Marketing lingo is always changing. When you start trying to communicate complex strategies, and the value of different tools to the higher-ups, speaking the right language is critical. Recently, marketing automation and lead nurturing are terms that have been considered synonymous. However, they are not the same.
While each work closely together to achieve common objectives, they are distinct from each other. The best lead nurturing campaigns rely on marketing automation to work properly and to be as effective as possible. However, marketing automation can be used for many other marketing tasks aside from lead nurturing.
| In this blog, we will demonstrate nine ways that the powerful combination of marketing automation and lead nurturing can supercharge your sales.
What is lead nurturing?
So you’ve launched an inbound campaign and started to attract good leads. Now you have to keep those leads happy, while gently leading them through the buyer’s journey to sales-ready qualification. According to Gleanster Research, 50% of qualified leads aren’t ready to buy. They might be open to education, and delighted that you can identify their pain points.
To increase conversion rates, nurture your leads with appropriate content to ensure they understand the value of your solution before sales teams contact them. Sending leads inappropriate content and interrupting them with unsolicited sales calls is increasingly ineffective. They might lack appropriate content to last the length of the sales cycle, bore leads with repeat content, or simply fail to notice leads wandering off the path.
In an ideal world, your leads will maneuver themselves down the marketing funnel. That’s not how things work. Lead nurturing is essential to coax your leads through the marketing funnel… from visitors to leads, buyers, and then returning customers. In other words, you are helping them go from stranger to customer by assisting, educating, and prompting them toward the buying decision. According to Forrester Research, companies that implement lead nurturing practices have about 50% more conversions. Another study from eCommerce reveals that nurtured leads are 47% larger as compared to un-nurtured leads. Despite the numbers, research shows that only 36% companies have adopted lead nurturing practices.
Lead nurturing is critical for almost any industry, and is proven to drive 20% more sales opportunities. Most of the time, lead nurturing is in reference to drip email campaigns, which are a series of emails that trigger based on a contacts demographics or action they’ve taken. Lead nurturing is not only about email marketing, though. Retargeted ads can also be used for lead nurturing. SMS, Facebook Messenger, and many other channels can be utilized for lead nurturing. And, most of them can be automated!
Traditionally, lead nurturing is labour intensive. The average buyer’s journey is complex, and the content that helps move them through the sales funnel from awareness (of a problem) to consideration (of solutions), to the decision (of what solution to buy) needs to be expertly honed and perfectly timed.
What is marketing automation?
Think of marketing automation as using technology to automate marketing tasks. Consider every marketing task you would perform on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis. If it is possible to program software to do that task automatically as well as you do manually, automating it releases the time-demand for the task. That means, you are more efficient and can spend your time on other things.
Marketing automation is a software that helps in automating certain repetitive marketing tasks like emails, website actions, social media, etc. Many marketers may think they already run effective lead nurture campaigns without marketing automation. But using automated lead nurturing as part of an inbound campaign ensures all leads get quick responses and are automatically sent the right content for them.
Random one-off emails to your database won’t cut it in a competitive world, especially during a long sales cycle. Talking up the detailed benefits of your solution to someone who is only vaguely aware of a problem is pointless at best. Emailing simplified educational material to a highly educated lead desperately seeking a solution is also potentially counterproductive.
Automating lead nurturing, on the other hand, allows for the systematic tracking of lead engagements with your content and site, and accurate pinpointing of that lead’s stage in the sales cycle. That means you can drip feed appropriate content at the right time – your leads are never forgotten and opportunities never missed.
Marketing automation does so much more beyond lead nurturing and is only limited to the creative ways marketers find to replicate and automate their repetitive, manual tasks.
How the powerful combination of marketing automation and lead nurturing can supercharge the sales cycle?
If you haven’t yet automated your lead nurturing process there’s every chance your sales team is wasting time on leads that aren’t sales ready, while irritating potential customers with mistimed and irrelevant contact.
Automated nurturing gently leads your targets through the sales funnel, breaking down barriers to sales with timely, appropriate content. The result? Your sales team spends far more time on sales-ready leads, supercharging your sales cycle.
Here are 9 ways to supercharge your sales using automated lead nurturing…
1| Advanced contact list segmentation
When you segment your leads properly, it becomes easy to send relevant emails to each list. Segmentation can occur based on demographics, events and lead behavior, just to name a few. When leads interact with your content, tracking their responses in detail allows for segmentation. Leads are divided into appropriate contact lists, likely by niche or pain point. Without an automated workflow, the next round of emails would require adjustment manually. With an automated process, emails can be drip-fed to designated contact lists, delivering relevant information at the right time. That’s why trusting an automation tool to bucket all your leads is a good idea.
2| Targeted content marketing
Content is the core of any and every marketing effort. Every lead goes through three stages (awareness, consideration and decision making) before hitting the ‘buy’ button. The content matter for each of these stages is different. According to Pardot’s State of Demand Generation study, 77% of buyers want different content at each stage of their journey. A fine-tuned nurturing machine means leads are informed with the right content at the right time.
3| Lead scoring
Marketing automation lets you pinpoint exactly where a lead is in the sales cycle, so your contact lists – and the content sent to them – is constantly refined and updated. Grading leads based on their interactions with all marketing efforts allows you to move them smoothly through the sales funnel. You need to create relevant content to support your segmented workflows, set contact frequencies and make sure you have a lead grading system to move leads from one stage in the process to another.
4| Identifying lead bottlenecks in the sales funnel
Using automation, bottlenecks are quickly identified and rectified. Automated reporting can show where in the funnel leads are getting stuck, and it allows you to develop your content accordingly. In a nutshell, content is continually honed to address sales barriers and smooth the path to purchase.
5| Email marketing
Email marketing is the core of lead nurturing. Emails are regarded as the most effective mode of communication for brands, so it appears obvious that email marketing automation will help in improving your lead nurturing. Examples of automated emails can include welcome emails, thank-you emails, onboarding emails, newsletters and updates, special offers and discounts, cart abandonment emails and re-engagement emails.
6| Email marketing workflow automation
To nurture your leads properly, you’ll need to determine which email will go when and how. This is an automated feature that is not just helpful but also saves a lot of time.
7| Landing pages
A landing page acts as the entry point of a website or a particular part of your website. Most automation tools come with drag and drop editors so that you can customize the elements of your landing page.
8| Push notifications and SMS campaigns
Push notifications appear on a browsing page without hampering the browsing activity of your leads. You can develop targeted and relevant push notifications using dynamic content that keeps changing based on the browsing history, demographics, etc. of the leads. SMS campaigns are helpful for introducing your leads to special offers or targeted campaigns that match their interests.
9| Smart Notifications and Lead Assignment
Automated, timely prompts to team members for required manual actions. You can automatically assign buy-ready leads to specific sales team members.
What is the key takeaway?
Lead nurturing, in conjunction with marketing automation, saves time and produces superior results. Ultimately, targeted messaging is one of the most critical aspects of a successful marketing program. Send the right message, at the right time, and you will get results.
With that said, creating an effective lead nurturing campaign takes time, and is ultimately a process of iterative optimization. So, don’t fret when creating content and setting up automated triggers for each phase takes a little longer than you thought it would. And, don’t get discouraged when you notice one piece or another isn’t performing as well as you expected.
At its simplest, automating the sales process means being able to track and use a lot more data than would otherwise be possible and use that information to more accurately segment and target leads, speeding their path through the sales funnel.