Lead Nurturing—Without The Wait

Last week, a client shared some frustration over his team’s inability to consistently deliver leads that “satisfy” his sales leadership.

The specific sources of angst:
• The time lag that sometimes occurs between lead capture and hand-off to sales.
• Some leads lack the precise qualifications that sales is looking for (and those qualifications do sometimes change). In this case, as often happens, the biggest gripe is that sales prefers leads that have had multiple “touches,” including engagement with specific campaigns or messages.
• Qualification data about a particular lead says one thing, but things are slightly different when a salesperson gets that lead on the phone, so sales kicks the name back as unacceptable.

It’s easy enough to say this common set of challenges is solved by lead nurture campaigns. But, in reality, the solution is more nuanced than taking a standard multi-month nurture program and applying it to the lead qualification problem.
At Activate, we believe—and our clients’ results bear this out—that success in lead timeliness/quality requires programs that are geared toward increasing leads’ qualification level, while being customized to the unique requirements of a brand and its organizational dynamics.

Let me share one example from a recent program that had several nurture campaign qualities but also had elements highly tailored to this client.

Our client’s sales leadership had clearly defined expectations on content engagement that would meet their lead criteria. So the client was looking for recommendations on the best content to include in email messages; and how the leads’ engagement detail would be spelled out in the lead delivery.

There was a time constraint as well: The client needed the leads inside of two months, which made a traditional nurture campaign impractical.

Activate audited the brand content and selected assets to promote, then developed email messages for the client’s approval. We created a three-touch email campaign with a cadence of one email every two weeks.

In this instance, we developed a lead scoring model that assigned:
• 10 points for opening the email
• 20 points for downloading a gated asset
• 5 points for any additional indicators of behavioral intent, such as sharing a planned buying timeframe

We delivered biweekly reporting (on a predictable schedule following email delivery) and classified leads as:
Pending: those that had earned less than 10 points and would require additional nurturing
Engaged: those with 10 points or more who either get nurtured or might be contacted by sales; the decision is based on the marketing team’s judgment
Warmed: 25 points or more and ready for sales outreach

Here’s how this “Lead Boost” program addressed the issues raised in the recent client engagement I referenced at the beginning of this blog:

Lead velocity: Our tight-turnaround reporting means leads that reach “warmed” status defined in this program were ready to pass immediately to sales.

Correct qualifications: By strictly adhering to the point system and lead categories created for this program, the client had zero ambiguity about the state of their leads and a clear set of next steps for all three categories. This ensured marketing’s scoring and classifications were fully in sync with sales’ lead definitions—and that’s a critical consideration.

Disconnect between lead data and sales conversations: We provided detailed notes with the leads so sales followup would be closely aligned with the engagement that had occurred. This reinforces why data quality is so important in B2B lead generation.

Our efforts to boost demand-gen lead quality through rigorous qualification processes and data delivery are paying off for our clients. We expect more clients to adopt this approach, which I think of as having all the benefits of nurture, without the wait. I hope this example helps you solve the problem of delivering great quality leads that are in line with your sales force’s expectations.

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Imran Suleman

VP Marketing Strategy at Activate. Imran Suleman is an award winning marketing strategist who has helped companies of various sizes, with diverse digital goals, grow their businesses through innovative web and offline marketing, content strategy, conversion friendly design and engaging, educational copy. Imran has held leadership positions around customer and audience engagement, marketing strategy, and performance marketing with several organizations.

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