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Breaking from Template: Small Business Nurture Paths

Lauren.coccoLauren.cocco Posts: 4 Red Ribbon
edited December 2018 in Social Groups

In 2015, my company adopted a new nurture program structure that became our current Template Nurture Framework. We have found great success with the Template Nurture Framework, but not all of our internal clients are reaping equal benefits.

Our Small Business (SMB) group in particular needed to refine their nurture approach to better align with our typical SMB prospect’s buyer journey.

See courses Modern Marketing: Revenue Performance Management (RPM) and Oracle Eloqua: Fundamentals.

Our Template Nurture Framework

New leads are fed into a Nurture Feeder Program, where they sit for five days before they are redirected to the most applicable nurture campaign based on their tagged service interest and contact profile/persona. That five day wait step allows for applicable welcome triggers to run, data cleansing program processing (see course Oracle Eloqua: Profile & Target), and for Sales to follow-up with any Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs).

Sales follows up with MQLs in one to three days. After follow-up, Sales updates the Lead Stage value to Inquiry (needs more education) or Sales Accepted/Sales Qualified (about ready to become an opportunity). Sales makes this update in Salesforce, which is synced with our instance of Eloqua (see course Oracle Eloqua: CRM Integrations). 


*Conversion rates vary by sales segment, based on difference in audience. More transactional segments, like SMB, are expected to convert at a higher rate.

The Lead Stage value determines where the lead starts their nurture journey.



Most leads flow through our typical nurture program build in six weeks to three months. This depends on where the lead starts and how they engage with each email they receive.

Our Template Nurture Framework vs SMB Needs

Our SMB marketing group adopted the Template Nurture Framework in 2016. Since then, we have learned that nurturing for six weeks to three months is too long for our SMB nurture leads.

The vast majority of our new SMB leads come through Contact Us and PPC forms, so they often start with buying intent or wanting a quote. Also, the average SMB buyer journey is 30 to 60 days. After 60 days, the Won-Lost ratio significantly shifts towards Lost. 

To help Sales win SMB opportunities before this 60-day dead zone, we remodeled the SMB nurture program to accelerate leads.

To speed up the nurture flow, we stopped promoting a range of services to every new lead and instead nurture leads on the one service in which they have shown an interest. Because of the multiple interest flows, we are calling this accelerated nurture program “SMB Nurture Paths.” 

Two of three paths have been built thus far. The third path will be built in early 2019.


Template Framework vs Accelerated Framework Main Differences

Template FrameworkAccelerated Paths Framework

Leads enter different nurture flows based on their Lead Stage.

Content educates leads on a range of services (Shred, Storage, and Scanning).

Content has more or less Sales messaging depending where they are in the nurture flow (Awareness, Consideration, or Decision).

At certain checkpoints in the program, leads that have engaged with past emails get a contact us dedicated email (no offer).

The program overall drives leads to score up to MQL (Scored MQL). (See course Oracle Eloqua: Prioritize & Process)

Every initial education email send has a non-responder/second chance email, which results in more emails overall and a longer program.

Leads enter different nurture flows based on their Service Interest.

Content within a flow focuses on one service line (Shred, Storage, or Scanning). Leads without a marked service interest will get Shred messaging, as it is our most popular service with SMB customers. 

All emails have a Contact Sales secondary CTA.

Leads that stay engaged, but have not yet become a won opportunity will get a contact us dedicated email with an offer.

The program drives leads to submit a contact us form (Hot MQL).

Not having non-responders/second chance emails helps shorten the program.

Measures of Success

The SMB Nurture Paths program just launched at the beginning of December 2018. It will be another two months before we start seeing people make it to the end of the campaign flow. Below are the metrics against which we will be comparing success.

MetricCompany Wide Benchmark

Old SMB Nurture (Template Framework)

New SMB Nurture Paths (Acceleration Framework)
Unique Open Rate20%19.89%TBD – we expect this to remain about the same.
Click to Open Rate10%12.89%TBD – we expect this to remain about the same.
Unsubscribe Rate<.5%1.21%TBD – we expect this to decrease
Response Rate7.5%53.40%TBD – we expect this to remain about the same
Inquiry to MQL Conversion Rate*6.5%38.98%TBD – we expect this to increase
MQL to Opportunity Conversion Rate*21%51.97%TBD – we expect this to increase
Opportunity to Won Opportunity Conversion Rate*25%48.36%TBD – we expect this to increase
Average Won Revenue per Won Opportunity-$1077 per won opportunityTBD – we expect this to remain about the same or slightly decrease.

*As mentioned earlier, SMB is a more transactional segment and are expected to convert at a higher rate than the company wide conversion rate benchmarks.

Metrics were pulled through Eloqua Insight (see course Oracle Eloqua: Insight for Reporters) and Salesforce.com.

These metrics are not the only ones we measure, just the ones that are most relevant for this comparison.

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