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How to power lead nurturing with automations

Automations help companies to implement lead nurturing strategies to connect effectively with customers in different stages of the lifecycle. Here’s how it works.

Personalising every interaction and conversation across the usually complicated sales cycle can be a daunting task for a business – and incredibly time consuming too.

Making sure you are sending relevant information to the right contacts, at the right time, can be a real challenge.

This is where automation can be massively helpful for sales and marketing teams; helping brands to streamline communications across various channels, to improve efficiency and drive sales. It stands to reason why marketing automation keeps growing at an astonishing rate, and the importance of lead nurturing is now as crucial as ever for businesses of all kinds and sizes.

 

What lead nurturing is all about

 

Lead nurturing, also known as drip marketing, is the process of developing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel and through every step of the customer journey.

Lead nurturing enables businesses to automate thoughtful communications, relevant to specific audiences – making it the most powerful element of a marketing automation system.

Research has found that companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost.

Automated workflows allow you to automate emails and SMS communications with ease to help you customise nurturing on a granular basis. This means your team doesn’t have to waste time repeatedly finding content for specific leads, remembering to send it out or manually chasing and following up.

 

Types of Campaigns

 

The different types of campaigns you can run with workflow automations can cover the length of the entire customer lifecycle – starting with initial awareness, through to loyalty and retention.

When automating communications to power the customer journey, think about creating campaigns with a specific goal in mind. Here’s a few of the most effective campaigns that brands and businesses run to nurture leads and move contacts through the funnel:

 

  • Campaigns to connect

As initial touch-point communications with your contacts, these campaigns provide great value and a starting point for building customer relationship.

A ‘welcome’ campaign is a typical example of automations to connect. Generally simple to automate, a welcome message serves as an opportunity to confirm to your leads they are on board with a specific product or service, and to remind them what they can expect from your company in order to spark interest.

Further campaigns to connect can help with top-of-mind brand awareness and prevent early-stage leads from falling off the radar. The content for this type of drip usually focuses on promoting value to the prospect, making use of interesting posts and information to keep them thinking about your brand.

These campaigns can also be planned for re-engaging leads that have shown no signs of activity for a while. Inactive leads can be targeted with new content to encourage them to re-enter the sales cycle and take action.

 

  • Campaigns to educate

As you connect with prospects and early-stage leads, your campaigns can help to trigger actions to identify more engaged leads that can be moved to a more product-focused path – then address them with campaigns dedicated to educating and nurturing.

The drips for educating prospects usually focus on highlighting product features and benefits to try and gain a competitive edge against other industry players. Customer testimonials, in-depth reviews and case studies can be powerful content at this stage.

 

  • Campaigns to close

Helping to drive sales to a close, these campaigns can be used for prospects in the middle of the funnel to reinforce why your product or service is the best choice.

One approach to consider for closing is to share promotions or special discounts that can help to create a sense of urgency and encourage purchase. This type of campaign can be useful for companies running trial schemes, to help prospects and hot leads to commit.

 

  • Campaigns to engage

Campaigns to engage are post-sale communications, essential for appropriate on-boarding and strengthening customer relationships right from the moment of purchase. Onboarding campaigns can involve useful resources such as training sessions, step-by-step user guides, FAQs.

Automating workflows to engage can be very effective to keep your customers informed about the product or service they acquired and how to make the most of it – keeping them engaged with your brand.

These workflows can also be automated to follow up on customer service queries and support tickets, providing an opportunity for feedback surveys.

At this stage, it’s also practical to segment customer lists to deploy drips designed to up-sell and/or cross-sell. For instance, these campaigns can be focused on the benefits of complementing a product with extra features or offer incentives for upgrading a plan.

 

  • Campaigns to retain

It’s very important not to neglect the final stages of the life cycle in order to keep your existing customers. These campaigns will be an essential part of your retention strategy; they can help to promote attachment to your brand and boost customer lifetime.

Campaigns designed to retain customers can involve loyalty schemes, customer referral programmes or other promotions to reward customers, as well as renewal campaigns.

Renewal drips are convenient reminders for your customers when it’s time for them to renew their subscription or contract.

A renewal campaign can be triggered weeks before the renewal date, followed by further automated reminders if no action takes place. This type of workflow is very effective for reducing the chances of customers missing renewals, while saving your service reps the hassle of a manual process.

 

Nurture leads on autopilot with Ibby

 

Automation workflows will help to align your marketing efforts and messages to ensure your leads receive relevant messages at the right time.

Ibby makes the process simple and smooth: you can create emails and text messages ahead of time and set them to launch automatically whenever a user completes a specific action.

One of the key factors in the process is choosing your contacts – also known as segmentation. Every contact in your database deserves a level of attention in order to circulate the sales funnel. So, the first step is to segment your contacts and determine who will get enrolled in your workflows, and when.

With Ibby, you can make the most of all the stored data from your contacts CRM to choose the right contacts and create targeted workflows with personalised content for different types of recipients.

When setting up your workflow, create a series of messages that can guide your contacts through your funnel and define your automatic triggers and actions. Your triggers will automate your communications and launch messages to contacts based on actions – these can range from visiting a webpage, opening or not opening your email, etc. Ibby also allows you to set waiting times for delayed or timed actions, and use decision branches for more intricate automations.

