The most important KPIs to measure the success of your lead nurturing campaigns: A case study with Mailchimp

Kostas Pardalis

The goal of marketing is to make potential customers aware of our product and to acquire some contact details that we can use to contact her in the future and try to convert her into a paying customer, this process is commonly called “lead nurturing”. Although lead nurturing is mainly a sales tactic, in many occasions it is performed with tools that are also used in marketing and more specifically in email marketing. As in everything else in business, it is crucial to identify the right KPIs that will track the success of our lead nurturing campaigns. In this post, we will discuss a minimal set of fundamental KPIs that can be used to track lead nurturing campaigns that are executed using the email marketing platform of Mailchimp.

Lead Nurturing

In many cases, people will arrive at our product page, sign up and for many reasons they might not be ready to purchase immediately. With a lead nurturing process, we attempt to educate these people about the problem that we try to solve, the benefits that our product has compared to the competition and share information that might convince her at some point to become interested in our product and ultimately convert into a paying customer. A common way of implementing a lead nurturing process is by creating a series of lead nurturing emails that will be sent to a number of recipients. There are plenty of excellent resources out there about how to structure a lead nurturing email campaign. A recommendation coming from Patrick McKenzie, includes a series of 8 emails over a period of 30 days. These emails are trying to communicate at least the following topics:

  • The problem. At this first email, we try to communicate with our recipients the problem we try to solve.
  • The benefit. What are the benefits of using a solution like ours in solving the before mentioned problem?
  • The tools. What tools are out there that can be used to solve the problem.
  • A Case study. A detailed case study that will show case to your recipients how your product solves a specific instance of the problem.
  • Resources about your product. Like an e-book or a whitepaper, together with a CTA to sign up to your product.

These topics are of course not exhaustive but they are indicative of the structure a lead nurturing email campaign has. What is important to keep from the above, is that each email has a different goal and as such it will probably require a different KPI to track its effectiveness and figure out how to optimize it. For example, in our first email we might not include any links as part of a CTA, in this case we would be more interested in the open rate while in the last email where most definitely we will have a CTA that will include a link to be clicked, we would be interested more about the click through rate.

Using email marketing tools for running Lead Nurturing Campaigns

Email marketing platforms like MailChimp are organized around the concept of a campaign, something that makes sense if we consider how commonly used the term is in marketing. An email marketing campaign usually consists of a specific email that we want to send and a list of recipients, the mail is sent at some point to all of them and the campaign is over, all we have to do is to track its performance. Of course, this approach cannot work efficiently in lead nurturing emails where we have a series of emails that we want to send, for this reason, Mailchimp has implemented a functionality that is called Automation. With it, Mailchimp allows us to do the following:

  • Create a series of emails to be sent to a list of recipients.
  • Each email to be sent has a specific trigger date.
  • Depending on the behavior of our recipients at each email we can have rules on how to proceed to the next email in the series.

The last feature is very important as it allows us to create complex lead nurturing campaigns, where depending on the behavior of our recipients we might select a different email to be delivered.

KPIs to track the success of a lead nurturing campaign on MailChimp

Now that we know what lead nurturing is and we also have the appropriate tools to execute a lead nurturing campaign on MailChimp, we just need to figure out what KPIs to measure.

There are two types of KPIs that we are interested in. The first type is related to overall goals that we have set for our lead nurturing campaign. This is very context specific, but in most cases, we would like to track things like the ROI of our campaign, how many customers we managed to acquire with it and what is their value.

The second set of KPIs consists of operational metrics that will help us to run more efficiently our lead nurturing email campaigns. How each email performed and how can we optimize it for the next time we run the same campaign or even the next step?

Both types are important but in this post, we will focus on the operational KPIs and will reserve another post in the future for more strategic KPIs that belong to the first set.

Technically speaking, a lead nurturing campaign is a series of email marketing campaigns that have to be executed in a specific order and after specific conditions. Thus the operational metrics that we’d like to track for each of the campaigns or emails, of the lead nurturing process should include at least the following:

  • Email campaign Open Rate. We’d like to know each of the emails we send as part of the lead nurturing process, what open rate it has, as this will indicate the reach of each step of our campaign.
  • Email campaign Click Through Rate. For the emails that we have a CTA, we’d like to measure how many of the recipients have actually performed it, this usually happens through some links that we include.
  • Email Recipient List Growth. Here we actually care if the growth between the individual email campaigns of the lead nurturing process is negative. This will indicate that people are unsubscribing in the process, something that will require our attention. Additionally, to the monitoring of the list growth, we can also monitor the List Unsubscribe Rate.
  • Finally, for technical reasons we should also monitor the bounce rate for each email campaign of the lead nurturing process.

These KPIs should be monitored more or less on a daily basis, even if we didn’t send a lead nurturing email for a specific day. The reason is related to the nature of email, we usually send one and the recipient might interact with it after some time and even interact multiple times with it before a CTA is triggered.

How to measure the Lead Nurturing Campaign KPIs and Metrics

The KPIs that we mentioned previously, should be measured for each of the email campaigns that is part of the lead nurturing process. To do that we need to first pull the relevant data from Mailchimp, store it into a database where we can use SQL and ideally feed the results of our queries into a dashboard where we can monitor the KPIs in real time.

Pulling the data out of Mailchimp and pushing it into a database is an easy task if we use a platform like Blendo, where we can have a data pipeline up and running in less than 5 minutes. Then we can use the analytics solution of our choice to create the dashboard that we need using the queries we mentioned earlier in the post.

What you need to know about the data that will come out of Mailchimp in order to make the queries for the lead nurturing KPIs, is the following:

  • A lead nurturing campaign corresponds to an Automation on Mailchimp. Blendo will create an Automation table where all the relevant data will be stored.
  • Each Automation is linked to a number of Automation Emails, each one of the is actually a campaign. Blendo will keep them all in a table named Automation_emails.
  • When we have all the automation emails for a lead nurturing campaign (MailChimp automation), then we can query the reports tables that Blendo created on the database to calculate our KPIs.

Conclusions

The operational side of a lead nurturing campaign does not differ much of an email marketing campaign; the main difference is that we are monitoring a set of email marketing campaigns instead of one. The KPIs that we want to track are easy measured when we have our data properly synced to a database, something that Blendo can greatly help us with. In future posts, we will present more advanced operational metrics together with the strategic KPIs that we mentioned earlier, how to keep track of them and what other data we should include in order to make them accurate.