evolve with technology. And you can never get too comfortable with what you’re doing.

Always be willing to learn, either by experimentation and testing or from others.

There’s so much great information on marketing. Knowledge comes in the form of everything from training on the tools you use to expert advice, webinars and podcasts. All we have to do is be willing to set aside some time during the week to learn more.

Kayla Merritt is the Digital Marketing Assistant for Arke Systems and loves all things marketing! She is a recent graduate from Georgia College & State University where she received her bachelor's degree in marketing and minor in psychology.