Monday, August 08, 2011

Measuring the Impact of Lead Nurturing: 3 Methods You Can Use

One of the things that I love most about my role is when I'm able to visit customers and participate in a customer user group. This past week I was down in Atlanta for the Eloqua All About Revenue Success Tour and I led a breakout session on the different ways that companies measure the success of lead nurturing. Why is this so important? If nurturing is improving the number of overall leads that your marketing team is generating then everything is good, right? Wrong! Companies that are investing in marketing automation should be demonstrating to their managers, the sales team and company executives the role that technology, specifically nurturing, has played in helping the company achieve its business objectives. This of course goes well beyond technology and encompasses all of the time and effort put in to put these campaigns together. Here is a summary of three main ways that marketers are measuring the impact of their nurturing campaigns:

  1. Email Response. Most marketers who have been using lead nurturing were able to see improved open and click-through rates and lower hard bounces and unsubscribes as compared to regular batch and blast campaigns. Others broke this down even further by examining email response by region as an example. A few looked at which emails within the nurturing campaign had better response. This is definitely important to better understand which messages are resonating and which aren't and the optimal frequency to send these emails.

  2. Compare Against Benchmarks. Another approach that was discussed was to compare certain marketing metrics after nurturing was initiated to the same metrics before the nurturing campaigns begun. Companies can compare email response, conversions, leads, total revenue generated, pipeline growth, average deal size and the velocity of movement through the funnel from one period to another if they have the benchmarks to compare to.

  3. Measuring the True Influence of Nurturing. The more advanced marketing teams are able to understand specifically how many leads and qualified leads (MQLs), pipeline and closed deals were specifically influenced by lead nurturing. To do this, marketers are adding lead nurturing campaign responders to a Campaign object in the CRM. Reports can be generated that exhibit all of the campaigns that contributed to producing an opportunity and eventually a closed deal.

    To make this work, marketing needs to create a process that ensures that this campaign association is occurring and needs to create campaign influence reports. Depending on the complexity of your process and the type of technology that you have access to, these types of reports can be challenging to generate. However, if you're able to tell your boss, the CMO and head of sales that 50% of the qualified leads generated in the last 6 months had been through lead nurturing and that lead nurturing influenced 20% of the pipeline in the last quarter, you're able to better argue your case for investing time and resources in additional marketing automation and content creation initiatives. There is no question that lead nurturing takes some up front planning and time. You need to prove that it's worth it and third party reports have clearly demonstrated the success of lead nurturing. Eloqua just produced a simple chart showing that the best in class companies that are doing the most automation have the highest amount of leads produced.
My advice and a theme from the user group last week is to start slowly. Follow the concept of crawl, walk, run and don't mix up the order! In this case, focus on one aspect of lead nurturing and get moving with that. As an example, choose a certain segment to nurture to. This may be a specific vertical, region or job role your focusing on. That way you don't need all of the content at once and you can build out the campaign and still get your other work done. As you get more comfortable and start to demonstrate some results, focus on how you can optimize the process and improve how you measure the impact of your campaigns. 

Let me know if you have any other metrics you use to measure the impact of lead nurturing.

Chad H.

PS - here are two good resources that can help you today:
  • Webinar on lead nurturing: Automating the Buyer's Journey . This is a case study that is really a story about the evolution of marketing automation at NetApp. The story is told by Erin Rampey and there are some great tips that you can take away from this presentation
  • The Grande Guide To Lead Nurturing: All you ever wanted to know about lead nurturingGuide To Lead Nurturing

Friday, May 06, 2011

5 Tips to Improve Email Response

long-email-thumb-180x180Are your recipients not responding to your emails? This is a topic that I’m sure hits home with many of you. You work hard on getting an email campaign together, you send it out and then you find that the results were not what you were hoping they would be. I originally responded to a discussion on Focus called What strategies can you recommend for enhancing performance of email marketing campaigns? that covered this topic. The first few answers included suggestions such as good subject lines and ensuring that the emails are relevant to the recipient. I want to expand on this and provide five tips of my own that can help you improve your email response.
  • Content: The better and more relevant the content in your emails, the better the response. This may seem obvious but you would be surprised how often this gets overlooked. A recent customer of mine found that video and case studies outperformed white papers. Have you reviewed what content is working and what isn't? This should be done regularly. The type of content should also be tied to the stage of the buyer's journey that the recipient is currently in.
  • The Message: Does the message in your email provide an educational, thought leadership type approach or is it simply all about your company? Always put yourself in the shoes of the email recipient and think about what would convince them to open and respond to your email. It's the "what's in it for me" factor. Focus on your recipient's pain points and how to solve those and less on the benefits of your product or service. In addition, don't bore the reader with too much content. Keep it short, sweet and to the point. The point of email is to get someone to take the next step - focus on that.
  • Personalization: I'm not talking about "Dear so and so". Real personalization has the email coming from the Account Manager, Support representative or sales rep that has or will interact with the email recipient. By automating this process and having the email come from a real person, you can increase your email response 4X. There are some tricks here as well as to when to use this type of personalization and it may not be appropriate in some situations. As a standard rule, if a relationship has been established or you’re looking at a way of establishing a relationship, use this approach. This is a feature that you would typically find with a marketing automation tool.
  • Email Deliverability: This is an area that is difficult to consume as it's not tangible but it can make or break the success of your email campaigns. Ask yourself: Is your email list clean? Having a messy list can lead to spam complaints, hard bouncebacks, "unknowns" (non-responders), and spam traps. All of these factors can reduce your email reputation and prevent your emails from landing in the inboxes of the people that are keen to get your emails. You need to ensure that you know what your Sender Score is, if the emails you send have authentication, if you are receiving spam complaints, and the if you are hitting spam traps. Your email/marketing automation provider should be able to assist here. As a first step, I recommend checking out this guide on Email Deliverability and Privacy.
  • Test: - I hate this one as everyone always says “test, test. test” but I can't stress how important it is. If you don't believe me, have a look at a few examples over at You'll see that you never know what will work better unless you test it. Here is a great one that Sonic Foundry did on testing their subject line: Long vs. Short Email Subject Line Test.
I hope these short and sweet tips were helpful. I know it;s hard sometimes to look in the rear view mirror and examine the success of your campaigns but you need to do it. Look at a few of your low performing emails with the tips above in mind and think about questions you may have and what you can do to make improvements. Small changes to your emails can generate higher conversions and result in a higher impact further down the sales/marketing funnel. What you decide to do is in your hands.

Chad H
PS: If you have examples of your emails, I would be happy to have a look at them.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

So You Think You Know Marketing Automation

If you've recently rolled out marketing automation or are considering it, have a look at this two part series that was orginally published on the "It's All About Revenue" blog:

So You Think You Know Marketing Automation Part I

Have you recently rolled out a marketing automation platform like Eloqua, have you been using one for awhile, or are you considering one in the near future? Welcome to the party! It’s easy to think that once you have the basics configured you can set your platform on autopilot, concentrate on executing campaigns, and see the leads roll in. Of course, there’s this thing called “reality”... Read more

So You Think You Know Marketing Automation Part II

So you think you may know marketing automation, but in part I of this post we only started to outline the many different areas you need to consider. Configuring your marketing automation platform, then letting it collect dust is a risky strategy. There are too many environmental factors affecting your marketing strategy that you need to consider. Marketing automation provides the tools to adapt to changes occurring around you – it’s up to you to step up to the plate or be left behind. Read more

Feel free to ask me questions.




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