How to automate your lead nurturing strategy

A quick introduction to lead nurturing with automation

Lead nurturing is essential for seizing opportunities to move your leads down the sales funnel and turning them into buyers.

However, lead nurturing strategies require consistent, personalised and timely contact. By sending leads engaging and timely content that is consistent with their place in the customer journey and their lead qualification scores, you exponentially increase your chances of converting leads.

However, if you have more than a handful of leads you are trying to nurture, you will struggle to offer each one a personalised and authentic experience without the help of automation.

Manually guiding and monitoring each lead through the sales funnel will take up a huge amount of time and resources on activities such as building lists, managing leads, assigning qualification scores, creating emails, managing lead nurturing workflows and much more.

The answer? Lead nurturing workflow automation. The core benefit is taking those manual and repetitive tasks, and letting automation do the job for you. Through automation, you can send as many lead nurturing emails and set up as many workflows as your company requires – all without resource constraints.

Ultimately, automation will ensure that each lead is automatically nurtured on autopilot according to rules you set.

In this guide, we will walk you through everything you need to know about automating lead nurturing, including the key steps to setting up a winning lead nurturing strategy, and a checklist of when it is the right time to automate your lead nurturing initiatives.

Why you need to automate lead nurturing

  • IT decision-makers are spending more time engaging with online content as 49% are increasing the time they read online and 48% are increasing the time they watch online videos. – IDG
  • Relevant and consistent content is essential – 72% of tech buyers are more likely to consider an IT vendor who educates them through each stage of the decision-process.- IDG

Automating your lead nurturing strategies is key for accelerating sales ready leads, quickly and efficiently. Here are the top benefits of why automating your lead nurturing workflows will transform your lead conversion rate.

  • Focus on high-value leads through automated lead qualification
    Trying to convert any lead that pops into the system, regardless of how they got there, will be a huge challenge for your sales team. Leads need to be qualified so you can focus on the leads that are most aligned to your ideal buyer profile – which are most likely to convert.

    Through automation, leads will be automatically scored and qualified, saving your sales and marketing teams the busy work of manually tracking and assigning scores. Check out our guide to lead qualification for more on how to set up a winning lead scoring framework.
  • Engage leads at an instant through automated lead segmentation
    Finding the right segment for each lead is time-consuming, even more so if you are working with many segments. Automation means that leads enter your workflow and receive valuable content from your organisation in an instant, reducing the likelihood of them becoming dormant.
  • Seize engagement opportunities through automated scheduling
    Lead nurturing is all about providing leads with personalised content that informs and educates them about how your solutions will tackle their pain points. Automation will ensure you never miss a beat by anticipating and sending that content to them when they need it, which is the most effective method of moving them down the sales funnel.
  • Improve and adapt with the help of data and analytics
    Learn from mistakes and capitalise on successes. Automation ensures you can take a proactive lead nurturing strategies through data and analytics. With access to real-time data, you can view key metrics such as open rates, scroll maps, links clicked, read time and more – giving you actionable data on how you can improve your workflows over time.

Checklist: Do I need to automate lead nurturing?

So, how do you know if your organisation should automate its lead nurturing strategy? Here are some key indicators that your organisation will benefit from automation.

  • Do you have a small team and can’t scale up
    Depending on the size of your company and how granular you want your lead nurturing campaigns, facilitating manual lead nurturing will need an entire team dedicated to lead nurturing that sits in between marketing and sales. But adding a new team or division is likely out of the option for your organisation. And the smaller your existing staff, the more sales development activities that fall upon the shoulders of fewer people. In fact, in our survey, 55% of companies responded that hiring and keeping talented people is a core challenge.

    Through automation, you can overcome this by setting up lead nurturing triggers aligned by a set criteria, effectively providing a small team with the marketing capabilities of a much larger one. Going one step further, you can outsource your lead nurturing automation and gain the expertise of a dedicated sales development team to ensure that your workflows have the most impact.

