3 User Experience Frameworks for Creating Better Websites & Apps

Originally published on Clutch.co – May 11, 2017

Apps and websites that are intuitive and engaging have always outshined those that are clunky and confusing. These days, however, consumers expect better experiences from their digital productsthan ever before.

Therefore, it’s the ideal time to prioritize user experience (UX) design because brands that leverage exceptional UX will beat those that try to compete on the basis of price or functionality alone.

If you’re a business that personally maintains its digital presence, you simply can’t afford to neglect your website or app’s UX. And if you’re a freelancer or an agency, it’s essential to convince your clients to understand and buy into the importance of UX as a fundamental tenet of the design process.

It’s often said that good design becomes invisible. If so, how do we wrap our heads around designing a good user experience when the nature of UX itself seems ephemeral, to begin with?

Thankfully, UX researchers and designers have been tackling this question for a while now — since at least the 1980s, when it was called Human-Computer Interaction. So, while the task can be tricky, we have some resources at our disposal.

In this article, I will share three specific frameworks to guide UX design discussions for websites and mobile apps and recommend when you should use each.

By the time you finish reading, I hope you feel empowered with the tools needed to champion the user as the central element of your clients’ or your digital assets.

What UX Isn’t

Before we get to the frameworks, let’s start by achieving some clarity on what UX is all about, in case you’re new to the term or find the concept a bit murky.

Since UX often gets lumped in with many other fields, and there are many misconceptions about it,we’ll first talk about what UX isn’t before we discuss what it actually is.

UX is not UI

The user interface (UI) describes the aesthetic design of the elements of a product with which a user interacts. In the context of digital products, this is the “skin” of the interface, and the part most affected by graphic design trends.

For example, apps on early iPhones used skeuomorphic design, where elements resemble their real world counterparts.

Design on iPhones where elements resemble real-world counterparts

Apple then moved to a flat design around 2012, where elements were pared down to simple 2D shapes.

Example of flat design on iPhone

Now, we’re beginning to enter an era that could be called “Flat 2.0,” where we’re adding shadows, subtle gradients, and more sophisticated animations to the original flat style.

Example of flat 2.0 design on iPhone

Beyond contributing to the visual appeal of digital products, the differences among these styles don’t necessarily have a large impact on the user experience.

You easily can imagine a beautiful, sleek-looking interface that’s confusing to navigate, buggy, and lacking any guidance about what elements are or what they do. Conversely, you can just as easily conceive of a dull, visually boring UI that’s intuitive, easy to navigate, and always works as expected.

That’s the difference between UI and UX.

UX Is Not Just About Wireframes

Wireframes – the gray scale representations of the general layout of a website or an app – are a common deliverable of the UX design process and are an essential tool in bridging the gap between the core responsibilities of UX and UI designers. However, the wireframes are not the entirety of UX design, even though people often conflate the two.

wireframes

One reason why wireframes and UX design get mixed together is that many professionals claim to do both UX and UI design. This isn’t automatically a problem, since it’s completely feasible for one individual to handle both duties.

Unfortunately, many graphic designers simply add a few wireframes to their portfolios and claim to be UX designers when they don’t actually have experience in this field.

Granted, you don’t need to be a professional UX designer to work on the UX of your website or mobile app, but you need to know that there’s more to it than that.

Another reason for the focus on wireframes is that they are tangible; we understand what they’re for. It’s easy to look at one and say, “Oh, the image goes here, the logo goes there, here’s block of text, and … okay, the navigation pulls out from the side. Cool!”

However, there’s a lot of research and psychology hidden below the surface of a good wireframe design. These factors are what UX design is all about.

What UX Is: Understanding Your Users

UX design is about understanding the psychology, habits, moods, and goals of your users and building a digital product that genuinely helps them do what they are trying to do.

Generally speaking, a good UX allows a user to easily and intuitively carry out their intended goals while a poor UX impedes a user from accomplishing their goals.

To drive home the importance of designing products, mobile apps, and websites with the user in mind, a recent survey found that 52% of people(link is external) said that a bad mobile experience made them less likely to engage with a company in the future.

Organizations that overlook their mobile UX may be unwittingly saying to their audience that they are not as consumer-focused as they claim to be.

More fundamentally, they are sending the message that they don’t understand their users.

