What Are Nurture Campaigns?
Nurture campaigns, or lead nurtures, is a process that marketers use to lay a base and build relationships with clients and the leads that they generate. A well-designed nurture campaign aims at having a steady stream of communication with past and potential customers, building a rapport and guiding them at every step of the marketing funnel. This can be done through multiple methods, some of which we’ll discuss as we go along.
According to Marketo, 96% of the visitors who come to your website are not ready to buy yet. This is because of the fact that customers don’t always make a purchase immediately after they get introduced to a product. They want to take their time learning about the offering, reading reviews about the product, comparing them with competitors, and so on. That’s where nurture campaigns play an effective role for businesses. They personalize a customer’s journey, and focus on providing the right information at the right time to help customers make a decision.
An effective nurture campaign will:
- Introduce your business to prospective clients, and familiarize them with the products and services that the business has to offer.
- Highlight your business’ best product(s) or service(s).
- Show consumers the value that they would get out of your product/service.
- Personalize the consumer’s experience with your business.
- Listen to the needs and requirements of the consumer.
- Convince them that your business’ products/services are what they’re looking for.
- Let past customers know that you’re thankful for their trust and investment in your business.
Nurture campaigns are inherently vast, owing to the wide variety of purposes they serve. They can, however, be segmented into different types based on these purposes. Let’s take a look at the different types of nurture campaigns before we proceed further.
Types of Nurture Campaigns
As you might already know, a marketing funnel usually has four stages (broadly speaking) – Awareness, Interest, Decision, and Action. Depending on where the customer or lead is placed in the funnel, there are several types of nurture campaigns that your business can engage them in. Broadly classified, these nurture campaigns can be placed under four types, the details of which we’ll see below. These four types are:
- Engagement Campaigns
- Educational Campaigns
- Call-To-Action Campaigns
- Retention Campaigns
Let’s take a closer look at each of these types, shall we?
The goal of engagement campaigns is pretty self-explanatory. They are aimed at getting people to know about, and develop an interest in your business. These are your starter campaigns, directed at prospective clients, and those who have gotten in touch with your business at least once.
Engagement campaigns can be further segmented into three specific campaigns. They are:
- Welcome Campaigns that are designed to introduce your business to prospective clients or qualified leads. This sets the tone for the rest of your nurture campaigns, and gives people some insight into the kind of business you run and its nature.
- Top-Of-The-Funnel Campaigns that keep qualified leads engaged with your business at regular intervals, and keep them from eventually slipping out of touch. These campaigns run over longer periods of time, and constantly provides people with information and updates about your business and the industry.
- Re-engagement Campaigns that are committed to ‘win back’ the leads that might have become dormant or dropped out at any point in the sales process.
Educational nurture campaigns come into place when your prospects have been introduced to your business, and are now interested in learning more about your services/products and the industry. These campaigns contain middle-of-the-funnel content that focuses on a mix of industry knowledge and sales promotion. Diving a little deeper, we can split these campaigns into two types:
- Product Campaigns that address your product/service range, its features, and how customers can benefit from it. Use cases, testimonials, and infographics are what you need to focus on in this campaign.
- Competitive Campaigns that are all about highlighting the uniqueness of your services or products, and putting across your USP in a clear and concise manner.
Call-To-Action (CTA) Campaigns
These campaigns are structured for prospects who are close to the bottom of the funnel. CTA campaigns are your final pitch, and should focus on convincing a lead that your business is the right choice, prompting them to make a decision. These campaigns can again be divided into two subtypes, as listed below.
- Industry/Thought Leadership Campaigns that can help establish your authority amongst the industry competitors. This could contain high traffic content, media exposure, and social mentions.
- Promotional Campaigns that entice your prospects with offers, discounts, or free giveaways.
As the name suggest, these campaigns have a simple goal – to retain clients. Be it convincing high touch clients to opt for more, or trying to renew contracts, retention campaigns are what you should focus on to sustain sales. Usually, there are three segments in retention campaigns.
- Onboarding Campaigns that help new clients thoroughly understand your business and answer their questions.
- Cross-selling Campaigns that encourage your existing clients to try out and purchase your other/new products and services.
- Renewal Campaigns that are designed to let clients know that their contracts need to be renewed.
Now that you’re familiar with the various nurture campaign types, let’s talk about how you can structure the process. There are various steps that compose a nurture campaign, and each of these steps needs to be carefully planned out.
