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What is a Lead Nurturing Campaign?

Stephanie Fisher

Posted by Stephanie Fisher on 9/16/14 1:30 PM


We say it all the time, but I'll say it again: Marketing is a process, not a project.

Part of the inbound marketing process is mapping out where lead generation starts and how it flows through your system so that leads convert to a new customer, member, or donor.

Lead nuturing is part of that flow. A lead nurturing campaign is, ideally, an automated series of emails or follow-ups designed to move a lead down the sales funnel until they are ready to become a customer.

Marketing Automation

Automation is used to perform laborious tasks cost-effictively and hands-free. These tasks include:

  • Email marketing
  • Segmenting leads
  • Lead intelligence
  • CRM integration
  • Lead nurturing

Example Campaign

Let's walk through the steps of a lead nurturing campaign. In HubSpot, you can set up lead nurturing capaigns in "Workflows" if you have the Enterprise level. There are many ways to do it, but for this example I will walk through a basic "drip" style email campaign.

Step 1: Visitor downloads an offer from a landing page: The Ultimate Guide to Baking Perfect Bread

You have already set up a high-value, top of the funnel offer for your visitors to download for free. What happens next? 

You can set up this action to trigger a campaign. 

Step 2: Automatic email 2 days later with another free offer: Video Series

The lead is sent a follow up email a few days later pointing her to check out your how-to video series "Baking Perfect Bread." This makes sense because it's related to her interests, as indicated in her choice to download the guide.

Step 3: Automatic email 5 days later with a low-commitment offer: Free trial offer of Bread Box monthly subscription.

You may have 2-3 more emails before you're finally ready for the sell--it's up to you. You might set up lead scoring to only send this final offer to those "warm" leads that have interacted with your website the most. The point is that by the end of the campaign the lead is much more ready to buy than when he or she first hopped on your website.

Lead nurturing is more than just a series of emails, however. Let's dive just a little deeper.

Segmentation is Key!

Lead nurturing is not an email blast to your entire database. We have the tecnnology to set up segmented email lists these days, and oh what a glorious thing it is. The Smart List--one of our favorite magical phrases.

In HubSpot, this is a list that automatically stays up to date based on logic that you define. Let’s say, for example, you want to set up a list that only contains customers. All you need to do is set up a smart list that includes every contact with a life cycle stage set to “Customer” and it will automatically grow in real time based on that attribute.

You can do all sorts of logic to set up lists that stay up to date in real time. Here are some examples:

  • Create a list of certain industries

  • List of people who have downloaded a particular resource

  • List of people who have downloaded one resource but not another

  • List of people with “CEO” in their job title

  • List of people who are not yet customers

  • List of people based on their persona

  • List of people who have viewed a certain page, downloaded a certain resource, watched a specific video, and are in a specific industry

Once you have lists set up you can start to target specific messages to specific people.

Another great use of smart lists is to group all “warm prospects” together for the sales team to start working on. You can create a smart list that contains all contacts that have certain attributes and a certain lead score (a way to assign a number score to each contact). This is the list that the sales team will follow up with because they are the ones most likely to be good prospects. Lists can also be used to trigger lead nurturing campaigns...see how it all ties together? Automation is truly a beautiful thing.

Getting More Creative

Marketing automation can get really fancy with content personalization. Think outside the email campaign box and figure out what your automation software can do. 

As soon as a lead is captured, you have the chance to track all of their interactions on your website. You can set up smart content to be served up based on what the lead has already seen and downloaded.

Content personalization is really hot right now because it happens behind the scene rather than in your face, and requires less outbound communication. Content personalization can include:

  • Text or graphics (Hello Stephanie, Welcome back!)
  • Smart calls-to-action
  • Smart forms that hide previously filled-out information, while steadily gathering more contact information

Of course, to implement these bells and whistles, you have to have the right tools, the right team, and a fleshed out inbound marketing strategy in place.

Do you use these campaigns in your marketing? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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