Lead nature or nurture: Is the perfect customer born or made?


We all know a perfect customer when we see them. They have a clear need for your product or service, are themselves aware of that need, and have the resources and authority to purchase your solution.

Converting a lead like this should be a doddle, right?

Alas, in this perfect storm of opportunity, there’s still a high chance of failure. Even perfect leads can be lured away by competitors, become distracted, or reprioritise their need for your solution. Indeed, online conversion rates can provide a sharp slap in the face when you realise that they top out at 10%, and are likely to be under 5% in all but the greatest success stories. So how do you ensure that you dedicate your time converting your hottest prospects, without sacrificing those that are still a little on the tepid side?

This is where lead nurturing and scoring technology come in play

Modern marketing automation solutions provide the ability to track and score website visitors and customers based on CRM information such as job title, industry type, company size etc (often referred to as intrinsic data), and behavioural information, such as web pages visited, emails opened/clicked, brochures downloaded etc (often referred to as extrinsic data).

Leads that don’t qualify as hot prospects can nonetheless be drip fed timely, targeted and relevant communications, triggered by either intrinsic or extrinsic factors (or a combination of the two), ensuring they’re kept on the boil until the time is right for them to buy.

So, what might a typical lead nurturing/scoring journey look like?

Let’s picture it as a flowchart, with our lead, John, being led along his very own custom customer journey.

Alongside each step, we can see how John’s lead score fluctuates as his sales readiness warms up/cools down. When his score meets the threshold of 50 (an arbitrary target that we’ve decided upon for this demonstration) he is passed to sales for them to close the deal.

Of course, in real life, this customer journey may be more complex, with your lead scoring model containing many more touch points and factors than those we’ve included above. So, what factors might you want to consider, remembering that a lead score can be either positive or negative?

I’ve included a few suggestions to get you started below

Positive Intrinsic Factors Positive Extrinsic Factors
  • Relevant industry
  • Opens/clicks emails
  • Senior job title e.g. Director, C-Suite
  • Drills down into product/service specific pages
  • Company turnover
  • Downloads online assets, such as price
  • High employee number
  • View videos
  • Right target market
  • X number of website visits over Y number of days
  • Budget
Negative Extrinsic Factors
  • Timeframe
  • Viewed jobs page
Negative Intrinsic Factors
  • Completed a transcation (reset score)
  • Generic email address e.g. Email contains "Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail" etc.
  • Viewed home page, but no other pages
  • Low seniority
  • Low employee number
  • Email not known
  • Job title not known

Once you’ve understood and documented your various triggers, scores, and touch points, you’ll be ready to start building your first “customer journey”. Most MA solutions will offer this to you in the format of a drag and drop interface (well, the half decent ones will, anyway), allowing you an almost infinite number of permutations. The below example, taken from kulea.ma, shows an actual journey from the previous use case.

A lead score is a fairly blunt instrument however- a number in isolation gives you very little understanding of the context from which it was derived.

This can be a little scary, especially if you’ve witnessed a screen grab from one of the larger enterprise solutions, but worry not, it’s perfectly acceptable to start small and build up. A simple welcome journey that includes an introduction to your company and services, followed up by a introductory promotion is an effective and easy way to get started.

Andrew Nicholson is the CMO & Co-founder of Kulea MA

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