You can also automate tasks within your workflows, assign them to users and set auto-reminders to ensure your team stays on top of every action required to effectively follow up with contacts.

 

 

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Finding the balance between automation and human support

AI and automation keep infiltrating business areas, and customer service is no exception. But can you really afford to lose the human touch?

Customer service is experiencing a revolution, driven by the rise of mobile messaging, AI, machine learning and bots. Expectations are quickly shifting, and companies are being forced to rethink their practices.

Gartner has estimated that by 2020, 85% of customer interactions with a company will be handled without human involvement. In the meantime, chatbots are quickly spreading. Reportedly, 69% of consumers interact with a virtual assistant or chatbot at least once a month. Does this mean automation will completely take over customer support?

Perhaps it will, perhaps not. As messaging is on the rise as a channel for support, businesses are using automation to connect with customers in a more personalised way, while saving time and money. However, before deciding whether automation is the way forward, companies should really understand that it shouldn’t be just about covering the basics of customer support – but always aim for customer satisfaction.

With a plethora of reports online and research pieces analysing if robots are outperforming humans in customer service – it seems that we are sometimes missing the point:  Business is built on relationships.

Customer satisfaction largely comes from establishing good relationships – these relationships are essential to the success of every business. But without human interaction; there can be no relationship in the first place. As engaging as robots can be, customers still bond with people.

As engaging as robots can be, customers still bond with people. #CustomerService Click To Tweet

Indeed, as more and more consumers demand quick answers and seek self-help options, AI and machines are presenting viable solutions. A major point in favour of using chatbots is response time, because – unlike humans – bots can manage thousands of interactions simultaneously.

But just because we can automate something, doesn’t mean we should. The reality is that robots have their limitations too. Make a chatbot your primary customer touchpoint, and there will be a very limited number of queries he’ll be able to handle. If you truly value your customers, you have to ask yourself if it is worth the risk.

People expect quick service, but they also want their interactions to be (or at least feel) “human”. So, businesses should provide customers the option of whether to interact with a bot or a human – or a hybrid of both.

 

What does the future look like for customer service?

 

Machines are here to make things easier for both agents and customers; but humans must be present to step in when something goes wrong. Hence, the best solution for managing customer relationships would seem to draw from combining both; the efficiency of automation with human engagement.

The important thing for companies implementing automated processes is to recognise when a person should take over – and find the right balance of automation and human interaction for delivering the right customer treatment.

The role of automation is becoming paramount to deliver a seamless customer experience. While it cannot fully replace humans, it super-charges them; making it infinitely easier to attend multiple queries, deliver and respond more efficiently.

 

Mastering the art of automation

 

Automation can help businesses to save time and money, but when it’s not used thoughtfully it can end up hurting engagement and retention. How can you make sure your company is automating the right way and for the best?

Here’s a few things to factor in:

 

  • Automate where it makes sense

Think about the problems you’d like to solve and be selective about the areas where automation can be useful, for both your agents and your customers.

If you want to incorporate automation for customer service, consider implementing it for repetitive tasks and simple queries. When it comes to messaging, automation usually works well for responding to questions that are frequent and simple to answer; this helps to free up some valuable time for your agents to focus on more important tasks.

 

  • Contextual data makes the difference

Contextual data is incredibly important when automating communications with customers – in context lies the power to deliver personalised, relevant content. This is crucial, especially when as much as 83% of consumers now expect a personalised experience.

Customer profiles should feed into your content strategy to provide an understanding of each customer. Companies should integrate this data into automated processes such as drip campaigns and general marketing communications, in order to send the right message at the right time.

Whether it is an auto message in live chat or an automated response via email – a little bit of context to tailor your communication can go a long way in making the customer feel that it’s not just another machine-generated message.

 

  • Timely follow-ups

One of the best uses of automation is the power it gives sales and service agents to follow up with both prospects and customers.

Workflows allow you to automate parts of your business that are essential to marketing, sales and service. From customer messaging to internal processes, automation can help organisations to increase productivity, drive sales and boost customer engagement.

 

  • Automating internally

The ability to streamline internal processes with automations cannot be underestimated. In addition to running communications, with Ibby’s workflows you can automate lead scores, contact statuses, tasks for your team and more; to easily manage your data and stay on top of every action required to convert leads, up-sell and retain customers.

You can trigger notifications for your agents based on your contacts actions and generate tasks automatically for your team to follow up. The possibilities to drive productivity are endless.

 

  • Be receptive to feedback

It can take time and effort to find the right balance for automated processes, so it’s important to gather feedback from your customers. Make sure you take their opinions into account and make adjustments in order to keep your customers happy.

 

Wrapping up

 

Automating processes can help you to gain a competitive edge, just make sure you’re improving the experience for customers, rather than just looking to save time and money – as this could do more harm than good.

Human interactions are still your best shot for building a bond with customers and solving difficult issues. From now on, a hybrid approach that incorporates automation (or AI) with live agents will be the key to successfully manage customer relationships.

AI is on its way to become an indispensable tool for customer service. Predictions indicate that advances in AI and automation will enable agents to enhance efficiency and performance, so companies need to be ready to adapt to future expectations and new industry standards.

 

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