Introducing Three UX Frameworks

Now that we understand what UX is and what UX isn’t, let’s take a look at three frameworks that help organize our thinking around understanding users and designing extraordinary experiences for them.

Framework #1: The Hierarchy of User Experience Needs

This may not be the most popular of the three frameworks in this article, but the Hierarchy of User Experience Needs(link is external) is the probably the easiest to understand and thus a good place to begin.

Similar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the hierarchy of user experience needs uses a pyramid shape to indicate the relative importance of various parts of your digital product user experience.

While many leaders in UX design have translated Maslow’s hierarchy to the field, I’m particularly fond of Lyndon Cerejo’s version, first created in 2001. It’s simple, useful, and a great tool to build a solid understanding of the different layers that make up a good user experience.

You can use it to guide a discussion for improving the UX of an existing website or app or as a way to talk about various decisions your clients need to make for their digital assets.

Hierarchy of User Experience Needs

The hierarchy of user experience needs have five parts:

1. Site Availability Layer: You would think that this goes without saying, but when a user isn’t able to access your website or your app can’t reach the APIs it needs, then there’s no experience to be had at all! This is analogous to basic physiological needs, like food and water, in Maslow’s hierarchy.

2. Usability Layer: Some of the questions addressed at this layer include:

  • Are you able to navigate to each section of your website easily?
  • Are the buttons in your app easy to tap?
  • Is all the text legible? Does everything function consistently?

3. Supportive Features Layer: Deals with how you are supporting users who use your product and encouraging the kinds of interactions that you want.

Example questions in this area include:

  • Does your app guide a new user through its primary functionality?
  • Does your online store offer reviews and suggested products?
  • Does your website have a FAQ section or live chat?

4. Confidence Layer: This area is especially important if you are accepting payments through your website or app.

The fundamental issue here is whether your users feel confident enough to invest their time, personal information, or other resources in what you are offering.

For example, if you offer an eBook in exchange for entering an email address, can your users trust that you won’t spam them or sell their addresses to third parties?

If you offer a subscription service through your app, is it easy to unsubscribe later if a user no longer wishes to receive communications?

5. Desirability Layer: This is at the top because before you can focus on creating an attractive user interface with the bells and whistles that you or your users want, your website or app must first be always available, usable, supportive, and trustworthy.

There are many options here, but you want to make sure that anything you do on this layer doesn’t negatively impact the ones below it.

For example, a new feature may be desirable to users but not if it requires large images or JavaScript libraries that greatly increase load time.

Similarly, from a UX design perspective, a drop-down menu that is beautifully animated but difficult to use is no better than an intuitive one without the frills.

Framework #2: The UX Honeycomb

The UX Honeycomb is a tool that breaks down the factors that contribute to a positive user experience into seven main factors.

  • Useful
  • Desirable
  • Accessible
  • Credible
  • Findable
  • Useable
  • Valuable

Honeycomb model of user experience

The UX Honeycomb is a bit more technical than the pyramidal hierarchy of user needs above, and as such, may be better suited for the start of a new project or a redesign, rather than for upgrading or maintaining an existing website or mobile app.

Usable, desirable, credible, and findable are similar to points already covered in the pyramid discussion above (though findable may relate more to navigability than to availability here).

Let’s focus on the three new topics in this graphic.

Useful Hexagon: Prompts us to consider users’ motivations. Why would a user want to interact with your website or app to begin with? And, given that goal, does the site truly allow them to achieve it?

For example, most “brochure” type websites are intended to give potential customers information about a business and the products or services it offers. If that’s the goal of the site, but the information is not present or is difficult to find or understand, it’s not useful.

Accessible Hexagon: Refers to designing for accessibility, meaning that the design elements should accommodate individuals that may have disabilities.

For example, someone who is colorblind may not be able to see which field in a web form is generating an error if the only indicator is a red border around the entry. Accessibility is very complex field and is worth investigating to allow greater audience access to what you’re building.

Valuable Hexagon: When all six of the outer factors in the UX Honeycomb are properly addressed, you create something that is truly valuable for your target audience. This ensures that they will keep coming back.

Framework #3: The Elements of User Experience

The last model we’ll look at is the most comprehensive – more of a unified theory of user experience(link is external)than a tool. It is best used to gain a conceptual understanding of how meaning is translated through the design of a digital product.

