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A Lead Nurturing Playbook for Product Launches

Part III of the Series: 10 Ways to Untangle Your Product Launch

A while ago I was playing a mens doubles tennis match against a duo that was collectively 150 pounds heavier than my partner and me. The points on our side of the net were won with a lot of running, tight angles, drop shots and finesse. The points on their side of the net were won with blistering forehands aimed right at our faces. I think I still have a mark on my forehead that says “ProPenn 4.”

At the end of the very close match–each set went to a tie break–one of their players said, “That was like a battle of the piano players versus the piano movers.”

That’s kind of like lead nurturing.

The reason the match was so close was that you need a little bit of both styles of play to win. You need to play fast and smart. You also need the brute force to make your competition eat some yellow felt once in a while.

When you are planning out your lead nurturing components for a product launch, you need a combination of piano players and piano movers.

Piano Players: Organizing Your Tactics

Successful nurturing campaigns require organization and planning. You want to get all of the piano players playing from the same sheet of music. Different companies have different lead nurturing responsibilities and assignments. Some companies have lead nurturing centralized under marketing. Other companies share the burden between marketing and several sales teams. Many companies choose to outsource their nurturing all together since it can be a specialized science–especially when it comes to moving those pianos, as we’ll see later. No matter what your company’s approach is to assigning lead nurturing responsibilities, you will still need to consider the following five elements when writing your score:

  1. Strategy
  2. Content
  3. Design Concerns
  4. Cadence
  5. Measurement

Strategy

The first step in any lead nurturing plan is to map out your strategy. Here are some questions to get you started.

  • What are the high-level goals you are hoping to achieve with nurturing in your product launch?
  • Do you simply want to drive new revenue with a plus-one product?
  • Are you hoping to educate your customers about your new developments to increase loyalty scores?
  • Do you want to increase your overall marketing ROI with automation?
  • Where does your target audience get their information (web, social, paid search, email, road shows, etc.) and how will you integrate those channels?
  • How much support will you get from individual reps?
  • How do leads flow through your marketing funnel, when do reps get involved, how do you score leads and what do you do with leads that are only halfway to qualified status?
  • What are the key performance indicators (KPIs) with which you will measure the success of your nurturing campaign? Once you establish these, it is very important to manage the expectations in your company. You may think that a 25% lead quality score is a home-run but perhaps your VP of sales thinks you should be at 50%.
  • Who is going to own the implementation plan?

Content

The good news with a product launch is that you are creating a lot of content already that can be reused for nurturing purposes. There is a lot of finesse in creating a good content plan. You want to create a nurturing flow that moves prospects through your buying cycle with compelling content. The content also needs to be matched up appropriately to each phase of that buying cycle. It’s a good time to take a look at your existing content to see if anything needs sprucing up or if you can repurpose for your new campaigns.

Here is a crib sheet of content you’ll want to consider in your plan:

  • Press releases to leverage as well as article pick-ups
  • Case studies
  • White papers
  • Blog links to email out
  • Newsletters, both yours and your partners
  • Podcasts and Vlogs
  • Postcards and other direct mail
  • Twitter, LinkedIn and RSS special features and offers
  • Telephone and message scripts
  • FAQs for other teams like support and services
  • Letters to customers form your CEO
  • Message sweeping scripts
  • Webinar design, scripting, recording and promotion
  • Pay-per-click ads, print advertising, radio, TV and others
  • Content packages for your resellers to use in their channels

Design Concerns

I use the 40/40/20 rule of thumb when it comes to design. That is, 40% of your response in any campaign piece is because you got the the list right. Another 40% is due to getting the right offer to that right list. The final 20% is from a well-designed piece. In other words, if you make the right offer to the right person at the right time, even an ugly and somewhat confusing piece will work 80% of the time. But 20% is a big number and boosting your response rates by 20% can be the difference between success and failure in any campaign.

Specific design rules are beyond the scope of this post, but there are specific best practices that will drive more conversions on your landing pages and get more emails opened by your prospects. Regardless of your open and conversion rates, your materials will also have a lasting impact on the perception of your company and products. You want to take the time to put your best foot forward.

Cadence

Cadence is on of our main five Enterprise Velocity disciplines. When it comes to lead nurturing, it is all about the processes and rhythms you want to establish with a prospect during your various buying cycles and educational flows. Here are some questions to ask your launch team to help you establish the right cadence:

  • How often will we be running webinars and other events?
  • What is our press release and analyst briefing schedule?
  • What is the right frequency for our autoresponder tracks?
  • When should a prospect move from marketing to sales?
  • How long will the campaign run? Will it be in place for the life of the product or is it seasonal? Will we be conducting a relaunch?
  • What are the buying signals that will trigger new nurturing and sales processes?

