7 Game-Changing Marketing Automation Workflows for Lead Nurturing

Let’s face it. You have thousands of contacts sitting in your database, some of whom are collecting dust. Why? Because without a plan to convert them into customers, they’re no more useful than a desk paperweight. So how do you begin to nurture them through the funnel?

Workflows, of course!

Marketing automation workflows are the secret sauce that makes nurture programs so efficient and effective! You probably already understand the power of well-executed marketing automation tactics, but which specific workflows should you focus on for your lead nurturing campaigns? Which workflows should you be implementing to improve lead quality and increase your marketing productivity?

With the help of our own demand generation team, we’ve put together the following list of workflows that we think all B2B marketers should be implementing. All marketing automation platforms should allow you to execute some version of these workflows—check out our Marketing Automation Glossary to clear up any terminology barriers.

Must-Have Marketing Automation Workflows

No ifs, ands, or buts—these are the workflows that every B2B marketing team should implement to really amp up those conversion rates. Think of these as foundational in nature but high-value nonetheless.

Some workflows will be external, meaning customer-facing, and some are internal to ensure sales and marketing alignment, but any way you slice it, these workflows are must-haves.

1. Hot (Marketing-Qualified) Lead Workflow

Trigger: Lead score

Don’t let those hot leads cool down, even for one second! Set up an internal workflow that automatically notifies your sales team when a contact in your database reaches “hot lead” status—that is when their actions lead them to hit a score that you’ve internally deemed to be “hot,” or ready to talk to sales.

The main challenge with this workflow will be communicating with sales to determine what level of fit (position, company size, etc.) and engagement (content downloads, email opens, etc.) is required to reach the hot lead score. Note: What makes a lead “hot” will differ from organization to organization. Don’t forget to consider factors that could fast-track or accelerate a contact to “hot lead” status (e.g., if a lead views your pricing page or hits a “request a demo” button).

Once you’ve established your hot lead criteria, you can easily set up the workflow that will tell sales to reach out immediately and make the most of that hot lead.

2. Cold Lead / Re-Engagement Workflow

Trigger: Contact inactivity

Even engaged leads can go quiet on you and stop engaging with your content or your brand. Don’t sweat it! And please, please, please, don’t lose hope. Maybe they weren’t ready to buy, or simply forgot about you. It’s your job to remind them, revive them, wake them up!

Create a re-engagement workflow that triggers when a specified amount of time has passed since their last activity (e.g., website visit, email open or click, or form submission). Whatever the criteria, set up an email workflow to trigger when enough time has passed in the hopes of reigniting the fire. So what do you send them? Try company updates, special offers, a survey, a cool new piece of content that’s performed well. Whatever approach you take, make sure it’s personalized.

3. Lead Nurturing Workflow

Trigger: Website form fill

Any basic lead nurturing workflow’s goal is to convert leads into marketing-qualified leads (MQLs). It’s important to have this be an automated process so that you ensure you’re giving potential buyers as much information about your company as you can before they decide they’re ready to buy.

For instance, if someone becomes a lead by filling out a form on your website or requesting a demo, you might send them a couple of content offers designed to move them through the funnel. The more they engage with your emails and your content, the more points they rack up and the closer they get to MQL status.

4. New Subscriber Workflow

Trigger: Subscription to your newsletter

Looking for a way to improve your subscriber retention rate and move qualified subscribers through the funnel? Set up a workflow to nurture new subscribers to engage with more of your content and, ultimately, get the most out of their subscription.

Instead of simply adding new subscribers to your regular subscriber emails (i.e., sending them generic content or the latest content from your blog), set up an initial email cadence that will allow them to receive your best, most relevant content first.

For example, new subscribers to the Uberflip Hub receive a sequence of emails that includes a “thank you for subscribing” note, an introduction to content experience, a few pieces of our top-performing content, and so on. With this workflow in place, we hope to show our new subscribers how to get the most out of their subscription instead of simply dumping them into a stream of our latest content. Bonus points if you segment by persona!