Thought about outsourcing lead nurturing? See how IDG can help supercharge your lead nurturing campaigns.

  • Do your sales teams spend more time on admin than making calls?
    Your sales and marketing teams shouldn’t be spending their time manually managing workflows, sending out emails, moving leads up and down the sales funnel, and finding the right content for leads.

    By removing the admin from the equation, your teams will focus on what matters the most – such as spending time on the phone with sales qualified leads, and marketing initiatives.
  • Are you sending emails to every lead without rhyme or reason?
    You might have incredible content, but sending it to every lead in your lead nurturing campaign won’t get you the results you are after.

    While a few leads are likely to be receptive to your content, the rest will feel alienated because it was sent to them at the wrong time in the customer journey. Remember, all leads are different – with differing pain points and potential solutions. You need to match up the lead with the right content and the right stage in the journey, and the only way of doing this on a large scale is through lead nurturing automation.
  • Do you use a couple of linear lead nurturing workflows?
    Does this sound familiar: You have set up a manual lead nurturing workflow, and it might be running smoothly. However, to keep things manageable, you likely use a few linear customer journey workflows. For example, perhaps you send new leads a welcoming email, another email if they sign up to your newsletter, and another if they register for a webinar, etc.

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to lead nurturing. Every lead takes a different, non-linear path through your sales funnel and is suited to different content.

Automation gives you the power to nurture leads via an unlimited number of customer journeys workflows, where you can create triggers and send leads specialized content at the most granular level. For example, what stage they are in your funnel, what content they have already looked at, demographics and behavioral information, such as purchase history and much more. The possibilities are endless with lead nurturing automation.

Automated workflow strategies to boost your lead nurturing campaigns

Let’s get you started with some great automation lead nurturing workflows that should fit any organisation type.

New lead and onboarding workflow

Whichever way a lead enters your database, whether that is from filling out an online form or registering to join a webinar, or anything in between, you need to make a great first impression.

The first piece of content you send leads will set the tone for the relationship. So, instead of sending new leads to your latest piece of content, which might be irrelevant to them, start off by laying the foundations by introducing them to your organisation with a collection of curated content pieces. This way, you provide a great introduction to your organisation and what challenges you can help them overcome.

To get the best results, find out the most common ways in which leads enter your sales funnel and create a personalised workflow for each of those data points.

Online event workflow

Online and physical events are key to engaging your target audience and are one of the most effective methods of generating leads. Whether you host or take part in events, creating a lead nurturing workflow that prompts your leads for registrations is vital.

As this workflow is all about times and dates, you need to set up email triggers before the event (ideally one month), another email trigger just before the event begins, and finally one afterward to wrap up the event.

With event workflows, you can be quite creative. For example, you can spotlight different speakers, or different challenge areas that align with your lead segments to generate the most buzz.

Likewise, your post-event workflow can target leads who didn’t turn up to the event, by sign posting them to on-demand viewing, slide decks and other content related to the lead segment and solution area.

Finally, an additional workflow to gather feedback is always ideal for events. This can trigger for all leads that were in attendance.

Key lead workflow

Your key lead workflow is based on your ideal buyer personal. When leads reach a high enough lead qualification score, you can trigger a chain of emails to boost the chance of your sales team converting them.

For key leads, seize the opportunity to show that you can deliver on all your promises as a company, by providing content that puts lead in the front seat of your products and services.

Set up triggers to send them content that spotlights product free trials, demos and walkthroughs. The more personalised you make the email, the better – show that you understand what their challenges are by outlining them in the email, while offering an array of solutions.

Product and solution workflow

The cornerstone of lead nurturing workflows is building relationships through education. With a product and solution workflow, keep your company at the top of their minds with content that is non-promotional and informative.

