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Email Nurture Speed Lanes using PathFactory Engagement Data

My favorite part of nurture is not having to worry about nurture. For this, I have the amazing logic our team has built to thank. Although it doesn’t happen often, we too get the dreaded single word response to our nurture sends from time to time: “unsubscribe”. Now when I say it doesn’t happen often, I mean, very, very rarely. For this I credit what we call our “speed lanes”.

Whether or not they are top of the funnel or ready to put pen to paper, our prospects engagement with our content is very variable. To address this, our team has armed our nurture tracks to change the frequency of our nurture sends, depending on the prospect’s volume of engagement.

By considering the degree of consumption with our nurture programs we can determine how receptive a prospect would be to more nurture emails. Someone who’s spent a total 10s on a white paper probably wouldn’t appreciate 2 emails a week, however the decision maker spending entire lunch breaks consuming content (and food too, we hope) are ready and hungry for more, let’s send them 2 emails a week.

Because our nurture is equipped to match the pace of our prospects, we have a much more receptive audience and the unsubscribes are few and far between. Just a warning, I’m going to go into, I believe, necessary detail about how our nurture is set up using Marketo with the API fully connected, down to the basics and up, to explain how this works. I imagine no two of us are nurturing the exact same way so although the details will be very PathFactory specific, you should leave with a good idea of how to set up this logic within your own programs.

How to measure engagement within Nurture streams

Our nurtures are built as Engagement Programs, with each email to be sent residing in a “sub-program” within the parent engagement program. This way we can give prospects campaign membership to the email programs themselves (and the promoted content) rather than just membership to the entire nurture stream. Among other advantages, this allows us to set up skip logic so engaged members of say, “Email #3 – White Paper” sub-program will not receive the email contained when it’s next up in the stream for that person.

In the context of our speed lanes, it’s the membership to these programs that will determine which lane they should be in. Within each sub-program we have a smart campaign set up to look for engagement. The smart list is simple: a Visits Web Page trigger with the string “Met Threshold”. This way we’re not just considering when someone clicks on a link, but instead we are paying attention to when they meet the threshold on this content we’ve set in PathFactory. Only meaningfully engaged prospects will be counted as program members.

Because PathFactory appends the content track identifier after the content identifier, you can use 1 URL in this smart list to account for engagement across any channel.

For example, this piece of content in our nurture content track looks like:


However, if we look for “Met Threshold” on this URL instead:


We can account for engagement on this piece of content, regardless of how our prospect found it. Whether through paid ads, social, content syndication etc etc we will know if the prospect engaged.

Once this engagement is triggered, a flow step is set up to simply change the leads program status to an “Engaged” member of that sub-program. Now our nurture can intelligently act according to which pieces of content our prospects have already engaged with.

Speed Lanes

Inside a Marketo Engagement program we built 3 redundant streams – one for each speed lane. In this example, you can see our normal lane delivers 1 email a week, fast delivers 2 a week and slow 1 email every 2 weeks. The lanes are set to deliver the same pieces of content, but optimized to match the prospect’s pace, never sending them repeated touches.

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Speed lane examples

Prospects can move to their appropriate speed-lane using a combination of smart lists that listen for engagement, and then a larger smart campaign that performs the program changes.

Smart lists

Let’s start with the smart lists. Here you can see the 3 lists we have setup in our eHarmony nurture engagement program (perhaps I should explain the name in a future post). These lists look for engaged prospects and collects them together based on the degree of their engagement.

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Here can see the Fast Lane smart list is looking for anyone that has become a member of a nurture sub-program in the past 21 days. Remember, people can only become a member of a program here if they met the threshold on the content contained within.

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Fast lane smart list examples

For the Normal Lane you can see a couple differences. First off, we are not looking for the “engaged” member status, just clicks. This tells us, ok they are clicking on our emails, they don’t mind getting them in their inbox, but they aren’t engaged enough to warrant multiple a week. We also make sure to exclude members of the Fast Lane above just to be safe.

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Normal lane smart list examples

Here’s our slow lane smart list. Super simple. Anyone who is not a member of the two lists above has either not clicked a link in our emails, or spent meaningful time with the content beyond the click in the past 21 days. They are not engaging with us so we match their pace with fewer emails.

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Slow lane list examples

Now that they are all organized into their engagement based buckets, we have a smart campaign set up to change their lane. How you want to trigger this smart campaign is really up to you. We have it set to re-evaluate a leads lane every 3rd email that they are sent. We figure this is a decent enough sample of how this lead is currently engaging with our nurture emails to determine where they should currently reside.

Once their third (or sixth, or ninth etc) email is delivered, the following flow step is triggered:

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Smart lane trigger set up

This is pretty simple, depending on the smart list they are currently a member of, their engagement program stream will be changed (or not if they’re in the right lane).

With these smart lists and campaigns set up our nurture is listening for engagement and matching with the right frequency of email sends. As much as getting your prospects the right content is important, so too is matching their hunger for it. I hope this inspires some new nurture tactics in your own marketing.

Updated on March 27, 2023

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