B2B lead nurturing sits at the nexus of a conflict between marketing and sales departments that’s been smoldering ever since marketers started sending salespeople leads. It goes something like this:
The sales team says: “Marketing doesn’t give us enough leads!”
The marketing team replies: “You’re not working the leads we’re giving you!”
You see, salespeople like fresh leads. I can see their point because they can be promising prospects – but older leads can be equally promising if they’re nurtured and cared for properly.
Think about it this way: Your sales team envisions leads as a lush rosebush filled with blooming flowers, not some small sapling only beginning its journey into flowering with revenue. They certainly don’t want some old plant that’s been so neglected it may never bloom again.
So your job is not only to generate leads, but to make sure you nurture each one to maximize revenue potential. New thinking around B2B lead nurturing best practices has provided clear avenues to help cultivate long term leads in automated ways.
Who to call next: Scoring your leads
If you could design a perfect process for generating leads and closing sales, you’d set it up so that your sales team knows exactly when a prospect is ripe for closing a deal. In that perfect world, you’d always be spending your precious time working only the best of leads – the ones closest to becoming a sale. But how do you know which leads those are?
Generating leads with direct mail or other channels is actually easy if you make your offer so enticing everyone will respond. But generating qualified leads? That’s the hard part.
To add even more complexity, lead status changes over time. Today’s low quality lead could easily become a strong one tomorrow. That’s because the business environment is a dynamic one. Priorities can shift. New decision makers are hired. Budgets are reallocated.
CRM systems make it easier to keep track of these changes, but you still need to somehow score your leads so you can focus on those ready to buy, yet continue to nurture the leads who may buy well into the future.
Lead scoring models: Dynamic up-to-date insights on lead quality
You have plenty of choices for deploying lead scoring software models and tools, which capture important data points so that you always have an accurate up-to-date score for each of your leads based on a variety of attributes
Some of these are relatively static. For example, portions of scoring models that account for industry, job title, and company size don’t change much.
Other attributes that incorporate behavioral data are far more dynamic. This aspect of your scoring model accounts for how leads interact (or don’t interact) with various touch points — for example, visits to your company’s pricing page or completing a form to respond to a direct mail pURL. The dynamic nature of this type of behavior demonstrates how valuable lead scoring models can be in accounting for sudden sales cycle changes so that you can take quickly advantage of them.
If you’re a salesperson, you know that great leads can suddenly sour and poor leads can become quickly become great leads, ripe for closing a deal.
So your goal is to make sure you know where each lead scores at any given time. That’s how you can focus your closing efforts on the best leads, while maintaining contact with companies that simply aren’t ready to buy now, but may likely be ready sometime in the future.
You can see how nurturing B2B leads is just as essential as generating leads. To assess these leads on an ongoing basis, you have a wide range of communication channels to choose from. Two of these include email and direct mail.
92% of millennials have had a purchasing decision influenced by direct mail. (Source: National Mortgage Professional Magazine)
Boosting B2B lead nurturing email performance with direct mail
Your leads come from a wide variety of sources. Some are based on offers you’ve sent to new potential prospects — for example to download a white paper or case study. Others may have visited your booth at a trade show. And still others could be those who just happen to call you because they’ve been researching solutions like yours.
Your CRM or Marketing Automation tools, such as HubSpot or Salesforce, makes it possible to manage these leads plus track key attributes such as industry sector, decision-making authority, company size, and more. Each communication with a prospect is documented so that you can assess interest level and likelihood of making a purchase decision sooner rather than later.
In recent years, email has been a primary communications channel for ongoing follow-up After all, email is relatively inexpensive and can be personalized to focus on specific attributes.
But more and more organizations are using direct mail because it adds a significant boost to email performance. It’s not necessarily an issue of “either/or,” as both can be used together to enhance the performance of each. In fact, direct mail sent in conjunction with email can be one powerful combination.
Here’s why: Think about the number of emails you get every day. According to the Harvard Business Review, the average employee in the US receives 120 emails per day, and spends 2.6 hours each day reading and replying to email. Simply scheduling a meeting can result in three emails — confirmations, reminders, and follow-ups. Indeed, today’s email inboxes are more crowded than ever.