Jesse James Garrett developed the Elements of User Experience in 2000 to describe a holistic view of UX and to illustrate the context for decisions that user experience practitioners make.

Unified theory of user experience

The distinguishing feature of the model is that the activities of the layers occur at the same time – are concurrent – but are described at different levels of abstraction.

For example, the visual design not only incorporates the characteristics of the aesthetic (Flat vs Flat 2.0) but also the goals of the user (contrasting colors to guide the UX).

Everyone understands the visual aspect of an interface because it’s the most concrete. But other layers, such as information architecture and functional specifications, are always happening, just under the surface.

Let’s look at each layer briefly.

Layer 1: Site Objectives & User Needs

At the bottom we have the dual layer of Site Objectives and User Needs, which sometimes are in alignment, and sometimes are not.

Consider how many times you’ve been interrupted while reading a website to sign up for an email newsletter, a subscription service, or some other kind of “exclusive offering.”

Clearly, in these cases, the site’s designer decided that the company’s objectives were more important than the user’s needs. This is a balancing act, especially if you’re trying to make money directly from the website or app – you need to ask for the sale, but without alienating your users.

Layer 2: Content Requirements & Functional Specifications

The next level contains Content Requirements and Functional Specifications. Content, believe it or not, is also a component of UX — the types and amount of content on your site or app will determine how to organize the layout for the best user experience.

Many people advocate for content-first design, opting out of the standard Lorem Ipsum (and its many variants(link is external)) in favor of real content intended for use.

Functional Specifications refers to how the content will be delivered.

We now have many devices with various screen sizes and limitations: TVs, desktops, tablets, phablets, phones, smartwatches, and now virtual reality headsets as well. Which of these will you prioritize? How will you manage layout when rendering for multiple outputs that may be very different?

Layer 3: Information Architecture & Interaction Design

The middle layer contains Information Architecture and Interaction Design, two disciplines with too much complexity to cover here. In a nutshell, they ask the question: How is all the information organized, and how can you interact with it all?

Layer 4: Interface, Navigation & Information Design

Next up, Interface Design, Navigation Design, and Information Design. The first two are pretty self-explanatory.

Information design is the practice of presenting information in a way that fosters its efficient and effective understanding.

Interface, navigation, and information are combined to create the wireframes that most people understand as the deliverables of the UX process.

Layer 5: Visual Design

Finally, on top, is the part that everyone loves: the Visual Design layer. This is where we wrap up all of the design and work from the lower layers with appealing graphical design.

Conclusion: How to Use the Frameworks

The three frameworks presented in this article represent different ways of understanding the problems present in user experience design and offer pre-established approaches for how to begin solving them.

Each model touches on different aspects of UX, and each has its own approach that can add significant value to the UX design process.

For example, you may wish to use one model, like the Elements of User Experience Design, internally for discussing projects with your team and another, like the Hierarchy of User Experience Needs, to aid with decisions related to client projects.

Whatever approach you choose, there’s something in each framework to guide productive conversations about how users experience digital products.

Every conversation we have about UX makes the Internet a better place.

Guide to Lead Nurturing

Guide to Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing is a central part of any thriving demand generation strategy.

If you’re a B2B organization building an inbound marketing machine, you know not every lead you capture in is sales ready.

A prospect that just downloaded your latest ebook isn’t likely to have their credit card out… and is usually nowhere near ready to talk to a salesperson.

You don’t need reminding – buyers today are more empowered than ever to educate themselves on multiple solutions to their business challenges and objectives.

But as technology enabled marketers, we can read signals and encourage behaviors that help us to both discover more about our prospects and nudge them along the buying journey.

Bringing us more users, customers, and clients.

So how do we actually do this? By establishing a well planned and executed lead nurturing programme.

This guide was written to help B2B SaaS marketers start or expand their lead nurturing initiative. While the information below isn’t necessarily new, my hope is you’ll take away something to aid you in your demand generation journey.

Lead Nurturing 101

Let’s start with the basics.

What exactly is lead nurturing? How is it done? And who is responsible for it?

If I were to define it, lead nurturing is the act of marketing to a qualified contact in your database for any of the following reasons: to build brand awareness, prove your business’ core value proposition, and encourage behavior that moves your prospect closer to a sign-up or sale.

