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by Lauren Davis, Demand Generation & Marketing Operations Consultant
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New to Nurture: 5 Steps to Creating Your First Journey with Autopilot

Lead nurturing gives you, the marketer, the power to influence the journey a prospect or customer takes. It allows you to lead them down the path you want. But each customer is unique and different, so where do you begin with designing a nurture program?

Let’s walk through five easy steps on how to start nurturing with Autopilot.

Step 1. Define success

You’ve already made the decision to nurture, and chances are you did that with a goal in mind.

  • Do you want to increase conversion between free trial users and paying customers?
  • Do you want to increase the number of sales-ready leads?
  • Maybe you want to reduce the amount of cart abandonments.
  • Or maybe you just have a fairly large database you’re currently doing nothing with.

There are many possibilities, and no right or wrong place to start. But having a clear goal in mind will impact how you craft your journey.

Three common first nurtures to try:

  • Lifecycle nurture: This is often what most people think of when they hear the term “nurture.” Simply put, this journey is meant to lead cold, non-sales ready prospects down the funnel to turn them into warm, ready-to-talk leads.
  • Qualification: Capitalize on your warmest leads. Once someone has downloaded a piece of content or attended a webinar, it’s important to stay top of mind for these already engaged contacts. Continue to deliver relevant content and demonstrate value (i.e. why they should pay attention to you vs. everyone else in their inbox).
  • Trial: Studies show that 70% of free trial sign ups never log back in. Reach out to them through a nurture program that provides helpful tips, best practices, and support throughout the trial period. This way, contacts are more likely to engage with the product, and it won’t be out-of-the-blue when you reach out to have the conversion conversation.

For more ideas, check out our previous post: 10 Attention-Grabbing Lead Nurturing Strategies & Their KPIs.

Pro Tip: If you don’t have a goal that springs to mind, start by organizing your contacts. Chances are, once you see where everyone lies in the buyer’s journey, you’ll find a glaring opportunity to increase conversions at some stage in the funnel. 

Step 2. Determine the cadence

It’s a delicate balance. Reach out too often and you’ve annoyed a potential customer, don’t reach out enough and they’ve forgotten about you. The key here is to take advantage of the fact that you’re using an automation tool: use triggers.

Don’t just set up a campaign to go out once a week – adjust based on the prospects actions. After each touchpoint, ask yourself what happens if the contact engages and what happens if they don’t. This can vary based on where they are in the journey as well. If they engage, trigger the next touch sooner than those who did not. If a prospect is further down the funnel, reach out more often.

It’s just as important to back off if needed. Key metrics to track are unsubscribe rates and the actions that are relevant to the channel used (this could be clicks, form fills, email replies, or even purchases).

Pro Tip: According to our 2015 Marketing Automation Performance Report, staying in touch every 2-4 weeks generates twice as many leads, so if you’re looking for a general rule of thumb, start with every other week and adjust from there. 

Step 3. Compile the content

All too often, people want to promote their newest ebook or the latest blog post. It’s important to keep the audience and goal in mind when selecting content. (It’s okay if the content is a few months or even a year old, as long as it’s valuable.)

Remember, you want to lead these contacts down the funnel. A few questions to ask yourself:

1. Who is the target audience?

Is this group full of executives or end users? Maybe it makes more sense for you to target different verticals and use cases. Make sure you understand the audience of the nurture campaign – each group you may target cares about something different. You need to determine what they care about and why they should care about you.

You also want to find where your audience is and reach them there – if they’re in your product, on your site, on their phone, or in their inbox. Expand your thinking beyond email to multi-channel marketing.

2. How familiar is this segment with your brand, product and industry?

The answer to this question will help you determine how much educational content you need to include. If you’re unsure, a good starting point is the 4:1:1 approach – four educational pieces of content, followed by one soft offer and one hard offer.

3. Where do these leads currently sit in the buying process?

Needs change throughout the sales cycle. If a prospect is showing signs that they are ready to buy, you need to change your message to be action-oriented. Learn more about the content funnel in our earlier post, Build Trust With The Lead Nurturing Content Funnel.

Lead nurturing content funnel

4. What can you offer them of value that will cause them to engage?

Finally, everyone absorbs content differently. It’s just as important to have a good mix of assets – from videos to ebooks to infographics.

Step 4. Set it up

Now comes the easy part.

1. Log in to Autopilot. Go to the Journeys section, and click “New Journey.”

Start a new journey

2. You have the option to either start from a best practice template, or from scratch. There are tons of pre-built guides for you to peruse through, but there are two in particular for lifecycle nurturing. 

“Nurture your contacts with 4 emails” is a very simple drip campaign that allows you to lead contacts down the funnel with four emails that, when clicked, send a call to action to engage with sales.

Nurture your contacts

Pro Tip: If this is your first nurture program or if you’re lacking in the content area, this is a great place to start. Don’t overwhelm yourself with all the possibilities – start simple.

“Nurture leads into paying customers” is a nurture program with tracks based on where the contact is in the funnel. Great if you have lots of content or a longer, more in-depth sales cycle.

The Nurture Machine

3. Create your target segment you defined above to trigger the start of the journey. There are three ways you can do this: Smart Segments Trigger, List Trigger, or Time Trigger.

Marketing automation triggers

4. Add the lead nurture emails, headsup messages, or other communication you decided on in Step #3 and publish the journey!

Headsup message example

Need help crafting exciting emails? Check out some of our favorites.

Step 5. Monitor results and optimize

Nurture campaigns can take time. You may not see mind blowing results right away, and that’s okay. This will take longer than your typical sales cycle since you’re starting earlier, so be sure to take that into account.

Pay attention to these key metrics (and any others that apply to your business) when you dive into your results:

  • Open, click, and unsubscribe rates of nurtured leads
  • Monthly qualified leads created from nurture
  • New sales generated from nurtured leads
  • Average sale price of nurtured vs. non-nurtured leads
  • Average customer lifetime value of nurtured vs. non-nurtured customers

Research shows companies that automate lead nurturing typically see revenue results in 6-9 months. It’s about finding the eventual wins, not the right-now win.

Nurturing is more effective than batch & blast emails because it’s personalized. Each contact in your database can take a different journey based on who they are, what’s important to them and the actions they’ve taken. So continue to personalize – create some more journeys and build off of the solid foundation you’ve just set up.

Do you have any follow up questions about setting up your first nurture journey in Autopilot? Let us know in the comments.

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Author Lauren Davis, Demand Generation & Marketing Operations Consultant

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