But how many direct mail pieces do you get every day? Perhaps 10? Maybe 20? That’s why direct mail gets noticed and why it’s enjoying a resurgence as a preferred media choice. Even so-called “hip startups” are turning to direct mail as a go-to media for sales.
Reduce Direct Mail Fixed Costs Through Automation
Sure, email is inexpensive and with traditional direct mail, costs can quickly add up.
One reason is that direct mail must be printed and mailed, which until only very recently has meant high fixed costs that don’t vary based on quantity mailed. These include set-up fees for printing and mailing processes.
For example, if those fixed costs total $5,000, that amounts to $1 each for a mailing of 5,000 but only 10 cents each for a mailing of 50,000. That can be an obstacle to lead nurturing because these communications are usually executed in small quantities.
At Postalytics, we’ve made it easy to send small quantity mailings without worrying about high fixed fees. You can use the platform to send as few as one single direct mail piece at a time – yet still take advantage of cost efficiencies and highly sophisticated workflows that automate your mailings and lead nurturing processes.
And while most direct mail lead nurturing programs are designed to be sent on a regular basis to various segments of your database, we’ve customized lead nurturing even further – based not on workflows and your schedule, but on events that may be unpredictable.
These “event-triggered” direct mail programs have become both cost-effective and highly successful.
Event-triggered mailings: More meaningful and timely communications
Postalytics makes sending ongoing nurturing campaigns very easy, but one exceptional feature is the ability to send event-triggered mailings.
These are mailings that are automatically sent based on some action a prospect has taken. For example, you may want to send a prospect a piece of direct mail when they respond to a specific offer. The trigger can be a specific number of days after an initial or follow-up contact. Or it can be based on virtually any other trackable event.
Thanks to automation and the low cost of sending out even just one or two pieces of mail, there’s no need to worry about tracking these triggering events because Postalytics is easily integrated into your CRM, such as HubSpot or Salesforce.
One of our clients, Sigma — a data analytics company — uses event-triggered mailings as a key tactic for executing their marketing strategy. The company’s Chief Growth Officer, Gregg Sullivan, knows how powerful direct mail can be when it’s sent on a specific basis.
In a case study we published about the company’s marketing program, Mr. Sullivan said, “Sending out a stream of emails, just like every other company in our space, didn’t set us apart enough, at least to our standards.” He wanted to send a personal letter from the company’s CEO but thought they’d be “hand assembling them in a completely disconnected process.”
Fortunately, that’s not the case at all.
Sigma uses Postalytics to create high-quality letter templates that allow for highly personalized communication and use of a personal URL (pURL) to track response. The pURL links to a HubSpot landing page that offers the prospect a free data assessment, which is a key step along Sigma’s sales process.
For example, whenever a prospect downloads Sigma’s e-book on data-driven marketing, a personalized letter is automatically sent from the CEO. Even better, because Postalytics tracks the delivery status of each piece of mail, it’s easy to automatically send a synchronized email and a reminder to the appropriate account manager to call the prospect to schedule a data assessment.
The results have been impressive. Within 60 days of setting up this specific event-triggered direct mail program, the company doubled the number of free data assessments it scheduled.
Mr. Sullivan points out that direct mail synchronized with email and phone communications makes “a huge impact on conversions” and is planning other triggered campaigns to take full advantage of this multi-channel approach to nurturing B2B sales leads.
B2B Lead Nurturing Best Practices: Automated Direct Mail
Setting up a triggered direct mail B2B lead nurturing campaign can be really easy.
Here’s an example: Let’s say you use HubSpot as your CRM and want to automatically send a direct mail piece to anyone who has responded to one of your top-of-funnel marketing offers, yet has unsubscribed from your email list.
A prospect may have unsubscribed for many reasons (email overload being one of them) that have nothing to do with your brand. Relying on email alone means these prospects won’t likely see your mid-funnel content. Yet you can use direct mail to nurture these leads.
In this example, you can set up an automatically triggered direct mail piece that gets sent to those who unsubscribe from email. That mailing could be an oversized postcard with a powerful image and with a strong call to action to watch a demo video.
Simply follow these three steps:
Step 1: Create an oversized postcard template that appeals to your buyer persona
In this example, we’ve designed a 6×11-inch color postcard with a large image that leverages the “Eye Gaze” principal to connect on an emotional level with our target buyer persona.