Ideally, a complete nurture campaign should cover the entire customer journey, and should have a good balance of the different types of campaigns that we spoke about just now. Before you put the process in place, however, you need to make sure that you have enough and more quality content for your campaign to be successful. Once that is in place, you can go ahead and jump to the end.
Sounds confusing? Don’t worry, we’ll put that in context for you.
Start At The End
Before you plan out your nurture campaign, your first order of business should be to clearly define your end goal.
Think about this: What should the campaign ideally result in? More sales? Increased traffic to your website? Expanding your network of clients? Educating existing clients?
Once you have the answer to this, you can use it to set the entire framework of your nurture campaign. Most importantly, your end goal usually dictates how you go about generating leads, and we’ll tell you why this is so important.
About 65% of businesses have the most trouble generating leads (source), and any nurture campaign becomes practically non-existent without them. Since there are a number of ways through which you can generate leads, setting up specific goals beforehand helps you streamline your lead channels and gives you a better conversion rate.
For example, let’s say you own a marketing agency and you’re looking for a new pool of leads that your sales team can approach. Now, there are two tiers to this flow. Your end goal could either be one of these leads converting into a client, or it could be the qualification of the lead from your end to the sales team. Without defining the end goal (i.e. the exact step of the process that you would consider to be a conversion), it’s going to be difficult for you to structure the campaign, decide what tactics you would use for lead generation, and which channels to target.
After you’ve defined your goal and set up your lead generation channels, you get to the actual process of nurturing your leads. But before you start sending out emails, there are a couple more steps that you need to follow. So let’s take a look at the process in detail.
The Nurture Process
When it comes to nurture campaigns, personalization is a key aspect. Hence, you cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach. So how do you make your campaign more personal and appealing for the recipients? This is where we turn to customer/prospect segmentation.
Nurture campaigns can have a wide range of target audience, depending on the type of campaign and the end goal. When this is the case, segmenting your audience can help you refine the content and tone of your message accordingly.
For example, you wouldn’t want to put your prospects as well as existing customers in a nurture campaign that is based on top-of-the-funnel content. Similarly, a nurture campaign for your seminar on motivating college dropouts need not include people above the age of 30.
Create several segmented lists and have them handy before you plan the content for your nurture campaign. If it helps, you can start by creating a list of use cases first, and then think about which segments each case might be relevant to. To give you an idea, here’s what some of the most commonly used segmented lists are based on.
- New leads
- Industry-specific leads
- Lead source (channels such as social media, organic traffic, etc.)
By segmenting your audience, you can decide not just what you put across to them, but how you deliver the message as well, which brings us to the next step in this process.
Nurture Campaign Channels
When we talk about nurture campaigns, the first thing that comes to mind is emails. While it’s true that emails are still probably the most widely used medium for nurturing leads, they’re not the only option you have. In fact, 79% of marketers say that their email open rates usually don’t exceed 20%.
Today, a prospect’s journey through the sales funnel has evolved past just being a linear process. Businesses can create several parallel touchpoints for a customer, and that’s something you need to take advantage of. Multi-channel nurturing can be designed to become an even more personalized experience for anyone. Here are some of the other channels besides email that you could consider.
Unlike emails, text messages actually have a high open rate. Consider these stats from MobileX Co.:
- SMS has a higher response rate than mobile advertising.
- 9 out of 10 customers would like to use messaging to interact with businesses.
These are highly encouraging numbers, making text messages a great channel for nurture campaigns.
Contrary to popular belief, direct mail has a high engagement rate. 38% of millenials and Gen-Xers reported that a mailed catalog recently drove them online to shop, and 77% of millenials react to direct mail marketing. Additionally, direct mail provides a much more personalized experience, which can be well-suited for a nurture campaign.
These are just a couple of alternatives to emails, and there are still plenty of other channels that you can use as touchpoints to drive your campaign. You can even use a combination of these channels to take your audience through an extremely engaging nurture campaign, depending on the segment and your end goal.
Now that you’ve chosen your audience segment(s) and campaign channel(s), let’s get into the flow of your campaign. Here, we talk about the order, content, and the tone of the different messages that you include in the campaign. In simpler terms, you need to answer four simple questions through your nurture campaign – what, why, why us, and how.
These aspects differ according to the nature and end goal of your campaign, so we’re merely providing an example as a reference point, for a nurture campaign that spans the entirety of a customer’s journey.
Your first interaction (or series of interactions, depending on the campaign) with a prospective customer is where you introduce yourself and your business to them. This is a crucial part of your campaign, and the answer to the first question. Not only does it help them recognize your brand better, it also lays the base on which they form their opinion about your business. Plus, as we all know, first impressions can build or break a relationship, and this is no different.
