Michael Heering

Lead nurturing in real life: business case Exact Software

Written by Michael Heering Dennis de Koning on

Marketers spend a lot of budget on (online) programs such as SEA, SEO and email marketing to attract more visitors to their website. With the intention of converting these visitors to paying clients. But not all of your prospects will click on that ‘BUY NOW’ or ‘Request offer’- button. That's because not every visitor has the same intentions. They can be either first-time visitors or they could be ready to make their first purchase. The trick is to send the right message at the right moment to convince your prospects to purchase even faster.

In this case of Exact Software, you will see how they set up a detailed lead nurturing program in order to convert Marketing Qualified leads into Sales Qualified leads. In nearly four months time, Exact was able to convert over 40% of their Marketing Qualified leads to Sales Qualified leads.

The program is such a hit, that it is currently being rolled out in Germany. Exact is looking at implementing the program in other countries throughout Europe and Asia as well. In this article you'll get a glimpse behind the scenes of Exact Software and hopefully you'll be inspired to apply your own successful lead nurturing program combined with email marketing.

Subdividing the different leads

All roads lead to Rome and several marketing channels make sure you generate enough traffic to your website. That's exactly the same for Exact Software:

Traffic to website Exact

As soon as a prospect arrives on the website, there are several possible next stages. Depending on these stages, Exact qualifies a lead as a Sales Qualified lead or as a Marketing Qualified lead. To determine these stages, Exact has different tools available:

 Marketing Qualified Lead qualifizieren

As you can see, the channels marked in green will lead to a qualification to a Marketing Qualified lead and the other three; contact form, call me back and orders, lead to qualification as a Sales Qualified Lead.

What is lead nurturing?

What exactly is lead nurturing and how can it help you? Lead nurturing means you interact with your clients in an automated way. It helps you stimulate the buying behaviour of your relations and enrich their profiles with interesting data. That data helps you set up more relevant and targeted campaigns intended to help you increase your conversion. As you can see in the above images, Exact has several ways of enriching their prospects' profiles with extra data. For example via the contact form or through an application form requesting a download. During this entire process, email marketing plays a vital role for Exact.

To help you better understand this case, let me explain the difference between a Marketing Qualified lead and a Sales Qualified lead. This difference is based on points. For each action/step you take on the website of Exact or in emails sent by Exact you're rewarded with points. These are added to (or deducted from) your profile (stored in the Exact database):

  • Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): Less than twelve points, these leads will receive relevant emails to increase their engagement for Exact and to eventually convert them to Sales Qualified leads
  • Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): Lead with more than twelve points. These leads are contacted by the Sales department as soon as they reach a score of twelve points.

Math Equation

Points are added to a profile by using the Smarty feature “math equation”. Each time a prospect reacts to a call-to-action in an email sent by Exact, math equation is used to apply lead scoring to the profile and points are awarded. For example, opening an email will trigger the addition of one point. A click-through entitles you to even more points, etcetera. Later in this case, you'll see how Exact applied this to their case.

Lead nurturing one-on-one

Exact applies lead nurturing on different areas. In this article we'll zoom in on one specific path a prospect can take. This will give you a good understanding of how the lead nurturing project works:

Prospects who use Google to look for software systems that support SEPA, will arrive on the landing page of Exact Globe Next. If they choose to download Globe Next, they will be redirected to a subscription form. The data that is collected via this web form is synchronized with the database in Copernica Marketing Software using a Joomla-integration. The creation of a new profile triggers a confirmation email:

Confirmation email Exact Software

In this confirmation email prospects are asked to tell more about their interests. This helps Exact better understand their prospects and enables them to divide them into different target groups. Because this data tells a lot about the interests of their prospects, Exact is now able to send highly relevant and personal emailings based on the stored data.

Personal content provided by Exact

The content used in these emailings is composed automatically. Based on the interests of the recipient and by using RSS feeds, the marketing software is able to fill the emails with content coming from The Biz Box.

Email marketing within the lead nurturing program

Exact sends their prospects relevant and personal emails based on their stored interests and preferences. These emails also play an important role in the entire lead nurturing program.

For every extra email Exact has to send to an MQL before it can be converted to an SQL, a point will be deducted. However, every other action triggers the addition of points. Opening an email adds one point and clicking on the call-to-action “Call back” within an email adds eight points to a profile. 

Leadscoring Modell Exact

As soon as someone reaches twelve points, that person becomes a Sales Qualified lead (SQL) and that triggers an automated email sent to the Sales department.

Interne E-Mail zum Sales Team

This mail contains a link to the profile data of the prospect. This way an account manager has all the data he needs to contact a prospect. If this contact leads to nothing, the prospect becomes a Marketing Qualified lead again.

Optimizing the lead nurturing process

Because this case using math equation was never applied before, Exact monitored the results closely. The marketing department also kept close contact with the Sales department enabling them to tweak the process if needed.

That worked well, because based on that interaction, Exact decided that existing clients had to be qualified as an SQL much faster. It also turned out that prospects who clicked through on specific content had to be rewarded with twelve points.

Lead nurturing is an ongoing process which needs to be optimized every step of the way. The buying behaviour of your clients is constantly changing and you probably won't be offering the same product forever. Keep optimizing the division of your leads into an MQL or SQL. Make smart use of lead nurturing and this will lead you to more business and better results!