Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How To Build a Lead Nurturing Culture Part I

Are any of you out there new fathers? How about new parents? I’m still getting the hang of holding my 2 month old son while I check my emails or read a book. I’m getting much better at this juggling act and on some of those nights when he stays up I’ve been able to generate some blog post ideas – I just didn’t have the two hands needed to type until now. :) So here we are.

My biggest inspiration for this post was re-reading Jim Collins’ famous Good to Great. I remember reading it years ago and recalling how it guided some of my career choices as well my management style. It was time to give it another read to see if I could get another boost of inspiration. While I was distracted by reading about how great Fannie Mae and Circuit City were, you need to read past this to get the major points that Jim (if I can call you that Mr Collins) is trying to make.

Technology Does Not Create Momentum – It Accelerates It

Good to Great stresses that technology is not going to instantly transform a good company to a great company. There are many factors that are necessary before technology can really provide companies with the boost that they may have been expecting. In addition, some companies may not be able to fully utilize technology until they’ve put the proper building blocks in place.

There are many similarities between the concepts that Jim Collins discussed in his book and lead nurturing. Lead nurturing can mean many different things to may different people. In my definition for this post, I’m referring to a process that automatically delivers highly targeted emails to prospects or customers in a specific time frame via a marketing automation platform. There is no question that lead nurturing has been a proven tactic for B2B marketers. Aberdeen has reported that the Best-in-Class organizations are have doubled the bid-win-ratio on nurtured leads compared to their peers who have launched lead nurturing programs. Why are we seeing some companies exceed at lead nurturing over other similar companies? Why do we see other organizations that have the technology in place for automated lead nurturing under perform? Beyond the technology itself, what is needed is an organizational culture that will foster and, well, nurture the concept of lead nurturing. For this to happen, marketers are going to need to roll up their sleeves and get to work. I'm going to provide some pointers on how to get there.

Building a Lead Nurturing Culture

Executing a successful lead nurturing campaign is no different that executing traditional types of marketing campaigns. However, there are some key items that you need to focus on and like any marketing effort, proper planning up front and processes will make all the difference. They key here is creating the right frame of mind for your organization that will allow lead nurturing to succeed.

Here are the key items that you need to consider in building a lead nurturing culture:

  • Targeted, Engaging Content is King. Content is at the core of your lead nurturing efforts. It needs to be engaging and be targeted to your intended audience. You will need to push your organization to ensure you have the resources in place to create the necessary content for your lead nurturing efforts. This may mean sequestering experts from all over your company to help create this content or hiring content professionals.
    If you think that a “one size fits all approach” for your lead nurturing content will do, you will not achieve optimal results. If you think that product sales sheets are appropriate for lead nurturing, you will not achieve optimal results. If you’re not sure the type of content that should be included in lead nurturing campaigns, check out SavvyB2BMarketing’s post Need Content? 20 Formats to Consider. Remember that your prospective customer is being bombarded with hundreds of emails each day – how is your email going to appeal to them? Always keep this in mind.

    Whether you have content generated for your nurturing campaign or you discover that you already have the content you need from your previous marketing campaigns, you still need to align this content within your lead nurturing campaigns to match your prospects’ buying process. For more information on this topic, see The Buying Process; Auditing your Content Assets.
  • Focus on leads that are in the funnel. Rather than trying to continuously fill the top of the funnel, marketers need to create campaigns that will engage the contacts that are in your database but not yet ready to buy.

    Aberdeen’s research stated that only 16% of the total leads from the companies they studied are deemed as "sales opportunities" that will actually close. Therefore the remaining leads (84%) present a tremendous opportunity for your company. If you keep your company top of mind to these prospects, there is a greater chance that they will buy from you than your competitors. In addition, there is a significant savings in cost per opportunity by focusing on leads that have already expressed interest in your product or service.

    Using lead nurturing to target existing leads can not only keep these people “warm”, it can also be used to further qualify them which leads to our next point around sales and marketing alignment.

Building a lead nurturing culture will not happen in one day and either will this blog post (my son just started to cry). Stay tuned for the next post(s) where we’ll cover a common framework for sales and marketing, establishing standard marketing effectiveness metrics and benchmarks, creating focused segments and outlining the right skills marketers need for lead nurturing to thrive.

Remember, technology will only succeed if your organization has fostered the right environment for lead nurturing to succeed.

Chad H.

“King” image courtesy of seoibiza.com




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