This guest blog post is by Baxter Denney, principal of Marketologist, which provides strategic marketing consulting. Baxter is a marketing automation and demand management expert.
Lead nurturing is a largely familiar term among the marketing automation software crowd, but in case you are new to the game, here is a great description from Eloqua: "At its core, lead nurturing is the process of cultivating leads that are not yet ready to buy."
The approach to setting up a lead-nurturing program is pretty straightforward:
- Identify who you will nurture.
- Identify how you will do it.
- Create content.
- Set things in motion.
- See what happens.
Many organizations new to the idea of marketing automation and lead nurturing will take this route; however, they will be doing themselves a disservice. Let's go back to the Eloqua definition and the concept of cultivating leads. The word "cultivate" implies a sort of building process. It is not a hit-and-run instant. For marketers to truly cultivate a lead, they need to influence the buying-decision process at every step throughout the customer's lifecycle. The most powerful way to influence the buying-decision process is to strategically provide targeted content to your prospects based on where they are in the process.
Baxter Denney of Marketologist works with companies every day, helping them set up quality lead-nurturing programs that do just this. Here is an outline of his method.
First, he says, you have to visualize every step in the buying-decision process. He suggests using the image of a funnel, something any of us in the sales and marketing world should be very familiar with. Below is an example.
The funnel and stages may vary by organization, but the point is to visualize each stage and identify points where marketing can add value and influence by nurturing. This is what Denney calls a gap analysis. He provides an example, using a fictitious company called Webert. He looked at the current content-nurturing program, comparing that to the number of leads that ended up converting. Here is a chart showing what he found.
Overall, this program looks pretty good; however, there is always room for improvement. In this next image, Denney illustrates the places where marketing is either completely absent or has the potential to modify the message to better reflect the buyer's stage in the buying process.
With this analysis done, Webert can now begin constructing a revised program that will nurture these identified gaps. The next step is to develop (or repurpose) content that has both a meaningful and appropriate message that will engage buyers.
Finally, it is vital that marketing keeps sales involved in this process. When doing the gap analysis, pull the sales team in so that it can provide real-time feedback. Perhaps there are additional gaps the team can identify. Additionally, sales can communicate to marketing where the most support is needed. Then marketing is able to create a nurturing program accordingly. With both sales and marketing on the same page, companies will be able to optimize their nurturing program in order to convert the most leads possible.
For Denney's full post, see the Marketing Automation Software Guide blog.