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9 Lead Nurturing Best Practices That Use AI

Marketing AI gives automated lead nurturing software a whole new dimension: two-way conversations managed by an AI persona – all by herself. Here’s how you set up this new type of lead nurturing campaign using best practices.

Lead nurturing best practice #1: Understand and segment lists
The two-way dialogues enabled by an AI persona with a human touch are great for real-time engagement with new leads, lead nurturing, engaging leads your sales team can’t reach by phone and re-engaging stale or gone-quiet leads in your database. They can be used to follow up on free trials or downloads and to offer post-customer support. Segment your leads based on product, geography, aging, last interaction or other criteria, then craft the dialogue of your lead nurturing campaign accordingly.

Lead nurturing best practice #2: Develop an AI persona
With marketing AI, an AI persona will represent your brand as a helpful, friendly sales assistant or customer representative who reaches out one-on-one to nurture and assist your leads and customers. You name this virtual assistant and set a tone for his or her personality. When done properly, AI virtual assistants are perceived as real individuals by the email recipients, and considered as such by their sales and marketing teams. Let your receptionist know how to handle flowers, visitors or calls for this new virtual member of your team.

Best practice #3: What you want to know?
An AI persona can process the free-text answer to one question per message. Think about what you’d like to ask. The AI engine can interpret sentiment, so the answers don’t have to be a simple yes or no. You might ask whether the person is interested in talking to a company representative, getting a demo or other offer. The messages can ask for phone numbers – Conversica is really good at getting personal cell phone numbers to give to sales reps. How about what’s the best time to call? That can save your sales reps a lot of time in following up with a lead. Often leads will volunteer additional information such as buying considerations or perceived objections that can help the sales rep better connect with the lead and close the deal.

Lead nurturing best practice #4: Sort out leads who want to talk to sales
AI can help sort out right at the top of the funnel who should go into lead nurturing. Should someone say they want to speak with a sales rep right away, don’t torture them with a multi-week lead nurturing program. Get them over to the sales department right away. Lead nurturing is for all the leads who respond, “Not just yet.”

Lead nurturing best practice #5: Draft the messages to fit your brand and AI persona
Text-based messages look a lot more personal than messages with fancy layouts and graphics. Think about the way you would email a colleague or customer. That’s what you want your messages to look like, more or less, after adjusting the tone to sound like they were written by a sales or customer service assistant.

Lead nurturing best practice #6: Keep it friendly and informal
These messages will be informal and friendly. They don’t need to be perfectly aligned and formatted, personal email message rarely is. Look for guidance from marketing AI experts to help write the messages to meet your goals and reinforce your brand message. There are many best practices gleaned from tens of millions of lead interactions.

Lead nurturing best practice #7: Friendly persistence
Some recipients might not respond to the first message, so plan to write a few versions asking the same general question again but in a somewhat different way. These messages will be dispatched over time – at different intervals and as long as it takes – until the recipient responds or drops out.

Lead nurturing best practice #8: Branching and triggers
Once a recipient has responded and the AI has interpreted the message, it’s time to branch to the next message with the next question or to trigger an action. Think about what these might be and discuss them a marketing AI expert. For example, actions might include alerting a sales representative to call or adding the lead to a fulfillment list in Pardot’s marketing automation software, Marketo’s customer engagement platform or Salesforce’s customer relationship management (CRM) software.

Lead nurturing best practice #9: Run a pilot program to test your lead nurturing campaign and train the AI
The best way to find out if a marketing method works is to try it. Select a pilot group and run a test. This test will also be used to fine-tune the AI engine to interpret any responses unique to your campaign.

Conversica’s lead nurturing software and your Conversica account manager will help you implement easily and automatically all nine lead nurturing best practices using an AI persona. Benefits of Conversica for lead nurturing include:
• Friendly and personal
• Engage leads and customers
• Consistent messaging
• Never gives up or calls in sick
• Improve marketing ROI
• Tracks lead engagement metrics
• Better than lead scoring – just ask!
• Seamless hand-off to sales
• Accelerates the sales cycle
• Collects data such as phone numbers
• Stores the dialogue with the contact card in Salesforce, Marketo, Pardot
• Frees sales reps to close more deals
• Insight into quality of each lead source
• Tracks sales follow-up performance

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