5. Topic-Based Workflow

Trigger: Download of gated asset or views of similar topic pages

Chances are your team creates content on a wide variety of topics, so having a workflow in place for each of the topics you cover is ideal but probably not practical. Instead, pick your top four topics most aligned to your prospective customers’ interests and map content to these topics.

Then, create a workflow for all four of these topics. That way if a lead visits a page on your website or downloads a guide or ebook centered around one of these topics, the workflow triggers a string of emails designed to nurture the lead with topic-specific content.

Sending the right content to the right people is how you create a personalized experience and one more likely to convert.

6. Closed-Lost Reason Workflow

Trigger: Lost opportunity indicated

When sales sets an opportunity to “lost” in your CRM, don’t just let the contact(s) sit around and clog up your database. Set up a nurture program that will send them right back into the sales cycle (when they’re ready).

Ensure the nurture programs are directly related to the closed-lost reason. A few examples:

  • If the opportunity was lost due to budget restrictions, set up a nurture program that offers a deal or a discount.
  • If the opportunity was lost to a competitor, send them the material they need to better educate themselves on your product (and try to keep contract timelines in mind).
  • If the opportunity was lost due to product misalignment (i.e., you were lacking a key feature or service), nurture them with regular product updates to keep them in the loop.

Think of it this way: Closed-lost opps aren’t the end of the lead journey. Instead, they’re opportunities to bust out some seriously sophisticated nurture programs.

7.  Event Workflow

Trigger: Registration for / attendance of your live event

Events can be a great way to engage your target audience, whether they’re in-person or virtually via an online event or webinar. They can also be an effective lead generation tool, so you’re going to want to set up a couple of different workflows to engage your audience pre- and post-event.

Set up an email workflow to automate your communication to event registrants so they’re prepared for your event. For instance, deliver important information such as event agenda details, hotel accommodations, and reminders.

When the event is over, ensure you have the proper workflows in place to give attendees access to session slides, and continue to nurture them with related content. Your end goal could be an MQL or a future event or webinar registration.

BONUS: Stuck-in-Sales-Funnel Workflow

Trigger: Opportunity inactivity after a specified stage in the sales funnel

This one might be a sister to the cold lead workflow, but it’s slightly different and important to include nonetheless. When a lead-turned-opportunity gets stuck at a certain stage in the sales funnel for too long, it’s time to flip them back over to marketing. Set up a workflow for opportunities that have stalled, placing them back in the re-engagement nurture. There’s no sense in sales continuing to work a stalled opportunity if we can automate the process of re-engaging them. Maybe they weren’t actually that interested, it’s not the right time, or they’re just not educated enough? Marketing can help! And this workflow will do the trick.

Don’t Forget the Experience

Using marketing automation workflows effectively can work wonders for your entire organization, saving time and helping you to deliver the kind of personalized experience you’d want to receive as a prospective customer. But to get the most out of any workflow, you need to ensure there’s high visibility, communication, and collaboration between demand generation, the rest of the marketing team, and sales so workflows can do their job and not be interrupted.

Finally, workflows may help you automate email sends and alerts to sales, but they don’t in themselves ensure engagement. Sending your leads a hyperlink to a one-off blog or webinar recording every seven days isn’t guaranteed to get you there. If you want real engagement, you need to build nurture experiences that promote engagement and binge-worthy content consumption.

Workflows are only part of the experience. Want to find out how to successfully nurture leads? Download Make the Click Count: Your Guide to Creating High-Converting Demand Generation Experiences.

About the Author

Christine Otsuka

Christine is an experience-obsessed marketer. Officially, she's Uberflip's Senior Content Marketing Manager, where creating engaging content experiences for marketers is a challenge she accepts daily. She believes that if you can't attract, engage, and compel that next action with your content, then why bother? She also has a thing for pugs, but who doesn't.

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