Lead nurturing is mostly performed by the use of a marketing automation platform – software dedicated to delivering targeted messages to prospects and contacts based on their previous behavior and information gathered about them.

The core mission of lead nurturing is to provide the right message to the right prospect at the right time. And to do this, the content marketing, marketing operations, and sales development teams must work closely together to build a highly valuable and consistent revenue generator.

Is Your Organization Ready for Lead Nurturing?

All of this sounds awesome, how do you get started?

Well, you need to be sure you’re in the position to make proper use of a lead nurturing programme before you build one out.

Because as a smart marketer, one that proves value to your company’s bottom line, you need to invest your time, energy, and resources into the right things at the right stage of your business.

It may seem obvious, but if you’re not generating a decent volume of leads then you really have no reason to “nurture” them at all.

Maybe you need to work on getting more or better traffic to your website… maybe your website needs to convert potential prospects better… maybe your paid advertising campaigns need better targeting… or maybe you need to buy leads!

Regardless, until the sales team is overwhelmed with leads to follow up on, anything beyond the planning stages of a lead nurture campaign may be too much.

So, if you have a quality white paper, case study, or ebook as a lead capture device, send these leads straight to the sales team!

The Ingredients of a Lead Nurturing Programme

Now that you’ve got the what and the why of lead nurturing (and your sales team is preoccupied with following up with leads you’re already giving them) that brings us to the how.

Let’s quickly go over the main ingredients you need to prepare for a stellar nurturing programme: customer personae, buyer stages, and killer content.

Customer Personae

Your customer persona is the representation of an ideal prospect that’s looking for (or may soon be in the market for) your service or solution.

It goes without saying that you probably already understand who you’re selling to… I mean, you are making sales right!?

But with a nuanced customer persona – one that’s deeply grounded in reality – you’ll be better equipped to truly empathize with your prospect’s struggles, needs, goals, desires, and so on…

With a detailed persona handy you can speak their language and craft targeted, relevant messaging that’s guaranteed to capture their attention.

We’re living in an attention economy now, so it’s absolutely necessary to dive deep into the mindset of your customers and create marketing that pulls them out of endless distraction.

Interview current customers you have rapport with, hang out in their digital watering holes (and listen/read intently), make notes, and draft a unique “blueprint” or “prototype” of the qualities that make up your ideal prospect.

Give them a name, develop an interesting backstory, describe their company, elaborate on their current business challenges, imagine a future where your solution helps them achieve their goals.

And if you’re selling a complex solution that requires multiple buyers, create rich, compelling personae for each kind of buyer. Trust me, it will pay dividends for you well into the future.

Buyer Stages

Like I mentioned earlier, every lead you capture won’t immediately be ready to buy what you’re selling.

In fact, it’s estimated that 20% of your buyers will won’t even be ready within a year of first connecting with your brand.

Effective lead nurturing provides meaningful interactions at whichever stage a prospect is in, for however long that prospect is there.

Also known as the “buyer journey”, buyer stages generally fit into three main categories: awareness, consideration, and decision. In “funnel-speak” these align with top-of-funnel, mid-funnel, and bottom-of-funnel..

At the awareness stage, one of two things (maybe both, even) is happening. First, your prospect is educating themselves of the category of product or service that your business exists in. Second, your prospect is becoming aware of you and your brand. And if you’re lucky, both are happening at the same time.

When your prospect is in the awareness stage, your marketing goals are: to position your business as the category leader, to educate prospects on your high level value proposition, to build trust in your brand, and to pitch your core company mission and values.

In the consideration stage, your prospect is wanting to learn more about how specifically your company can solve their needs.

Here, you can showcase how well you understand the particular challenge your prospect faces (because you created a stellar buyer persona) and how your solution solves them.

And finally, at the decision stage, your prospect is deciding whether to pull the trigger with your solution, a competitor’s solution, or any solution at all.

Here you want to go deep with how specifically your solution fits into their ecosystem. Some prospects are looking for definitive proof, some are looking for technical feasibility, some may be looking for reasons to rationalize a decision they’ve already made in their mind.

You can make your buyer journey more or less complicated, but the intention is to understand your prospect’s psychology as they make their way from first touch to first purchase. What were they thinking about when they signed up for your newsletter? Or watched your webinar? Or read your case study?

