5 Ways to Segment Your Lead Nurturing Campaign

Relevancy is one of the key factors in generating a consistent response from your lead nurturing emails: the more relevant your message to the reader’s job function, industry, interests, and stage in the selling cycle, the more likely he/she will be to respond

The primary means of increasing relevancy is by utilizing segmentation, i.e. segmenting your list and tailoring your message accordingly. Segmentation needn’t translate into 7 different versions of every email, however, or writing radically different copy from one version to the next. Sometimes all it takes is a few words in an opening paragraph to tailor an email to a different industry, or job title, or lead source.

Most marketing automation platforms make it a simple task to “clone” emails and landing pages, and create variations on the fly. Take advantage of it. Here are 5 ways to consider segmenting your campaign:

1. Lead source. A trade show lead is likely to be at a different stage in the selling cycle compared to someone who registers for a Webinar. If that trade show lead is simply the result of uploading a show attendee list, the reader may not even know why he or she is hearing from your company. Don’t dump all inbound leads into the same bucket. Vary your message at least in part based on how they came to you.

2. Job function. Your product may be one for which the primary benefits are the same regardless of job title. Or 90 percent of your leads may fit the same profile: IT professionals, say, or Web developers. However, if inbound leads represent a mix of job functions, and your product means something very different to a CFO compared to his/her colleague in IT, your emails should reflect those differences.

3. Industry. Verticals are often the first place marketers look when segmenting a lead nurturing program, but sometimes that priority is misguided. Business contacts can be more receptive to generic messages and even success stories from other industries than we think. This is one example where content can drive segmentation. A new, industry-specific case study can make tailoring emails to that sector worthwhile. Otherwise, there’s likely more to gain by focusing on variations based on job function and other criteria.

4. Product interest. If your product line is fairly homogeneous, this won’t be an issue. For some companies, however, knowing the prospect’s primary area of interest will be critical to delivering a relevant message. The challenge is identifying that interest early in the process. One method is to look at prospect behavior, such as which Web pages he/she visited. Another is to utilize progressive profiling: asking incremental qualifying questions as part of the nurturing process.

A tip: pose questions in a manner that implies the answer is a benefit to the reader, for example: “Help us send you more relevant information by identifying your primary areas of interest from the list below.”

5. Activity. It’s tempting to want your lead nurturing program to magically guide the prospect seamlessly through the sales cycle. But even with the most sophisticated marketing automation technology at hand, doing so can be a tall order. That’s because it’s often difficult to identify a precise sales stage based simply on prospect behavior. Does a Webinar registration imply more interest than a white paper download? Perhaps, but maybe not.

A simpler, and more realistic way to leverage prospect behavior is to segment emails based on activity, or lack thereof. Consider segmenting emails based on prospects who opened one or more of your emails in the last 3 months, versus those who didn’t. For a new white paper, tailor a specific message to prospects who registered for a Webinar on a similar topic. Create a separate track to prospects who haven’t visited your Website in 6 months. And so on.

Beware the temptation to segment your list and your lead nurturing program on every conceivable variable starting on Day One. You’ll have more success in the long term if you segment on only the most critical factors at first, and then add further tracks as the program develops and you learn what works.

Excerpted from the Spear Marketing white paper: “Top 10 Tips for Lead Nurturing Success (How to get the most from your lead nurturing program, and how to plan for success if you’re just getting started)”. To download your free copy, click here.


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