Picture it: A small town outside Boston, MA early 2012.  (Yes, I’m channeling Sophia from the Golden Girls for those 90s sitcom addicted peers). A B2B technology company had just hired me to complete an audit of their lead generation efforts. They are strong users of SalesForce.com so the database was rich with information. Their prospective buyer contact repository was comprehensive and their value proposition strong. Yet, the sales/buying cycle was highly variable and difficult to predict.

The company has a strong outbound sales effort so there was no lack of contact with prospective buyers. However, there was very limited nurturing happening. Marketing promoted regular web seminars, and sales staff pushed for product demonstrations.  Both were effective tools, but something was missing.

With the support of the sales and marketing team, we took this opportunity to test a lead nurturing program. To keep things simple we divided the database into two segments. Those who had already seen a product demo, and those who had not. We created a 9-touch email campaign with a consistent theme and visual treatment, but unique offers and imagery. The emails were distributed about once every other week. We did some basic subject line testing, but nothing more sophisticated than that.

Before executing the campaign we talked to clients, partners and prospects to determine what types of assets they wanted to engage at various stages of the buying process. Anxious to get the program started we used existing assets for the first three email touches. In parallel we put our new insight to work building offers that were targeted to the various buyer stages.

Lastly, we held two workshops for the sales team on the merits of lead nurturing programs and how to integrate them into their outbound calling efforts. The first was run about three weeks before the program went live. The second was done two touches into the program.

The campaign is still in effect and there is much additional analysis to complete. However, the effort has already paid off in spades. After just 6 touches we already have some incredible feedback. The control group that did not participate in the nurture efforts took on average 104 days to move from demo to product evaluation. Those that were nurtured took only 66 days. That’s a 38 day savings!  In our world 38 days is a whole lot less cost of sale.

What’s more, those that were nurtured took only 40 days to go from product evaluation to technical selection. Compared to 56 days for those outside the program.  Those 16 days + the 38 we already saved adds up to some significant bottom line benefits!

I’m excited to continue to evolving this marketing effort now that we have some early wins to leverage.  In the interim, this case study reminds us that you really can jump right into the nurturing pool. With the best of intentions  we’re often tempted to map out a complex program that takes ages to implement and will make a huge splash.It’s easy to forget simple programs work, and may often be the best way to get started.