Lead generation can be a very complicated task, whether we are talking about B2B or B2C companies. You first have to establish a clear email strategy for capturing leads and then you need to have a clear and actionable workflow for engaging with those leads. The reason you want to keep engaging with them is to remain top of mind for a potential decision. But you also want to assist your leads in moving in the marketing funnel, so that they are more ready to make a decision.
It goes without saying that having an understanding of how the entire lead nurturing process works is something extremely valuable for every email or digital marketer. That’s why we have created a three-step guide for nurturing your leads. First, we are going to explain how to use contact fields to segment lists. Secondly, we are going to showcase some examples of lists based on the criteria used in the email list segmentation step. Finally, we will highlight some useful content that can be included in a successful email nurturing campaign.
Email lead nurturing explained
Lead nurturing is a more advanced tactic used by companies large and small to keep subscribers engaged and informed. These emails are not just another newsletter that you create and deploy to your entire email list. Quite the contrary, you have to develop a relationship with your leads and provide them with relevant information to help them move through the buying process. You will do this by creating a consistent inbound marketing strategy and by generating high-value content that will resonate with your leads. Find out more about what is lead nurturing.
List segmentation for lead nurturing
The first thing you need to consider when planning to segment your email lists for lead nurturing is what fields you will be using in the process. Depending on the data you have, you should always choose the one that are most relevant and the ones that will result in list segments that will actually perform well with the content you are creating.
There are different ways you can approach the selection of contact fields. Probably the most useful one is to always consult the capabilities of your email service provider (ESP), customer relationship management (CRM) platform or marketing automation solution that you are currently using. By doing so, you will make sure that whatever path you decide to follow next is something that can be properly implemented. But to help you get started, we are going to provide some of the most common examples of contact fields used for lead nurturing.
Contact classification categories:
- Contact record fields
Contact records are everything you know about your leads. Starting with their personal information, such as name, gender, address, currency, social media profiles or anything else that you might have collected over time.
- Custom fields
Basically, custom fields can refer to data that you have associated with a contact, that is not generically supported by an ESP, CRM or marketing automation platform. Here you could have info on their purchasing history, their body size, the industry they are active in or their lead status.
- Lead score
If you have a lead scoring system in place, it would be wise to include that information as a criterion in your list segmentation rules.
If you have already engaged with your subscribers prior to starting a lead nurturing campaign, you can also consider the topics they have showed interest in as an indicator going forward.
This might apply mostly to CRMs and marketing automation tools. Tags can provide valuable information for segmenting list, depending on how you use them. If you have tags to track engagement, campaigns, or contact sources.
- Early exit rules
This can vary from strategy to strategy, but a good example of an early exit situation is when you get a feedback from your sales team that a lead should no longer be pursued.
Once you have mapped all the fields, tags and rules that have the potential of being of interest for your lead nurturing campaign, then comes the fun part. Ideally, you should pick at least 5 of them for creating the email list segments.
Contact segmentation will play an active role in the success of your campaign, so treat it as top priority. You can also review it later and adjust based on the performance of the lead nurturing campaign. But make no mistake, if you do not make sure that you have the most relevant segments for your business, as well as for the content that you have created, there is little change you will reach your goals.
Decide on your lists
As soon as you have the criteria on which you will build your nurturing email lists, it is important to evaluate how many segments you are going to end up with. Depending on this number, your inbound content creation is going to be clarified. To further explain this point, let’s use some practical examples.
Contact criteria examples for lead nurturing
Let’s say that you run a B2B email nurturing campaign. In this context, the criteria that you have selected is going to be:
Here you can decide on the most valuable territories for your business. Do not go overboard and select each country as a segmentation rule, because that’s just going to overcomplicate things. Pick two or three countries and pack the rest in Other. For the purpose of this example, let’s say that you end up with the US, UK and Canada as the main countries and a fourth category for Other countries.
Adjust the relevant industries on your overall business objectives and try to come up with the most important three to five examples. You can go with a large sector, such as Manufacturing or Retails, or with niche industries, such as Automotive or Consumer Goods. Decide on which approach works best for you.
- Company size
If you are active in the B2B field, then you company size standards that you are already working with. Otherwise, check out how LinkedIn classifies companies based on the number of employees. Again, try to narrow it to up to four or five criteria. If you cannot do that, here is a better way of categorizing companies: small companies, with fewer than 300 employees, mid companies, with 300-1,500 employees, and large (or enterprise) companies, with over 1,500 employees.
- Experience level
Segment your current leads on categories, such as Senior, Lead, Manager, C-Level, with anything else that doesn’t fit this criteria going to Other.
- Job Titles
Analyze your campaign topic, objectives and target audience to narrow the five most appropriate job titles to include in the lead nurturing process.
Email segments examples
Based on the above criteria, you should end up with about a dozen lists. Here are some examples to help you guide your work:
- List 1: US + All industries + Enterprises + C-Level
Going by this examples, you could generate four or five lists, one for each industry you decided to target
- List 2: US + All industries + Enterprises + Managers
Following this set of criteria, you would end up with another four to five lists, one for each industry
- List 3: US + All industries + Mid companies + C-Level
- List 4: US + All industries + Mid companies + Managers
Generate the lead nurturing emails
To properly create your email sequences there are two main things that you need to understand: what kind of emails are you going to send out and what’s the purpose of each email.
There are lots of ways you can go with your content creation. You can keep it simple by just generating articles and gated content, or you can go to the next level and mix video and audio content, as well as interactive events. Let’s breakdown the options you have at hand when it comes to crafting your inbound marketing strategy.
We have created four main categories for the types of content you can create:
- Case Studies
- Guest posts
- Q&As / AMAs
Content for interactive events:
- Research reports
Email sequence goals
In all honesty, just knowing what kind of content you can share with your audience is not necessarily helpful if you don’t also know what goals you need to attribute to each email. When generating your email nurturing strategy, there are four general goals that you need to keep in mind. We will go over them quickly and provide some examples for the list above, to better understand what content works for each goal.
- Identify a need
Use your gated content as a lead magnet, share best practices or tips and tricks with your audience to see what topics or formats they are most likely to respond positively to.
Here you could include eBooks, whitepapers, articles, infographics or interviews.
- Provide value
Start mentioning your brand and the value proposition of your solution, service or product. Help leads understand the benefits of working with or purchasing from your business. Some good examples of content that work well in this phase are articles, presentation, checklists, videos or worksheets.
- Establish authority
This is the step in the nurturing funnel where you put a grater emphasis on your company and your services. Try to do that with Q&A sessions, case studies, testimonials or announcements.
- Build trust and relationships
Leads that reach this stage in the funnel are the ones most likely to convert, that’s why the personal touch will make a huge difference. Plan webinars, meetups or live events, send out presentations, research reports, case studies or videos to reach your goals. If your business permits, here is where you would allow them to access a free trial of your product or where you would schedule a in-depth demo.
Of course, there are many ways you can go with your email lead nurturing strategy. It is just up to you to identify the best approach for your needs. But what you need to remember is those four steps. If you assist your lead all the way through the buying process with relevant and high-value content, your conversion rate is likely to increase.
If you found this article interesting, do not hesitate to subscribe to our newsletter. You can do that by going to our blog’s homepage and fill in your information.