So you went out and bought that shiny new marketing toy — marketing automation technology — sold on the allure of how it can solve all of your marketing and sales woes. You read our posts on how to prepare and staff your marketing automation team. And then it was time to use it.
No matter which marketing automation tool you’ve invested in — Pardot, Marketo, Eloqua, HubSpot — figuring out how to structure and launch your first campaign can seem a little daunting. But a lead nurture campaign is one way that your new tool can really help your sales team keep prospects warm and turn them into opportunities, so understanding how best to make this work for your organization will set you on the road to getting the most out of your marketing automation platform.
Ultimately, in your ideal marketing world, you will build out multiple nurture campaigns complete with segmentation by industry, title, product line, etc. But building 19 different segmented nurture campaigns right after you launch with marketing automation is a near impossibility. However, you have to start somewhere. And as a colleague of mine says, “You know what’s better than zero campaigns when you can’t build 19? One.”
So, if you are going to build one campaign, how should it be structured and what should it include? Here are some guidelines to get you going.
Think of this first campaign as the general, catch-all campaign, designed to provide relevant content and branding to “any and all” prospects who come your way. That may be through a contact us form, gated content pieces, an event/conference, a purchased list, or a third-party advertising list. Any prospect names that come into your database should go into this campaign until you have the time to get more sophisticated about your campaign funneling approach.
Every company is different, and everyone starts their marketing automation adventure with a different amount of available content. You don’t have to have these pieces of content to include and use exactly seven steps, but each touch you make in the nurture campaign should have a point — a reason for why you are sending the email — and a benefit to the audience.
Below is an example of what we consider a good nurture campaign, including the details of what should go into it.
- Introduction to your company: Use the first email to re-iterate who you are and what you do. You could also include a “thanks for your interest in us” message assuming it comes after your prospect has taken some initial action such as filling out a form on your site. Touch on who you are, why they should care, and some general differentiators that set your company apart. Consider linking to a web page or document that represents your core competencies and business philosophies to get your audience engaged with you, what you do, and what you stand for.
- Blog post and key message No. 1: This email could come roughly a week after the first email. In fact, the timing for each of the emails in this campaign can vary depending on what your goals are and what content you have to offer. Think of this second message as, “Since you’re interested in us, here’s something else we think you might like.” Send them a link to one of the blog posts that represents one of your key company messages and/or differentiators so you start to build that awareness. The goal is to begin to educate them, not go after a hard sell.
- Outside thought leadership article and key message No. 2: This third touch still builds trust with your recipients, provides thought leadership, and educates the audience. Point recipients to a third-party, relevant article related to what your company does, something that an external thought leader or analyst in your industry may have written that helps drive home another of your key messages/differentiators. Include a secondary link to a product or services page on your site in hopes that the recipients want to find out more about you.
- eBook or white paper and key message No. 3: Here’s your chance to get your recipients to engage with some of your meatier content, like an eBook or white paper. Only include this if you have a topic that works for this broad audience, though. This kind of anchor content is usually narrowly focused, so if it’s not right, skip this touch point. The goal here is to engage, not to irritate people by sending email and content that doesn’t make sense for them.
- Case study and key message No. 4: Your case study is an opportunity to demonstrate how your solution has been implemented successfully for others. Try to make sure this case study client is notable and the solution you provided includes results that are representative of what many of your prospects are trying to accomplish.
- Infographic and key message No. 5: Your message here can address a problem your recipient might have that your service can solve. Make sure your infographic showcases the need for your solution or service, the statistics around what happens for people who utilize it, and addresses that problem your copy mentions. In lieu of an infographic, you can swap in another educational blog post or recorded webinar that addresses the issue.
- Ask for the meeting: This is the last step in the nurture campaign, and is the place that you can be a bit more sales-oriented and request a meeting like, “Contact us now to find out how our company can help your business increase revenue or decrease costs.” You may also want to add in some sort of incentive, or reason for reaching out for a meeting — an “assessment” or “30-days free” offer.
If you don’t have all of these pieces of content, that’s ok. It just means you either create a shorter nurture campaign, or you have more work to do to create the content! Keep in mind, these content components are not just relevant or useful in a nurture campaign, but are helpful to have on your website in general.
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