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9 Steps to an Awesome Lead Nurturing Workflow

9 Steps to an Awesome Lead Nurturing Workflow

April 9, 2019

By Molly Rigatti

Inbound marketing doesn’t stop when a visitor clicks a call to action and fills out a form. In fact, that’s just the beginning. If you haven’t been implementing lead nurturing into your inbound plan, you may be missing out on engaging the 96 percent of your website visitors who aren’t ready to buy.

Let’s aim for higher conversion rates and increased engagement by rolling up our sleeves, adding some awesome lead nurturing workflows, and really making a connection via email.

Step 1: Have a Solid Understanding of Your Sales Cycle

It can be easy to make one workflow of lead nurturing messages apply to all of your conversions. However, for your lead nurturing to be effective, you need to understand where your leads are in your sales cycle, or their Buyer’s Journey, and what paint points they have expressed. This sets the stage for determining what your communication workflow will offer. Remember, your leads will typically fall into the following groups:

  • Attract
  • Convert
  • Close
  • Delight

Each part of the cycle offers an opportunity to provide helpful content that continues to engage and move your leads toward becoming customers. To best understand your company’s sales cycle, you need to know how your leads think so you can offer the right content at the right time in the buying process. (Learn more about the most common bottlenecks in the Buyer’s Journey and what you can do about them here.)

Step 2: Determine Which Persona You’re Targeting

Ah, buyer personas. The foundation of inbound marketing. Before you can create a single email or your next content offer, you must know what specific audience you are targeting. Mother Mary shouldn’t receive Brother Brad’s emails. It just doesn’t work that way in inbound marketing. Your website visitors and leads expect more. Truly understanding your personas will help you better craft your lead nurturing from email subject lines, landing page copy, e-book titles, and more, so your content genuinely resonates with the right people. Remember: that you shouldn’t make assumptions about your personas. Your lead nurturing content—and all content for that matter—should be made based on research and known facts.

Working on building relationships with your personas? Download "The Lead  Nurturing Campaign Planning Workbook".


Step 3: Set Goals for the Campaign

If your goal for setting up a lead nurturing campaign is more leads, try to get a bit more specific. If you’ve taken a leadership course, you may have heard of SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. These apply to inbound marketing, too. Having specific goals that are tied to your sales process and targeted personas will help you create content that aligns with these goals and improves your reporting on how the lead nurturing campaign is performing.

Try this formula for creating more targeted goals for your lead nurturing campaign:

“Increase number of ____ converted to ____ by ___ percent over ___ months.”

Here are some ideas you can use to build your own SMART goals for your lead nurturing:

  • Increase number of leads moved from the awareness stage to the consideration stage by 10 percent month over month
  • Increase number of MQLs converted to SQLs by 20 percent over the next three months
  • Re-engage 50 percent of leads that fell to the wayside or were unqualified this year

Step 4: Map Your Content

Mapping your content involves:

  • Finding logical pathways your leads take through the Buyer’s Journey from first touch to purchase
  • Determining which content pieces will move the lead through the sales process by answering common questions and objections
  • Taking inventory of what content you need to create in order to fill the gaps
  • Adjusting your content for a specific buyer persona

(If you need help mapping your content, here’s a template.)

Step 5: Write Lead Nurturing Messages Using the Best Practices

While you map content for the persona you are targeting, make sure you take note of how your personas like to communicate. Do they prefer emails, phone calls, or text messages?

Most commonly, marketers use email campaigns to drive their lead nurturing workflows. An email campaign is not intended to bombard your lead with tons and tons of emails so she has to remember you. Instead, be intentional. Consider your message and goals and decide from there how many messages you need to deliver to get all of the relevant information to your lead. We recommend that you don’t use more than eight emails. Consider these best practices for your email campaign.

Step 6: Build Your Lead Nurturing Workflow

Determine what action will trigger your lead nurturing automation to start. Maybe you want to enroll all Mother Mary MQLs from a list. Maybe you want to enroll all people who download a specific piece of content. Maybe you want to enroll leads who have visited your pricing page multiple times in the past month.

Once you’ve defined this trigger event, you’re ready to build out the actual automation part of your communication flow. If you’re using a tool like HubSpot or Marketo, this is pretty easy. Once you’ve created your list or form to trigger the workflow, write your emails and save them for automation. From there, you can go to your automation tool to set up the rules. You can add logic for delays between messages, update contact properties based on engagement, skip emails based on your contacts’ behavior, and more. For a more in-depth tutorial, download The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing Automation & HubSpot Workflows.

Step 7: Test the Campaign Before Launching

It never hurts to have a second, third, or fourth set of eyes when sending out a campaign to your customers. Double-check all links and CTAs, personalization tokens, spelling, and grammar. Follow the flow of your communication to make sure your message is clear from one step to the next. Depending on the system you use to build your lead nurturing campaigns, you can enroll a test contact to see how your logic performs or send test emails to see how they appear in different email platforms.

Step 8: Make the Workflow Live and Start Collecting Data

It’s live! And now it’s collecting data, which we really, really like.

Step 9: Analyze the Results and Tweak Emails Accordingly

How is your campaign doing? Is it reaching those goals we set in Step 3? Let’s analyze the data:

  • Click-through rate (at least 5 percent)
  • Conversion rate for each landing page
  • Unsubscribe rate (less than 1 percent)
  • Goal completions

From here, you can tweak your campaign, if needed. Common adjustments are:

  • Subject line
  • Copy/body of email
  • Offer
  • Frequency
  • Value proposition

Remember: It’s important to view lead nurturing as more than just what your website provides. The first download is an invitation to a conversation about how you can be the solution to the lead’s challenge. It’s up to you to make some awesome workflows to prove it.


Nurture your leads through the pipeline with:

The Lead Nurturing Campaign Planning Workbook

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Topics: Content Marketing, Inbound Marketing, Email Marketing, Lead Nurturing