When building out your content strategy, it helps to visualize the path a buyer takes from complete stranger to a raving promoter. By planning simple marketing workflows, you ensure that you're sending the right content to the right people at exactly the right time.
We’ve talked in the past about the buyer’s journey and its significance to inbound marketing––you need to produce content that’s relevant to prospects in each stage of their journey. Small teams can use simple workflows (and marketing automation systems) to streamline their inbound campaigns and nurture leads until they're ready to purchase.
What is a Marketing Workflow Anyway?
Instead of jumping right in with a heavy-handed sales pitch as soon as someone visits your site (the virtual equivalent of a car salesman pouncing as soon as you hit the car lot), plan out exactly which experience you want your visitors to have. Create a series of “touches” that warms a lead until they are ready to engage in the next step with your business.
This series of touches, also known as a workflow, begins with emails but can also include phone calls, snail mail, and social media outreach.
According to Salesforce, it takes 6-8 touches before a buyer makes a purchase. It’s these 6-8 touches that should create your workflow. Just make sure those touches make sense to the buyer and each add a little value along the way.
So, How do You Create a Marketing Workflow?
From the research gathered to build your personas, you more than likely heard a few recurring questions from your buyers. Make a list of those questions.
Those questions are perfect for your awareness-stage content. One or two could be blog posts, while one could be perfect for creating an ebook or other downloadable asset used to capture lead email addresses. (If one of these questions requires a more detailed answer than the others, it would probably make for a good ebook.)
That is your first step in the workflow.
Now, think about what action you want your visitors to take next. Now that you have their email address, you can send an email. We recommend creating emails (or touchpoints) in groups of three:
- Email 1 - offer something of value. Send a welcome email and an intro to your latest blog post (or a post that fits the needs of that persona).
- Email 2 - offer something of value. Send a checklist that might tie in with the ebook they downloaded or perhaps a fun infographic that persona would find useful.
- Email 3 - ask for something.
Now if you want to get hard-core (and your marketing system has the capability), add in some branching logic to really segment your engaged leads. The easiest way to plan this out is to create a tree-diagram based on the lead’s response to each of your touch points. I personally like doing this on paper first to simplify things.
… you get the idea, offer more useful information to move them further down the sales funnel. While this looks complex, you’re still only creating three emails at this point.
OK, actually four emails. Notice I added a little “break up” email there at the end of the logic. No sense in continuing to beat a dead horse (plus, you want your open rates to be as high as possible and the only way to do that is by nurturing the right leads). This is a simple text-only break up that gets right to the point:
"We’re sorry you don’t find our emails relevant and we certainly don’t want to keep sending them if you don’t want them. If you want to break up, just [click here] and we promise not to bother you anymore."
Setup the Workflows in Your Marketing Automation System
Once you have your workflow designed, content created, and emails written, it’s time to add everything into your marketing automation system. Load your content, create your emails, and then get started on building the workflow.
The hard part is planning out your workflow, so that part is DONE! We’re not going to go in-depth on actually building the workflow in your system because all systems are different. (If you use Hubspot, here is a handy link to a tutorial.)
Analyze and Adjust
Check your numbers in a couple of weeks (or a month, whatever amount of time allows for a decent test) to see if your workflow is working for you. Look at:
- Open rates - are people interested in the subject line and want to read more? Consider adjusting your subject lines, your “from” name, timing.
- Click-thru rates - are people interested in seeing more information from you? Does your copy need to be tweaked for more appeal? Is it clear?
- Undeliverable - is your list clean and updated?
Review these numbers periodically. Set the time frame and stick to it so you can compare numbers.
Other Workflow Examples
Workflows don’t only have to be used to follow up on an ebook download. The possibilities are endless. Use workflows to automate just about anything:
- Events - send registration confirmations, reminders, thank you emails, the day of event info (parking, room location), no-show emails, and even slides after the event.
- Send reminders to customers who abandoned their online shopping carts. These emails can remind shoppers that they didn’t complete an order (who knows… they may have thought they pushed “purchase”). If someone left something in there while they “think about it” you don’t want them to forget.
Workflows help automate all the stuff you know needs to happen. They make your job easier by tailoring content for specific segments, knowing you're sending them relevant information. You’re also saving your sales team time (plus workflows help shorten sales cycles).
Workflows also convert more leads into sales. Did you know that nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads? (Demand Gen Report, 2014)
Use your customized workflows to get your content out to people at the right time… when they’re engaged and when they’re looking for it. Your numbers (and your boss) will thank you!
If your team is considering implementing simple marketing workflows into your inbound marketing campaigns, or if you just need a little inspiration, we encourage you to download our ebook below. It's full of great tips and worksheets for getting your next campaign up and running.