Why is it that the things we know are good for us are so hard to start? Think exercise, eating right, starting that blog, taking risks. Research from Ascend2 shows marketers find marketing automation one of the most difficult tactics to execute, despite admitting that the more extensively they adopt it, the more success it brings. The “the first step is the hardest” seems to ring true here. The biggest stumbling block? The question, “What will I get for my efforts and how soon?”
Taking an agile approach to marketing may bring some clarity to this important ROI question. There are numerous ways of using marketing automation, all of which bring some business value, but to achieve the greatest results in the shortest amount of time with minimal effort, there are two clear winners: supporting abandoned shopping cart scenarios on B2C websites (for obvious reasons) and delivering topic-oriented lead nurturing on B2B websites (not as obvious).
Why topic-oriented lead nurturing? As 80 percent of leads are typically not sales ready upon their arrival on the site, the room for growth is huge. And not only is the size of the playing field promising, but so are the anticipated results, as on average, nurtured leads produce 20 percent more sales opportunities than non-nurtured leads.
Let’s take a look at we at Kentico made the most of these numbers and what problems we encountered along the way.
Topic-Oriented Lead Nurturing with Marketing Automation
Our goal was to boost engagement (and therefore sales-readiness) of leads by nurturing them with extra content relevant to their interests.
For basic segmentation, we divided our current website visitors into two groups; marketers and developers. We chose various pieces of content that would interest each group and added them to our marketing automation workflow, setting time delays between their automatic distribution.
As we normally target newcomers who have visited only a few pages of our website, we couldn’t really use profile scoring to automatically segment them into our marketing and developer groups. So we simply asked for their background in our initial email. Only 5 percent of people answered the question.
This prompted us to move the segmentation question one step earlier — to the trial download registration form (on which we expected a dip in conversion rate). This change encouraged more than 50 percent of people to disclose their background.
With our leads safely segmented, our workflow could begin. Each of the emails encouraged recipients to read more about the topic on our website, so the more relevant the topic, the more people found themselves on our website, which boosted engagement and trust. Each email also included topic-oriented testimonials and gently directed leads along the usual steps of a typical costumer journey.
Normally, the business impact of lead nurturing would be evaluated by comparing metrics from before and after its application. But by doing this, you invite time into the equation, and time can have a huge effect on your results. Not only can the market evolve, meaning your visitors are coming to you from a different environment, but you could be running new campaigns, displaying different content, promoting different elements, all of which could influence the results between “before” and “after.”
This is why when we tested lead nurturing on our site, we did so on 50 percent of people from one group -- those who downloaded the trial version of our software -- so we could compare metrics for nurtured leads and non-nurtured leads from the same environment and time period, to assure that the results could not be skewed by inconsistent factors. Even though the first few weeks showed positive results, we continued nurturing only half our leads and ran the test for six months to ensure accurate results:
- Average lead scoring points per contact: +169 percent
- Purchase page visit ratio: +15 percent
- Ratio of Marketing Qualified Leads: +19 percent
- Ratio of Sales Qualified Leads: +20 percent
The impressive growth in average lead scoring points per contact is caused by the fact that we score both email openings and clicks (although there is a limit to the overall number of points visitors can get with these activities). The second metric, purchase page visit ratio, shows the percentage increase in nurtured leads who visited the purchase page while exploring our site.
Nineteen percent growth in marketing qualified leads (MQL) shows an increase in desire for our offer as MQLs are defined by a combination of the number of lead scoring points they get for their engagement (activities on the website) and their fit to our business (BANT).
One step further in the buying process are sales qualified leads (SQL). In our case, these leads qualified based on the decision of our sales reps after their personal interaction with them. The correlation between the growth in MQLs and SQLs (+19 percent and +20 percent) proves the accuracy of our lead scoring system and the alignment of our efforts in sales and marketing. Double-digit growth of both metrics made everyone happy, from marketing to sales to management.
These numbers also confirm the DemandGen Report results cited at the beginning of this article. But similar results can only be expected if the following preconditions are met: sufficient amount of unique quality content and adequate number of leads generated by current marketing activities.
We’ve used the four metrics above for basic evaluation of our lead nurturing program, however in the longer term, there are five more that deserve attention: 9 Key Metrics to Evaluate Your Lead Nurturing.