Lead nurturing is powerful not only for its ability to automate personalized messages (sounds like a bit of a paradox, right?), but also for its ability to help both your sales and marketing teams. But before you start deploying your nurturing campaigns, it’s important to have a solid understanding of lead nurturing best practices. This will prevent your marketing team from spamming your recipients with unwanted emails, ensure that your emails are optimized for conversion, and help make sure your sales messages are always delivered to the right people at the right time.

Let’s take a look at a few of these best practices below (and feel free to download the Complete Guide to Lead Nurturing for more information).

Turn Nurturing into a Team Sport

While nurturing emails don’t require any manual work from sales, your reps should still be involved in the nurturing process. Without any intel from sales, marketing is forced to guess at the best approach to automating sales communications. Your sales team is on the front lines when it comes to dealing with prospects, and has the best understanding of your prospects’ pain points, needs, and interests. Sales and marketing should be touching base on a regular basis to see how each team can get the most value out of your nurturing programs.

Target Your Communications

One of the biggest draws of lead nurturing is its ability to target communications on a 1:1 level. Don’t ignore the advantages this offers by nurturing huge chunks of your database with generic communications. Use the segmentation capabilities at your fingertips to sort leads and clients in your database into targeted lists, then develop exclusive content for each list (for example, developing different nurturing tracks for CMOs, CSOs, etc., and then creating content targeted specifically toward C-level executives). Remember, according to Juniper Research, relevant emails drive 18x more revenue than broadcast emails.

Consider Using Plain Text Emails

Which email would strike you as more personalized: an HTML email with your name substituted into the first line, or a plain text email with a few lines of content and a personalized signature from a name you recognize? As a best practice, we recommend using plain text emails for sales communications to achieve the look of a personalized, one-to-one email, though HTML emails are often still appropriate for client communications like training emails, or for drips that are clearly intended to be from the marketing team instead of a sales rep.

Be Strategic with Your Timing

Mathew Sweezey, Marketing Evangelist at Pardot and the author of Marketing Automation for Dummies, recommends that drip emails be sent every six to 45 days. This prevents email recipients from getting more than one email from your company in a week, or from going more than a month and a half without hearing from you. However, this doesn’t mean that you should pick a standard timeframe that applies to all of your nurturing programs. Be strategic with your timing. When will your prospects see the most value from your communications? Use triggers to ensure that emails are delivered at exactly the right time, keeping in mind that 53% of buyers stop engaging as soon as content becomes irrelevant (Cone Consumer New Media Study).

Create Supporting Content

Content forms the foundation of your lead nurturing programs, and many companies find themselves grossly underprepared from a content perspective. Think of it this way: if lead nurturing is the engine, content is the fuel that makes it run. Before launching any new nurturing programs, make sure that you have the content in place to support them, whether that means developing a store of white papers, blog posts, webinars, or any other appropriate content. This will prevent you from having to backtrack when you begin launching your first nurturing campaigns.

While these are a great start for lead nurturing best practices, remember that better practices are evolving every day. Find a system that works for you, and do your best to stay up to date on the latest best practices for your industry.