Measurement

At the very least you want to measure some of the basics like opens, clicks and unsubscribe rates. Access to deeper information will provide you with better insights into your pipeline. Better ROI tracking will help you in your next campaign. You will also be able to determine which actions should get a higher budget allocation during the next launch and which actions should be pruned.

All of these measurements will be easier if you have some piano movers involved (see below). You should consider which of the following metrics you want to track in your lead nurturing campaigns:

  • Visits, time on page, bounce rates
  • Landing page conversion rates
  • Lead sources, both online and offline
  • Opens, click-throughs, page views, referrals
  • Content popularity
  • Leads by status or rating
  • Lead quality percentage
  • Lead close rates
  • Total campaign revenue
  • Campaign ROI
  • Impact on social and brand

Piano Movers: Next Generation Marketing Automation

It’s great that you know how to play the piano; however, without a piano mover, there would be no piano to play. I’m talking about marketing automation. You need a system that is flexible and easy to use otherwise you won’t use it at all because the setup is too hard.

Note: The Boston Turner Group provides outsourced lead nurturing services for our clients that includes all of the following features. So what I’m going to write next is based on that experience and I promise it will be biased and focused on my particular view of marketing–just like all of the rest of my blog posts.

Here are the things you want out of your piano movers:

  • An automated lead nurturing, autoresponder or drip marketing campaign. You don’t want to have to touch your prospects individually with every response, you mostly want to set it and forget it until the prospect gives you an appropriate buying signal.
  • A system that will increase the number of leads you send on to sales with better qualification and better information
  • A measurement system that gives you analytics and reporting based on the KPIs that are important to you and your launch team
  • Integration from your nurturing tools directly into your CRM system
  • Lead scoring that is based on the actual behavior of your prospects (e.g., downloads, click-throughs, return visits, etc.)
  • Drag-and-drop workflow tools
  • Landing form code that can be directly integrated into your website content management system
  • Sales rep alerts based on real-time prospect interactions

Marketing Automation Toolsets

The specific nurturing toolsets we use with our clients include the following:

  1. Automation Workflows
  2. Email Nurturing
  3. Message Sweeping
  4. Direct Mail
  5. Landing Pages
  6. Lead Scoring
  7. Behavioral Tracking
  8. CRM Integration
  9. Sales Rep Alerts
  10. Lead Segmentation
  11. Reporting and Analytics

Automation Workflows

The whole point of automation is to move your prospects through your marketing funnel faster. We do this by triggering actions based on the behavior of a prospect. For example, let’s say someone responds to one of your emails, goes out to a landing page but doesn’t download your white paper. You may want to immediately send that person an email, then wait two days and send them a follow-up email. If they respond to your first email, you want to put them into another track with new offers before they get your second email. If they respond to your second email, you may want a sales rep to call them. Multiply this process by 2,000 prospects and already this basic workflow sounds pretty complicated.

We use our system to customize these workflows on the fly so that you can give your prospect the exact experience you want to based on their online behavior.

Email Nurturing

The key to good email nurturing automation is to give it the appearance of a one-to-one interaction. So, we set up our targeted messages to be sent on behalf of your sales or marketing reps and track the prospects’ interactions with your content online. If the prospect does something interesting (e.g., returns to your website, downloads a new whitepaper, etc.), the system is smart enough to send new emails based on their interests.

Because the emails are automated, it encourages interactions with your sales reps even while they are focused on other critical tasks–like closing big deals. The emails are sent over a specific period of time so that you can keep driving interactions until the prospect is ready to buy. Because the emails are triggered by the unique behavior of each prospect, you won’t risk abusing their marketing permission because each prospect will only get relevant content that matches their behavior, interest, lead score and demographics.

Message Sweeping

Our message sweeping program is simple. A sales rep or a top executive records a single message, which is then delivered to the voicemail boxes of hundreds, or even thousands, of prospects in a matter of hours. Sales reps can easily cover their entire territory, or even expand their territory, with message sweeping. And because they’re making better use of their time, they can generate more sales, service more customers, and earn more revenue.

Message sweeping is a cost-effective way for sales reps to stay in personal contact with each and every one of their customers and prospects. With message sweeping, fewer reps can cover larger territories much more easily than ever before. They can leave monthly messages about sales promotions, new product releases, or special pricing. Using guided voicemail regularly, they become recognizable personalities, thereby becoming top-of-mind when it comes time for a customer to buy.