Notice the large call to action “button,” which takes advantage of online behavioral conditioning that a button means taking action. You can also see the pURL “variable data insert”. This is replaced during printing with a live, personalized URL that will capture the recipient’s activity and instantly redirect them to the demo video page.
Also note that this design limits clutter and keeps the message simple. Think of a postcard as a billboard that centers around one key message, using plenty of white space to focus attention on the image, headline, and call to action.
When the template looks correct, you can run it through our online proofing tool. Click “Proof Template” and in about a minute you can review a high-resolution PDF proof including data inserted into personalized fields.
With the latest online direct mail template tools, you should be able to easily:
- Build persuasive creative
- Easily copy to create variants for A/B testing
- Use data from your CRM to add personalization
- Create digital proofs that leverage your data to create real PDF’s of your creative for review
Unlike traditional direct mail processes, there’s no need to export data, send files to a printer, or wait for a print technician to send you a proof.
Step 2: Build a Triggered Drip Campaign to send mail on demand.
After you’ve written, designed, and proofed your postcard template, click “New Campaign” under the Campaigns menu. Select “Triggered Drip Campaign” to kick off the easy-to-use wizard that sets up your campaign based on parameters you define.
First, you’ll select an integration. We’ll use HubSpot for this example, although the Zapier and Salesforce integrations work similarly.
You’ll be asked to:
- Name your campaign
- Enter the return address for your mailing
- Choose a template from your library.
Next, you’ll set up your personalized URL, identify the landing page you’ll be using, and a Conversion Goal URL (usually a thank you page)
Your Postalytics Triggered Drip campaign is now configured so you can integrate it into a HubSpot Workflow for B2B lead nurturing.
Step 3: Set up your HubSpot Workflow to trigger automated mailings
Once your Postalytics Triggered Drip campaign is set up, you can build it into a HubSpot Workflow. In this example, we’ve setup a workflow called “Unsubscribed But Active Leads”.
Your overall goal is to send your postcard to qualified leads who have unsubscribed from email, but remain active. But you’ll need to specify exactly which events and conditions trigger an automated mailing. In our example, these parameters might be defined as a lead meeting all four of these conditions:
- Just opted out of our Marketing Information and Sales One-to-One emails
- Still meet our criteria as a “Marketing Qualified Lead”
- Have completed a form to download our “Early Results Are In” report
- Have viewed our pricing page at least five times
You can see how easy it is to define these behaviors to precisely target leads even after they’ve opted out of email.
Now that the trigger is defined, simply “add an action” within your workflow by clicking the “Send direct mail with Postalytics” button in your integrations.
You’ll be prompted to choose the campaign we’ve just set up, called “Top Of The Funnel Unsubscribes” and map your HubSpot Contact fields to the corresponding Postalytics Contact fields.
Now you can send test contacts to Postalytics. Keeping your HubSpot Workflow in “Off” mode and your Postalytics Triggered Drip campaign in “Test Mode,” you can review PDF proofs of how your mailing will appear — no need to waste time and money producing actual mailings to review.
When all looks good, set your HubSpot Workflow to “On” and your Postalytics Triggered Drip campaign to “Live Mode.”
Now you’re off the races! Postcards will be sent automatically to reach key audience segments through direct mail — a channel far less crowded than email. And you can take advantage of powerful response monitoring and reporting in Postalytics so you’ll know exactly who responds to your mailer, and access details about their online behavior.
Nurture B2B leads automatically, inexpensively, and with a personalized touch
You can see that automation can help you nurture leads far more efficiently and with a high degree of personalization that fully leverages your investment in generating B2B leads, yet also offers a cost-effective way to stay in touch with prospects.
Your sales team will appreciate the opportunity to follow up with highly qualified leads far more often. You’ll appreciate the extra dash of personalization that adds value to your brand and takes full advantage of your CRM.
As Sigma’s Sullivan points out, “Postalytics has changed the way that we use HubSpot. We focus on our highest value targets with triggered direct mail. It drives great response, and we’ve even gotten compliments for sending personal letters to new leads.”
To learn more about event-triggered direct mail — and other ways to nurture B2B leads: