Lead nurturing involves several activities and channels such as “under the hood” tracking and scoring of prospects behavior and engagement with your campaigns, as well as follow-up telephone at times whenever that tactic fits into an overall lead nurturing program.
However, the key channel for lead nurturing is email — particularly using email to send a series of relevant content pieces or offers to prospects as they move through the buying funnel.
In previous B2B Lead Roundtable Blog posts, I’ve offered a group of MarketingSherpa case studies based around a particular content area. Today, I’m going to highlight one case study — Email Marketing: 133% ROI for B2B’s first-ever lead nurturing program — on a lead nurturing program launched by Crowe Horwath, a public accounting and consulting firm.
Background on the campaign
Christine Elliot, Director of Content Strategy and Digital Marketing, Crowe Horwath, understood the value of lead nurturing to fill leaks in the sales funnel and improve ROI.
When she began working with the “performance group,” a business unit within the firm, Christine was pleased to learn that she didn’t need to pitch the value of launching an inaugural lead nurturing program.
The program was based around a 12 to the 18-month sales cycle and targeted C-suite executives and large financial institutions with at least $1 billion in assets.
Determining content for the program
The first stage was determining content for the program, in this case, based on four topic areas: Dodd-Frank, anti-money laundering, process improvement, and core systems. From there, the team mapped content to the early, mid, and late stages of the buying cycle.
In launching the lead nurturing program, the campaign began with a list of 4,000 executives who would receive a monthly email offer for a piece of content.
Email recipients had to download content from an invitation email even to enter the lead nurturing program.
After engaging and entering the program, list members no longer received invitation emails and instead began receiving one email every three weeks with an offer for free content.
The team had 12 pieces of content for each of the three buying stage tracks for a total of 48 pieces of content. The nurtured leads became sales-ready after downloading three pieces of content or just one piece of late-stage content.
How the team refined the campaign
Once the program launched, both Marketing and Sales met to review the newly nurtured leads and discuss how the program was performing. These meetings led to improvements to the program:
- Instead of filling out a lengthy form, prospects only had to answer a single question to download content. These questions even had the options of “none” and “other,” so prospects didn’t even have to provide any meaningful information, but according to Christine, most did. One question asked recipients if they preferred to receive email on a different topic — a question that might change the nurturing track they were currently on.
- Lead scoring was improved after the analysis of every person in the program. The team found out that factors impacting lead quality included: asset size, title, and behavior such as changing tracks, forwarding material, or downloading at least three pieces of content.
How the campaign performed
What were the results of this campaign?
- 33% of invited executives entered the program
- A 75% to 80% open rate for nurturing emails
This was the first automated nurturing program at Crowe Horwath, and it became a model the team uses to deploy similar programs across the company.
“Now we’re expanding all over the firm,” Christine concluded.
If you found this short excerpt of the case study, click through to read the entire case study with more detail on each step of the program.
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That’s a great open rate! Thanks for sharing these tips. I’ve written similar emails for one client in the interior design industry, and with the visuals from his gallery, it makes a lot of sense to share content this way with that kind of email layout.
Thanks for writing about our nurture program. We continue to evolve the program and are now focusing on mini-campaigns, a best practice we learned working with SiriusDecisions. Excited to start testing these campaigns, will keep you posted!
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