For example, if you have managed to home in on a particular pain point that your lead segment is experiencing, you can walk your leads through methods of solving the issue via weekly guides in a series of content drops. By building a workflow around the narrative of “crash-course” on solving X, your leads will expect the next content drop, increasing the likelihood of them absorbing the content.

You might also want to set up an additional workflow for all of the leads who complete the “crash-course” by opening every email, which will then trigger an email sign-posting to a demo or product demonstration.

New service or product launch workflow

This workflow will help generate buzz around your new service or product. Similar to the event email workflow, you can trigger a series of emails to send to your segments before, on the day of, and a week after the launch.

Instead of sending a single email to market your new product, you can highlight a unique feature within a series of emails. Going one step further, it is also a good idea to send different emails depending on the lead segment and what their challenges are – by highlighting distinct elements of the product and how it will help resolve those challenges.

New buyer workflow

Lead nurturing doesn’t end when the lead becomes a customer. Besides a thank you email, you can trigger emails to be sent to buyers as they experience unique features and aspects of the product or service.

Likewise, if a buyer hasn’t experienced a particular feature of a product or service, you can trigger an email informing them about it, or even asking if they need additional help to ensure they take advantage of all of the bells and whistles.

This is important for showing buyers you care about them even after they have made a purchasing decision, while also opening the doors to up-selling.

Dormant lead workflow

You are bound to have a number of leads that don’t make it through the sales funnel and have not responded to your marketing initiatives in a while.

Re-engagement campaigns are great for finding out why leads have become dormant, while also encouraging them to give your organisation another chance.

You can try triggering a re-engagement campaign when a lead has become dormant for a set period. For these kinds of campaigns, send emails sparingly, and ensure the content requires limited effort on part of the lead to experience. For example, infographics and short blog posts work the best.

Remember, creating a strong lead nurturing workflow is all about experimentation and trying new things. The more granular and targeted the better.

There are countless workflows and segments you can target, and there are highly likely many that will be unique to your organisation and product type.

Need help with effective and unique lead nurturing workflows? See what IDG SDS can do for you with our in-house team of lead nurturing experts.

Outsourcing lead nurturing automation

By outsourcing sales development, you remove the burden from sales and marketing, while also gaining the expertise of a dedicated sales development team, enabling your lead qualification and lead nurturing campaigns to be more effective.

In fact, In an IDG SDS survey, we found that 61% of companies struggle to manage costs when running an in-house sales development team. Similarly, 55% of companies responded that hiring and keeping talented people is a core challenge.

This is because implementing a sales development strategy requires the output of a dedicated team. The responsibility of implementing new technologies, training sales and marketing teams on using them, ensuring your marketing and sales teams are aligned, and analysing and trialing new strategies – are all time-consuming and resource intensive activities.

But adding a new team or division can be too much of a burden on the organisation. Likewise, for the existing team, the more sales development activity that falls upon the shoulders of fewer people.

It is important to remember that lead scoring and lead nurturing isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy, which is why having experts look at your organisation with fresh eyes is hugely beneficial. If you outsource sales development, you don’t have to worry about juggling:

Outsourcing sales development will take care of all of those costs into a single package. And you gain the expertise, speed, and costs of the company you are worth with that specialise in sales development.

This shows in our survey as well. We asked companies what their biggest reason for outsourcing sales development (single choice), and the results were:

  • Gain access to better technology than we have in house (16%)
  • For transparency into activity and results (14%)
  • Scale the Sales Development team (13%)

Conclusion

Automation is key for ensuring you lead nurturing efforts are manageable, efficient and provide you the best chance of converting more leads into buyers.

By automating your lead nurturing efforts, you can set up as many lead nurturing workflows as your company requires, ensuring that each lead is nurtured in an authentic and personalised way – and will ultimately only have eyes for your solutions when they make purchasing decisions.

Whether you decide to bring sales development in-house or work with an outsourced partner, or mix of both, you are taking a step in the right direction towards higher quality leads and more conversions.

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