Killer Content

Speaking of webinars and case studies…

Now that you have your persona and funnel stages handy, it’s time to create some killer content!

Content is how you tell your brand story and convey the value your business brings to the world. With content marketing being the discipline of creating engaging experiences that educate, inform, and even entertain your prospects.

Having a skilled marketer that can synthesize buyer persona and buyer stage, as well as craft meaningful messaging across different mediums will make your lead nurturing efforts a breeze.

Let’s quickly go over content that’s appropriate for each buyer stage:

Awareness Content

When prospects are in the awareness stage, you’ll want to invest in content that educates them on the kinds of problems you solve. An infographic or blog series would be a perfect fit.

Or if you want to share more of your company’s history, use video to capture your founder or CEO telling the story.

Another great use of video for this stage is customer testimonials. Get people that love your company to share their experience and how they’ve benefitted from your service or solution. High quality social proof will help you quickly establish authority in your niche.

Consideration Content

At the consideration stage, introduce your product or service as a solution to your prospect’s challenges. Webinars are a perfect fit for prospects at this stage of the buyer journey. When an expert presents the problem in detail, shows prospects that they “get it”, then introduces something that solves that problem, AND leaves time for Q&A, that’s a home run for your company.

Other great content pieces for the consideration stage include case studies, video series, or, if you’re ambitious, a “university” or educational hub.

Decision Content

The decision stage is when you want to start getting live humans involved. Sales development reps will be called in to engage with prospects and consult them on how to solve their problems.

Any content that can prove your business case will aid at this stage. Implementation details, user manuals, pre-onboarding materials, help documentation, etc.

Knowing what each buyer type will need to move forward with your product will help you make the right kind of content for them. A CTO, CEO, and VP of Marketing may all be involved in the sale and each one will need to know something different to make an educated decision. If you have a complex sale like this, help each of them out.

Start Where You Are

Hopefully you already have content handy that speaks to your prospects at different buyer stages. If not, start where you are, with what you have, and build from there. Aim for about a dozen pieces of high quality content; that’s enough to begin putting together a lead nurture programme.

And if you feel overwhelmed with the amount of content you could make, just understand that the real aim isn’t to drag each and every prospect all the way from the top of the funnel to the bottom, it’s to discover who your prospects are (and how engaged they are with your content) so you know if – and how – you should approach them to start the sales conversation.

Let’s Build Your Marketing Machine

Now the fun really begins, it’s time to build your marketing machine!

If you haven’t invested in a marketing automation platform yet, it’s about time you do so. Marketo, Pardot, and Hubspot are mainstays for wiring together sophisticated nurture programmes, but there are plenty more out there.

Get yourself or your marketing ops specialist on G2Crowd, watch a few webinars and YouTube videos, sign up for free trials, and eventually you’ll be sure find a solution that fits your business’ size and needs.

I’ll skip any technical implementation details for the various platforms… but you’ll need to install a javascript tracking snippet on your website – just like your would to install Google Analytics or your Facebook Pixel.

So now that you have your tools locked down, let’s start getting your hands dirty. Our MAP fulfills four core functions: to capture leads, to market to them, to score them, and to deliver them to the sales team.

Let’s go over how to orchestrate each, starting with why and how to score leads:

On “Scoring” Leads

One of the main value propositions of marketing automation is the ability to “score” your leads. Scoring leads means giving your prospects a “grade”, usually in the form of a number, based upon what information you’ve captured and the level of interaction they’ve had with your content.

You can assign numeric values to pieces of content, and when your prospect engages with that content you increase their score by that amount. Simple and powerful.

For example, if a lead downloads an ebook from your website, you give them points. If they attend a webinar, that’s more points for them. If they tell you they’re the VP of the department your product is made for, bonus points! If they visit certain high value pages, like your pricing page, you guessed it… more points.

The higher a prospect’s score, the more you can assume they are somewhat interested in your brand. At some point you’ll want to hand the prospect to the sales team so they can engage them with a personal touch.

We’ll cover lead handoffs more later, but setting up the threshold for sending leads to sales is an iterative process, maintaining a balance of quality and volume.

Share Your Content & Capture Leads

Now you need to create a great landing page for your best content. Offer a high quality asset in exchange for a bit about them and their email address.

There’s an art and a science to asking the right amount of information from a prospect. More form fields usually result in a lower conversion rate, and fewer form fields usually spell more unqualified prospects.