Direct Mail

Without going into the specifics of how to create a direct mail campaign for lead nurturing–and believe me, I’m pretty opinionated on the topic–the main point I want to emphasize is that you need to integrate your offline and online tactics. You messaging platform for direct mail needs to align with the platforms of your website, email and phone tactics. Your mail needs to be coordinated by message, stage and schedule. We use unique landing pages to track behavior from offline campaigns so that you can then fire off marketing automation events. For example, let’s say a prospect likes one of your postcards and then clicks through to a special online offers. We can then add that prospect to our email automation tracks based on what the viewed or downloaded. And you and your sales reps don’t have to click a single mouse to get the nurturing track started for that prospect.

Landing Pages

Our process for tracking landing pages is very simple. In fact, it’s much simpler than designing the landing page. The design of a landing page is a special science dedicated to driving conversions and viral behavior. But thanks to our automation toolset, we can take your landing pages and integrate them into your online marketing campaigns. We add form code to your landing pages to track and capture new leads. Better yet, you don’t have to talk to anyone in your IT department or at your web host to pull it off.

Properly designed and tracked landing pages allow you to increase your responses and ask custom questions to better qualify your prospects and leads. The code we install allows us to recognize a returning visitor which enables us to tweak their nurturing track automatically. You can use your own imagery and templates with our system as well.

Lead Scoring

Automation allows you to score and prioritize your leads for your sales team based on specific profiles and interactions. Maybe a prospect gets more points for attending a trade show presentation than they do for visiting a landing page. Maybe they get more points for watching a demo than for reading a white paper. Whatever your criteria, you can maximize your sales performance by targeting the best profiled leads.

Behavioral Tracking

My thoughts on targeting prospects through behavioral tracking have evolved over time. I used to feel that it was a little “big brother,” to watch what my prospects are doing and then respond in real time. The truth is that behavioral tracking allows you to provide a better service and a better experience to your prospects.

Rather than fit everyone through a one-size-fits all funnel, you can provide the right information to the right people at the right time. I use our tools to gather key behavioral data on prospects by tracking which pages they visit, how much time they spend engaging with our content, which white papers they are downloading and more.

Behavioral tracking isn’t creepy at all. In fact, it makes your prospects feel special. One of my clients told me that a recently closed customer told them, “if you’re paying this much attention to me as a prospect, I can’t wait to see how you treat your customers.”

CRM Integration

If you’re going to all the trouble of setting up a piano mover system, you want to make sure it integrates into your CRM system. That way, you can effortlessly send qualified leads to sales or send unqualified leads back through your marketing teams and systems to track and educate them until they are ready to buy.

Also, you want to have a bidirectional flow of information so that your CRM system can educate your lead automation system and vice versa. All of this creates a much tighter alignment between sales and marketing.

Sales Rep Alerts

Occasionally something will happen along the course of your nurturing cycle that doesn’t require tracking in CRM but still requires action by a sales rep. Maybe your reps are working a “most wanted” list of prospects and want to get an email if anyone on that list takes an action. Maybe you have a time-sensitive offer and your sales reps want to engage as soon as a prospect clicks on a video link.

Immediate alerts to your sales reps will improve your contact rates because you know that the prospect is sitting at their computer when you get the alert. After all, they just downloaded your new white paper.

Lead Segmentation

An important aspect of your one-to-one nurturing campaign is being able to profile and segment your leads. You might create groups based on demographics such as industry, company size or number of locations. You might also create groups based on the behavioral criteria you established through your campaign.

This segmentation allows you to “speak their language.” Instead of sending a generic email, you can send a specific email about the topic they are the most interested in. Instead of leaving a generic voice mail, you can enter them into an industry-specific message sweeping campaign that allows you to focus on their particular terms and phrases.

Reporting and Analytics

The last–but potentially most valuable–benefit the piano movers bring is the ability to track your leads through their entire lifecycle. You want reports that let you monitor prospects in real-time. The types of things you want to track include:

  • Which campaigns are the most effective for revenue generation
  • Which campaigns contributed the most qualified leads
  • Which emails generated the most opens, clicks and forwards
  • What steps seem to deliver the best ROI
  • How are visitors interacting with your website after they respond to an email
  • Which leads have the shortest sales cycles

Better Product Launches with Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing is one of the most important aspects of your product launch. A good nurturing strategy can help you penetrate new markets with a tighter educational program. Good lead nurturing also lowers your acquisition costs through automation and by stopping leaks in your marketing funnel.

The next time we return to our product launch series, we’ll talk about branding considerations that can add velocity to your launch.

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Website: http://bostonturnergroup.com