Nurture: Finding the Audience

Nurture: Finding the Audience

November 2021 | Digital Marketing

Are you adding enough engaged contacts to your nurtures to generate results? Personalisation is key to successful nurture, but only for the right audience.

Building the right nurture campaigns is an essential step towards marketing automation success. All too often marketers struggle to hit the right balance between too much nurture and too little. Anyone who under invests in nurture will be leaving leads on the table by not warming up contacts when they want to hear from you. Too many nurture emails can lead to customer frustration and unsubscribes. It's important to strike the right balance. That balance varies by brand and by solution.

As with any campaign, start with your audience. Are your nurtures aimed at disqualified leads? Or are they aimed at net new contacts collected from content syndication and social campaigns? These are different audiences. Start with cold prospects at the top of the funnel. You're going to see relatively low click through rates for these people because they have no history with your business. Then add in disqualified leads and existing customers at a suitable point part way through the campaign.

Telling the Story

The goal of any nurture is to identify which prospects are interested in becoming a lead. Consider how long it typically takes new contacts to become a sales ready lead, then set that as the length of the campaign. Depending on the length of your sales cycle, that is likely to be a 3 – 6 month process. Contacts are added to nurture when they show interest in your products or services. At this point, they'll only be at the top of the funnel.

Nurture is your best opportunity to take those new prospects and tell the story of your brand, and how it can help your customers in their personal or professional lives. Focus on everything you know about them, and tell the story most relevant to their immediate needs. You will already have some indication of their interests based on their persona, as well as any previous activity. In order to be added to a nurture, each contact must have responded to an earlier campaign. You're trying to send them a follow-up to the topic they're already researching.

Focus on nurturing your engaged prospects with the most relevant messaging, but avoid creating a separate nurture for every campaign. That just leads to duplication. It doesn't matter how good your content is or how good the leads are, email marketing is a numbers game. There's no point creating a nurture for less than 400 contacts. Average click-through rates for nurture emails are still roughly 1-2%. With small audiences you're simply not going to get enough opens or clicks to justify the investment.

The Right Volume

Personalisation is important, but it can't come at the expense of volume. That's why best practice is to centralise all nurtures into a single always-on workflow that every campaign feeds into. That allows you to get enough contacts in the campaign to justify interest based workstreams. Start generic and get gradually more personalised as contacts flow though the campaign. Automation is key here. The rules for deciding which content someone gets added to should be calculated automatically based on content with which the lead has recently engaged.

Make sure your nurture emails are not too content heavy. You're not sending a newsletter. Nurture emails are often too long and have too many call-to-actions. Keep it short and sweet. The optimum number of CTAs in a nurture email is 1. The entire email should be designed around that button, because people won't click the button if you make it difficult to find. It's better to have 6 emails with 1 CTA in a nurture, instead of 1 email with 6 CTAs. You'll get more clicks if each email is focused on a specific piece of content.

Beyond Email

Don't get too focused on email though. The best nurture campaigns are multi-channel these days. Your nurture will be focused on a digital journey that can be navigated on the web. Email is merely one tactic to drive people into that experience. Organic social, paid media and SEO should also be used to generate engagement with your nurtures.

All these channels are entry points for the online experience that acts as the centrepiece for the campaign. This could be a set of campaign landing pages, a dedicated content hub or a content experience built in a tool such as Uberflip or Pathfactory. The critical point is that each stage in the nurture is signposted. Consuming one asset should immediately lead you on to the next asset.

Prospects shouldn't have to wait for next week's email in order to continue the journey. Your nurture emails are simply a mechanism to re-engage contacts who didn't complete the nurture journey during their previous visit. You should be looking to serve up content on your audience's schedule rather than your schedule. You'll get much higher engagement that way.

The End Goal

Eventually, you'll see enough engagement to determine that a contact is showing intent to buy. That is the point to remove them from the campaign, and hand them over to sales. Remember that they'll be receiving other campaigns alongside the nurture, and to factor that activity into the scoring process used to measure readiness.

As for those who never reach the lead threshold, eventually they'll reach the end of the campaign. At that point, they'll have gone cold. Their lead score will have decayed to zero, but that doesn't mean they should be removed from your database. Reduce the frequency of communication and keep them informed using your regular campaign schedule. That may come back when they're ready to engage with you once again.

Banner Photo by Angel Origgi / Unsplash

Written by
Marketing Operations Consultant and Solutions Architect at CRMT Digital specialising in marketing technology architecture. Advisor on marketing effectiveness and martech optimisation.