Many marketing automation platforms solve this problem by “progressive profiling.” This lets you request additional information for each piece of gated content your prospect engages with, creating a healthy balance of quality UX for your prospect and vital information captured in your database.

Getting traffic to your forms and landing pages can be the topic of a whole other article, but you’ll want to promote your killer content as much as possible. Search traffic, paid traffic, social media, email marketing, events, etc.

Share your stuff with world in whatever way you can!

Deliver The Right Message To Your Prospects

We’ve been leading up to this moment this entire time… now you have fresh contacts and you have great content, it’s time to market to your prospects!

Email marketing is, and forever will be, the main channel for delivering content. But setting up a regular email newsletter is table stakes. With a MAP there’s so much more you can do.

Let’s take a look at a few nurture campaigns types:

Follow Up Lanes

Once you’ve captured a lead from a piece of gated content, one common tactic is to continue sending them content that naturally follows what they received.

A blog post revealing a unique angle, a PR piece showing them who you are, a webinar that dives deep into the topic, and so on.

It’s clear they were interested in what you had to offer from downloading the first piece of content, so sharing more of the same would be expected.

Scoring Lanes

Another option is to set up different campaigns based upon lead score. We discussed the buyer stages and appropriate content earlier, now put them to good use.

Let’s say, for example, you hand leads to the sales team when a prospect achieves 150 points. A great way to move prospects along the funnel is to market to them where they are.

Make three separate nurture campaigns for 0-50, 50-100, and 100-150, each “lane” representing a different buyer stage: awareness, consideration, and decision.

Only send awareness content to prospects in the 0-50 range, consideration content to 50-100, and decision content for 100-150. As long as you add content for each buyer stage on a regular schedule, you can continue to add these pieces to each campaign, and regular marketing to your prospects.

Frequency Lanes

Marketing automation software can capture all sorts of data points about your leads. One interesting one to consider is how quickly and how often leads engage with your messages. We can use that data to adjust the frequency marketing materials is sent.

Let’s say, for example you usually send emails to prospects once a week. Consider setting up a lane for prospects that tend to open your emails the same day, and email that group twice a week. Give them what they want, which hopefully is more of your content!

Conversely, for prospects that seem to interact with your content less, make a lane for them too where you send material only every other week or once a month.

A good way to keep your database clean (and open rates high) is to remove prospects that don’t appear to be engaging in any way with your content. If they haven’t opened the last nine emails you sent them, do you really think they’d open the tenth? Don’t spend time or money on leads that go cold, unsubscribe them yourself!

Go Multi-channel

While email remains the default channel for nurturing prospects in your database, you can take your campaigns to the next level by creating an integrated multi-channel marketing strategy.

Online ad networks that allow for retargeting custom audiences (like Facebook, GDN, and now LinkedIn) offer you the opportunity to nurture prospects outside their inbox.

Setup retargeting campaigns based on which pages prospects have already visited and retarget them with content that would move them one step further in the buyer journey.

Another tactic is personalizing your website with dynamic content based on a prospect’s segment. A great example is saving space for a “featured piece” on your website then showing different content to prospects based on their title.

Some MAPs integrate other channels like SMS, direct mail, and messenger style apps. So if your product and marketing is fit for delivering through those channels, experiment with them!

Warning: Don’t over engineer your automation. It’s initially exciting to construct elaborate multi-channel nurture campaigns, but consider the time you’ll spend putting it together, testing it, and maintaining it. That time is likely better spent on other projects.

Deliver Your Leads to the Sales Team

If you’ve done your job well: identified the right leads, provided them great content, and kept track of the right kinds of engagement, you can pass these highly qualified leads to the sales team.

Your MAP’s integration with many CRMs makes it easy to automatically send over leads that meet certain criteria.

These leads each have a unique story that’s been recorded in your marketing automation. Vital information such as where you first captured their information, which web pages they’ve visited, what pieces of content they’ve downloaded, and so on.

SDRs prospecting into these warm leads can leverage this information to craft unique messages based on their history with your brand so far.

Meet with the SDRs Regularly

Now that your SDR team is interacting with your MQLs, you can get some direct feedback on the quality of your leads.

Ask the inbound team about the conversations they’re having, the stories they’re hearing, which messaging resonates, if prospects truly get your value proposition, how motivated they are, etc.