With so much riding on it, you need to make sure that you stand out from the tons of ‘This is the best thing ever’ and ‘You need to see it to believe it’ mails that they’re already being bombarded with. A common mistake that many businesses do when it comes to starting a nurture campaign is that they try to sell from the word go. You need to understand that your leads are always going to look out for brands and businesses that they trust. In order for you to develop that trust, they must first know your business well enough, so focus on that.
Adopt an informal tone wherever it fits, and make yourself more approachable. As mentioned before, you don’t need to cram in everything about your company in one email or text. You can do it in a series of introductory exchanges. For example, if you’re sending out emails, your first email could be just about introducing yourself, along with some basic details of your business. In your second mail, you could focus on how your business came about (sort of an origin story, if you will), and your range of products/services.
#2 Create The Need
Now that the prospect is familiar with your business and its services, the next question is why. Why do they need your services? Why can’t they do without it? A good answer to these questions would ideally be a mix of informational and promotional content.
Think of this as a soft sales pitch. At this point, your leads are probably still skeptical about using your services, so a hard sell might end up turning them away. You need to ease into your sales strategy, and also frame interactions that highlight how other businesses are benefiting from your services.
Here are the three key points that you need to focus on during this phase of your nurture campaign:
- Addressing the consumer’s pain points.
- Letting them know how your services can solve them.
- Backing up your services with testimonials and use cases.
#3 Value Proposition
Now that you’ve done your soft sales pitch and gotten your prospects interested, it’s time for some hard selling. This is where you give them your business’ value proposition. It could be anything, such as a special service or feature that makes your business unique and gives your clients more value for money.
Make sure to let your prospects know how you differ from your competitors, and why your services are better. In case some of your leads are already employing the services of a competitor, your value proposition should be enticing enough for them to switch over to your business. Additionally, you can put across some bottom-of-the-funnel promotional content as well, such as a sale, offers, and limited period discounts.
Thus far, you’ve managed to introduce new leads to your business, let them know how they could benefit from a service like yours, and show them your value proposition. At this stage, your prospects are probably really interested in your services and want to proceed further with your business. Now it’s time for you to answer the final question – how?
This is where you begin to integrate CTAs in your nurture campaign. Again, this will completely depend on your end goal. If your goal is to educate your clients, your CTA could be to get them to download a white paper article. If sales is your goal, then your CTA could be to get them to sign up for a subscription.
The possibilities are numerous, and so are the methods that you can employ. But you need to make sure that your CTA aligns with the rest of your nurture campaign. For example, setting up an educational nurture campaign where you only provide content about an industry, and then asking your leads to buy your new service offering doesn’t make sense, unless you also expose them to that particular service offering throughout the course of your campaign.
Coming up with creative and effortless ways for your leads to engage with your business will definitely work in your favor.
This is the final part of your nurture cycle. Once you present your leads with a CTA, it is extremely important to follow up, and not let your leads turn cold. In most cases, your prospects are still skeptical even after they go through the entire campaign cycle.
Considering the fact that nearly 80% of all sales are made on the fifth through twelfth contact, following up on your leads should definitely be an integral part of your nurture campaign. In addition to increasing sales, follow-ups also help keep your business top-of-the-mind, which can easily translate into new leads through word-of-mouth.
Exiting The Nurture Campaign
As with every other campaign, a nurture cannot go on forever. A lead or prospect exits the campaign when one of two things happen:
- The lead converts at any stage of the campaign. When this happens, your campaign goal is met.
- The lead unsubscribes from the campaign.
When leads unsubscribe from your nurture campaign, there is little you can do. However, that is not the case when they convert. Which brings us to the next part of the nurture campaign, transitioning your converted leads.
Transitioning Your Leads
Depending on your end goal, leads who have converted usually turn out to be one of four things:
- An existing customer
- A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
- A Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
- A junk lead
Junk leads are usually leads who have provided incorrect information, or have no intention of moving forward with your business. These leads are usually dropped from the campaign at this stage. On the other hand, your MQLs, SQLs, and existing customers can be transitioned to the next step or process, depending on your campaign goals.
So, what exactly is the next step or process? Well, as mentioned earlier, this completely depends on your end goal. It could be anything, from a handover to another team to inducting them into a different nurture campaign altogether.
