B2B Email: The Nature of Nurture
If you’re involved in B2B demand generation, the concept of lead nurturing should be old hat: migrating leads to a desired objective, most commonly conversion to sale.
With the proliferation of marketing automation tools, ABM, and AI, marketers now have a growing portfolio of options to evolve their nurturing initiatives. However, in a recent survey from Demand Gen Report of B2B marketing practitioners, 77% of respondents stated that their lead nurturing initiatives are either “average” or “need improvement.” Only 11% rated their campaigns as “excellent.”
What are the keys to improving results in a lead nurture campaign? To find out, we spoke to Camthuy Nguyen, Global Digital Marketing Demand Manager at VMware, to get her insights into how she’s running her nurture programs and what she’s learned.
Here are highlights from our conversation:
What kind of nurture programs are you managing?
My area of focus is what are called “maturation” programs. These are email communications that target people in a product trial or working through a Hands-on Lab, which provides users the opportunity to try the functionality of one of our products.
That’s a significant task. How did you start?
My first task was to audit the current state of these nurture email flows and understand the “anatomy” of the emails—performance, creative, content, targeting, utility, etc. That laid the foundation for recommendations and refinement. I documented everything I discovered.
How did you evaluate the current program?
Initially, it was an exercise of updating broken links, replacing outdated content, and ensuring integration with our marketing automation platform. However, after deeper assessment, it became clear there were even greater opportunities for improvement.
I found the emails to be confusing and overwhelming, with various copy blocks, disjointed messaging, and multiple CTAs. We needed a stronger foundation to build from, but I also knew that I could not boil the ocean. I needed to focus on what would move the needle the most and keep the project scope in check.
Most important was to keep the customer’s digital journey and globalization at the forefront of planning and execution.
How did you determine the resources you needed, and how did you engage stakeholders?
I identified 51 people that needed to be involved at some level. Education was a must to ensure all the stakeholders understood the value of the program, the measures of success, and what their role was. Eliminating confusion of stakeholder roles early in the process eliminates major problems and enables trust and support to quickly address any issues that require resolution.
How did you present your approach and the program’s value?
Providing context to all the program elements from a user experience perspective and clearly explaining the metrics that matter was very important.
I informed each stakeholder of the program, including the strategy, objectives, their role, and how the initiative would benefit them. Schedules are difficult to coordinate, but setting expectations early on and letting everyone know what was required from them saved time in the long run.
Critical to presenting my vision was data. Data drove decisions, provided the single source of truth, and justified specific recommendations.
You’ve heard the adage, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” The same holds true when selling a program to stakeholders who don’t have a full understanding of its value and how to measure success. If there was a debate on how we should execute the program, we incorporated A/B testing to determine the most responsive approach and to defuse debates about what would and wouldn’t work.
Did the various stakeholders have anything they all agreed to?
The common ground across all stakeholders was that everyone wanted to drive pipeline for their products. This is where getting consensus on quantifiable objectives—and what’s needed to meet those goals—was critical. Everyone had a role in success.
How did you report out to the various stakeholders?
The structure of reporting results varied depending on who I was presenting to. My executive team wants to see a top-level review of how the program has moved the needle, especially as to how it compares to what we were doing previously.
Stakeholders were most interested in the increased volume of leads and pipeline generated for their products, along with content engagement. However, when I report to the digital marketing team, I present a more detailed view of the data. I want to ensure that the marketing team can leverage what I’m learning for their efforts beyond nurture programs.
What’s your primary takeaway?
With digital marketing, you need to think through the entire experience and make it easy and seamless, regardless of the channel. It’s called a “journey” for a reason. As a marketer, it’s my job to help people along their path, to understand what they prefer, and proactively anticipate their behaviors and needs while continually striving to learn and improve.
For more expert insights on boosting email campaigns, check out our previous blog post about winning approaches to email marketing metrics, “The Email Marketing Measurement Challenge.”