This is also a great time to answer any questions the SDRs may have about the campaigns you’re running. Say you introduce a new webinar series that prospects are highly engaged with, you could collaborate on a good angle to reach out with.

Also learn the conversion rates at the bottom of the funnel: the number of warm leads that engage in conversation, how many convert into business opportunities, and the win rate on those opportunities.

Keep Tabs on Your Leads

If you would believe it, there’s actually another journey after the sale: from new customer to brand evangelist. I won’t be going into it here – it’s another great topic for another whole article. Regardless, it may be useful to keep tabs on the leads you won with your lead nurture sequences.

Besides the satisfaction of knowing which customers purchased as a result of your marketing machine, you gain legitimacy as a revenue driving marketer. Double down on your effective campaigns.

Analyse and Optimize

By now you have a consistent marketing funnel working from beginning to end; from sourcing leads to delivering them to the sales team. Treat yourself! It takes a lot to get all the pieces together and working smoothly.

The work isn’t over yet, however. The next project your team should undertake is getting the machine to work better. Just image the number of things you can improve in a multi-touch, multi-channel marketing campaign.

Lift Each Touch Point

From testing fresh subject lines in your nurture emails, to switching up the arrangement of your content, to adding new images on retargeting display ads, to experimenting with the days and the time of day you sent emails… there’s many points of leverage to squeeze more juice out of your campaigns.

But it’s best to take a “Kaizen” approach to optimization. Meaning, don’t change everything at once! When you make drastic changes it’s hard to track what worked and what didn’t. Continuous, incremental improvement across each touchpoint will go much further than you think.

Just consider, each percent you increase engagement on each touch point directly affects your contribution to the bottom line for the company. If that’s not an incentive to turn over every rock you can, I don’t know what is!

See the Patterns

While learning the whole story of a individual prospect is easy for the SDR and sales teams, learning the whole story of a segment of prospects is a little more challenging.

Here’s where implementing a tagging system can help. When you’re setting up your nurture campaigns, tag everything!

Here’s a best practice: think of the questions you’ll likely ask yourself at the end of the month or quarter. Like: which content did prospects interact with most? Which conversion points provided the most leads? Which campaigns were effective in moving prospects along the buyer journey?

You’ll want to know these answers – and tagging is one way to do this kind of analysis.

Each tag is a data point. When you add tagging functionality, you’re capturing little bits of data. Once a segment of prospects has made their way through your marketing automation, learn the answers to your questions by running the numbers on their tags.

You may need to fire up Excel and spend an afternoon reacquainting yourself with Pivot Tables, but it’s worth the potential headache. Time and energy you invest in doing this kind of analyzing will reveal what’s working and where the opportunities are.

Push Your Score

Finding the right time to hand leads over to the sales team is something you’ll also want to test.

You can send more or less leads based on the threshold you set for MQLs. In this sense, Marketing Qualified Leads are the most “gameable” – you can dictate the definition of an MQL by simply adjusting a number in your MAP.

One suggestion is to start the threshold low and increase it over time. Meaning send more leads first then tighten the criteria for sending them after establishing a certain rhythm and a certain volume of leads.

As you optimize your automation campaigns, and prospects are becoming more engaged on average, raise the score required to become an MQL. If you do it right, you may be able to keep the same amount of leads but have them be a higher quality.

I’ve read that for SaaS companies, conversion rates from MQL to SQL are anywhere from 7%-20%. Work to always increase that number. That’s how you get on sales’ good side.

Conclusion

That about covers, very broadly, everything you need to execute a lead nurture programme.

As most things in marketing, it starts with understanding and empathizing deeply with your buyer persona. Knowing their buyer journey and creating killer content for them for each stage is how you drive engagement with your brand.

Setup your marketing automation platform to capture the essential information about a prospect and put them on a path that educates them on who you are, what value you bring to customers, and similar brands that have had success with your service or solution.

Optimize your campaigns for maximum engagement and test everything. You’ll never be out of things you can try to drive open rates, click through rates, webinar attendance, and so on. Go multichannel and include SMS, retargeting ads, or direct mail.

Do this and you’ll deliver more and hotter leads to the sales team over time. You’ll now have a predictable revenue driver for your business.

Good luck with the journey!