For example, if your end goal is to make a sale, you can transition your qualified leads to be put in touch with your sales team, and they will take it forward. In case your end goal is to get leads to sign up for a white paper article, you can then transition them to a sales-oriented nurture campaign.
By transitioning your qualified leads, you not only continue to promote your business, but also keep your customers and prospects engaged with your brand and not let them slip away.
And with that, you complete your nurture campaign. But hold on, your work is not done yet. Nurture campaigns are not an exact science, since you have to take into account certain variables such as consumer behavior and ever-changing marketing trends. Owing to this, you need to constantly evaluate and make changes to your campaign. Let’s take a brief look at how you can go about it.
Optimizing Your Nurture Campaign
Most nurture campaigns are initially experimental. But the most effective ones are the campaigns that eventually shift to a more focused and data-driven approach. In order to effect this change, you first need to collect data, and the most straightforward way to do that is by tracking your campaign metrics.
Most lead nurture automation tools such as Autopilot or LeadSquaredhave inbuilt features that you can use to track live metrics. This can give you some much needed insight into how well your campaign is faring, which interactions are working for you, and which ones are not.
You can also use this information to gauge customer reactions and gain consumer insight. It even helps you get a sense of your own business from a consumer’s standpoint. That in turn can help you understand the limitations and advantages of your service or product in the market better.
To give you a better idea of how to employ metric tracking, here’s a list of the most commonly tracked metrics in email nurture campaigns, what they translate to, and what you could do to optimize them.
- Unsubscribe rate – the number of people unsubscribing from your nurture campaign at any given point is a crucial metric that you need to track. If the rate is upwards of 0.5%, then that might indicate that you’re either targeting the wrong audience, or your content needs to be revised.
- Open rate – this indicates the number of people who open your emails or texts. A low open rate could mean that your subject line is not enticing enough, and needs to be looked at immediately.
- Click-Through Rate (CTR) – this is the percentage of people who clicked on one or more links in your emails or texts. If your CTR is below 2%, then it’s time for you to take another look at your mailing list and campaign content, and possibly revise it to increase its relevance. Here’s a checklist that you can use to increase your CTR.
- Bounce rate – this indicates the percentage of people who visit your site, but leave immediately, or view just one page. A good bounce rate would be anything below 60%. If your bounce rate goes above 70%, then that speaks to the relevance of the content to your target audience. You can check out this post to know more about optimizing your content to achieve lower bounce rates.
As mentioned earlier, tracking these metrics are an important part of optimizing your campaign. But you need to make sure that you track them frequently enough to effectively make changes to your campaign. A good place to start would be to check them once every two or three days.
So that concludes the process part of setting up nurture campaigns. To help you get a clearer visual of what makes a nurture campaign appealing, here are some real-world nurture emails that have been widely successful.
However, we’re not going to stop at just that. There are certain best practices that you can incorporate while setting up your nurture campaign, so here are the most important ones that you need to keep in mind.
#1 Coordinate your efforts
When it comes to nurture campaigns, you need to combine your marketing and sales resources if you want to set up a smooth process. This helps in creating a seamless transition from lead nurturing to sales. Additionally, this also helps in sharing customer data in order to create a more personalized campaign, regardless of the lead’s primary touchpoint.
#2 Data Is Key
As mentioned before, a great nurture campaign is one that takes a data-oriented approach. So start researching, collect data, learn about your leads, personalize your campaign, and then do it all again. Simple, no?
#3 Use Multiple Touchpoints
The number of ways in which you can get in touch with potential customers in this digital age is increasing exponentially. It’s high time you leverage this, and use a combination of several touchpoints which will get you the maximum reach with the right audience.
#4 Mix It Up
Never underestimate the compelling power of good content and visual appeal. Don’t be afraid to try out different templates, fonts, colors, and images. Conduct an A/B test if needed. Remember, all these efforts are bound to give you some much needed insight into the behavioral aspect of your target audience.
#5 Keep At It!
In a lot of cases, nurture campaigns are slow when it comes to yielding results. This does not mean that your leads have turned cold, or that you need to abandon it. Until such time as your lead opts out of your campaign, perseverance is your most valuable asset. That’s not to say that you should keep sending your leads irrelevant content, hoping they might engage. Use this time to refine your campaign and your content, and your stagnant leads will most likely start engaging with your brand.
There you go! These are the five most important practices that you need to follow in order to make your nurture campaign more successful. As an added bonus, here’s a list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to nurture campaigns. Use it to your advantage!
Now that you’re aware of how to set up and run a successful nurture campaign for your clients, it’s time to get to work. Happy nurturing!