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The Most Important Part of a Lead Nurturing Campaign

By John McTigueNov 26, 2012

lead nurturing emailIt's the content, right? No, it's the offer. No wait, it's the subject line of the email. How about the landing page or the CTAs? Hmmm, so what is the most important part of any lead nurturing campaign? Well, you were partially right. It's the subject line of the very first lead generation email that goes out and/or the text of the PPC ad or CTA that inaugurates the campaign. Let's dissect this and see why.

First Rule of Fishing

I'm no fisherman, but I would imagine that Rule No. 1 in fishing is to know your prey. You have to set your hook with the right bait and fish in the right hole, or you have zero chance of catching anything. The same is true in lead generation and lead nurturing. You have to get people into the campaign in the first place to have any shot at nurturing them. So the first attempt at luring them in is crucial. The first thing your audience sees is the key to having any success at all. What do people typically see first?

  • The subject line of your lead generation email that kicks off a campaign
  • The text of your PPC ad that kicks off a campaign
  • The message of your CTA that kicks off a campaign
  • Any combination of the above

Key Indicators of Success

  • Open rates and click-through rates on your first campaign email
  • Click-through rates on your PPC ad
  • Conversion rates on your CTA

So if you get a whopping 15 percent open rate and an 8 percent click through rate, is it time to rejoice? Well, those aren't bad numbers for email, but you're still missing 85 percent of your target at the outset. There's room for improvement. But how?

Always be Optimizing

There's a reason why 85 percent of your recipients or visitors failed to open or click through. Your job is to discover that reason and fix it. A smart approach is to assume that you're going to fail at the beginning of your campaign.

Email Campaign

Try your campaign out on several small subsets (a few hundred each) of your target list for email and try several different subject lines. Also test the content of the email, the description of your offer, any images you use, and the call to action to convert on your landing page. Now optimize your landing page with A/B testing on the headings, content, layout, graphics, form fields and conversion button. Analyze all of those things, and if you see dramatic differences in open rate, clicks and conversions, take the winners and combine them in some additional tests. Your final winning combination gets sent out to the bulk of your email list.

PPC Ads

Try the same approach by placing several different ads and A/B testing on their target landing pages. Be especially mindful of consistency between your ads and the landing pages, or you may have high clicks but low conversions.

CTAs

Your calls to action should always be A/B tested to find the right message, graphic and action button that converts at the highest rate. The same rules apply as in PPC ads. Don't send people to a landing page that doesn't deliver what the CTA offered, or they may lose interest permanently.

Following Through With Lead Nurturing

You're only in the first inning of the game with your initial offer, so don't let your leads down. Your entire campaign needs to be consistently excellent.

  • Make sure that the message is consistent throughout your campaign—remember who you are targeting and what they want
  • Make sure each ensuing offer is valuable and appropriate for the next stage of the sales funnel as you have designed them into your campaign
  • Optimize every lead nurturing email using what you've learned from the initial lead generation salvo
  • Optimize every landing page and CTA in a consistent way
  • Analyze results on the fly and make adjustments to the content if performance drops off at any given stage
  • Pay attention to the timing between communications—you may be oversaturating your targets with too much content

Many marketers make the mistake of assuming that marketing automation takes care of itself, but that's true only if you don't care about the results. If you are really trying to win, you realize that every email or visitor counts, and your communication with them does, as well. The beauty of marketing automation is that you can test every assumption and find the right combination of message, format and content that will turn your visitors into qualified leads and qualified leads into customers—but you have to be diligent to make that happen.

Photo credit: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Northeast

Creating Content for Marketing Automation

Additional Topics: Marketing Automation
The Author

John McTigue

With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. You can connect with John via LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus.
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